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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:32 am 
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NCIS' Recap: Jack Sloane Joins the Team

Last time on NCIS, Ducky accepted an invitation to teach for a semester at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. How exciting!

This episode of NCIS, titled "Skeleton Crew," introduces Special Agent Jacqueline "Jack" Sloane, played by Maria Bello. It is obvious from the start that she has no problem mixing it up with Gibbs.



Come in from the Rain

The episode starts off at a murder mystery party in a mansion. There is already a butler playing dead on the floor. And when another man staggers in, covered in blood, one of the guests laughs at the phony-looking stain on his shirt. Surprise! The blood is real.

Next, we find Gibbs at home, and there is quite literally a storm brewing. It is Hurricane Molly, which is wreaking havoc on the area. Gibbs hears a furious pounding on his door and opens it to find a blonde woman. She hops inside, mentions that she is from California and shows Gibbs her license. Her name is Jacqueline Sloane. She reassures him that she is not "a weirdo."

Her car broke down and her cell is dead, so she needs to use the phone. Gibbs, ever the gentleman, offers to check out her car. But since it is a rental, she needs to call to have it towed. Gibbs asks if she likes coffee, and she is a huge fan. And just like that, Gibbs invites her to stay and have a cup.

The tow company won't be able to make it there for over two hours due to the weather. Gibbs seems to enjoy talking with Sloane. She doesn't make fun of his flip phone and instead calls it "vintage." She also digs his retro home decor. While Sloane is a doctor, she guesses that Gibbs is a cowboy. Gibbs gets a call, and he must head out. To her surprise, he offers to let her stay in the house and tosses her his keys. I am a bit shocked that Gibbs is letting a total stranger hang out in his house alone.

At the murder mystery house, Torres admire the butler's commitment to staying in character. McGee is psyched to be here because he and Delilah have been there before -- at the Game of Thrones party. Torres comments that while he can appreciate a murder mystery event, he finds people wearing masks "creepy." While McGee and Bishop chuckle over the fact that Torres worked undercover, he insists that it is different because of the way he would "embody someone."

Marine First Lieutenant Ethan Wynn is the victim, and he was stabbed twice in the abdomen. He is still alive, and the local police are trying to reach his wife.

Stormy Weather

When McGee and Torres arrive at the hospital to interview Wynn, they find him struggling with orderlies and asking for the police. A frantic Wynn exclaims that someone has taken his wife. Back at headquarters, Abby is excited to share that she is getting ready for the "zombiepocalypse." She has put a kit for survival in each agent's go bag. That is so thoughtful!

Lieutenant J.G. Helen Wynn is the missing sailor, and she was stationed on the USS Ewing. Ethan states that he and his wife were cornered by someone in a devil costume at the murder mystery party. The devil grabbed Helen and drove off in the Wynns' car. Gibbs sends Torres and Bishop to check out the USS Ewing. Gibbs isn't one to let a little thing like an approaching hurricane impede an investigation; he tells an unhappy Bishop and Torres to take a helicopter.

Helen's mother, Mrs. Belmont, believes that the kidnapper must have taken Helen for ransom. Helen's family is the owner of the Belmont soap empire, and she is extremely wealthy. Belmont informs McGee that Ethan didn't find out about Helen's wealth until after their nuptials. She demands that her daughter be returned unharmed, and he will pay whatever amount the kidnappers want. Mrs. Belmont is an intense, and slightly terrifying, woman.

In autopsy, Palmer is fighting the jitters as he prepares for his first week without Ducky. Palmer even dons one of Ducky's bow ties to help him feel more comfortable. After a pep talk from Abby, Palmer takes off the tie. Since there were no cameras at the murder mystery party, Abby scours social media for videos or photos. Abby uncovers a video that shows the man in the devil costume following the Wynns, and a knife is visible in his hand.

As the storm worsens, NCIS loses power, and Vance sends all non-essential personnel home until further notice. Gibbs dashes McGee's hopes of leaving early. McGee checked out Helen's cell phone, and the last call that she made was to Mitch Greyson, who works at the National Armed Forces Credit Union. Gibbs is shocked when Sloane shows up, tosses Gibbs his house keys and hugs Vance.

A Debt Repaid

It is obvious that Vance and Sloane have known each other for a while. He even remembers how to make her coffee, which is more like sugar with a few splashes of coffee. Vance has successfully lured Sloane, who is a forensic psychologist, away from California. Sloane has heard rumors about an agent who occasionally crosses the line, and Vance confirms that the rumors might be true. It seems that Sloane showing up at Gibbs' house may have not been a coincidence but rather a recon operation. Vance thanks her for accepting the assignment, and Sloane responds that she owes one to Vance.

The USS Ewing looks like a fantastic place to be during a hurricane, and Torres and Bishop are thrilled. The ship is down to a "skeleton crew" because of the storm. Commander Buckner is standing by to speak with the NCIS agents. Bishop regales Torres with tales of how a boy with the same name tormented her during high school back in Oklahoma. Yes, it is the same Tommy Buckner. Yikes! Poor Bishop!

Buckner tells Bishop and Torres that Helen is well-liked and hardworking. Buckner didn't register her with an unauthorized absence because she wasn't scheduled to be part of the crew. While the trio check out Helen's cabin, Torres grills Buckner on what Bishop was like as a teen. Apparently, she was "an individual," and he found her to be "refreshing." He also gave her the nickname "Scarecrow" because she wore large overalls with patches on them.

When Gibbs orders them back to headquarters, Bishop cannot wait to get away from her high school tormentor. Alas, Petty Officer Third Class Joe Smiddy informs them that all flight operations have been cancelled due to the storm, so Bishop is stuck with Buckner.

McGee catches up with Greyson just as the office is closing because of the storm. Greyson knows Helen because she oversees the USS Ewing's bank accounts, and he is her liaison. Helen never showed up to pick up some checks that morning.

The Wynns' car is located near Lake Drummond. Vance introduces Gibbs and McGee to Sloane, but Gibbs says that he already knows her, and Gibbs cannot spare a minute to chat. The car was left in a secluded location, leading the agents to speculate that whoever dumped the car knew the area. When they pop the trunk, they find Helen's body.


Palmer in Charge

Palmer is busy in autopsy talking with the decedent's body, just like Ducky would. Sloane goes down to meet Palmer, and he remarks that Ducky is an enthusiastic fan of her work. She asks what his findings are, and just as he is about to begin, Gibbs arrives. Awkward! Palmer concludes that Helen died from blunt force trauma, and the weapon was probably a large rock. Helen died the night that she was abducted, and she had some red fibers, most likely from the devil costume, under her fingernails. There is some tension between Sloane and Gibbs, and she gives her opinion that the killer had not planned to murder the victim. She believes that Helen was bound in a way that made her comfortable and that the killer cared about her.

In the interrogation room, Gibbs and McGee grill Ethan, pressing him because he does not have an alibi. It turns out that the victim's husband signed himself out of the hospital several hours before Helen died. Helen had her attorney draw up divorce papers before the couple reconciled two weeks ago, and both had been dating other people. Helen had been dating a co-worker, and Ethan suspects that it was Buckner.

On the USS Ewing, Torres and Bishop question Buckner about his relationship with Helen. He maintains that they were just friends, and he becomes emotional when Bishop drops the news that Helen is dead. Buckner apologizes to Bishop for the way he treated her in high school.

Secrets Revealed

Gibbs has a chat with Sloane because, every two seconds, he finds her following him. She admits to going to his house under false pretenses, and Gibbs explains that he doesn't like games and that she needs to go through him to work on his cases. Sloane doesn't back down and responds that she only answers to Vance.

Abby finds fingerprint on Helen's key, and it belongs to Petty Officer Third Class Joe Smiddy, who is also on the USS Ewing right now with Bishop and Torres. Unfortunately, the storm has knocked out communication to the ship.

McGee comes up with the idea to beep Torres and Bishop with the beeper that Abby packed in their "zombiepocalypse" bag. Torres gets McGee's message about Smiddy. Helen was one of two people who had keys to the safe in the disbursing office. They apprehend Smiddy outside the office, and he tells them that he wasn't involved in Helen's murder. Smiddy's job was to steal the money. But it was Greyson, who had been dating Helen, that killed her. When Helen realized who her captor was, he panicked and killed her.

Before she leaves the ship, Buckner and Bishop shake hands and bury the hatchet. She even asks him to call her when his deployment is over so they can catch up over coffee. At headquarters, Gibbs and Sloane talk in the elevator. Gibbs admit that he knew who Sloane was when she was at his house. She goes to the gym to box, and she has visible scars on her back.

I loved this episode of NCIS, especially the plot twists and how Sloane was introduced.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:36 am 
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NCIS Season 15 Episode 4 Review: Skeleton Crew

I'd like to give a warm welcome to Maria Bello, whose Special Agent Jacqueline "Jack" Sloane made a rather amusing debut in NCIS Season 15 Episode 4. Gibbs got her good, didn't he?

There's a lot to unpack from this story, so let's get this show on the road!

When I was watching her "infiltration" of Gibbs's home, I spotted the thread immediately with the way she flashed her ID. It was a rather conspicuous giveaway, since we see the same gesture every single episode when our heroes show their NCIS badges.
At first we were very cleverly led to believe she got the better of Gibbs, with him acting unsurprisingly aloof. There were, however, clues that he knew exactly who she was, such as the fact that he freely gave her his house keys.

Sloane: You’re gonna leave a complete stranger alone in your house.
Gibbs: Yes.
Sloane: I could rob you blind.
Gibbs: Lock up when you’re done.

A much more subtle clue came near the beginning, when the team discussed undercover work (versus the plain dress-up and wearing masks on Halloween).
Oh, it's ever so easy to forget that Gibbs has done plenty of undercover work himself. He certainly pulled it off on Sloane!
To be honest, Sloane's initial deception rubbed me the wrong way. Theoretically, isn't she supposed to be analyzing crime scenes and criminals, rather than the agents investigating them?
Gibbs, however, took it all in stride, having been told in advance by Ducky that she was coming. And, boy, was it beautiful when he gleefully turned the tables on her at the end.
Though Sloane is flagged as a series regular, it's unclear to me at the moment exactly how many episodes she will appear in. Given that she's not a member of Gibbs's team as such, I hope they don't over-use her.
This episode set up some pretty interesting backstory, including a past history with Vance for which she apparently owes him for some mysterious unspecified debt. Is there a connection with the nasty scars on her back? I wonder.
The West Coast was mentioned multiple times during the episode. While you might be wondering if this is some reference to spin-off series NCIS: Los Angeles, it's more likely that they're talking about Vance's previous gig in San Diego before becoming Director.

Much more eyerolling was Abby's insistence on being prepared for the zombie apocalypse, as if such an event were at all likely or, well, possible. It only served as a cutesy way of getting the lowdown on the killer to Torres and Bishop.
I'm not sure that the criminals' plan was a problem with the writing of the episode, because I've read about real-life criminal plans that were even more stupid than this.
Seriously, how did Smitty plan to get off the ship with the payroll cash? It would take 0.68 seconds to figure out who stole it, after all, once it was discovered missing.
"Commander, our payroll's been stolen from the Disbursing Office, and Petty Officer Smitty is UA!" "Notify NCIS!" "Aye aye, sir!"
I wish I could complain about the banker guy (seriously saw that one coming) whacking poor Helen over her dumping him to go back to her husband... but, once again, I've read of people doing stupider things in real life.
I will complain about the unfortunate under-use of Gates McFadden as Helen's money-and-status-obsessed mother. One scene was too short a time to spend with this Star Trek: The Next Generation alum.
The interaction between Bishop and her former high school bully (now Navy commander) Buckner presented a curiously nuanced situation.
On the one hand: bullying is never a good thing, and the psychological effects of serious bullying can last decades.
On the other: Bishop's behavior towards Buckner during the investigation veered into unprofessionalism.
Buckner clearly had no idea that his behavior in high school had such an effect on Bishop. To his credit, he admitted his past poor character. I do have to wonder, though, what he did that was so bad that Bishop's brothers broke his fingers.
This subplot got a mention of Bishop's late boyfriend Qasim... though, oddly, not Jake Malloy. I would have thought Bishop's own messy divorce would've merited more of a reference in this case.
In any event, stop by our NCIS quotes page for some of this episode's memorable lines.
A few final notes before I turn the discussion over to you, fellow fans:
The organ music at the start of the episode is the very famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebasian Bach. It happens to be one of the most memorable pieces from the Disney classic Fantasia.
Rocky Carroll directed the episode, which was written by Jennifer Corbett. I have to say, I liked the rocking, off-kilter way they filmed the scenes on the ship.
Gibbs quoted Rule 39, “There’s no such thing as coincidence.” (It's been awhile since we've heard a Rule quoted, hasn't it?)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:40 pm 
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I liked this episode! They've all been pretty good this season, though. And I liked Sloan. She was kinda cheeky with Gibbs & I like Maria Bello, so I'm looking forward to seeing more of her. I am also very curious about her history with Vance. I have so many questions. Also: Palmer singing Hamilton. I need to see it.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:38 am 
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From reviews and comments I have read on other sites it looks like the writers are writing what the fans want

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:47 pm 
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Another winner, in my opinion. I'm liking this season so far.

I adore Maria Bello, and can't wait to see more from the character. I knew Gibbs had picked up on her when she thought she tricked him. That was nice.

Sherry, you are so right about Jimmy and Hamilton! As soon as he said, "My shot!" I was wondering if they'd go there. :smitten:

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