Season 8 Episode 14

A Man Walks Into a Bar...

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Feb 08, 2011 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (18)

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out of 10
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  • 6 years too late!


    Really quite silly to bring up the loss of a character thats been gone for almost 6 years!

    Maybe if it were done at the end of the 3rd season it would have gone down better, but doing it in the 8th season just irritates me.

    Lets not even discuss the ethical standpoint of psych-evaluating people your dead sister used to work for, but to be putting the characters under that microscope and then for the episode to get yanked in the other direction with no resolution for the character we love and see every week now was just ridiculous!

    POOR episode.

  • While Investigating The Murder Of A Naval Commander, The Team Undergoes Its Long Overdue Psychiatric Evaluation Which Reveals A Dark Incident From The Past.

    "A Man Walks Into A Bar" is a remarkable and important episode. The case was dull, but the look back at some important moments was much appreciated. This episode also has a few laughs in there. For example, the psychiatrist said that many people talk about their sex lives and Tony answers that it rules out McGee. I laughed very much during this show. Another high point is the psychiatrist. I didn't realize who she looked like until it was revealed in the end. I don't think many others saw it either. Despite this, this is one of the stronger episodes of this season. This is the one I recommend.
  • The cast so far is still together. They seem to be a well oiled machine that just keeps on turning out stronger episodes one more powerful then the next. This episode speaks volumes to me. It kinda makes me wonder how much longer this show will march on.

    It took me maybe ten to twenty minutes to figure out who Dr. Rachel Cranston is related to and looked like. Its really amazing how the team was on a case and we saw many good memories from the past and some sad ones aswell. Its hard moving on without a cast member who was part of a really great team. Moving along to the future when Ziva arrived she was nothing like Kate Todd. I think its taken a good long time for Ziva to fit into the team. In the back of my head I am left wondering how much longer the show will go on. It was good flashing back to the past and the cast coming to grips with what happened with Kate. I think the only way now is for the show to move on and go forward. When the time does finally come to say goodbye I expect some big suprises at the end. And maybe alittle mystery to. One can wonder and only wait and see what happens.
  • I thought this episode was absolutely perfect for several reasons.

    1. NCIS is setting personal records in rating recently, and the flashbacks in this episode gave insight into each character (with the exception of Palmer, who I did wish had been there) so that the new viewers can have some background about the characters. But the important thing is, NCIS did not make the mistake of using flashbacks to take over the episode, making it a waste for viewers who are already familiar with the flashback scenes. Instead, they used a few short yet important scenes intermixed with the new storylines for a perfect balance.
    2. As a hardcore McAbby fan, I was glad to see their relationship acknowledged, even if nothing happened to progress its status.
    3. I liked the murder/suicide case in general. While it wasn't the most interesting case they've ever done, it fell in line with the seasons 1 and 2 theme that the Kate flashbacks brought in that it wasn't trying to provide a political message or dig deeply into any of the main characters' lives. Plus the suicide angle was surprising, at least to me, which is a nice break from the obviously guilty suspects on some shows.
    4. I liked Kate's sister, who really did look like Sasha. Plus even though Sasha had decided to leave, I feel like an episode like this is good PR to show (or at least make it seem) that no party is bitter about the split. Kate was an interesting character, so it was nice to bring her back in a creative yet realistic way, especially since she was a major part of the pilot and first two seasons that got the ball rolling. Cudos, NCIS. This has been my favorite episode of the season so far.
  • 814

    "A Man Walks into a Bar" it sounds like a Mad Men episode title, but this episode was nothing like Mad Men. Strangely, it was not all like NCIS either.

    The team had to undergo mandatory psych evaluations here. Of course that was going to lead some good comedic moments, but when you watch this show it is about the combination of comedic moments along with a nice dramatic case that the team is investigating, and the latter was conspicuously absent today.

    When the lady said that most people talk about their sex lives, and DiNozzo said, "That rules out McGee," I laughed, but I think they missed out on this show. A lot of potential for this episode, and while it was good, it could have been great, given the cast involved.
  • Entertaining episode due to a great surprise in last 10 minutes.

    Entertaining episode due to a great surprise in last 10 minutes. Up to then it was slightly on the boring side. I won't reveal the surprise here; I suggest that NCIS fans see the episode first before reading reviews, etc.

    Other pluses:
    ¶ unusual and pleasant episode in that there were no villains (other than a minor Korean character). Even the visiting psychiatrist was pleasant; she had no axe to grind.

    ¶ there were a few amusing quips along the way: Tony bragged about acquiring money via a "trifecta" (parimutuel win at a race track); Ziva replied, "I don't want to heart about your "threesomes!" Abby had some funny lines regarding the psych evaluation; she called the shrink "Sigmund" for example.

    ¶ I thought, contrary to some other opinions, that the psychiatrist's probing and the flashbacks didn't center on any one character or situation. It was very skillfully written and directed, and hit everyone. I could document it here, but don't want to give anything away spoiler-wise.

    Some negatives:
    ¶ the commander's murder case was very ho-hum, but it wasn't that important for the episode.

    ¶ as so often seen in NCIS episodes, the confessions that came were so unnecessary -- there was no good evidence against them. One little example is that the commander could have been murdered with his own gun.

    There is a lot I'd like to say, but don't want to reveal spoilers. Let me end on what the significance of the "A Man Walks Into A Bar" riddle means for NCIS, IMHO: a guy walks into a bar and asks for a drink of water. The bartender [I think this represents individual members of the NCIS team] suddenly pulls out a shotgun and fires near the man's head [this is the "harsh" response"]. The man thanks the bartender, leaves a tip and walks out of the bar. The answer is that the man had hiccups, which he wanted cured by drinking water (which often is the cure), but gets cured by the dangerous/stupid shotgun blast (surprises also are thought to cure hiccups). ... ..... ... I finally realized what the point of the joke/riddle is for NCIS. Shooting at the guy with a shotgun is a mite heavy-handed way to cure hiccups. After telling the joke to Gibbs, she told him that "if you keep things bottled up inside, even the harshest response [suicide? shooting at hiccups!] seems appropriate." Just before telling the joke to Vance in the report, she wrote, "But be careful, eventually it might catch up to you." [So the purpose of the joke was to warn Vance and the rest of the team that they better watch out, mental health-wise -- Tony, for example, being lonely with no life outside of his job, and maybe ending up suicidal like a character in the episode. .... ..... A shorter explanation of the moral to the riddle: just as there are different ways to get a job done (drinking water to cure hiccups; or firing a shotgun), there are different lifestyles (normal marriage/hook-up and socialization; or having no life apart from one's job). The riddle is told as a warning to the NCIS team that their job-centric lifestyles might lead to "harsh responses," like the suicide in the episode or firing a shotgun to cure hiccups.

    Frankly, I reject most of this as regards the characters on NCIS. During the episode the psychiatrist is warning the team that they need a more normal social life outside of NCIS. Abby is eccentric, but has a full life (dating, nuns, bowling, etc.). Tony always seemed OK to me (Spring Break, fraternity brothers, dating, etc.). Gibbs, as he said, seems old and set in his ways. Tim sure does date a lot. I'll admit that recently I see the producers putting portends of future breakdowns. But knowing the characters so well for so long, it doesn't ring true.
  • This is The Best episode of NCIS. It all came together.

    I don't give out 10's, but it was easy to give this episode a 10. Everything came together. We learned so much about everyone (that we already knew) because they articulated it. I said half way thru this episode that this seems to be so Kate-centric and then the bomb shell dropped at the end. This episode is why this is the best show on TV and why it is my #1 show. I have never been disappointed. I also thought as did another reviewer, if the end of this series is coming near. So much came out of all the characters about what is going on inside them that I am worried that there is not much more that can be said. That being said, and I am fearful of the end of this show, that no other show can provide the great plot and story lines as well as the deep character development. With Abby being the first to step out of this show to do commercials, I wonder how long us devoted fans of NCIS have to continue enjoying this show. Again, this was The Best episode of many, and it was easy to give it a 10.
  • A much better episode than recent ones

    An excellent episode that was more like what I expect from the team. Although the plot with all the flashbacks did have a sense of 'finality' about it as though a change is coming!
    With the ending maybe that change looks like Vance going?? If it happens let's hope whoever comes in to replace him brings ''something'' to add
    I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and look forward to next weeks installemnt to see what will happen next.
    It was good to see all the team 'on edge' with the pshychologist watching their every move and Tony played his part particularly well. I also liked the way Ducky said he wouldn't open up and then promptly did so typical Ducky!!
  • Season 8 is turning out to be one of the best seasons of the series.

    This entire episode was simply amazing, from beginning to end. I never suspected that that girl was Kate's sister until Gibbs said it. I was like "What!?!". The flashbacks were done tremendously and I have a feeling there were hidden messages inside of McGee's and Abby's. Both of their flashbacks ended with the other, and they both had a little smile on their face. It might just be wishful thinking for a huge McAbby fan, but I have a feeling they will be together someday. Anyway, as I was saying: This episode is in my list of top Must Watch NCIS episodes! You won't regret watching this one.
  • Not just a clip show!

    Wow! This was NCIS back on form.

    I must admit I wasn't expecting much considering the dross being served up for the past season, with few exceptions, especiall as this was a clip show.
    But I was indeed very wrong. This was a clip show as clips should be; not just an excuse to save money, but a way to develop plot and story in a cohesive manner using past footage. Made all the more awesome by the fact that we were shown "unseen" memories. I loved the fact that new scenes were added into "the past" the way they were.
    It was great to see Sasha back, but it did make me miss the old days of NCIS. Those were the days.

    The extreme lack of forced TIVA was also a godsend.

    The acting was superb, and the casting for "Rachel" excellent. I loved that we got to see competent!Tony again, and that he sussed who Rachel was before everyone else (except maybe Gibbs of course).

    Well doe writers - you've done yourselves and this show proud!
  • An average-level case, with a really interesting guest character.

    The casse that we received in this episode was no better than the last one, or hthe one before that, and I am concerned by the fact tht we have had three weeks in a row with boring/mediocre cases.

    What made this episode much more enjoyable than its predecessors, however, was the introduction of Late Special Agent Caitlin Todd's sister into the fray, and seeing her search for closure. WE relived a lot of great Kate/Tony moments, as well as some Kate/Gibbs moments, and overall, it was very fitting to have an episode that reflected on eight seasons worth of brilliance!

    I would really recommend this episode, particularly to those who have watched the show since the start! I really enjoyed it, and we learnt a litttle bit about a few people.

    Keep it up, NCIS! I don't mind having a smaller focus on the case, aS long as the side storylines continue to be as good as it was in this one!
    Great work, NCIS!
  • Great episode with an unexpected twist!

    This was SUCH a great episode- definitely one of my favorites this season! The story was phenomenally told, and that twist? Guh. Everything just clicked into place right then; up until Rachel's identity (as Kate's sister) was revealed I kept thinking, 'wow, she's not doing a very good job as a shrink; she's only scratching the surface... and why does Kate keep coming up in everyone's evaluations?' but then writer Gary Glasberg threw that curveball... Totally makes sense. She was not REALLY there to evaluate Team Gibbs. She was there to get closure for herself, and that impacted her line of questioning. It all makes sense now. Plus all the flashbacks to Kate? SO great. I realized again that I do miss her, even if I prefer Ziva. I thought it was very cool seeing those extra clips of her from deleted scenes, and I think we did get a small new piece from Sasha for the phone conversation. .

    Again, the episode was just amazing. I loved loved loved all the character introspection, especially for Tony, Ziva, and Abby. Speaking of which, Tony was at the top of his game; serious but funny in an actually entertaining way. Sometimes you can't see through the clown mask and he just looks idiotic, but Gary Glasberg hit all the right notes and made Tony feel believable, especially with his wariness of the shrink. I could tell there were many hints dropped about what is to come later on in the season but it was done subtly and therefore well.


    That ending montage as Vance reads letter with all the high points of the series reminded me why I love this show so much :D Next episode looks great too... they are on a roll!


    My only qualm with this episode is that there wasn't enough Tony/Ziva interaction for this Tiva fan, but hey, the solid story totally made up for that! I can wait until next week for a little sugar ;D
  • WOW- Just WOW

    When I heard there was going to be a therapy episode I was excited to see how the team would react to having their issues dug up but when the therapists identity was revealed! Its been so long since we had anything to do with Kate that it was a shocker. The case was on a backburner and could have been dealt more in depth but I was admittedly more interested in seeing the team evaluated. I would have liked to see more on Ziva, possibly on her childhood or the fact that she killed her brother, or even Somalia and perhaps some more on Tony, with the flashbacks to Kate getting a little tiresome in the sheer number. However as a whole it was a great episode- moving and exciting.
  • Amazing. This is the episode I wait all year for. RIght up there with SWAK and Requiem.

    Amazing. This is the episode I wait all year for. RIght up there with SWAK and Requiem and all those other episodes that at the end of the season I look back at and think, this is why I watch.

    This episode was all character driven, and most fans can agree its the characters that drive this show. All the team got a turn. Ziva wasn't given much that was new but I loved her line about wanting something permanent and was that do much to ask for? I liked that it showed that all her issues haven't gone away.

    McGee getting shrinked was good. I liked how it focused on the "Probie" button that McGee still has and reacts to, and his less than stellar relationships. McAbby got a mention, and that should make those fans happy. Clearly its still around and thats exciting.

    I liked that it showed the difference between Abby and Kate and Abby and Ziva. I liked that it showed that Abby is a workaholic and some of her insecurities and issues.

    I like that Ducky got a chance and maybe I should worry about him a little more in the future. He's certainly not having the best time of it lately, with his mother dying and the past ME being shown as old and on the path of decline.

    Vance got shrinked too, but it wasn't all that interesting to me. I'm not a Vance fan. It's all stuff we've heard before, and a lot of it recently.

    I loved Tony and that it brought up Rota and his maturity this episode. I liked that it said more about his past, mother dead at 8, in boarding schools at 11, and a touchy-ness about a boy in a case at Baltimore (who thinks they're setting up for the origin episode later this season?). I like the extra scene with Kate from "Eye for an Eye", I liked that he showed he remembered Kate and that he knows he's a very good agent but also has doubts about it. I liked that Tony realised she was Kate's sister. I liked that Gibbs got his bit at the end, but it focused on Gibbs maybe the least. Personally, I'm satisfied with what I know about Gibbs right now, its the team I want. I liked that Kate got an episode again. I think its important that we don't forget her. I mean, I know she's not going to be brought up in conversation every episode but the Team clearly remember her and think about her and by doing this episode, it demonstrates that and it's lovely.

    THis was a great episode. ONe of the best and I really appreciate the writers for doing this. I think it was directed amazingly and this episode, which had all the hallmarks of what could have been extra cheesy and cliche and a disaster, didn't put a step wrong.

    It's comforting also because i believe the characters were captured wonderfully and lately i sometimes doubt that the writers know what's going on with character. S0 yeah, I loved it. Couldn't have been a better episode.
  • I loved this episode.

    I have been thinking about Kate for years now and I was really starting to miss her... I wanted her back, but that would be impossible since she's dead. But in this episode, it all came back. It was an episode in remembrance of Kate, and hey, there was a murder to solve too. We have seen flashes of all seasons (except from season five) and I loved it. It's too bad that the actual Kate can't return, but this is the very best they could do and I loved it! The only thing I missed, and was expecting before I started watching, was all Ziva has been through while she was captured in Somalia. That I would like to learn more about... Other than that, this waas the best episode of season 8 so far!
  • A very nicely done character-driven episode and fitting tribute to a former team member.

    When I first saw the synopsis of this episode, it looked good but didn't really excite me. And this was still true for at least the first 20 minutes of the show.

    The episode opens with the death of a Navy commander which I kinda liked this because it was back to the "normal" murder cases after the previous two emotional episodes, though I correctly guessed that the Petty Officer we see near the beginning was involved. So far my theory of the villains being one of the first couple of people we meet is holding true. But this episode isn't really about the murder, albeit there are subtle connections between it and Kate's story.

    I must admit, for the first half of the episode I wasn't impressed with the old "psych eval" storyline. To me, it's just an excuse for a clip show. But this one was different. The clips were necessary to establish certain moments in the team's history aswell as to explain the background to the new or casual viewer. The major plot twist was most definately the revelation that Dr. Cranston is Kate's sister, something which was carefully and brilliantly done. There was so much that could have gone wrong with it that didn't.

    The acting, as always, was superb throughout. Wendy McKenna (Rachel Cranston) did an excellent job of portraying the unshakable psychiatrist right up until the end. It is fitting that Gibbs was the one to finally get her to show her feelings, something she had been trying to get the team to do all along. And it goes without saying that seeing Sasha Alexader as Kate was a real bonus for those long time NCIS fans such as myself, even if it was only for one scene (with the exception of the "flashbacks"). Did anyone else see that subtle reference to a certain season one episode?

    Summarising, I can't really fault this episode at all. It's an excellent, well-written 45 minutes of character-driven story, addressing some great moments in NCIS history. To me, Kate is one of the most memorable main characters to appear on the show and I'm so glad they were able to show some of her back-story in a careful and delicate way. And even though I knew what was going to happen, Kate's death scene still sent shudders down my spine.
  • It had to be Kate's sister before I even remotely cared about the shrink.

    The crime was the bottom of the two lines on the attempted parallel between the case and the messages in the purported psych evaluation. I'm not generally a fan of "message" shows and certainly find it unnecessary for characters whose strengths AND flaws we have come to embrace as viewers.

    I also don't get how someone with some apparent leftover issues of her own can formally and officially pass muster on other functioning human beings. It happens daily, of course, with managers and others less equipped than we to "function", but one of the great things about this series is that the writers have never tried to make these characters bigger than life. I think they've quite successfully made them sometimes painfully "live"; and more than adequately handling all the daily distractions life hands out.

    I did sit up and take notice when Gibbs pinned Rachel's identity. That was a surprise, or maybe I just didn't see it because of those life distractions...I guess I should have seen it. I mean, when did Gibbs ever roll over so easily to accommodate this kind of intrusion on his team?

    And Abby had the line of the show with her "too late Sigmund" crack! Love Abby.

    Dunno. This one didn't tell us anything we didn't already know about these wonderful characters, and the parallels in the case were just too...too.

    I give it a B-, just 'cuz Kate was not forgotten...
  • Psych analysis for the whole team.

    Hope it one has to made because there is big show(NCIS episode) coming out soon,not because the production is running out of budget. I had guessed who's sister she is right after McGee "memorys". It's quite clear why those old clips ware showed. It was too obvious.

    The whole episode fell like money saving,but very good one. I saw way worst of these type of episodes in tvshows.
    Even with all the recap clips,this one still got all what made NCIS great. Character development,a deeper story then what it seem at first and ofc those little humor that really crack me up everytime. "horse's ass DiNozzo" was really great.

    Personaly I like Ziva more then Kate,but I can't say kate's death was not annoying surprise.