Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mark Harmon and character L.J. Gibbs in NCIS

Biography: An experienced former U.S. Marine scout sniper who served in Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Storm and reached the rank of Gunnery Sergeant, Agent Gibbs is a highly skilled investigator and interrogator endowed with virtually infallible intuition. He uses these skills to his advantage while working on a case. He also tends to think out of the command structure if that helps him. In one third-season episode, when he couldn't make a solid case against a gang leader for murder, he allowed members of the gang to see the evidence that the leader had betrayed and murdered their former leader. After Gibbs released the gang leader, his own people killed him.

During his service in the USMC, Gibbs earned a Purple Heart for a head wound suffered during Desert Storm. Gibbs' fictional awards include as shown on his ribbon board include the following: Silver star, Purple Heart, Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, United Nations Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), and Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia).

In season three (episode 11, Model Behavior), Gibbs is awarded the NCIS Meritorious Service Medal (MSM), but does not attend the award ceremony at which Tony accepts the medal on his behalf. When Gibbs shows no interest in it, Tony locks it in a box containing several similar presentation cases, all of which presumably contain similar kinds of medals awarded to Gibbs.

At one point, Gibbs also served with the Military Police at Camp Lejeune.

Throughout the first three seasons, much of Gibbs' personal history had been kept a mystery — even from his NCIS colleagues. It was known, initially, that Gibbs had been married and divorced three times and that he once had a romantic relationship with the recently appointed director of NCIS, Jenny Shepard. In the first season, he was also occasionally seen in the company of a mysterious (and never-identified) redheaded woman, suggesting an active personal life away from NCIS, even though his colleagues were never able to identify the woman. (In the episode "My Other Left Foot", it was revealed that Gibbs prefers redheads.) The only evidence of an active personal life is his relentless commitment to the building of wooden boats in his basement using only hand tools. Some other information revealed in the first season is that in Desert Storm Gunnery Sergeant Gibbs served under a Lieutenant Cameron (believed dead in 1991). His Company commander was a Col. William Ryan. That these things are not referred to later suggests the back story might have been changed.

As of the fourth season, it is alleged by Director Shepard that he should now have a fleet of four. Gibbs revealed that they were named after his wives and burnt when the relationship ended. The boats are shrouded in mystery, as it has never been revealed exactly how Gibbs manages to remove the completed vessels from the underground basement, which appears to have only a single small door for access and no windows. Gibbs has been asked to reveal his paradoxical secret, but his reaction, so far, has been to ignore the question. (In the beginning of season four, it is shown that the door that was shown earlier is a central portion of what amounts to a barn door. Area views of the house in other episodes show that the foundation is built into the side of a hill and that the barn door is on the right side of the house, facing a field, not the driveway. Gibbs was seen loading things onto a trailer, speaking to Tobias Fornell, with a realtor and a prospective buyer at the top of the stairs.) Gibbs' last boat that he's been working on is named "The Kelly," after his daughter.

In the two-part third season finale, "Hiatus," numerous secrets about Gibbs' past were revealed. It was learned that he had been married four times, rather than three; that he had had a child (Kelly) with his first wife (Shannon); and that both were killed by a Mexican drug dealer while Gibbs was serving in Desert Storm in 1991. (In "Requiem", Gibbs finds a time capsule from Kelly. In the time capsule is a hand drawing dated 1992, Kelly's kindergarten year.) Upon his return, the NCIS lead investigator ( Mike Franks) at the time secretly provided Gibbs with information as to the Mexican's whereabouts; Gibbs subsequently tracked down the man and used his sniper skills to kill him. In 1992, he joined NIS in July of 1992 (name changed to NCIS August same year). The episode also revealed that Jenny Shepard was Gibbs' partner when she joined NCIS, before their romantic involvement. In the fourth season episode "Sandblast", Gibbs has become involved with Army Lt. Col. Hollis Mann (played by Susanna Thompson), who works for United States Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID), the U.S. Army's version of NCIS, leading several of his colleagues to speculate that she could end up being his fourth ex-wife.

During Desert Storm, Gibbs was caught in an explosion which left him in a coma for 19 days. In 2006, another explosion, caused by a terrorist's bomb, likewise left him in a coma, followed by a period of selective amnesia in which the trauma of his wife and child's death 15 years earlier caused Gibbs to forget much of his life after that point. In fact, he nearly cries at one point because he misses them so much (this is unusual for Gibbs, who is usually unemotional except for anger and amusement). With the aid of his former junior partner, Jenny, Ducky Mallard, and finally Ziva David, Gibbs is able to regain his memories. When his NCIS superiors are unwilling to prevent a terrorist bombing from destroying a freighter and a navy vessel, Gibbs resigns from NCIS and as the third season ends, he takes up residence in Mexico with his former mentor, Mike Franks. At the start of the fourth season, however, he returns to Washington in order to help Ziva clear her name after she is framed for the murder of three men; although he subsequently returns to Mexico, the second episode of the season sees him once again returning to NCIS to assist on a case.

Before the end of the second episode, he has a conversation with Director Shepard, who states that she doesn't want Gibbs back because she's worried he won't be able to handle himself. She states that "you've already been in two comas. You might not come out of the next one." She also argues that Gibbs was "the best. When you're that good at something, you don't just quit."

At the end of the second episode, he is seen sitting at his own desk, after reorganizing everyone else's, and the episode finishes with Gibbs saying "What?" and McGee smiles, realizing Gibbs is now back to stay. He also sports a mustache, having tidied up and shaved his beard. The mustache is gone by the fifth episode, signifying a return of the 'old' Gibbs, including, as Ducky notes, "his usual impatience".

Since Gibbs' return, Shepard has been keeping certain NCIS operational details secret from him, at one point ordering that all the view screens in the control room "go dark" when Gibbs enters in order to prevent him from seeing details of an ongoing operation. When Gibbs asks Shepard about this, she replies that the operations are "need to know, and you don't need to know". It does not really become clear throughout the fourth season why Shepard excludes Gibbs, although the operations she withholds from him seem to be related to her nemesis La Grenouille.

As season four progresses, this behavior of Shepard's towards Gibbs gradually subsides, though, and in the second to last episode "Trojan Horse", Gibbs even acts as director of NCIS while Shepard is on a conference in Paris.

It becomes evident throughout the fourth season, that the events of the episodes "Hiatus" parts one and two, as well as the shifts in the dynamics of the team brought about by Gibbs's absence (during which Tony was team leader), are causing a change in Gibbs's character. Especially where Tony's involvement with the La Grenouille mission, his frequent absences and secretive behavior are concerned, Gibbs displays unusual patience. This is also true for Jenny Shepard's obsessiveness with René Benoît (La Grenouille) and her enduring unwillingness to yield any information about her history with Benoît or the related undercover operation she assigned Tony, to Gibbs.

Throughout season four, Lt. Col. Hollis Mann keeps reappearing and it grows more and more clear that she is very serious about the relationship with Gibbs. Towards the end of the season (episode 22 "In the Dark"), she says to him "I want to start building something, and I want to build it with you." Gibbs, however, seems unable to commit himself to her, or even to express his feelings.

Gibbs's leaving after "Hiatus" also put a strain on his relationship with Dr. Ducky Mallard, who appears to bear some kind of grudge through several episodes, acting coldly towards Gibbs. He often remarks about his and Gibbs' long friendship in an almost bitter way. In episode 10 "Smoked", Ducky finally reveals that after learning about Shannon and Kelly's death in Hiatus, he felt betrayed by Gibbs for never confiding in him about his family. "All those years of friendship together", he says, "and somehow you failed to mention that you have a family." In the course of the conversation, Gibbs defies his rule about "saying sorry" and apologizes to Ducky for not telling him about his first wife and daughter.

The fifth season shows an even more changed Gibbs. In Episode 3 "Ex-File", his third ex-wife Stephanie Flynn is introduced, and in the way that Gibbs behaves it becomes clear that he has no hard feelings towards her. The episode turns out to possibly be a turning point in Gibbs's relationship with Hollis Mann, who leads the investigation surrounding a member of Defense Intelligence, his wife and Stephanie.

Hollis confides to Ducky that she is worried about "becoming another one of [Gibbs's] mistakes" because she feels that there is a part of him she cannot reach. Ducky tells her about Shannon and Kelly, but when Hollis confronts Gibbs, he says that he has "put it behind him".

The episode ends with Hollis playing a tape in Gibbs's basement while he is not there (walking Stephanie out). The tape is a recording of a piano piece, and Hollis seems somewhat amused by this taste in music, until she realizes that it is a tape recorded by Shannon and Kelly, containing a greeting sent by them probably during his time in Iraq. The last scene shows Gibbs sitting on the stairs to his basement, looking at Hollis with tears in his eyes. According to the producers, this scene is defining for the entire fifth season.

In episode 9 "Lost and Found", however, Jenny Shepard reads an article about Hollis Mann, stating that she retired and has gone to Hawaii. Shepard, who displayed a certain jealousy towards Hollis whenever the two women met, makes a surprising move when Gibbs visits her house to check on a suspect's son staying with Jenny. She says "There was a time when I would have asked you to stay, and not have taken No for an answer." Gibbs, however, declines the indirect offer, reasoning that she made her choice when she left him for career reasons during their time as partners in Paris.

More about Gibbs's pain about losing his family is revealed in episode 7 "Requiem", in which Maddie Tyler comes to him for help. Maddie was Kelly's best friend in Washington. Gibbs and Maddie end up locked in a car underwater, and Tony rescues them both. Gibbs, while apparently very close to death, has a vision of Shannon and Kelly, in which Kelly tells him that "It's okay" and to go back to life.

Due to the writers' strike, which discontinued NCIS after episode 11 of the fifth season, it is yet to be revealed whether the events of "Requiem" mean that Gibbs has now truly put his family's death behind him, or what happened between him and Hollis Mann.

Colleagues: Gibbs tends to be reticent, and reluctant to reveal his feelings. Only Ducky (Dr. Mallard) and Jenny get to call him "Jethro" on a regular basis because they have worked/known each other for a considerable time (at least since he was in Paris undercover) and there is a heightened sense of trust on both sides, although this seems to have diminished somewhat after Gibbs' return to NCIS.

He is mostly called "Gibbs" by colleagues, "boss" by Tony and McGee. He is called "Gunny" by former USMC associates. He is addressed as "probie" by Franks. He has been married four times to red-haired women — his later three marriages all ended in divorce. His first wife was murdered, one ex-wife attacked him with a golf club (seven iron) and now stalks him on the anniversary of their split, and the other attacked him with a baseball bat. In season 5 his third ex-wife appears and is identified as Stephanie Bronwen Flynn. The mysterious red-headed woman who appears briefly to drop him off or pick him up at the end of a case (mostly during season one) is never identified. Jenny Shepard, another former love interest, is also a redhead. A couple of very early episodes suggested an attraction existed between Gibbs and Caitlin Todd, but any possibility of this going beyond flirting and jokes evaporated when he indicated to her that it was a bad idea for NCIS operatives to have a relationship (a possible reference to Jenny Shepard). Gibbs' relationship with Ziva is one of trust although he tends to keep her on a bit of a short leash because he knows how dangerous she can be, leading to one investigation in which he didn't involve her in a search for the suspect because she probably would have killed him. Ziva later confirms that that probably would have been the case. Gibbs has also had to remind her more than once that suspects need to be brought in alive.

During the first season, Gibbs develops a habit of smacking his subordinates on the head if they do or say something foolish. Tony is the most frequent target of this, though most of the others have all endured their share of smacking as well. Gibbs is not above giving himself the same treatment; in a third season episode (Family Secrets) he is seen smacking his own head (in private in an elevator) when he chooses to tamper with evidence in order to protect a marine's career. In the season three finale, "Hiatus", one flashback shows that Gibbs got this idea from his own boss back when he was still a "probie", when his now-elderly boss smacks him on the head.

Gibbs is fond of Abby and regularly bribes her with her favorite "Caf-Pow!" beverage. He is so fond of her, in fact, that when a former date of hers stalks her, Gibbs threatens him by saying "The only reason you're still able to walk is because I never heard about you until today!" Abby is the only person to whom Gibbs regularly shows any affection, usually in the form of a hug or a kiss on the cheek, and she reciprocates just as much. Similarly, she is often the only one who can get away with teasing him. He is particularly protective of her, almost failing to control his anger when she is nearly killed in an episode of season four, "Driven." Professionally, he has a lot of faith in her knowledge of forensics, often relying on her for answers and help in solving cases; he once declared that in the lab, "Abby doesn't have accidents."

Personality: Gibbs can be extremely charming in an understated way and has a dry sense of humor. He is unforgiving of his or his colleagues' mistakes and demands high standards of himself and his team.

He is building a boat in his basement by hand, with no power tools. According to the series, he did so after each time he has been divorced. It is also stated that he destroyed each one after it was done. It is also hinted that he names the boats after women he is involved with, and when the relationship ends, so does the boat.

He has a coffee addiction and even has a personal rule about it: "Rule 23, never mess with a Marine's coffee if you want to live". He also appears to be farsighted, as early episodes of the series reveal that he has difficulty reading fine print, though he refuses to wear reading glasses. Although in some episodes he puts on director Shepard's glasses when the two of them are in her office and he has to read something.

Gibbs is usually portrayed as a complex man of mystery and intrigue. He likes to use his marine training to give him an advantage over other people, such as when he silently appears behind people.

When it was revealed that his wife and daughter were murdered by a drug runner, Ducky casually states that they can close the book on the drug runner's disappearance, because there is no way that Jethro would have allowed the man to remain alive. In the same episode it was revealed that Jethro gained access to the case file, crossed the border into Mexico, and killed the man with a sniper rifle.

Whenever he needs to have a private talk with someone, usually FBI Special Agent Tobias Fornell, but also occasionally Ziva and others with whom Gibbs confides, he takes them to his "Conference Room," which is basically just the main elevator of NCIS headquarters with the emergency brake pulled.

Gibbs has displayed an uncanny awareness of his co-workers activities. An oft-repeated scene has Gibbs walking in on his team-members having an off-topic conversation: even though they immediately break off to focus on the case at hand, Gibbs drops a remark later on referring back to the earlier conversation. In "Escaped" 4x02, Tony attempts to replicate this action by "listening in" on their conversation with a cell phone and an opened line. However, Gibbs trumps him after his attempt.

His taste in "pop culture" is rarely discussed; however, in the series pilot, he is revealed to have seen the movie Air Force One with Harrison Ford. A recurring theme is how out of step Gibbs is with popular culture.

In Season 4 Gibbs has been shown to be able to speak Russian as he speaks to the suspect in Russian.

He also has a photograph of a tombstone on the wall in his cubicle. Presumably it is his first wife's or his daughter's.

Technology: Gibbs has very little knowledge of technology and shows little patience when exposed to tech talk. He often can't or won't work a Palm Pilot, and regularly trashes his cell phone, which prompted his subordinates to keep a stock of replacement cell phones at NCIS HQ. It is implied that he believes everything can be rebooted. He can never understand McGee's or Abby's technological talk and sometimes can get angry when they do not explain their findings in simple language which Gibbs can understand. However, Gibbs still has some understanding based within the field of technology. In a season 3 episode he was able to convince McGee and Abby to find the location of an IP Address by relaying it through the local community. Another factor is within Season 4 when he is able to understand that a simple program, which was written to be read by a killer car, could be stored within a small removable memory system. This leads to him removing an SD Card from a digital camera to show Abby and McGee to confirm that he had understood the system. He has trashed the computer on his desk six times, before the NCIS technicians realized that he was "smacking them to make them go faster." On occasion, however, it is suggested that this apparent lack of knowledge may, on occasion, be a ruse. For example, in the second season episode "Terminal Leave", he displays apparent lack of knowledge about the workings of a flash drive, only to later indicate that he knew how to manipulate it. During the previous episode, "The Bone Yard", he prevented an unknown remote computer from hacking Abby's computer by simply unplugging it from the electrical socket.

He needs corrective lenses for far-sightedness, but he is too stubborn to wear them.

He has been known to communicate in American Sign Language (as seen in the episode "Sandblast") with Abby Sciuto.

Gibbs' techniques and rules: When Gibbs first started working within the NIS (now NCIS) he was a probie (probationary agent) to his former mentor Mike Franks. According to Mike Franks within the Season 3 Finale (Hiatus) Gibbs was a weak agent who supervised within many of the operations. This led to Gibbs picking up many of Mike Franks' training skills and techniques. During the flashbacks Gibbs sees while regaining his memory, one shows Gibbs as a probie carrying many boxes with Mike complaining that he was too slow. Another flashback shows Mike Franks providing Gibbs with his NCIS black jacket when the agency name change occurred. Within this flashback we hear Gibbs complaining that he liked the old blue jacket better than the new black one. This leads to Mike giving his probie (Gibbs) a slap on the back of his head.

When Gibbs is finally given charge over the team (1995 - after his mentor left) he took many of the techniques which Franks had used on him and subjected them to his colleagues, including Tony, McGee, Ziva and also the late Kate. The most important techniques would be his slap to the back of the heads of each co-worker when they offered something foolish.

Like his techniques many of his rules have been adapted from his former mentor during the time he was the probie within the team.

* Rule #1: Never let suspects stay together.

From episode Yankee White (season 1)

* Rule #1: Never screw over your partner.

From episode Blowback (season 4)

* Rule #2: Always wear gloves at a crime scene.

From episode Yankee White (season 1)

* Rule #3: Don't believe what you're told. Double check.

From episode Yankee White (season 1)

* Rule #3: Never be unreachable.

From episode Deception (season 3)

* Rule #4: If you have a secret, the best thing is to keep it to yourself. The second-best is to tell one other person if you must. There is no third-best.

From episode Blowback (season 4)

* Rule #7: Always be specific when you lie.

From episode Reveille (season 1)

* Rule #8: Never take anything for granted.

From episode Probie (season 3)

* Rule #9: Never go anywhere without a knife.

From episode One Shot, One Kill (season 1), Missing (season 1) and Probie (season 3)

* Rule #12: Never date a coworker.

From episode Enigma (season 1)

* Rule #15: Always work as a team.

From episode Leap of Faith (season 5)

* Rule #18: It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.

From episode Silver War (season 3)

* Rule #22: Never, ever bother Gibbs in interrogation.

From episode Smoked (season 4)

* Rule #23: Never mess with a Marine's coffee if you want to live.

From episode Forced Entry (season 2)

Another one of Gibbs' rules which is used more often than the others, but without a number, is "Never say you're sorry, it's a sign of weakness." According to DiNozzo, another rule is "Never marry a woman who eats more than you."


Robert said...

Thanks for the update, After tonight's episode I wanted to know more about Shannon. As I new devotee to the show I found your site very informative. Thanks.

Robert M.
Jax Fl

joy said...

Really, Gibbs (Mark Harmon) is one of the main reasons I loved the show so much.It has been my all time favorite.Keep NCIS as good as it is. It is my favorite show!

WOL said...

"He also appears to be farsighted, as early episodes of the series reveal that he has difficulty reading fine print"

Oddly enough, it's called "sharpshooter's syndrome."

WOL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis St John said...

Is Mark really a wood worker?If so what projects has he done?