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Season 3 Episode 16

Family Secret

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Feb 28, 2006 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
309 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

When an ambulance explodes while carrying the remains of a Marine's body that was killed in a car crash, the NCIS team is called in to investigate what actually happened. The investigation leads them to some sudden discoveries -- the DNA of the victim found in the ambulance doesn't match the Marine's DNA; the ambulance was set up to explode; and the family of the dead Marine is hiding a very important secret.moreless

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  • Gibbs Tampering with EVIDENCE?

    Wow. This one threw me. Gibbs the almighty, straight as an arrow, by the book, cross your t's and dot your eyes kind of guy that he is actually tampers with evidence, in spite of the noble motive??? I was quite surprised. On another note, the stuttering marine thing was lost on me when during the course of his IED discussion his speech was perfect, which was lost on Gibbs and co. as they entered. i must have missed something here. Finally, Tony's sprained ankle was for what exactly? It sure healed in a hurry. And is it normal to smart-mouth Marines the way he did while the guy was taping him up? I mean it seemed a bit out of touch even for him.moreless
  • So disappointed!

    Boring! Please don't let Gibbs get together with the Director. It will be totally jumping the shark. The only good scene was when Gibbs marched into the Director's office and sat in her chair. I hope next week's is better. I only watch 3 shows, I hope that this one is not going downhill.
  • Great and Different Episode. A very refreshing episode because there is no real evil or crime in the episode yet it still an interesting case.

    Allright this episode is one of my favorites and heres why.

    Firstly the case is a really interesting one I mean a dead marines body is refried after a car accident and the team suspect the body has been switched. It doesn't really get much more intriguing then that. Although i was hoping during the episode that the marine had faked his death because he was being hunted by someone. Nevertheless the unexpected conclusion was a pleasant surprise because most of the episodes are relatively predictable.

    Secondly, there was interesting character development. Most of it was surrounding Gibbs and the director. This is the first episode where we are shown that she is not just an obstacle of a director (like the directors of 24's CTU who need to be kept in the dark and worked around) but actually a keen investigator as well who Gibbs trusts in the field and used to brainstorm about the case in this episode. The Doc gets hounded by Gibbs which is unusual and comic (I was hoping Gibbs would smack his head like Tony).

    Finally, the episode had it share of humor mainly due to Tony who inadvertently set up Tim on a date while trying to pull one of his con's. Gibb's decision to swap evidence was an interesting insight into his character because he's portrayed as the hand of unbiased justice in most cases.

    Overall, this episode was awesome in it's originality both in the case and the the way the characters are portrayed in the episode.moreless
  • Something I did not expected

    I most say, the way this episode worked out.. I did not expected it. First of all: what was really going on.. Ok, that was little guessable but who Gibbs reacted to it. I mean.. Gibbs tampering with the evidence. That self head-slap was great but the action itself.. Maybe it is explainable but it was surprise for me.

    Ok.. but the case.. it was greatly build up and I liked that it was far from how the case looked first.. the thought that maybe there was body swamp or the marine could still be alive.. but it was as it was.. just one little difference..moreless
  • Not one of my favourite episodes but good.

    Tony's little IM game completely backfired and scored McGee a date – that's called karma.

    I liked Gibbs' Roman emperor comparison and the secretary's 'slave' comment was brilliant! His trooping up to Jenny's office and sitting in her chair was a stroke of dramatic genius! Gibbs' wounded routine afterwards was adorable.

    The first time ever – Gibbs tampers with evidence and covers up a series of crimes. He even gave himself a head slap. It shows immense loyalty between Merrill and the Danforths – not only did Merrill donate a kidney but Danforth snr was prepared to go to jail to protect Merrill's career.moreless
Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs

Michael Weatherly

Michael Weatherly

Special Agent Tony DiNozzo

Cote de Pablo

Cote de Pablo

Mossad Agent Ziva David

Pauley Perrette

Pauley Perrette

Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto

Sean Murray (I)

Sean Murray (I)

Special Agent Tim McGee

Lauren Holly

Lauren Holly

Director Jenny Shepard

Conor O'Farrell

Conor O'Farrell

William Danforth

Guest Star

Brandon Largent

Brandon Largent

Corporal Kenneth Merrill

Guest Star

John L. Adams

John L. Adams

EMT Seth Patterson

Guest Star

Brian Dietzen

Brian Dietzen

Asst. M.E. Jimmy Palmer

Recurring Role

Stephanie Mello

Stephanie Mello

NCIS Tech Cynthia Sumner

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • While looking through phone records in Abby's lab on the piece of circuit board from the cell phone used to place the call that set off the explosion, one of the names on the list is Donnie Darko.

    • GOOF: When Corporal Merral first speaks to Ziva and McGee he has a very pronounced stutter, yet when he is shown talking to a class of soldiers he doesn't have any hint of a stutter, yet a few minutes later when he is speaking to Gibbs and Ziva he has a stutter once again.

      EDIT: Some people's stutters get a lot worse when nervous. He is quite comfortable talking about IEDs and in his job most likely, but being questioned about his dead best friend, knowing he's done something wrong is definitely stressful. And made perfect sense to me for the stutter to appear and disappear. But just because it wasn't pronounced while he was teaching doesn't mean it wasn't there.

    • GOOF: When Tony is taking McGee's iPod, his shirt keeps on alternating between the top two buttons being unbuttoned to just the top one being unbuttoned, and then back again.

    • GOOF: Tony sprains his ankle during the basketball game. Later on, during that very same day, at the scene of the accident when Tony and McGee are examining it, Tony walks on it normally.

    • GOOF: Tony mentions the apocryphal story that St Bernard rescue dogs wore a barrel of alcohol around their necks but misidentifies the liquor. They were supposed to carry brandy, not whiskey, to help warm those they found.

    • TRIVIA: The song playing during the game of Basketball that Tony was playing is "Name of the Game" by Crystal Method.

    • GOOF: When Gibbs is in the Directors office telling the father that the DNA did not match the body, he states, "Not according to AFIS". AFIS is the Automated Fingerprint Identification System and would not have anything to do with DNA. What was most likely meant was CODIS or Combined DNA Index System.

  • QUOTES (15)

    • Ducky: I haven't seen a body this badly burned since the Brooklyn Mills circus. (removes a piece of evidence from a charred bone) Specimen jar! Mr. Palmer!
      Jimmy: Sorry, Doctor, it's just... Having a problem with the smell today.
      Ducky: Really? I think he smells like my mother's fried chicken.
      Jimmy: Yeah, that would be the problem.

    • Jenny: (to Gibbs) I learnt how to speak "Gibbs" a long time ago.

    • Tony: (to McGee) I have information you want, you have information I want... shall we dance?

    • (after catching the team briefing the director without him)
      Tony: It wasn't how it looked, boss.
      Gibbs: I know.
      Tony: The Director kind of suckered me into to that deal.
      Gibbs: Ziva caved first...
      Ziva: I didn't cave in, I was trying to...
      Gibbs: McGee next...
      McGee: It... Boss, it wasn't what...
      Gibbs: And my faithful St. Bernard held out til last. Probably all of thirty seconds.

    • Abby: Can I at least get a drumroll?
      Gibbs: Ta da.
      Abby: Pa-thetic.

    • Gibbs: You wanted to see me Duck?
      Ducky: (busy dialing a phone number) Yes, I did. I was just about to call you... It's not a wonder DiNozzo is always looking over his shoulder...

    • Gibbs: (carrying Tony who had injured his right ankle while playing basketball) Loyal as a Saint Bernard...
      Tony: I always wanted to get one of those until I found out they did not come with that barrel of whiskey around their neck...

    • Gibbs: You know what I think about coincidences.
      Abby: Equatorial pygmies know what you think about coincidences.

    • Ziva: (to Tony) I am Israeli. This isn't my first exploding ambulance.

    • Director Shepherd: (to Gibbs) You know, the last time we had steak au poivre, six people died.

    • Tony: "Or die trying?" Did ya have to put that in his head?

    • Gibbs: (stopping Cynthia from calling Director Shepard) Cynthia, did you know that when a Roman emperor made a triumphant march into Rome, he had a slave on his chariot who...
      Cynthia: ...Who whispered "You are only human" into his ear...
      Gibbs: Going in unannounced, is whispering into her ear...
      Cynthia: So, you are the Director's slave...

    • Gibbs: Talk to me, Duck!
      Ducky: Lance Corporal William Danforth Junior. Survived IED (Improvised Explosive Device) in Iraq, RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) in Afghanistan... Unfortunately the local "odocoileus virginianus" was too much to bear...
      Jimmy: That's a white-tailed...
      Gibbs: Deer. Yeah, I know. Are you saying: "Bambi killed this Marine", Ducky?
      Ducky: No, but, swerving at 60 miles an hour into a tree to avoid Bambi, did!

    • Gibbs: So not an accident?
      Abby: Not unless the Angel of Death is going through a Rube Goldberg phase.

    • Gibbs: Any chance of getting the call logs? (from the piece of the cell phone found on the body)
      Abby: I'd have a better chance of getting McGee to wear a Speedo to church.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Original International Airdates:
      Denmark: February 28, 2006 on TV3
      Australia: July 5, 2006 on Channel 10
      Sweden: October 1, 2006 on TV3
      Germany: October 15, 2006 on SAT 1
      Italy: December 10, 2006 on RAI 2
      Croatia: January 4, 2007 on NOVA TV
      Finland: January 12, 2008 on Nelonen
      Slovakia: May 13, 2009 on Markiza


    • Paramedic: I don't know. Who do I look like, that Cyrano what's-his-name guy?

      The person that the paramedic is referring to is Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano, an intelligent romantic with a large nose, was a writer in the 17th century. His life inspired a play by Edmund Rostand, which inspired several operas, ballets, and films.

    • Tony: (singing) Good morning, Good morning...

      The song Tony is singing is from the film Singing in the Rain, as made famous by Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor (though it was actually originally written for the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney 1939 film Babes in Arms).

    • Ducky: That, my dear Jethro, is the secret.

      This quote is delivered very much in the style of the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. He frequently addressed his assistant as "My dear Watson", and in The Adventure of Silver Blaze famously remarked, "That was the curious incident."

    • Ziva: Call me Ishmael.

      An ironic quote, as Ziva is Israeli. According to the Bible, Isaac was the father of the Israelites, and Ishmael the father of the Arabs.

      It could also be a reference to Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, as she talks about him later. 'Call me Ishmael' is the first line of the novel.

    • The bar where Miller and Danforth fought, the Gold Monkey, was likely a nod to the early 80s action show Tales of the Gold Monkey, created and executive produced by Donald P. Bellisario, the creator of NCIS.

    • Abby: Not unless the Angel of Death is going through a Rube Goldberg phase.

      Rube Goldberg was a famous cartoonist who earned lasting fame for creating "Rube Goldberg devices," inventions that are exceedingly complex and perform very simple tasks in a very indirect and convoluted way.

    • Tony mentions the name "Ricky Ricardo" and later I Love Lucy. Considering Tony's interest in old movies and TV shows, this is not a big surprise. I Love Lucy was a popular classical comedy show that ran from 1951 to 1957, starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.