NCIS Review: The General

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"Shell Shock, Part I" started out as a fairly routine NCIS case when a marine, Michael Torres, was found beaten to death in an alley. 

The investigation became more complicated when his fellow marine's story didn't check out and Gibbs figured out he was suffering from PTSD. That was a compelling story, but NCIS ended with a surprise that blew the top off the entire mystery.

Very Special Agents

The story of what happened after Wescott and Torres left the convenience store changed several times throughout the investigation. Initially, NCIS thought that a known criminal, Sam Mathis, was looking for a fight and followed the marines. Only it wasn't him, since he was enjoying a lovely evening at a local strip club. Tony conveniently knew someone at the club who could verify Mathis's alibi. Hmm ... okay, Tony.

Wescott's memory of the attack, along with the terrible video recording, led the investigation in the wrong direction. They were looking for a group of attackers, rather than just one. It was Ducky's autopsy that debunked the theory that a multitude of people beat Torres to death. Initially, Gibbs rejected Tony's suggestion that they look more closely at Wescott, but after seeing the marine's deteriorated mental state, he re-evaluated. 

McGee was able to clean up the video enough to show that not only was Torres only attacked by one man, but that Wescott and Torres had followed that man out of the convenience store, not the other way around. The man in the video matched the sketch that Wescott provided. His name is Randall Kersey. Was Wescott responsible for his own friend's death? It looked like he played a role.

The lack of accurate video evidence and Wescott's own distorted memory provided the perfect catalyst to confuse the investigation. The combination of the two provided a unique roadblock, which allowed Wescott's PTSD to naturally reveal itself to Gibbs, Wescott's brother and most importantly to Wescott himself. 

NCIS questioned Kersey and he confirmed that the marines followed him out of the store and that Wescott went after him. Torres tried to break them up by stepping between the men, but ended up getting punched from both sides. Torres was killed when Kersey pushed him out of the way and hit his head on the ground. Was it self-defense? Or was Kersey responsible? It would be easy for the court to decide that Kersey was the victim here as much as Torres was in the end. 

Wescott mistook Kersey for someone that was involved in the marine attack. He realized he needed help for PTSD after the events leading up to and including Torres' killing. Gibbs was integral in helping Wescott come to terms with what happened. And he encouraged him to talk about the attack and the men who were lost. Wescott's visions of the ambush in Afghanistan caused him to misinterpret events. Or had it?

The twist at the end involved Wescott's repeating of the letters I-J-I. The team tracked down the meaning and tied it to a terrorist group in Afghanistan that was responsible for the attack on the marines. Through surveillance, they saw a picture of none other than Randall Kersey. Wescott wasn't crazy. Yes, he had PTSD, but in this situation, he was right. He was afraid of Kersey and followed him for legitimate reasons.

PTSD is a troubling issue for many who have returned home after being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. This episode handled the issue with amazing grace. It's always a pleasure to see Gibbs take on the role of a mentor or confidant to other military members. He has been through so much over the years and seen even more at NCIS, that he is in the perfect position to help others.

This case though is just beginning. At least for Wescott, he will get some solace when he finds out that he correctly identified Kersey. Perhaps that will help him overcome some of his guilt regarding the loss of men in Afghanistan. It wouldn't bring the killed marines back, but at least those responsible will be held accountable.

We'll have to wait for the conclusion next Tuesday to find out what Kersey has planned. Does he have a bomb? What or who is he targeting? 


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (197 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


I am sorry to hear Cote that you are leaving NCIS; but obviously; you have your reason(s) even though your network offered you more money. Good for you! What is the worth of one’s self? I enjoyed your performances but more so your perkiness. It seems the glow of one warm thought to you is worth more than money. Believe that your life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact is that not so Cote? You reminded me of an old Spanish Proverb about a little confident determined man wanting to make his own destiny. However, I am going to make you this determined person for personal reasons.
There was this little woman Cote, who lived in this little town and was packing up her little bags, when a voice out of nowhere said. Where are you going little woman? Cote said. I am going to Spain. The voice said. You are going to Spain if God is willing. Cote ignored the voice and went back to packing her little bags when again the voice said. Where are you going little woman and Cote said. I am going to Spain God willing or not. Well, God turned Cote into a frog and put her in this frog pond for seven years. After seven years, God turned the frog back into the little woman, whereupon Cote went back to packing her little bags, when a voice said. Where are you going little woman. Cote said. I am going to Spain or back to the frog pond!
Do your thing woman you are the Captain of your destiny. Let me close this saying. Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows. Good luck to you Girl.


NCIS....Alex Kingston! Brilliant. "Who" Rah!


I have to admit that I haven't seen any signs that the show runners are trying to get rid of the people who are disappointed in the Tiva romance. Many of the antis are long time viewers who either never warmed up to Ziva the character or else failed to see the chemistry between Tony and Ziva. I enjoyed the chemistry in season 3 and even into season 4 , but I have yet to see any other character bring the same kind of response that Z had to her "Dead Man Walking" nor the kind of look into Tony's real personality that we aw when he was with Jeanne. I feel very strongly that Tiva will bring about irreparable harm to the show in that people engaged in a romance cannot and should not work together on the same team. I like Ziva, I love Tony. I wish that each character could be utilized in a more consistent manner. Ziva is written in a manner that goes beyond suspension of belief. I understand why so many people complain about her being Wonder Woman, because she is rarely allowed to have any flaws. Tony, on the other hand, is written to be so full of flaws that its a wonder he can find his desk with the lights on. I remember when the show was about solving crimes and the interaction between all the characters. The scenes between Gibbs and Tony remain some of the best acting on the show with great depth, charisma, and chemistry. Somehow that is getting lost this season to the regret of many, many fans. I think that the Gibbs character is being diluted by playing Daddy to everyone. What was once unique and evocative has now become humdrum.


@wanda hi wanda loved your comment you said it all.yes me to cant wait for tonights episode.


Wanda: There is a huge difference between showing disappointment and even dislike for a fictional character, and publicly brow-beating and humiliating those who don't share your opinion. One is simply expressing and opinion; the other is mean-spirited and cruel.


Janet & Dani - THANK YOU. Dani you are one of the few who is unafraid to face the hate "head on" - WE applaud you!!! The only "Dissenting" that I ever see on here is usually aimed at Ziva, from jealous hatemongers who sit and stew in Defeat. Why even bother WATCHING NCIS anymore? Your viewership is not even welcome by the NETWORK!! Even THEY are trying to give you hints to LEAVE!! Take.the.HINT. If you can't refrain from being nasty on here...then don't POST here. The End. Janet I cannot WAIT until tonight to see part two! :-D


cant wait for the 2 parter esp as ziva will be the star long time since she took the lead and it will be nice to see a jealous tony


Well Ziva has gotten some emotional scenes with others besides Tony, and it has been spoiled that Tony will be basically jealous of Ziva secrets (opera date and then the mystery man) in the next two episodes. Ziva has an already heavily promoted two part arc that is all about her. In Gone, Ziva and Abby pair up to protect a witness. Tony's only spoilers are the same old, same old; Either he's jealous and/or will wind up humiliated by Ziva or share an emotional moment but only with her. Everything spoiled about Tony involves Ziva, but not the other way around. They seem to want to please a certain faction of NCIS fandom by not letting him have any other meaningful relationships. But Ziva is everything to everyone now.


@Sameold,sameold Or Ziva's world is revolving more and more around Tony's. Or maybe it's a mutual thing. As the show has said they are going to get closer, it stands to figure that each one's world would, if not revolve around the other more, would involve more and more contact with one another.


Michael, if Ziva was the superwoman you claim she is, she would have hit that last guy she was shooting at -- yet she missed him. At point blank range, she missed him. And he missed her. And they had a fight, which she won (barely), but which received no further reference for the remainder of the episode. I can tell you that a lot of Ziva fans thought that whole sequence was ridiculous.

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