NCIS, Ep. 10.2, “Recovery”: Painting pretty pictures and orange walls

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NCIS, Season 10, Episode 2: “Recovery”
Written by Scott Williams
Directed by Dennis Smith
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

The latest installment of the CBS procedural starts off with what may be an intentional reference to the beginning of the Halloween season. Abby Scuito is having nightmares after the bombing, which is not surprising since she has always been the character noted with having the greatest emotional depth. Her feelings about the unsettling apparitions and well-meaning pressure from Gibbs forces her to face her fear of rejection and seek out her biological brother Kyle (the well-cast Daniel Louis Rivera, who appropriately bears an uncanny resemblance to Abby’s alter-ego, Pauley Perrette).

The two initially met last season; however, Kyle was unaware that the woman perusing his pet shop was in fact his own flesh and blood, a long-lost sister. The two high-energy actors play well together, they have enthusiasm to spare, but the critical scene (or lack thereof) deprives viewers the chance of witnessing the moment of reveal and the subsequent bombardment of questions inevitable after such a life-changing discovery.

Abby is not the only character given inadequate attention; the episode also tip-toes around the personal lives of the remaining ensemble. The team is clearly off their game. Their spare time is spent pondering the possibility of rejuvenating the walls with a different paint color, alluding to the denial that allows them to appear unfazed by the attack on their workplace. Their front is supported by the report given by the visiting crisis counselor, Dr. Wolf, who steps in to evaluate the team and clear them for duty. Since they they have already been working for months, his role is made less influential than it might have been, but it’s entertaining to watch the team evade his inquiries, a tradition of sorts. Steve Valentine as the kindly psychologist is a welcome addition to the show’s wide array of personalities. He’s intrusive, honest, and surprisingly endearing. It would be regrettable for the show to not promote him as a recurring cast member – that is, if there is room in the agency for another psychology professional.

Perhaps the untimely presence of Doctor Mallard serves as a foreshadow of a replacement.

Against Gibbs’s sincere wishes, Ducky determines to involve himself in the case, an investigation into the death of the NCIS Weapons Administrator who disappeared around the time of the bombing. The English gentlemen has never been short of pride or temper, but the interactions between Ducky and Gibbs or Palmer serve as a sign of regression rather than growth. His persistence to return to work prematurely feels more childish than admirable, eventually leading to the doubt of his reinstatement as head of autopsy. The question is raised of whether Brian Dietzen’s recent prominence tells of a departure and if this is the making of a farewell.

Rocky Carroll as NCIS Director Vance  shines brightest in the spotlight during his face-off with the new doctor. His performance illuminates all of the doubt and frustration as head of an agency recovering from an unpreventable tragedy and as a family man whose vulnerability of being human has shattered his illusion of invincibility. That scene and a the few sequences in the interrogation room serve as highlights for Scott Williams, a relatively new member of the writing staff, whose script is troubled by ‘hit or miss’ character moments and the reliance on uncovering an unoriginal love triangle in order to close the case. The plot behind the murder is a shoe-horned attempt to expand the NCIS universe by giving empty histories to characters who should have been introduced earlier on, perhaps before the blast, in order to leave a lasting impact.

“Recovery” certainly features a few heart-felt scenes, and there are moments that give suitable mention to past episodes and characters who have left their mark. However, exploring Abby’s personal journey after the bombing would make for a less superficial, character-driven episode if only Williams hadn’t decided to side-step the anticipated reunion of the kindred-spirit siblings. The episode plays it safe by downplaying the golden moments, a disappointing choice that leaves the murder of one of NCIS’ own and the solace found in an incredible familiar connection without an emotional core.

Amanda Williams

  1. Melissa says

    I as well wish there was a scene in which Abby revealed herself to Kyle as her sister. It’ll be interesting to see if we will continue to learn the circumstances behind Abby’s adoption.

    Being a fan of McGee, I feel as though there was a missed opportunity during this episode. Mentally stable? While the line itself was great, I was hoping there would be some doubt in his delivery, something that Gibbs could pick up and realizing that McGee was, in fact, not okay.

    Rocky Carroll’s scenes were wonderful, and in his scene with the good doctor you realize just the amount of guilt he has placed on himself. As I was watching this scene it occured to me that I didn’t even take into account how close that vehicle was to his family.

  2. Mel says

    I agree that depriving the audience of actually seeing Abby reveal her connection to Kyle was a major cheat.

    I also felt the whole team was just “off”, but still can’t figure out how much of this was intentional and how much just flat writing. One would think the bombing of their “home” would bring this already close team even closer, but I’m seeing the opposite so far. If this is intentional, and to be explored as the season unfolds(for instance in the upcoming two-parter on PTSD), then I’ll roll with it and see how they play it out. If they just sweep it under the rug, well, that will be disappointing.

    Agree that Vance’s scene with Dr. Wolf was very powerful, and gave the ep what anchor it had. Also enjoyed the Gibbs-meets-Kyle scene.

    Enjoyed reading your thoughts, as always.

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