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
Back at the lab, Gibbs swans in with Caf-Pow and a clean bill of health. Abby and Palmer quickly realize that the symbols on the machete are from the Shilluk ethnic tribe. The leader of one of their subgroups, General Ajak Gadet, was recently injured, which would necessitate medical treatment and explain the attack.
Meanwhile, Ducky offers Gibbs some gentle analysis: Gibbs may try to run toward or away from things, but the truth is always faster. This gets driven home when Gibbs fades in and out during Abby and Palmer’s presentation. So he shows up in Taft’s office and tells him, “I’m thinking that if, uh, talking helps, why not?”
Taft is surprised (as are we!) and starts to recommend a good therapist. But Gibbs doesn’t want that; he wants to talk to Taft.
Back in South Sudan, the team is now on the trail of the Shilluks, and Burley’s talking to DiNozzo about romantic regrets. He was involved with one of the murdered doctors, Lizzie, but he didn’t let her know how much she meant to him.
“Guys like us, Tony, we can’t play the field forever,” he says. Then he continues accidentally making DiNozzo feel like dog vomit by pointing out that Liz had the same spark that Jeanne does and applauding David Woods for putting a ring on it. It’s the best accidental guilt trip I’ve ever seen, and all Tony can do is gaze regretfully at Jeanne from the back seat of the Humvee.
Finally, the team catches up with the Shilluks and the two kidnapped Americans, but it’s suicide without backup, and the SEALs are long gone. DiNozzo, having seen a movie or two, suggests that Burley shoots the gas cans to provide a distraction. (“He hates these cans!”)
Back home, Gibbs is frantically trying to reach someone by phone.
In South Sudan, the distraction works, sort of. DiNozzo and McGee sneak out Joni and David while the Shilluks investigate the explosion, but they’re crazy outnumbered and come under heavy gunfire.
Back home, Gibbs is still on the phone when bam! A SEAL helicopter swoops in to mow down the Shilluks. Never question what a determined Leroy Jethro Gibbs can do with a telephone.
On the flight back, McGossip Girl gets DiNozzo to spill some more. Tony admits that he’s happy for Jeanne, and McGee points out that Tony doesn’t have to carry around that guilt anymore. “Maybe. Maybe not,” he says.
But then Jeanne approaches them. She thanks Tony and says she owes him. “We’re good,” he tells her. She kisses his cheek and returns to her husband.
Closure. Sweet, sweet closure.
Finally, Taft finds Gibbs at home, working on his boat, and tells him that he found a tiny patch of scar tissue on Gibbs’ chest cavity, which makes it feel like he’s having a heart attack. But even though the scar tissue will heal, Gibbs still needs to talk out his trauma.
Taft points out that despite all of the people in Gibbs’ life, at the end of the day, he’s alone. And he wants to know, “What are you afraid of, Gibbs?”
So. Gibbs in therapy. This oughta be good, right?
- Bishop marriage watch: Windy with a chance of divorce papers.
- Show of hands: Who thought Jeanne was going to show up with a surprise DiNozzo Jr.?
- Bishop was charmingly surprised to be the one running point with everyone gone. They grow up so fast!
- Jon Cryer can bring me steaks any time.