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+.


@alisa if thats your real name and i really doubt it.anyway why all the hate for the end there will be tiva and most fans will give a chear so take your hate with you when you close the door bye.


I always thought Tonys mother died from either an illness or something to do with her drinking. That's one of the few facts e knew about her that she drank a lot and one time drank Tonys sea monkeys.


Just want to respond to WTF ?? I was in no way describing a woman in law enforcement's lack of being able to take care of herself when I explained most of us look for father figures or stronger guys than ourselves . The fact is ... We see so many people/ guys at their weakest., corrupted and most despicable moments of their lives. When we meet a guy that we respect and admire, a guy that can handle himself as good or better then we can . We kinda want a guy that we can look up to ... Certainly , after all the training, studying the law and ethics we've been introduced to I want to be able to trust , relax and put my head on his shoulder when I'm home . The point was Ziva has lived a different kind of life , different kind of training . She's a Mossad assasin, a killer by trade and upbringing. Her father is a powerful man. She's was always around other killers.act an see her see relate more with Gibbs , then Tony. I would be more inclined to have a crush on Gibbs , then Tony. I admire a man that is decent , good and can take of himself . I'm pretty sure that's not indicating any signs we can't do the job.


@Alisa.....And Vindictive Haters of the show the REST of us enjoy who have nothing better to do than come on here and post WARPED POV's wrapped in twisted LIES, trying to angelify characters who are clearly INSTIGATORS of just about every argument that ensues on the show (Tony), yet UNSUCCESSFULLY vilifying other characters who did not ASK to even be PUT in difficult situations, yet overcame them TRIUMPHANTLY (Ziva) - AND got her MAN - and stating scenarios from the series that never even HAPPEND - deserve to be INGORED...which is EXACTLY what will now happen to YOU. Go study up on the ACTUAL Canon of the show before you spew hatred out of your virtual mouth. Goodbye. * C L I C K *


My apologies for bringing in the whole Shannon/Kelly debate. It was a sidebar to a comment about how did Tony's mother die. Someone had suggested suicide, and then I pointed out what Tony said regarding his mother's death in the Season Nine opener, then made the mistake of saying that TPTB could totally change this, 'like they did with the number of wives Gibbs had." That's where all of this came from. I didn't mean for it veer off from the main topic, which is this episode.


tony deserves someone who doesn't throw her injured partner onto the ground, pull a loaded gun ON her injured partner, and said she'd be HAPPY to put a bullet in him....ALL because he was trying to PROTECT his well as HIS TEAM....she with HELD vital information on rifkin from BOTH of her BOSSES....information that could have gotten GIBBS & TIM KILLED.....the moment about tony's mother was RUINED by it being between TIVA...rather then between TIBBS= tony & gibbs.....ziva can't be trusted....and really SHOULD not even be on the team....LET'S NOT FORGET: ZIVA MADE GIBBS CHOOSE BETWEEN SHE AND TONY....imo, he made the RIGHT choice....tony could be TRUSTED....and has been his SFA for YEARS for a REASON. ALISA


I also meant to say that I have watched all the cast roundtabled. The cast was asked if, after having played these characters for several years if they were still learning things about their characters and MH responded that he had just learned Gibbs had been married more than he originally thought. If memory serves, it was the roundtable that was filmed in Gibbs' living room.


I loved this ep in all but one area. This isn't the first time this season Gibbs has given us more emotion (such as in Namesake) and I'm really liking that. Though I was concerned what was going on with his interactions with Tony and what that might be foreshadowing, but it thankfully seems to have been all worked out. I liked the emphasis on the case. Sometimes I feel the cases have become too sacrificed in favor of character spotlight. That being said, I was looking forward to the moment about Tony's mom but it was nearly ruined for me because of the unrealistic tiva element. I'd much preferred that moment been unveiled in Gibbs' basement after hours. I would like to comment on some discussion in previous posts regarding Ziva not being invited out by the boys in a previous ep. IMO after Ziva smugly & purposefully left Tony and only Tony out of the team meal in Boxed In, I can't imagine why on earth he would ever invite or include her on any of his after hours activities. I think her being left out was turnabout being fair play and that didn't go nearly far enough to suit me. Take out the obligatory Tiva and I love everything about this ep and about NCIS in general. Also, I have all the DVD's and have watched all the round tables. MH was indeed asked if he was still learning things about his character after several years of playing him, and he did respond that yes, he just found out that Gibbs had been married more times than originally thought.


There were several features on the season 3 discs; however, the only round table (disc 4) didn't involve the cast. The creative forces did say that secrets were coming out at the end of season 3, starting with Gibbs and that season 4 would be the season of revealing secrets. I really don't care for DVD features, so didn't go to season 4, but that may be where the roundtable @gatorgal refers to is. I'm sure by everything else that gatorgal is right, though.


part 4: Sorry @gatorgal, I didn't go back to read your comment before commenting to realize you were referring to a special feature on a DVD I'm sure I own, just I never bother watching the features. If I can find the roundtable on season 3 discs, I'll post a supporting comment ...

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