"Double Blind" can be summed up in one word: loyalty. Or, if you like, four words: "I've got your back.'
Never has the family aspect of the NCIS team ever been more evident and on display, particularly in the face of a common enemy.
The team was called in response to a Petty Officer's frantic concern that he's being followed. At first, Gibbs and McGee seemed to think he was just being paranoid, until McGee found a GPS tracker under the man's fender.
It turned out that the man had signed up for an experiment to examine the psychological aspects of subjects who were placed under surveillance. Right after agreeing to this, he was mugged and - as a result of being hit in the head a crowbar - suffered a concussion... which removed all memory of the experiment.
So his fears of being followed, while real, were not criminal. Upon realizing that his surveillance - while suffering from amnesia - lead to the cameras getting pictures of his UA wife (UA stands for Unauthorized Absence, which is similar to being AWOL), he burnt down the testing center in order to destroy the data.
The character of Richard Parsons was well written. Colin Hanks played the part very well too, coming off at first as a sort of harmless mild-mannered Columbo:
Parsons: Relax director. I'm just here to cross some "t"s and dot some "i"s. I'll be as quick and painless as possible. | permalink
I truly expected him to walk away from questioning one of the team, only to then turn back with the standard oh just one more thing....
The writers - through Parsons' activities - played NCIS fans like a flute in this episode: at first putting the spotlight on Ziva, with Parson's intense questioning regarding the nature of her friendship with an Israeli operative. Then this exchange happened when Tony attempted to defend Ziva during an elevator ride with Parsons:
Parson: What makes you think I'm going after Ziva? | permalink
Which I think was meant to make us believe that Tony was the real target. Then after examining his files, the team was sure he was investigating Vance. Then, after bugging Parsons' phone, McGee finally discovered the true target, which was Gibbs himself.
While all of this was going on, it was great to see the entire team trying to look out for each other. Parsons played Abby so well by criticizing her lab technique such that she was angry at him at the exact moment that he asked her a key question. I don't think he needed to go to that effort with her, as she is generally an innocent and open book anyway. Her opinion of him was formed after she blurted out the fact that Ziva had discovered that Eli was a murderer and had told Gibbs about it:
Abby: I knew that guy was trouble. He's like an evil McGee. | permalink
I had the same thought while watching him make the team dance on his puppet strings.
When they thought Vance was his target, the team gathered in his office and inadvertently destroyed his plausible deniability by telling him how they were going to find out what he was up to, including placing an electronic bug on his phone. Vance saw it for what it was: they wanted to "have his back.'
I think the most compelling scene though was when all of them (minus Vance) gathered in the lab to discuss Parsons. I don't know if we've ever seen all of them gathered like that, including Palmer - who in this episode had nothing to say. It was a true family moment for them. Interesting to see Tony complete Gibbs' thought, too, regarding the "playing cards" metaphor.
In fact, I think Tony resembled Gibbs in another scene as well when he barged in on Parsons during the interview with Ziva and announced that the interview was over. When Parsons objected with you don't have the authority, Tony barked back: It was over two seconds ago. Door! And I thought it was perfect: Tony protecting Ziva like the stand-up guy that he is, using as few words as possible. Just like Gibbs.
Tony's exchange with Ziva about her sleeping with someone in Israel because, as she put it, I felt alone was touching and a little sad. It looks like the writers are intent on teasing us with these two, to keep us tuning in just to have us try to figure out which direction this particular love boat will sail next. (The complete dialogue of that scene - as well as many other exchanges - are on our NCIS quotes for this episode).
I think that while Vance may be the NCIS director, Jethro Leroy Gibbs is the father of that unit - and so the final scene focused the tension on him, once we learned that he is the actual subject of Parsons' investigation. Great ending to this episode... and you can be sure next week's finale will be fairly amazing.
Some final thoughts:
- The episode title "Double Blind" refers to a phrase commonly used in experiments, and refers to the fact that neither the subjects nor the ones administering the test are aware of who is getting treatment and who (in the case of drug testing) are getting placebos. I'm not sure the title fits, for either the case they investigated or the investigation of NCIS itself.
- Parsons' lab knowledge and tech savvy (as evidenced by his knowledge that his own phone was bugged) really put the exclamation point on Abby's assertion of him being an "evil McGee." Makes you wonder if he was aware that the team was sorting through his files too, and hacking into all kinds of places where they had no business being.
- The writers gave us some misdirection with the promo for this episode. When we saw Parsons barking at Ziva Did you sleep with him? we had no idea that the question had nothing to do with Tony.
- That was an awesome new Camaro that Ziva was driving at the beginning of the episode. You have to wonder if she'll be questioned about it, and about whether she can afford it. It would be neat if she had accidentally kept one or two of those diamonds for herself. Unrealistic and unlikely, but pretty cool. (By the way, I tried to track down the title to the song that was playing on her stereo but couldn't manage to get it.)
- Our NCIS Round Table discussion is up! Come over and take a look and then chime in with your thoughts.
What are your thoughts on the episode? How do you see the final episode of NCIS Season 10 playing out next week?
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.