All together now: Jeanne Benoit? Really?
When an attack on a Doctors Without Borders-like group in Togu, South Sudan, leaves three dead and two missing, it brings a pair of familiar faces back into the NCIS world this week.
The team gets involved when NCIS Special Agent Stan Burley calls for help finding the missing International Doctors Group personnel. One is Joni Ryan, a friend of Dr. Cyril Taft (Jon Cryer) who, coincidentally, assisted on Gibbs’ surgery. The other is Dr. David Woods. Don’t recognize his name? His wife is Jeanne Woods, née Benoit.
Cue shock from every member of NCIS and deep, deep brooding from Very Special Agent DiNozzo.
McGee does a quick infodump about the sad history of Tony and Jeanne for Bishop (and any newcomers or amnesiacs in the audience): Tony got too close to Jeanne while undercover, they both fell hard, and it ended “super beyond badly.” He says it’s obvious that Tony’s hated himself ever since.
DiNozzo, overhearing this, calls Tim “McGossip Girl” and downplays the impact of running into his old girlfriend — although he definitely chokes on the word “wife” when explaining her relationship to David Woods.
So the team jumps into action, planning to send two agents plus Jeanne to Togu, along with a special ops team for backup. And then— noooo! — Gibbs collapses.
Gotta say, this episode feels strangely placed. Gibbs’ post-surgical trauma has been put on the back burner for the last several episodes, but it’s suddenly come roaring back. Maybe it should’ve aired a little earlier? No matter; NCIS is brilliant at call-backs and long-simmering repercussions, and this episode is no exception.
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Long story short, Gibbs is on limited duty from home, and DiNozzo, McGee, and Jeanne board a plane to Togu. DiNozzo quietly tries to justify to McGee that he was only doing his job and that he felt terrible about the deception when he fell in love with her.
So he approaches Jeanne and asks how she and David met. She says it was just before the last time she and Tony spoke, when he told her their whole relationship had been a lie. Which itself was a lie — oh, what a tangled web we weave! She tells Tony that her husband is the best man she’s ever known, obviously making some unflattering comparisons to the man standing in front of her. And now they have 10 more hours of the most awkward cargo-plane trip ever ahead of them.
Gibbs is at home grilling a steak in his fireplace — that’s the Gibbs-iest way to cook meat, by the way — when Taft shows up with his test results, all normal. However, Taft says that his emotional trauma is expressing itself as a physical manifestation and Gibbs need to start therapy to deal with it. He then takes Gibbs’ unhealthy steak and throws it in the trash. TAFT IS A MONSTER.
In Togu, the team finds a young woman who witnessed the attack. She doesn’t know who the attackers were, but she gives them a machete they left behind. Then a truck full of Navy SEALs rolls up, but they can’t stay because they’re being airlifted to Rwanda in the morning, leaving Burley, DiNozzo, McGee, and Jeanne on their own once again. Not great odds, there. Still, Tony makes a promise to Jeanne: “I know there’s nothing I could ever say or do to make you forgive me. I won’t rest until we find him [your husband]. You have my word.” Of course, how much does his word means to Jeanne?
NEXT: Somehow, DiNozzo feels even worse