“Welcome aboard, probie.”
Those are the three words Ellie Bishop heard at the end of tonight’s NCIS, but getting to that point wasn’t easy.
In fact, there were a few moments in tonight’s episode, which saw the conclusion of the Benham Parsa arc, where it was clear that Gibbs and Bishop weren’t getting along at all. Their spat stemmed from the fact that Bishop had been hiding information about the Parsa case from the team. Specifically? She didn’t tell anyone that she was sort of an expert on him.
In Bishop’s view, her failure to report her area of expertise to Gibbs was not a lie – simply an omission of information. But as we know, Gibbs cares very little about technicalities and a lot about the bottom line. And as he saw it, Bishop could not be trusted. So he benched her. (He was also warned by one of her former superiors that she had been taken off the Parsa case because of her obsessive tendencies.)
Confused by the move – she was, after all, an expert in the man they were hunting – Bishop confronted Tony at one point and asked him to explain Gibb’s logic behind the move. That’s when Tony schooled Bishop in the art of Gibbs. “Gibbs doesn’t expect that you’ll tell him everything, he just needs to trust that you would.”
Looking to earn Gibbs’s trust back, Bishop ‘fessed up to Gibbs about everything. She told him about her investigations, about being taken off the case, and about the direct contact (taunts, gifts and threats) she’d had with Parsa in the past. Gibbs suddenly understood why she was so invested in the case – Parsa was the man who taught her how to play the cat-and-mouse game. So Gibbs told Bishop to make another move and to make sure it was the last one. The way I saw it, Gibbs knew that this win was the only way Bishop could begin to grow into the agent he thought she could be. If she closed the book on this case, she could move on. Or as he put it, “Rule No. 11: When the job is done, walk away.”
Getting the job done, though, was harder than it looked. Once they did track down Parsa and get him in a room alone, a string of events led to Bishop nearly being killed after he trapped her in a room with him. But Gibbs came to the rescue by appealing to Parsa’s one soft spot – his family. Using some old voice recordings of conversations Parsa had with his sister, the team was able to fashion a fake version of Parsa’s sister’s voice and used it to convince him she was pleading for his surrender. The trick worked long enough for Gibbs to get a good shot and he brought Parsa down.
In the end, Gibbs learned that he could, indeed, trust Bishop and she learned that being on a team meant giving up her natural instinct to play her cards close to the chest. Finding this peace with one another proved to be something that worked in Bishop’s favor – Gibbs offered her a spot as a probationary agent.
I saw this episode as a conclusion to the Getting to Know Bishop period, and while I’ve enjoyed doing so, I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. Discovering a new character and testing the waters with them is fun, but the real test is when things become normal again. How will the team feel once we hit a string of standalone episodes? We’ll find out soon enough.
“Baths are for kids. We’re men. Men soak.” – Tony
“Gibbs doesn’t play games – except Twister. That’s been confirmed.” – Tony
Bishop: How long did it take for you to figure him out?
Tony: Gibbs? Any day now…
Best moment: Tony and McGee’s childish conversation about the Gibbs-Bishop fight being overheard by Vance.