NCIS

One of the members of Gibbs’ team, Kate, is killed in the field which has a significant impact on the team. It is important to note that each member dealt with her death in a unique way much like people do in society today. The leader of the team Gibbs feels responsible for her death and imagines that she is angry at him. Gibbs responds by becoming more emotional and caring towards the rest of the team which was not like him before her death. This is a natural reaction for someone to have. The guilt drives him to become revengeful because Kate was murdered. Not everyone will go and get revenge, however people may have those feelings in a situation such as this. My friend lost someone close to him in a car theft and had these same feelings. Though he did not personally seek revenge, he did feel the anger and thought of the what-ifs should he ever find him or see him personally.

Abby, the forensic analyst, copes with her friend’s death by imagining Kate inspiring her to be happy. She imagines that Kate tells her to put on her makeup, put her hair up, and play her music. This brightens her mood considerably for the time being until she relapses and becomes emotional. One way that Abby is different in dealing with Kate’s death was her celebration of Kate’s life through playing New Orleans Jazz music at the end of her funeral. Abby’s celebration of Kate’s life is a bit different than what we experience today. Most people in America mourn and grieve their loss instead of celebrating the life that they had in a more upbeat way like the jazz music Abby plays.

Tony responds to Kate’s death by being sarcastic towards McGee until he realizes that he hurts his feelings and feels sorry. He feels sad, but doesn’t cry like some of the other members of the team. He pretends that he speaks and bickers with her like normal which shows that he cares for her and misses her. Unlike Gibbs, he goes on as usual and pretends she is there still. Tony exhibits a different method of coping and this is based on his personal experiences surrounding his relationship with Kate in the office.

McGee is sad and fantasizes about her. He exhibits mostly sadder emotions and this is his first experience with a close one that has died. His teammates know this and help him through this ordeal. For McGee, he learns how to deal with the death of a close one whereas the rest of the team had dealt with a death already. This also represents a larger part of society in that every day someone experiences a death for the first time.

I think that Kate’s death and how it is portrayed through her team’s reactions is helpful in understanding death. It shows the permanence of death and the team’s acknowledgment of this fact. Each member dealt with her death in a unique way and took different amounts of time to move on and grieve. In this, it also shows that people in a society deal with death in different ways based on their personalities. In this show, death is shown in a realistic way but does not show that America is a “Death Denying Culture.” The field that these agents work in involves risks to their lives and they acknowledge this and accept this. While they prevent their own deaths by taking precautions, they do not deny that it could happen to them. This is contrary to what most people in our society thinks. 

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2 thoughts on “NCIS

  1. I completely agree with your analysis of the death of Caitiln “Kate” on NCIS. I agree with your analysis of each characters interpretation of her death as well. I think the show did a good job showing the a partial view of the five stages of grief, Tony- Denial (as you stated he tried to go about business as normal), Gibbs- Anger (seeking revenge), McGee- a mixture of bagaining and depression (coping with the newness of losing someone) and Abby- first depression then Acceptance (her saddness and trying to be happy by her pigtails and black lipstick then acceptance by her playing a traditional Jazz piece leaving her funeral). All five of the stages do not have to be reached in a particular order and everyone doesn’t go through the same stages or all of them for that matter. This episode showed that each person individually and very diversely deals with death in their own manner. Each of these characters are not the same after the death of Kate and have to learn how to get back to their jobs.

  2. I frequently watch and enjoy NCIS; great choice. I agree that the emotional response that Gibbs had was natural for someone going through that first stage of the grieving process, especially when he felt responsible. I also believe that this has to do with people wanting closure in knowing that the person responsible answers for the pain that he caused. In fact, each member of the team shows a common emotional response and ways to deal with those emotions during the loss of someone close. Whether that is grieving, celebrating that life, or even bottling the emotions up are all common ways the people grieve in the event of a loss. Because these methods are common, I believe this is an excellent example of showing that America is not a death denying culture and that we just grieve in our own, private ways.

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