NCIS is shaking things up in its 14th season. DiNozzo’s gone (but never forgotten!), and two new faces are joining the team. So how did they fit in? Let’s recap!
We open with a spot of trouble in Buenos Aires, where a man deflects a knife meant for him into the stomach of his assailant, who’d just threatened his sister’s life.
Back in the States, a mom, dad, and teenager girl are having a typical mom, dad, and teenage girl squabble when their car suddenly bursts into flames and goes sailing down a ravine or some kind of incredibly steep ditch. Mom pulls the teen free, but she can’t reach dad before the car goes boom. And gee, do you think those two scenes are connected?
Here come the DiNozzo-less credits. Pauley Perrette gets second billing now, for those keeping track at home, while poor Emily Wickersham appears behind the two brand-new agents.
So, a quick catch-up on our favorite agents: Gibbs and Fornell spent the summer reenacting The Odd Couple (three guesses as to which is Oscar and which is Felix), Bishop’s been to Scotland, Ducky’s visiting all his old haunts to document his memories, Palmer’s been digitizing all of NCIS’ autopsy records, and McGee hasn’t fully moved into DiNozzo’s vacated desk yet. Oh, and Gibbs has fired eight potential probies over the last three months. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.
Agent Alex Quinn (Jennifer Esposito) sure isn’t. She’s the official trainer of the probies and has a good feel for our favorite Grumpy Gus: “One was too smart, one was too slow, one was too physical, one was too timid. You’re like the Goldilocks of NCIS.”
She decides to spend the episode shadowing Gibbs’ team to get a feel for what he’s looking for. She gets a good view of them in action when they get called to the car crash scene. Navy Cmdr. George Campbell died, but his wife Lucia, a major in the JAG corpse, survived, as did their daughter, Amanda.
Since Lucia is a prosecutor, Tim pokes into her cases for possible suspects, which gives us a completely delightful cameo from one Capt. Bud Roberts. JAG! Forever in our hearts! Bud’s got a bit more snow on the roof, but he clearly still has mischief in his heart, particularly when he embarks on this delightfully trollish exchange:
“How are Harm and Mac? How are they doing?” McGee asks.
“Actually, it’s really interesting,” Budd says. “Okay, so Harm—”
And then Quinn interrupts them.
LOL, I see you, NCIS. Very funny.
Anyway, Budd tips them off that Lucia, who’s still in a coma, had just taken some personal time, and Abby’s lab magic confirms that she’d been in Argentina — no surprise since she’s the man in the bar’s sister. Deep-cover NCIS agent Nicholas Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) went off the grid in March, so Lucia hired a PI to track him down.
Speaking of trolling, Quinn brags to McGee and Bishop that she remembers every student she ever had (Tim loved mystery novels! Torres was the good kind of sociopath!), then claims that she has no memory of Bishop. Aww, Bish. Still way down in the credits and kicked around by the new kid, despite her having the training nickname of “Incisenator” after she knocked some poor probie’s teeth out.
Back to that sociopath thing: Quinn confirms that Torres, best in the biz at undercover work, was looking into whether the Global Enforcement Academy in Argentina was being used to recruit mercenaries.
Then Quinn ensures that we’ll love her forever when she confesses to McGee that she totally remembers Bishop but is messing with her because Ellie’s so tightly wound. “Plus, it tickles me.”
In the meantime, Torres has flown into D.C., where he’s immediately attacked by some bad dudes. Gibbs and Bishop pop up to rescue him, then bring him in so he can tell his story. To wit: While he was undercover, he befriended David Silva, son of corrupt businessman Leo Silva. He realized that Silva was the one recruiting mercenaries and generally doing crooked things to keep their oil business afloat.
Torres had to go rogue to infiltrate the group, and he did so by starting a relationship with Leo’s daughter, Elena. (Hello, shades of DiNozzo/Jean Benoit/La Grenouille!) Then his sister’s PI showed up and blew his cover.
And whaddya know, the Silvas just happen to be in town for an oil summit, meaning it would’ve been easy to orchestrate the hit on Torres’ sister’s family.
NEXT: Gibbs expands his team by two
So Torres strolls up to blackmail the Silvas literally on the steps outside of the conference — apparently low profile isn’t a thing they teach you in undercover school? — and offers them a jump drive of evidence against them in exchange for leaving his family alone.
But of course, he’s working with NCIS. The jump drive has software to mirror Silva’s computer so they can catch him committing crimes on American soil.
It’s also clear that Torres is staying with Gibbs, although he tells Fornell, “I don’t sleep,” which is why he and I will never be friends.
Back in the big orange room, Quinn stops torturing Bishop and admits that she remembers her. Ellie wasn’t the most naturally skilled agent, but she was persistent. My thoughts are that if Quinn were a little more persistent, she could’ve played the “Who are you, again?” game for at least a season.
Since Elena Silva’s a bit of a genius with electricity and automotives, she becomes an immediate suspect in the car bombing, so Torres confronts her at a chilly-looking outdoor café. She’s frosty (understandable!) but denies she had anything to do with the bombing and stomps off.
Torres doesn’t leave when she does — for good reason. There’s a pressure bomb under his seat, which he explains when Gibbs takes the vacated spot opposite him.
“How’s it look?” he asks.
“Like it might hurt for a second,” Gibbs replies as he leisurely picks up his phone.
Weirdly, we don’t see how Torres gets out of that jam, instead we cut to him slamming his badge down in Vance’s office to go after the Silvas his way. When wise old silverbacks Vance and Gibbs object, Torres explodes (in the manner of every undercover agent ever): “Eight years of service, and what has it gotten me, huh? A broken family, a lifetime of lies, 16 different names, 16 different home addresses, no wife, no kids. I don’t even know what I want anymore. I don’t even know who I can trust.”
Gibbs, apparently agreeing that this is the most clichéd possible response, literally and metaphorically pushes Torres. He says he’s disappointed that Torres failed to protect his sister and disrespected the badge.
The Gibbs treatment works. When the jump drive reveals that the Silvas’ target is a judge on the shortlist for a SCOTUS nomination, the team scrambles to keep her safe. (In a Pelican Brief-ish plot point, the oil baron Silvas want the judge out of the way because she favors alternative energy.)
Naturally, they save the judge from a car bomb in the nick of time, arrest the Silvas, and confront the father with a recorded conversation (unseen by us) in which Elena confronted him, and he told her everything. Silva immediately folds, then tries to make Torres feel bad about destroying his family in the process. Um. Dude. You tried to kill his family. You have no moral authority here.
That night, Tim approaches the DiNozzo desk, and Bishop reminds him that if anybody’s going to sit there, Tony would want it to be Timmy. While they’re having this nice moment, Torres wanders through, and McGee and Bishop casually point out that Gibbs left Torres’ badge in a desk drawer.
“You can’t be on Gibbs’ team without it,” McGee says.
“Never been on a team before,” Torres replies. He’s worried he won’t be a good fit, and McGee says there’s only one way to find out.
Speaking of teams, Gibbs arrives home to find Fornell and Quinn playing poker. She chides them both for their history of getting shot and not wearing tactical vests, then reminds Gibbs that she found him his agent. This time, it wasn’t an agent the team needed, but it was an agent who needed the team.
Gibbs tells her he actually found two agents, while Fornell invites her to ante up for a new game.
“Come on, Quinn. Are you in?” Gibbs challenges. And she drops her chips into the kitty.
- Did it strike anyone else as weird that McGee and Bishop made Torres the job offer? Isn’t that a Gibbs thing? Or a Vance thing, really?
- There was a noticeable lack of Abby tonight. And Ducky. And Palmer. Here’s hoping the show gets better balanced as the season wears on.
- Was Fornell naked under Gibbs’ robe? Actually, that probably makes it Fornell’s robe now, doesn’t it?
- Now the most important question: What do you think of the new faces? I’ve never been Valderrama’s biggest fan. (No lie, I flipped over a chair when I heard he’d been added to the cast. It was a lightweight plastic one, but still.) Yet he seemed… okay… here. I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt; I just hope he doesn’t do too much brooding. Quinn, though? Delightful. I’m all in. What about you? Let me know in the comments!