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'NCIS' - 'Mother's Day' Recap

by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 3rd 2010 12:45AM
When it was announced that Gena Rowlands would be on 'NCIS' as a guest, playing Jethro's former mother-in-law, you just suspected that this was going to be something special. Sometimes it's difficult to live up to the expectations, for the creators as well as the fans watching. Fortunately, this show did live up to the expectations, especially for those who have always wanted to know more about Gibbs and his tragic past.

Rowlands played Joanna Fielding. Gibbs called her his mother-in-law, but Joanna corrected the mistake -- she was his ex-mother-in-law. They hadn't seen each other since Shannon and Kelly's funeral. The air was thick with remorse and recriminations, but it wasn't nasty. On some level, Joanna and Jethro were united in their emotional longing for the loss of her daughter and grand-daughter, his wife and child. In a nice touch, Joanna asked Jethro about his father; very realistic.

It took a while for the mystery to unravel, but Jethro was a few steps ahead. He wisely made provisions. In the scene with Leon, he went off the record, thereby getting the director in his corner. Similarly, his arrangement with Allison Hart was all about protecting Joanna. Jethro may have announced that he was arresting Joanna, but that was never his intent. Burning the file at the end was how to keep the case closed forever.

Jethro was more emotional than ever. The scene in the bathroom showed him lost in memory, recalling how he ripped Shannon and Kelly away from Joanna years before because of his duty. When Tony interrupted and asked if he could do anything for Gibbs, Jethro asked him to give him some privacy.

The question of Joanna's veracity came up more than once. Was she addled by age? Was it the incident that shook her up? Or was she hiding something? Jethro probably knew from the get-go, but the show teased viewers enough to keep us guessing.

The confession worked because it wasn't just Joanna telling the truth, but Jethro, too. They were finally able to share both the grief and torment of losing Kelly and Shannon. And now we know how Gunny dealt with the loss all those years ago.

Other points of interest

-- Mr. Palmer's stinky cologne made the morgue smell like a French brothel. Maybe his nickname should be Pepe La Pew Palmer.

-- Ziva was definitely flirting with Phil, the Norfolk PD detective on the case. Tony was not pleased with the banter, did you notice?

-- Tony's love of movies include classics. The Akira Kurosawa festival for instance. The final joke, naturally, was that Tony was going to catch 'Rashomon,' the Kurosawa film in which truth is interpreted from different perspectives. There is no single, absolute truth, just variations.

-- The casting of Leann Hunley to play the young Joanna was perfect.

-- Gibbs needed to fix this for Joanna because it was Shannon's mother and it's what she would have wanted. Gibbs never does anything without a damn good reason.

-- Tony and Ziva were sent to Arizona to find the P.I. working for Joanna. Federal payroll is great; no budget restrictions. Just off on cross-country trip.

-- In Gibbs' basement:
Joanna: "Your personal torture chamber?"
Gibbs: "The only person I ever tortured here was myself."

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John P

I'm English and am a huge fan of the show. Having now seen about 80% of the entire series I was really disappointed with this episode which I saw on sunday.
The weakest I have seen and by a long way.

I could not understand how Gibbs could let his mother in law get away with murder. You know, she's a little old lady...she's his mother in law. Yes, and she's also mean enough to put several slugs in her fiancee's chest and cover it up. There's no excuse for cold blooded murder. I expected her to be found guilty and imprisoned with Gibbs showing deep regret and pity for her. Not to risk his own career by manufacturing a situation in which she would be let off the hook.

March 16 2010 at 9:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Desi Hart

Totally agree and couldn't say it better !

March 13 2010 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Desi Hart

My wife and I love the show and are glad to see that the majority of the comments about this episode are NOT supportive of the story line that lets the MIL get away with vigilantism (sp?) Jethro killing the killer more or less "in hot pursuit" at the time is ok by me but Mommy picking out just anyone in the cartel isn't. Where does it stop. If it is OK for her why not have Gibbs declare war on the same cartel.

Bottom line for us is the ending spoiled the show for us and we were much more pleased with the latest episode.

March 13 2010 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Sparks

handling the case the way he did Gibbs insured that his MIL would go free. The way it was handled internally insured that Gibbs would not get flak for the whole operation. The "innocent" man will plead out and do jail time for the drug charges.

BTW, we have known for years that Gibbs killed the man who killed his wife and daughter. Where have you been?

March 03 2010 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Made sense to me. By interviewing her without Merandizing (sp?) her, he was giving her a "get out of jail free" card. he was covering all bases. He hoped that no one would indict her and that the Director would sense the situation and go along. Gibbs would be embarrassed if a judge threw out the case due to his failure to Merandize her, so he hoped it wouldn't go that far. But if it did, he had all bases covered.

March 03 2010 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to chipe's comment
Jim Sparks

Mirandizing. Read all about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miranda_v._Arizona

March 03 2010 at 6:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If it does "go that far", It will have to include some ethics scrutiny on both the director and Gibbs. Things might not be so tidy & neat, a lot of people knew the score, and if Gibbs pisses off the lawyer girlfriend, that might open a can of worms that could take a few episodes to unravel.

March 09 2010 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great Episode !!

Anything that gets inside that complex mind of Gibbs and gives us a glimpse of what makes him tic is awesome.

March 03 2010 at 12:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'll admit I'm confused / baffled by the ending:

Gibbs arresting Joanna in the basement, then the lawyer coming and saying he's broken legal procedure. Ok, I thought that was smart, because he could arrest her, charge her, and the arrest would be thrown out of court on technicalities.

But that's now what happened. Gibbs walks away without arresting her, and then shortly afterwards, the Director announces she's off the hook.

This doesn't jive for me. It's definitely not within character for the Director to allow the murderess of a naval officer to walk away uncharged. And I thought Gibbs had the "right thing to do" all worked out by breaking procedure, allowing her to get off, but that's not followed through on.

Totally confused. :)

March 03 2010 at 12:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was an OK show. Not anything special and not up to the great NCIS shows at the beginning of season 7.

March 03 2010 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't think he is taking the blame for the murder. I think they are charging him with the drug smuggling.

March 03 2010 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gina's comment

So who is taking the blame for the murder? Case is closed; Mother-in-Law is not a suspect. 'She is no longer a person of interest.'

March 03 2010 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Pretty good show, but I don't see how they can allow somebody else to take the blame for the murder. He might have been a bad guy, but he didn't personally kill anybody.

March 03 2010 at 9:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to zippy_zip74467's comment

totally agree; letting gibbs's mother-in-law get away with murder is pretty stupid and makes this series look like a joke

March 11 2010 at 8:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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