NCIS, Ep. 10.08, “Gone”: A uniting effort by the cast makes for a more watchable hour of drama

NCIS, Season 10, Episode 8: “Gone”
Written by Reed Steiner and Scott Williams
Directed by James Whitmore, Jr.
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

When season ten was still shrouded in mystery, a fresh new year waiting to arrive, there was plenty of hopeful speculation concerning possible stories that might unfold throughout the upcoming episodes. One popular hypothetical was the pairing of Abby and Ziva in an undercover mission. While they aren’t technically undercover, Abby and Ziva come the closest to a professional partnership that they will likely ever get for the remainder of the season.

Ziva takes it upon herself to act as a surrogate to Lydia Wade (Kirsten Prout), a teenage girl whose father was murdered during the kidnapping of her best friend, Rosie. Abby and Ziva both work with Lydia to help her identify the men responsible. Where Cote de Pablo’s performance lacked an emotional foundation in  “Shell Shock (Part 1)”, she compensates nicely here as Ziva develops a bond with Lydia and also becomes closer to Abby as they share their experiences, both tragic and triumphant. The three form a sisterhood of sorts while camping out at Gibbs’ house, the regular safe house, where Ziva foils one kidnapper’s plan to return and murder Lydia, who has been working on remembering details of the incident.

The man turns out to be Fred, a friend of both Lydia and Rosie’s fathers. He works at a bowling alley that serves as a mutual hang-out spot for the two families where he hired shady mechanics who let him in on a human trafficking deal. They targeted Rosie and Lydia, but Lydia’s father’s interference led to them only grabbing Rosie and desperate to finish their business. With the time running out and Rosie’s anxious parents passionately confronting Lydia first and then Gibbs about doing their best and using every resource to find their daughter, Gibbs issues a notice that all NCIS agents will be requested to lend their services in the investigation. This raises the question of why they do not involve the F.B.I. in a joint investigation.  Human trafficking is just as real and serious as any threat from previous cases the team has worked with or without agent Fornell’s involvement; the severity of the consequences of the girl’s abduction is downplayed by the absence of Joe Spano as Fornell.  And while his name is mentioned, it’s only as a passing introduction for Alex Kingston, who guest stars as an ambiguous woman with criminal associations.

Miranda Pennebaker (Kingston) has a known history of dirty work and also a history with Gibbs, or so it would seem. The two reunite as old friends (or lovers?), though nothing has been said of her character before now. Gibbs enlists her help in connecting some of her clients in order to pinpoint a specific seller who may be holding Rosie, but it is their chatty flirtations that do much to credit the fortunate casting of the “E.R.” alum. Pennebaker has a fun interaction with Tony where she shows just how cold and callous she can be, immediately attracting Ziva to her personality. It’s a fine bit of acting on Kingston’s part. She’s smart and devilishly charming but on screen for way too short a time. Her implied pre-existing relationship with Gibbs plants seeds of hope for her return but also doubt in her dependability. She does, however, come through on her favor and the team eventually finds Rosie.

It’s necessary to see Rosie’s parents’ anguish in order to feel a sense of duty in returning her safely; but what also seems necessary in illustrating just how urgent the situation is would be to show some footage from Rosie’s perspective, held as if an item for purchase by the highest bidder. The plot is fully examined from the investigative side, but the brief presence of Rosie’s parents is not enough to heighten the emotions encompassing the disappearance of the young girl.

It is Lydia whose reaction to her father’s murder and the following grief of his passing stirs an emotional response as she clings to his memory in the face of the fear of losing her best friend as well. Kirsten Prout does a unexpectedly fine job as Lydia, playing with uncertainty the lows of emotional exhaustion and the highs of finding comfort in the support of her friends via her extensive social network.  Despite an unending flow of messages, it’s the human element that relieves the discomfort of being isolated from her usual company in this lonesome time- the girls (and Gibbs) assure her that she is safe and forever a welcome part of their unconventional family.

If the team is to be compared to a family, McGee and Tony mostly resemble quarreling brothers, (there has been less of that as McGee’s role has become less integral to the outcome of each week’s case); and Tony and Ziva are in a platonic state of coexistence. They address their concern for each other and acknowledge that their relationship has become more open in the past few months following the bombing, but Tony insists on going too many steps further by endlessly questioning Ziva about her friend, who is coming for a visit. It’s another subplot that mirrors last week’s story in which Tony pokes and prods until he is either satisfied with his findings or in this case, shamed into an awkward outing with the surprise guest (Jack Axelrod). The whole gag is a bit silly, but it honestly calls back to past grievances caused by Tony’s nosiness. Besides McGee, each character has a chance to contribute significantly to the episode. David McCallum is one stand-out, giving Gibbs a motivational push and Tony a corrective slap in the former’s absence.

In the end, “Gone” is a simple story brought to life by entertaining performances by the cast, both the regulars and the guest stars. It’s not quite at the top of the list, but it’s a step-up from recent attempts at classic NCIS storytelling.

-Amanda Williams

By Amanda Williams

Amanda is an avid reader and occasional writer of film and television commentary. When not transfixed with the world of entertainment, her daily life serves as a "down to earth" look at the humor in living with disabilities, best expressed through tweets that she hopes either inspire or amuse. Her love of serialized mysteries began with "House M.D." and continues to this day with the countless network procedurals that enable her binge-watching habit, but anything Whovian, Conan Doyle, and Edgar Wright is fair game for a marathon of its own. Her favorite movies change by the hour. The book is always better.

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4 Responses to NCIS, Ep. 10.08, “Gone”: A uniting effort by the cast makes for a more watchable hour of drama

  1. JimmyMackey December 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    This episode turned into more of a chick flick for me with the emphasis on Ziva and Abby. Don’t get me wrong; I love Abby and Ziva but I want lest talk and more action. LOL, I guess I’m just an “Expendables” kind of guy. I still like NCIS in general; I have been following the show with my DISH coworker since it started. I also watch commercial free with Auto Hop on my DISH Hopper DVR now because I save enough time to watch another show that evening. I just look for the shows that have the Auto Hop symbol on the Avatar. That is great because I love TV but I never seem to have enough time to watch everything I like.

    Reply
  2. Mel December 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Enjoyed reading your review, Amanda.
    I agree with Lisa that the first half of the episode, after the kidnap/attack, moved a bit slow for me, but picked up in the second half.

    Alex Kingston had my attention from the second she spoke, and the sparks between she and Gibbs make me want to see more of these two together.

    I appreciated the fact that they mixed up the dynamics some in this ep, which is something I hope they do more of. Abby/Ziva, Gibbs/McGee and Tony/Ducky were fun to watch, and had a nice balance of heavy/light, subtly blending in a few lighthearted moments with the serious theme of the episode. I especially liked McGee running up to Gibbs just after the team leader has punched a suspect, and wistfully asking,”I thought you were going to wait for me, Boss?” I often find Gibbs/McGee a rather flat dynamic, but this scene and the following one in interrogation just clicked perfectly for me.

    Although I think I enjoyed the Shell Shock 2 parter a bit more, there was nonetheless enough to make this an entertaining episode.

    Reply
  3. Lisa December 3, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Thank-you for your review.  As always you show your insight and knowledge of the show coupled with your passion for it. 

    I agree there was an air of anticipation surrounding this long awaited episode. Gal Power rules. Sadly for me, I felt some of the Ziva/Abby/Lydia scenes were all ‘too’ convenient.  “She’ll stay with me”, of course she will Ziva, I screamed.  

    The case was solid rock and had real depth. Abby overhearing Ziva and Lydia in the breakroom was beautifully done; classic NCIS.   I do wish  I’d been on the edge of my seat through worry about the missing girl especially given the seriousness of the subject matter.  But a big shout out to Harmon and his emotions with the end rescue scene. 

    “Gone” felt like an episode of two halves.  The minute Alex Kingston entered the episode seemed to pick up pace.  Miranda reminds me of Holly Snow but Kingston and Harmon were a treat to watch.  Hopefully she’ll be back, drip fed rather than overkilled.  Kudos to the director with THAT entrance of Miranda’s.  I had flashbacks to Mary  Poppin’s albeit minus the umbrella  as a result. I wonder if Miranda has a magic bag like Gibbs? 

    Overall for this crab: scary opener; some procedural plodding; a good middle; and a very nice ending.   My big gripe “The new us”.   Why do I need to be told Tony and Ziva are finding themselves in new territory? Shouldn’t I just be able to see that from their interactions?  The end scene here maybe wasn’t 100% new ground for them but it felt new-redone compared to the last two seasons. 

    Credit to Pauley and Cote for running with this new dynamic. Clearly the actresses had fun. Hopefully the encore will not take 7 years to dream up.  And damn it, just what is Gibbs building in his basement now? 

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  4. Visitkarte November 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I just turned up to say “HI”. You reviews are one high point of my week, they are in a way more fun than an episode itself. You brought be back to NCIS and I am glad for this hour of good old crime story with a great cast. Thank you.

    Reply

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