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NCIS - Going Mobile - Review

9 Oct 2019

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17.3 - "Going Mobile”
Written by Scott Williams
Directed by Tom Wright
Reviewed by KathM

Just because we were told that Cote de Pablo would only appear in three or four episodes this season didn’t mean Ziva’s spirit wouldn’t linger and impact other episodes. As we see this week.

Leon thinks that Ziva’s arrival and sudden vanishing act may have emotionally damaged some of the team, so he sends Sloane down to let them know that she’s available if anyone wants to talk about any PTZ (Post-Traumatic Ziva) issues. The Bullpen Three tell her that they’re all fine, even though they can barely look at one another or speak to each other. BTW, Sloane is wearing a pink checked suit that is so off-putting and behaving so out of character for her that I don’t blame any of them for wanting to stay away. Remember last week in the interview room with that female terrorist? No idea what’s up with that. Fortunately Gibbs arrives with news of a body stuck under an 18-wheeler delivering stuff to the Navy Yard, and everyone can pack up their feelings and scurry off to investigate.

Dead guy saves the day.

So Eli Buck (victim du jour) is wrapped in plastic and I have Laura Palmer flashbacks while the truck driver, who is baffled and horrified in equal measure, gives Bishop and Torres the electronic details about where he’s been and when. This will help them figure out where the body was dumped. While investigating potential manners of death some of the crew manage to pull weeds and bits of ceramics from the plastic the body is wrapped in. When you put it all together it becomes apparent that our victim was killed by a garden gnome. Whose name, we find out later, is Felix.

I love this so much I can hardly type. In my mind I keep seeing one of the garden gnomes from Harry Potter running towards the victim with a little spear and wearing a Viking hat. It’s such a good murder weapon and sets the tone nicely for an oddly light episode.

There may be evil trailer park doings and gun runners and heinous chemicals and Molotov cocktails and people on a fixed income who might lose their homes but hey, let’s talk about Ziva!

It turns out that everyone in the bullpen is worried about everyone else: McGee wishes Ziva had said goodbye but thinks Bishop is the one with issues. Bishop wasn’t at all phased by how messed up Ziva’s life was, but she is worried about Torres because Ziva beat him up and she’s a girl and Torres is meant to be this Alpha Male and surely his masculinity is affronted and a little bruised. But those of us who watched last week know it’s because Ziva told Torres to tell Bishop how he feels and then beat him up. Torres says that Sloane should talk to Gibbs because he no doubt has a boatload of issues, and it should be easy for them to talk because they have a thing. I’m sorry, what??

A Thing.

Unlike the bullpen crowd, I think the thing has been stalled for quite a while and may be starting up again. Given the way that Gibbs was behaving towards her last Christmas (open displays of affection! And Sloane even whispers something about it.), I did think that they had something going, at least back then. But I got the feeling that they stopped for some reason and now Sloane is hoping they can talk about it and maybe get it back. And who knows? Gibbs may be moving back in her direction, too.

I would like to apologize to everyone for my bad thoughts and feelings about Gibbs/Ziva: they are nothing compared to Gibbs/Sloane. Because, y’all? The tension in Sloane’s office when they finally get together to talk is so palpable it was like an extra person in the room. Gibbs talks a bit about not looking for Ziva and being mad that she ran off again and Sloane reminds him that she had a child she gave up for adoption and that he needs to step away from his surrogate child for a bit. Then she asks him if he wants to talk about something else. They get closer, and closer, but when Sloane mentions the Elephant in the Room Gibbs says something flippant about the artwork on her wall and lopes off. Dang.

Oh! The rest of the episode! The guy under the truck! There’s a story there, but it isn’t played like it’s a big deal. I mean, Ziva is more important than almost anything. Eli and brother Pete buy a trailer park, then promptly double the rent. Most of the people who live there are on a fixed income, so if they can’t afford the new rent they’re going to end up homeless. Gibbs and Co. find out that a local chemical company, Zullow Chemicals, may have (did) inadvertently poison the land under and around the trailer park when a warehouse fire released a flood of chemicals into the ground. They wanted to avoid publicity, so they gave the Bucks $500,000 for the tenants to relocate. WELL, you can guess what happened: one brother wanted to keep the money, one wanted to give it to the tenants like he was supposed to. They fought, the Eli fell on a gnome with a pointy had that stabbed his skull and killed him. Pete panicked, rolled his Eli up in plastic and stuck him under an 18-wheeler. Yeah, I’m not sure, either. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why he stuffed this brother under a truck. It’s just bizarre. But I’m willing to go along with it for the sake of the narrative because of Felix the murder weapon. We don’t spend a lot of time with the tenants of the park with the exception of a guy with an obscene amount of guns, the guy whose tiny yard is festooned with gnomes which is now a crime scene, and Esther, a woman who paints pictures she hopes she can sell at the county fair. She doesn’t want her family to end up like her, so she wants to leave them some money. Gibbs thinks they’d probably prefer the paintings, but Esther is adamant.

I’m glad they included Esther in the story: so often people who are poor and struggling on a fixed income are portrayed as a group of people one of the characters points at when they’re trying to stop a building from being torn down. At the end of the episode Gibbs tells Esther that she and the other residents are entitled to a settlement from Zullow, and she’ll be able to leave something to her family after all. And hopefully do something nice for herself.

At the very end of the episode Sloane comes into her office to find the Rorschach picture she has on her wall, replaced with a picture of an elephant with a sticky saying “Merry Christmas”. This is apparently the equivalent of Gibbs passing her a note in English class, because Sloane becomes all twitterpated and spins around in her chair. I’m interested to see what happens, and whether it will plays out onscreen.

PS - The woman who played Esther is Ellen Geer, daughter of Will Geer, who played Grandpa in “The Waltons”. I loved so much about that show.

PPS - Kasie and Gibbs both hate leprechauns. I love Kasie so much and don’t miss controlling, manic Abby at all.

PPPS - I tried to find the picture from the Christmas episode from last year when Gibbs actually hugs Sloane tight and kisses her on the forehead, but I couldn’t find one that hadn’t been personalized.