When Nell Jones was added to the Ops center in season 2, it was apparent that Eric had been teamed up with someone who was highly intelligent and quite comfortable in his computer domain. Although their job titles suggest that their primary functions with NCIS differ, it was immediately evident that Miss Jones possessed skills that overlap with those of her techie partner. (Nell herself admitted, in a much later episode, that she speaks ‘Geek.’) So by the time she appeared in her second episode, I had mentally filed the young Information Analyst away as a female version Eric Beale.
But then all that I thought I knew about Nell Jones was challenged when her third episode [Standoff -2×06] rolled around. We see her at the actual crime scene, climbing out of the backseat of Sam’s car. Well this is different. Our Eric had never ventured past the safety of the walls of the Office of Special Operations. (And later, when he does finally go out for his first assignment, he almost gets himself ‘frelted.’) Turning down Sam’s offer of assistance, Nell leans over into the trunk of the Challenger to haul out a big equipment case, and… Wait! What is that?!?! The cute little red-head is packing! This small piece of metal, tucked into the waistband of her pants, suddenly set her apart from the rest of the geek-world.
The next time Nell’s gun makes an appearance is in “Blye, K. Part 2” [3×17]. She had accompanied the team to a meet up between Kensi and someone who has information about Kensi’s father. But this time, Nell’s weapon is drawn. A sniper had taken a shot at Kensi, putting the team on high alert. It was then that we realized that the Analyst had not only received instruction in firing a gun, she had been trained in using that weapon in the field.
We don’t actually get a look at her gun in the “sunglasses scene” in Season 4 [Recruit – 4×02], but Nell assures a frightened Eric that she is carrying one. “Yes. I have my service weapon,” she responds when he asks if she is “strapped,” “packing,” “carrying heat.” Although the trembling Tech Operator is not comfortable with the idea of even picking up a firearm, he seems to find comfort in the fact that his partner is “carrying heat” when they venture out of Ops.
In “Unwritten Rule” [5×05], we get a glimpse of Nell’s gun and badge that have been placed on the desk in front of her, while she searches for clues in a company’s computer system. With a room-full of Eric-clones watching her from a distance, Callen comes and hovers over her like a protective big brother. (I know. I know. For you Nallen fans, it wasn’t all that brotherly.) When Callen tells her he thinks she has some admirers, she tells him she thinks they are more interested in talking about her gun. “What’s with that? Guys and guns?” To which Callen responds, “I think it’s more about cute girls with guns.” Not too much later in the episode, for the first time, we see Miss Jones fire that gun. Although it was just a warning shot to halt a fleeing suspect, the team appears to be quite impressed.
Nell’s gun makes at least three more appearances before the end of Season 5. In “Merry Evasion” [5×12], when she temporarily becomes the fourth team member, she draws her weapon, assisting them in subduing a baddie.
In “War Cries” [5×14], I think my heart stopped when the psycho woman-killer knocked her gun out of reach. Then in “Windfall” [5×20], because Hetty is not sure Kensi is ready to return to work, Nell is sent into the field again. The over-zealous Analyst draws her weapon when the “Little Dip” thug decides to run from Deeks.
Up until the start of Season 6, Nell possessing, and even firing a gun, had been treated rather lightly. In fact, a couple of the scenes had been downright funny. This all changed in the third episode of the Season [Praesidium]. Miss Jones willingly placed herself in a dangerous situation, going undercover as Hetty, and was subsequently forced to kill a man. Our brave little Nell was undone. As Callen told Granger, she had never killed anyone before. The fact that the shooting was in self-defense was not easing her pain. When Nate pays her a visit, she has retreated to her apartment, contemplating the darker side of the day in the life of an agent [The 3rd Choir – 6×04]. The Operational Psychologist explained to her that there was no way to prepare yourself for this; killing someone “goes against every moral fiber engrained in you since birth.” Nell was able to rationalize that the man she shot was bad, and that her actions were in self-defense, but she couldn’t shake the thought that the man she killed was once someone’s child. Although it was good for Nell to share her feelings with Nate, she was still haunted by what had happened, wondering if she could ever put herself in that situation again.
Nell is in her living room, sadly flipping through phots of the dead guy, when she receives a call from Hetty. When her boss asks her for an update on the case, she has to explain to her why she is at home, rather than in Ops. Hetty expresses her understanding, but then quickly urges Nell to get back into the game. “But I need you to focus. Chin up.” Hetty Lange needs Nell’s help! Miss Jones seems to snap out of her gloomy state when Hetty begins reeling off a list of instructions, putting her to work. The next time we see Nell, she is in the OSP, diving through the air, pushing her Operations Manager to safety. She then draws her weapon, ready to do whatever it takes to protect her beloved boss from the evil Mattias. When the danger is over, the young Analyst confidently holsters her weapon. Nell Jones is back!
What are your thoughts about this? Will Nell be able to re-enter the field? Will she continue to pursue her aspiration of becoming a Field Agent?