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'NCIS' recap: 'Dead Letter'

Posted on

Jace Downs/CBS

NCIS

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-14
seasons:
13
run date:
09/23/03
performer:
Mark Harmon, David McCallum, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Action, Crime

Fornell lives! It’s a May sweeps miracle!

Yes, it looks like everyone’s favorite gnomish FBI agent will survive to annoy Gibbs another day. On the other hand, we’ve now transferred all of our fears over to Ziva following a huge explosion and the surprise reveal of the real bad guy. All that, plus we meet potential new series regulars Tess Monroe (Sarah Clarke) and Clayton Reeves (Duane Henry).

We jump into the middle of the action this week, with Gibbs racing into the hospital as Fornell’s wheeled into surgery. McGee, Bishop, and DiNozzo join him to report that the former head of MI6 is dead and there’s a BOLO out on Jacob Scott, who clearly eluded DiNozzo in Russia and slipped back into the States.

Gibbs makes one promise: “We’re gonna find Jacob Scott, and we’re gonna kill him.”

At the crime scene, Ducky states that a lesser man than Fornell would be dead already. And those genes clearly got passed down to his daughter, Emily, who shows up spitting fire before dissolving into tears in Uncle Leroy’s arms. She makes him repeat his promise that Scott’s going to pay.

Vance calls Gibbs away from the scene to meet Tess Monroe, an FBI agent who worked with Fornell and is curious about Gibbs, having heard so much about him. “I was kind of expecting fangs, to be honest,” she says.

She’s as big a fan of small talk as Gibbs is, and they quickly outline the goal of the week: locating the two ex-NCIS agents who were involved in the raid that killed Scott’s wife. They retired and went off the grid, and the team needs to find them before Scott does.

Monroe’s able to get useful information out of the ex-wife of one of the missing men, which leads the team to his house. (She did so by starting the interrogation without Gibbs, and she was able to do that by scaring the rest of the team until they allowed it to happen. I like her already.)

They arrive at former agent Dresser’s house in time to hear gunfire and a struggle. They burst in to chaos, eventually determining that Clayton Reeves, the MI6 agent working with DiNozzo, is there beating the tar out of someone. Reeves doesn’t know who it is, but we do: It’s CIA agent Trent Kort! You know, the one working undercover with La Grenouille? The one who intentionally blew Tony’s cover to Jeanne and maybe tried to kill him by blowing up his car? The one who lost his eye to the Port-to-Port killer? Nice guy, Trent Kort.

So, what went down here was that Reeves followed a trail from Europe to Dresser’s house, where he found him dead. Then Kort, who befriended Dresser when they worked Scott’s case in 2002, burst in and assumed Reeves was the killer. Got all that? Because it only gets more complicated from here.

McGee finds an address book in Dresser’s belongings with his missing partner’s information, so he and Monroe go on a stake out. The partner, Kane, was the recipient of a mysterious $50,000 deposit, so they’re extra interested in talking to him. Well, McGee wants to talk. Monroe wants to shoot him, should the situation present itself. “I hate dirty cops,” she explains.

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Then Kane strolls up, and Monroe bolts out of the car, tackling him to the ground as McGee hollers, “Don’t shoot him!”

In the interrogation room, Kane insists the money is a gambling payout, but when Gibbs threatens to leave him without protective custody, Kane cracks and spills the location of the motel that was Scott’s old safe house.

NEXT: Is a bad guy a bad guy if he quotes Monty Python?

[pagebreak]

Bishop and DiNozzo are dispatched to the motel, which has been turned into a pain treatment clinic. “Sounds like my kind of place,” DiNozzo says as noises of, um, intense vocal pleasure fill the air.

The spa’s owner had already called the police because someone broke in, and when they review her security cam, they see Scott retrieving something hidden in the wall of the room. Scott advances on the camera and speaks into it: “Stop following me, or more people will get hurt.”

Back at NCIS, eagle-eyed Gibbs notices Scott pausing on camera to read a note with the spa’s wifi password on it. Abby’s able to work her magic to discover that Scott got online just after the break in and searched for … drumroll … ZIVA DAVID.

Naturally, this sends DiNozzo (and okay, the rest of the team, too) into a tizzy. Tony discovers that her cell phone’s disconnected (HE HAD HER NUMBER ALL ALONG, YOU GUYS), and she’s not answering email.

When Kort strolls in, Gibbs asks to see copies of the files from Scott’s espionage case. Kort says it make no sense because Ziva wasn’t involved. Then he taunts, “Worried about your girlfriend, DiNozzo?”

DiNozzo straight-up lunges at Kort, shoving him back and demanding “What’s that supposed to mean?” Hey, angry alpha Tony. It’s been a while. Kort backs down and says Ziva can take care of herself.

In the morgue, Ducky’s gobsmacked that Ziva might be involved in this mess. Then he gives Monroe a psych profile he worked up on Scott, saying he wouldn’t have pegged the man as the revenge type. On the other hand, he says, “It is possible we’re dealing with a true sociopath.”

“Again!” Palmer giggles, then faces down Ducky and Monroe’s disapproving stares. “It’s … it’s just that we’ve, we’ve had a number of them over the years, and … and they’re really, um … um right, right, sociopathy, not something to joke about. I see where you’re coming from.”

God, I love Palmer. Before she leaves, Monroe asks if Ducky’s ever done a psych profile on Gibbs. Ducky’s not playing that game, although she (accurately?) guesses that she could get Palmer to crack and give it to her.  

At the hospital, Fornell’s stable but still unconscious. And then we cut to a closeup of his gnarled hobbit feet, which is the worst thing this show has ever done to us, and yes, I’m including every single death we’ve witnessed in that calculus.

Anyway, Emily’s threatening to give him a pedicure, and when she starts on one thick toenail with a nail file (HORK), his foot twitches and he chokes out, “Gibbs.”

In her lab, Abby’s quoting Monty Python when Kort enters and quotes it back. He’s brought her a box with Scott’s original espionage case files, and Abby in turn shows him that the smart TV in the spa office picked up and transmitted what Scott was saying via the voice control option.

“Not much point for the CIA to bug people anymore if they’re just going to bug themselves,” Kort says, in the understatement of the year.

The TV picked up Scott making plans to fly to Tel Aviv, so the team scrambles to monitor roads, air traffic control, phone calls, etc. At this point, Emily calls Gibbs with a confusing message from Fornell: something about “giff-gaff.”

Good thing that Reeves is familiar with British cellular companies; he says that Giffgaff had a huge robbery at its warehouse, and now its cell phones all over the black market. This helps them narrow down calls at nearby towers to the one Giffgaff phone around, and it shows that Scott’s in the Navy Yard. Not just the Navy Yard, but he’s in the NCIS elevator! That’s … that’s some bad security, yo.

NEXT: That’s a really big explosion, y’all

[pagebreak]

Scott strolls into the big orange room with his hands up. “I understand you’ve been looking for me? Well, here I am.”

They put him in interrogation, where he tells Gibbs that he hasn’t killed anybody and in fact has been framed for the murders and for the original espionage charge. He’s looking for Ziva because he found an old note from his now-dead wife at the safe house, telling him that Eli David, then-director of Mossad, had files proving Scott was framed. Scott assumes Ziva inherited those files when her father died.

He points out that he didn’t have to turn himself in, but he did it because of Gibbs. “I came to you because I believe you’re someone who won’t stop until you find the truth.”

Gibbs, Vance, and Monroe confab, and it’s clear Gibbs believes Scott’s claims of innocence. And interestingly, this convinces Monroe, who acknowledges that Gibbs sees something she doesn’t. She suggests that Ziva could be at her father’s country farmhouse.

So. If Scott didn’t do all the murders, who did? Abby’s got the answer, thanks to the blood on Dresser’s clothes: It was Kort. But he quoted Monty Python!

The information about Kort comes rolling out now. He was fired from the CIA last month, and Kane confesses (thanks to some sexy interrogating courtesy of Monroe) that Kort was selling secrets to the Russians in 2002, and he framed Scott and killed his wife to tidy up loose ends. Kane says Kort paid him to keep tabs on NCIS.

And the episode ends with Gibbs taking the cuffs off of Scott and everybody preparing to follow Kort to Israel to warn Ziva about what’s coming for her.

But they may be too late: ZNN cuts into its programming with news about a fiery explosion at the David farmhouse in Israel — “where Ziva’s supposed to be staying,” Tony whispers.

Aaaand to be continued!

Man, this ongoing case fits together rather cleverly, doesn’t it? Not only have we long known that Kort’s a sketchy piece of trash, but we’ve seen Scott not kill when he had the chance. It never made sense to me that he left Vance alive after kidnapping him for access to the NCIS files, and it was his partner, not him, who killed the people at the laser tag joint. The “Scott’s no killer” clues were there. How wicked cool to see them all come together.

So. Finale next week. DiNozzo’s leaving the show, one way or another. I’m sorry; I’ve tried to be dispassionate about this, and I know that Cote de Pablo’s said she’s not returning for the finale, but I’m going to be a little disappointed by anything less than a surprise Doug Ross cameo in the final minutes of Michael Weatherly’s time on the show. How about you?

Stray thoughts:

  • Too bad we didn’t get a Dr. Taft appearance in this episode, even if it would’ve strained credibility.
  • Which is better, Reeves’ proposed autobiography title “Bad Deals Going Bad,” or the silver foxy smile this elicits from an amused Gibbs?
  • Abby, Gibbs, a lab skeleton, and Bert the hippo: weirdest prayer circle ever.
  • How sweet to hear Gibbs tells Emily that she sounded like her mom as she was pushing back against her dad’s DNR. (Although I’m not sure dramatically tearing the directive in half negates any of its legal power.)
  • Seriously, Sarah Clarke’s the mole, right? She’s always the mole. (Sorry not sorry for the 14-year-old spoiler.

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