Season 1 Episode 9

Marine Down

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Dec 16, 2003 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
340 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

After a marine widow receives a call from her dead husband, the NCIS team takes on the case and has to exhume the body to deduce whether the call was a prank or not.

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  • Why keep them alive.

    I didn't like Kate's drawing of Tony. I found it quite rude actually and he's done nothing to deserve all the shit he gets. But once again she was rude to Tony throughout the episode, acting very 'better than thou' as usual.

    I didn't mind the story, it was a bit complicated to keep up with unless you really listened to every single word mentioned and didn't just zone out for even a minute.

    I have to agree with cdrood though... WHY keep the men alive? He stole the money - successfully, he 'killed' them successfully, they were taken back and nobody even checked for the empty coffins. And then marine one calls home so he has to kill him and get him back into the coffin. I understand why he embalmed him though, that made perfect sense. But why not just kill them with formaldehyde and ship them back in the first place. Because as far as the CIA was aware, the insurgents kept the 2 million and killed these men anyway. The plan would've been perfect (which doesn't happen often) if the men were killed in the first place. It costs money to embalm and it served NO purpose keeping them alive.moreless
  • Not really believable but good

    Not completely realistic, sometimes weird but interesting case. Didn't like the interaction between Tony and Kate that much. In opposite to (obviously) many other people I never saw it as a funny game. Kate often wasn't fair or nice to him but a bit bitchy and too criticizing. In other words, Kate's character became slightly annoying for me from that case onwards. (But never in a way like Bishop! I would take Kate back immediately if I was released from Bishop). I've always liked Tony because he is so much more than the clown they made of him in the later episodes.

    Gibbs was in a great shape in this episode, one of the things I miss in season 11. Abby and Ducky were great, especially when Ducky asked them whether they found him boring. And the scene in the plane to Colombia is simply hilarious, still one of my favourites. This episode doesn't belong to my absolute favs but it's one I still like to watch sometimes.moreless
  • Why were the marine's kept alive?

    I can't understand the positive reviews of this episode. Keeping the marines alive, only to kill one later makes no sense. If he kept the ransome, how did he even get them from the kidnappers in the first place? Shouldn't they have been killed for non-payment? If he actually kidnapped them, what did he gain by keeping them alive and then faking their deaths? He could have shot them and had actual bodies to return home. So long as he didn't use his own gun, his story is unchanged, he doesn't have the burden of keeping them hostaged, he doesn't have to bring the embalmer in on it (presumably he wasn't working for free to murder two marines). As a result, he doesn't have to risk discovery by impersonating the colonel and DiNozzo (another completely unecessary risk which only served to tip Gibbs off).

    It seems like this was more about a beginning (call from beyond the grave) and an ending (brave marine reunited with his family) with no good idea how to get from A to B. On the whole, it was an unsatisfying mystery because it was only solved because the bad guy was a complete idiot who chose to make things unnecessarily complicated.moreless
  • One of the best episodes -- should have been made into a movie. It has everything one would want!

    This is an absolutely terrific episode, one of the best I have seen on NCIS. As other reviews have stated, the episode has everything -- edge of your seat excitement and suspense, a clever story and the usual good humor and camaraderie amongst the NCIS team. It is hard to believe that they fitted all of this into 40 minutes or so. They should have saved it for a full length movie.

    I've seen the ep just once. After seeing it, I have lots of questions about the motivation and tactics of the bad guys. I understand the basic plot -- the two Marines being held for ransom , the CIA approving the $2 million ransom, and the CIA transporter of the ransom (Canton) deciding not to deliver it, keeping it for himself. The rest confuses the heck out of me. If Canton had custody of the two Marines, why not hand them over to the Americans? If Canton was not going to "rescue" the two Marines, why not just leave them killed in Columbia (why the hush-hush business and the fake burials)?moreless
  • Dead man calling..

    That was.. very good episode.. I mean.. the emotional storyline. That was brilliant. And those char moments, the whole thing at the start what get used in the end. And then Gibbs.. being shot.. being kept out of the loop. He really started to get personal. And that mystical exit again. I loved it.

    But the case.. I mean.. those calls.. the things. The way nothing is like it seems. The man they talked was not who he said. Then he also played one of them. The way they just started to put those hints together.. figure it out. Loved the investigation on this one.moreless
Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs

Sasha Alexander

Sasha Alexander

Special Agent Kate Todd

Michael Weatherly

Michael Weatherly

Special Agent Tony DiNozzo

Pauley Perrette

Pauley Perrette

Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto

David McCallum

David McCallum

Chief M.E. Ducky Mallard

Crystal Allen

Crystal Allen


Guest Star

Ron Baker

Ron Baker

Major Craig Peary

Guest Star

Michael Sarysz

Michael Sarysz

Corporal James Travis

Guest Star

Pancho Demmings

Pancho Demmings

Asst. M.E. Gerald Jackson

Recurring Role

Alan Dale

Alan Dale

NCIS Director Tom Morrow

Recurring Role

Vivienne Bellisario

Vivienne Bellisario

Mysterious Redhead

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • Trivia: The House of the first Marine wife is the same interior as the house for Bud Roberts and Harriet Sim's on JAG, post Season 8.

    • GOOF: When Gibbs is shooting at the car in at the park the license plate number is "784 ful," and at the end of the episode when Gibbs gets in the car with the red head, the license plate number is on the front of the car.

    • GOOF: The NCIS Cast once mentioned hidden sides of dialogue hidden in the scene so that the actor can glance upon them if necessary. In the scene where Tony is denied access to information on the dead marine because his security clearance won't go through, you can see on the computer monitor, lines of dialogue scribbled on a post it note. This can be seen when Abby arrives at his desk and when Abby types in her security clearance codes.

    • GOOF: Maj. Peary's coffin is filled with cement blocks rather than a body. But the blocks could shift when the coffin carried by pallbearers, risking the truth being revealed. A thorough CIA operation would have used a dummy of some sort, such as a CPR dummy, to simulate an actual body more naturally.

    • TRIVIA: In this episode, Kate makes a joke about how many times Gibbs has been married. Gibbs corrects her and says he's only been married 3 times instead of 4, which isn't exactly accurate. In the third season we find out he has been married 4 times and 3 of them ended in divorce. His first wife and his daughter were killed. At this point of the series, Gibbs never mentions his first wife or daughter, so it's in character to say he's only been married 3 times at this point.

    • GOOF: When Major O'Donnell and Sarah Kidwell enter the bullpen and tell the team that they recorded her husband's phone call, Tony wears a blue shirt. When they go down to the lab to play the recording, he suddenly wears a dark sweater and does so for the rest of the scene.

    • TRIVIA: If you look quickly enough while Gibbs types his password into Tony's computer at the start of the episode, we can see that Gibbs' NCIS clearance userID is 'lj_gibbs_NCIS'.

    • GOOF: Ground-penetrating radar cannot transmit through a metallic coffin. It uses microwave radiation, which can penetrate many things, including a wooden coffin or the concrete chest many states require for burial, but not through a thin sheet of metal (even goldleaf would cause major imaging problems).

  • QUOTES (33)

    • (About tracking Kidwell's and Perry's military assignments through their pay statements)
      Kate: Ooh, red tape that's actually useful. Who knew?

    • Ducky: He's talking about murder, gentlemen. Murder most foul. (to Kidwell's body) I don't suppose you'd be willing to phone me, Major. Tell me how?

    • (Discovering that cargo planes don't have bathrooms)
      Kate: God, I miss Air Force One.

    • (Beginning of episode, Kate and Tony on the firing range)
      Kate: You shot the hostage's ear off.
      Tony: She'll live.
      Kate: Without an ear!

      (End of episode, the Pearys are reunited)
      Lisa Peary: Oh, God, what happened to your ear?
      Major Peary: (smiling) I'll live.

    • Kate: Access denied- and I was cleared for Air Force One!
      Gibbs: So was an Al-Qaeda operative.

    • (Tony tries unsuccessfully to pull up the records on a dead Marine)
      Abby: Here's your problem.
      Tony: What?
      Abby: You're security clearance isn't high enough. How did he die?
      Tony: That's kind of what Gibbs wants me to find out.
      Abby: Then it sucks to be you.

    • Gibbs: If he dies, you die. You don't get past me.

    • Colonel: You're gonna have to figure that one out for yourself.
      Gibbs: What does that sound like to you Tony?
      Tony: One of the A's! CIA, NSA...

    • Tony: Looks like someone's deliberately blocking us.
      Kate: Or it could be a glitch. Doesn't always have to be a conspiracy against NCIS, guys.
      Gibbs: Are you saying we're paranoid Kate?!

    • Agent Gonzales: Now I know why everyone in the CIA hates these guys.

    • Tony: Is that a new perfume, Abby?
      Abby: Yep! I made it myself; you like it?
      Tony: Smells like gunpowder.
      Abby: (smiling) Sweet, huh?
      Tony: Hmm...

    • Tony: Does your calling plan include the afterlife?

    • Tony: The eyes need to be bigger.
      Kate: The eyes are fine, the nose needs to be bigger.
      Tony: Fine! I'll put out an APB for Pinocchio.
      Abby: You guys-
      Gibbs: Welcome to my world, Abby.

    • Gibbs: ...he's CIA.
      Kate: What makes you think that?
      Gibbs: How many agencies do you know that drive economy class armored cars?

    • Kate: Is he really sleeping or is that just an act?
      Tony: Oh, he's sleeping.
      Kate: How can you tell?
      Tony: He looks peaceful.

    • Ducky: First, I would like to ask a question. Do you people find me boring?
      Kate, Tony, Gibbs: No!

    • Ducky: Do you know what a trochar is, Tony?
      Tony: I'm guessing it's not an alien on Star Trek.

    • Gibbs: Fire! Let's see how you do under pressure.
      Tony: I'll bring the lighter fluid.
      Kate: Deal.

    • Abby: Well, lucky for you you've got a mix master in the hizzouse.
      Gibbs: A what??
      DiNozzo: It means house, you need to get out more Gibbs.
      Abby: Word.

    • Tony: I'm a man of action, Kate.
      Kate: More like an action figure.
      Tony: Why, you want to play with me?
      Kate: As in you look good, but you really can't do much.
      Tony: But I look good.

    • Gibbs: Morning! Sleep well?
      Kate: If by well, you mean violently throwing up all night and bouncing around like rag dolls...
      Tony: Then yeah, boss, we slept very well, thanks for asking.
      Gibbs: Ah, you get used to it.
      Kate: That's what I'm afraid of.

    • Tony: This is so not right. I mean, it's not like we couldn't have done this during daylight.
      Kate: You afraid of ghosts, Tony?
      Tony: No, I'm afraid of getting shot for trespassing.

    • Lab Tech: If you could sign this.
      Tony: Sorry I couldn't help you with the digging boys, ah...old pro basketball injury.
      Lab Tech: Right.
      Kate: You played pro ball.
      Tony: Well, I was watching a game when it happened.

    • Tony: I haven't got high enough clearance to access the records.
      Kate: What's your clearance?
      Tony: Confidential.
      Kate: Confidential? What'd you do, kill someone in high school?
      Tony: Ha! That's funny, Kate. No, They screwed up my paperwork with another agent's.
      Gibbs: Agent Dinozzo died in a car crash last month. Very tragic.
      Tony: They yanked my clearance. Now I gotta take a physical to get it back.
      Kate: Why's that?
      Tony: To prove that I'm still alive.

    • Kate: Tonight?
      Gibbs: Technically it's this morning.

    • Tony: Come on Kate, that's like NCIS 101.
      Kate: You have no idea, do you.
      Tony: Not a clue.

    • Gonzales: If I were rogue would I be sitting here sweating my ass off?
      Kate: I don't know. Let me see your ass.

    • Kate: If we screw this up, I have a suggestion.
      Tony: What?
      Kate: We break into Gibbs's basement and we set his boat on fire.
      Tony: That's cold, Kate. I knew there was a reason I liked you.

    • Tony: Gibbs'll get in. He's got clearance that'll let him see the dead aliens buried in Area 51.
      Kate: Because he probably killed them.

    • Gibbs: You sound just like my ex-wife.

    • Kate: Gibbs can be wrong.
      Tony: Yeah, name once?
      Kate: He's been married like four times. (Gibbs turns up and they pretend to be talking about the case. Gibbs doesn't look like he heard them. They start to leave.)
      Gibbs: It was three times Kate. I was married three times not four.

    • Tony: Do you know what really ticks me off?
      Kate: Gibbs?
      Tony: (in a whiny voice) No these guys get paid more than I do.

    • Abby: Gibbs didn't tell you?
      Kate: Tell us what?
      Abby: (really excited) You're going Graverobbing tonight.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Original International Airdates:
      Croatia: August 11, 2005 on NOVA TV
      Finland: October 28, 2006 on Nelonen
      France: June 06, 2004 on M6
      Germany: May 19, 2005 on SAT.1
      Hungary: December 12, 2005 on TV 2
      Sweden: August 15, 2004 on TV3
      Denmark: January 6, 2004 on TV3

    • Featured Music:
      "Isolated" performed by Chiasm