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October 23, 2013 at 12:39 PM EDT

We’re now on the third Ziva-less episode of the season here on NCIS, but for

Cliff Lipson/CBS

Tony, the wound of his partner’s departure is as fresh as if it had happened hours ago. And tonight’s episode gave us a glimpse into exactly how he’s been dealing with the loss. Hint: Not well.

But of course, this is Tony DiNozzo and he’s not just going to come right out and say that. Instead, we carried on with a case that illuminated the real issue at hand and also reunited Tony with a person from his Baltimore days, named Anton.

Anton’s story was a complicated one but it boils down to: He was once an informant for Tony but when he feared his life was in danger, he killed the man who he thought was going to tell others that he’d been working with the police. Years after being in the wind, he resurfaced on the day an officer named Wells, who had a high-level security clearance, turned up dead. Of course, this made him suspect No. 1.

Throughout the investigation process, Tony seemed determined to prove that Anton was not the one who’d killed Wells, but it was slightly harder than usual for him to do so since he was severely lacking in the sleep department and, as a result, having trouble with his coordination and concentration. By the end of the episode, it’d been four days since he’d gotten a proper rest.

You can guess why Tony hadn’t been sleeping well — the departure of Ziva and everything that happened while he was on his trip to find her was weighing heavily on him. And the case with Anton was just furthering his recently renewed sense of self-doubt. “Maybe I was wrong about a lot of people,” he told Gibbs when they were talking about the case (but also NOT talking about the case, if you know what I mean.) After a little prompting on Gibbs’ part, the truth came pouring out. And naturally, they played the “Tiva” music in the scene just to make sure we all teared up. “It’s so interesting, no one will say her name,” Tony said. “Have you noticed? It’s like she’s dead. Every time I look at her desk, every time I close my eyes, I just feel like I made a mistake — like I made the wrong decision. Only it wasn’t me who decided. So, yeah, I’m probably wrong to think Anton’s innocent in all of this.”

Gibbs being Gibbs, he knew exactly what to say to offer an ounce of comfort: “I’ll trust you anytime,” he told Tony.

These two kill me.

In the end, we found out that Anton was not directly involved in Wells’ murder, but that Wells had been accidentally killed by men who were seeking retaliation against Anton, who was only back in town for his Marine brother-in-law’s funeral, for murdering the man who was going to blow the whistle about his work with the police all those years ago. Essentially, the mob family was seeking revenge and killed Wells instead, thinking he was Anton.

The only break Anton got was that Tony arranged for him to see his sister before he was hauled off to be prosecuted for the death of the man he’d killed back in the day.

In case you’re wondering, Tony did get a chance to sleep finally. He did so in his desk chair, which seems fitting.

My heart continues to bleed for poor Tony but at least we know everyone around him is as concerned as we are. I’m convinced that with their help, Tony will, as Gibbs says, get it together.


Tony: Do I seem OK to you?

Ducky: Markedly better than the last occupant of that table

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