'NCIS' - 'Mother's Day' Recap
by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 3rd 2010 12:45AM
(S07E16) 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."