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NCIS – Recap & Review – A Man Walks Into a Bar…

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A Man Walks Into a Bar…

Original Air Date: Feb 08, 2011

Maria – TwoCents Reviewer

This is a tricky episode to recap, because it’s a flashback episode. There is a case though, the death of a marine Vincent Reynolds who has been shot in his bunk. Our NCIS Agents have to solve this mystery, but there is an unusual obstacle to overcome.

Having avoided psyche evaluations on nine separate times, Vance finally relents and decides to let Dr. Rachel Cranston have her wicked way with the NCIS team. How will the team cope with solving the case, whilst being psychoanalyzed?

The good Doctor Cranston first sees Tony when he is bragging about his money won on the horses, neighing in celebration and demonstration. Despite this, she appears sympathetic to him. She appears sympathetic to all of the team, especially because they weren’t the original team. It becomes clear that, unlike most TV shows, the dead are not forgotten, because this very rapidly becomes a beautiful tribute to how the memory of NCIS Agent Kate Todd is still with the team, almost six years after her death.

There’s still a case to work though, and there is no shortage of suspects. There’s an international group of reporters onboard and the death is leaked online suspiciously quickly. Ziva has identified the bullet as a type that is mostly used by Koreans and Russians. As it happens, the Korean journalist is the only one without an alibi. Looks like Min Ho Kwon has just jumped to the top of the suspect list. Despite the fact Petty Officer Rena Oliver tells Agent DiNozzo that Kwon and Reynolds got into a fight, it becomes clear that he isn’t a murderer, but instead, he is a spy.

Whilst investigating Officer Reynolds’ life and death, Gibbs discovers that the man was stuck in a twenty year old love affair with a Nancy Hargrove who is married to Admiral Hargrove. On top of that, Reynolds was nine months away from mandatory retirement with nothing much to look forward too. Any suspicions were confirmed by the presence of a substance around the victim’s hands which Abby reveals to be adhesive tape. Reynolds had taped the gun to his hand, but Officer Oliver and others covered it up after finding the body.

Our NCIS Agents are finally able to conclude that it was suicide. They’re also able to conclude that losing Kate Todd is still a loss that they are feeling today. Ziva emphasizes how much of an individual she is and that she is very different from Kate, but still, she replaced her. Dr. Cranston acknowledges that it must have been difficult. Ziva is reluctant to agree, but it is evident.

Dr. Cranston then moves on to Doctor Ducky. It’s clear he’s still haunted by Kate’s death. She wasn’t just another anonymous dead body that Ducky had to work on. He knew her when she was alive.

Next, Cranston gets her little grey cells working on McGee. It seems he’s almost been traumatized by the term ‘probie’ so much so that he flinches when she mentions the word. Cranston acknowledges how well McGee fits into NCIS, even though he didn’t start out in the Navy or in Law Enforcement. Despite his professional life flourishing, she also points out that his romantic life hasn’t. We are treated to flashbacks of only some of the disastrous relationships McGee has had (to show all would require an episode all of its own). The flashback ends with Abby declaring her supposedly platonic love for McGee and saying that should be enough.

Tony’s been avoiding Dr. Cranston all episode but she’s finally caught up with him. She addresses the fact that he turned down a promotion in order to stay with the team. She catches up again with him after Reynolds’ death has been declared suicide. Tony admits that it worries him, Reynolds’ having the job and nothing more. Tony clings to the fact that he’s a good Agent and Rachel Cranston quickly agrees with him, and argues that for all Kate and Tony squabbled like siblings, Kate probably knew how great of an Agent Tony is and that’s why she pushed him to achieve what she saw he was capable of.

Abby is also reluctant to talk to the good Doctor because she’s scared of learning things about herself that she hates. She waits for the Doctor to criticize her but Rachel is very kind and tries to help Abby realize that she can’t save the world single-handedly. She deserves some time to relax. Once again, Kate Todd crops up because Abby was her friend and since her death, she hasn’t had anyone at work she can really socialize with. McGee doesn’t count because Abby is currently and fervently (and perhaps a little hopelessly) denying that it couldn’t be McGee to fill her social void, because they’re… friends.

Even Vance gets a little insight from the Doctor, about his recent injuries and how this could affect his priorities. Gibbs, on the other hand, appreciates all the work Rachel Cranston has done for his team, but her refuses to let her inside his head. He also hopes that meeting the people close to Kate has given her some closure on her sister’s death. Gibbs then takes her to his basement and shows her the show that Ziva killed her brother, the very spot Kate’s killer died. That’s his idea of closure.

For me, it was very predictable that Rachel was Kate’s sister, but the acting still moved me to tears. I found the case and the flashbacks jarring in some ways, until I realized that the NCIS Agents have to deal with their memories and work simultaneously. NCIS does a good job of showing that even a character that has been dead for six years is still mourned by those whose lives she touched.

What are your thoughts on the episode? Were you interested in the case or did you find it a distraction? Do you still miss Kate Todd? Did you guess the psychiatrist was Kate’s sister, Rachel? Please, sent a reply and let us know your TwoCents.

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