Jeanne Benoit turns back up, and DiNozzo learns that time heals, but never enough

By Sara Netzley
February 24, 2016 at 04:55 AM EST
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Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS
S13 E16

Hey, remember when Jeanne Benoit popped up earlier this season and we were all, “Oh, yay, they got closure and now DiNozzo can move on”? Turns out, nothing was as closed as we thought.

In other words: Case, schmase. This week’s all about the agents’ personal lives.

First, Dr. Taft tries to get Gibbs to open up about his childhood to no avail, then he tries to get Gibbs to see an actual therapist. In fact, Taft’s own therapist, Grace, gets a kick out of Gibbs and could be helpful to him. (Jethro comes up in Taft’s sessions because Taft has “an unhealthy attachment to positive results.” Lack of success, like with Gibbs, brings up a host of unresolved issues for him.) Before they come to any agreements, both of their phones ring: Gibbs to a crime scene, Taft to operate on the participants from said crime scene.

The theft of several crates of M16s and ammo left one Naval petty officer dead and another wounded, along with one of the shooters. Gibbs immediately calls Taft and orders him to keep the shooter alive for interrogation purposes, as if Gibbs yelling “Keep him alive!” over and over can stem the tide of death. Come to think of it, maybe it can.

But when Gibbs arrives at the hospital, Taft tells him the shooter died, and Gibbs dumps a whole load of guilt onto him. Dude, Taft literally just told you he has an unhealthy attachment to positive results! Not cool! But Taft shows up at HQ to work with Ducky on extracting an old metal plate screwed to the shooter’s arm.

Abby determines that the plate, which was made for a femur and is therefore too large for an arm, belonged to Father Gerard Carlin, a Catholic priest in Dallas who received the plate in 1995 and then disappeared in the Sudan in 2004.

“And what doctors do we know with experience in the Sudan?” Gibbs asks pointedly. DiNozzo looks like he’s rather graft that femur plate to his forehead than return to International Doctors Group, which is run by Jeanne Woods, nee Benoit. But Taft’s getting into this crime-fighting business and is delighted to tag along to provide a medical perspective.

As DiNozzo and Taft wait for Jeanne’s husband, David, to meet them, DiNozzo tells Taft not to offer any extra information and just to stick to the medical stuff. In turn, Taft wants to know how long Tony and Jeanne dated and whether her husband knows. Timmy McGossip didn’t spill the beans, though; Taft figured it out based on DiNozzo’s reluctance to come and the number of times he checked his teeth in the rearview mirror. Vanity, they name is Tony! DiNozzo doesn’t think David knows that DiNozzo used to encroach on his wife’s international borders, and he’d like to keep it that way.

And there comes the man himself, full of gratitude with DiNozzo for saving his life in the Sudan earlier this season. DiNozzo looks uncomfortable, particularly when Taft starts a jocular conversation about David’s wife. And then the woman herself enters, greeting Tony far more cooly than Taft.

DiNozzo asks for their help in finding the doctor that may have implanted the plate. David’s happy to make some calls. And then Taft opens his big ol’ mouth to say that the guys they’re looking for stole a bunch of weapons. DiNozzo freezes, knowing how Jeanne will react, and he’s not wrong.

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“Stolen weapons, Tony? Is that why you’re here?” she snaps, obviously upset. He swears it’s about doctors in Africa and not her father, whom I’m sure we all remember was internal arms dealer La Grenouille.

Back at HQ, McGee says, “Jean Benoit? Really?” Hee! Bishop asks how it went.

“Aside from Taft verbally ripping the bandage off a really delicate wound, it was super awesome, thanks,” DiNozzo says.

Rather than returning home after the trip to IDG, Taft’s back in the morgue, where he and Ducky discover an old bullet lodged in the shooter’s spine. Taft is elated. “Old bullets, titanium plates. This is a bad-ass cat on his 10th life. I didn’t lose him. It was finally his time to go!”

Okay, hear me out: Taft could replace DiNozzo next season. I mean, nobody can replace DiNozzo, but Taft is fast and funny, and he’d bring that DiNozzo-ish energy to his scenes, don’t you think?

Anyway, Gibbs and Taft end up at their diner, where Gibbs meets Taft’s wife, Catherine. They bond over their mutual lost children. “Time heals, but never enough,” Catherine says, and if that’s not the theme of this episode, I don’t know what is. She thanks Gibbs for being Taft’s friend, and they agree that they’re good for each other.

NEXT: Old feelings die hard (for Tony, anyway)

Back in the lab, Abby links the bullet pulled from the shooter to evidence in a case involving, you guessed it, La Granouille. DiNozzo’s horrified and waits with dread for Jeanne to arrive at HQ for further questions. McGee says he’ll be fine, but DiNozzo’s certain: “I won’t be fine. Nothing’s gonna be fine.”

And sure enough, Jeanne enters and immediately yells at him, “You lied to me, you son of a bitch!” DiNizzo swears that they didn’t know about the connection until the previous night, and thankfully Gibbs backs it up. Thankfully, Jeanne’s able to ID one of the shooters as a former henchman of her father’s.

Meanwhile, DiNozzo’s making awkward small talk with David in a hallway. David flat out says he’s not giving up Jeanne. “I see the way you look at her. Frankly, the way she looks at you would trouble me a bit if I didn’t know your history.”

DiNozzo’s shocked that David knows, and then claims that Jeanne’s not under his skin. But David replies, “It’s not your skin I’m worried about.” Woof. This is one feelings-centric episode of NCIS, and I’m LOVING IT.

DiNozzo awkwardly follows the Drs. Woods as they leave, and Jeanne asks David to give them a minute. DiNozzo reiterates that he didn’t know about the connection to her father until later, and Jeanne sighs that he’ll someday find another reason to stop by, “and always at the precise moment I’m starting to feel whole again.” At this point, David wisely interrupts and whisks his wife away.

Based on Jeanne’s ID, the team tracks the second shooter, but they find him dead on the floor of his house, along with some detonators. Hmmm, might we see those in play at some point?

Across town, Taft and his wife are leaving a movie, and Taft takes a call while Catherine starts the car. It coughs and doesn’t turn over, which we all know from the movies means there’s a bomb. And sure enough, the thing explodes moments after she exits it. This badly rattles Taft, who beats himself up for ignoring his wife as he recovered from the death of his son. He focuses on all the excuses they found not to go on their dream vacation around the world.

“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be,” Gibbs tells him.

“Did you just quote Yogi Berra?” Taft asks. Gibbs opens up enough to reveal that his father was a Yogi Berra fan who used to say that to a young Gibbs, and he urges Taft to take that trip.

In the end, the case is solved, sort of, when Gibbs realizes that the ATF has been tracking the gun crates all along as part of a top-secret op. The ATF agent is unapologetic about the attempted and actual murders, but he does help them apprehend the final shooter.

That night, DiNozzo finds himself back at IDG, where Jeanne’s working late. He tells her they solved the case, then he pulls a chair up next to her and drops into it. “I had a crazy night,” he says.

She, in turn, confesses that she and David got into a fight over DiNozzo and her father, which they never do. Tony says he’s sorry to hear that, and I believe that he actually is … but he also totally isn’t. Jeanne’s less icy and far more relaxed around him in this scene, and you can see an echo of their old relationship.

DiNozzo then tells her he understands what she means about not feeling whole. And in fact, if he had one wish, he’d turn the clock back to the end of the South Sudan mission, “because I think that was a much better ending for both of us.”

Jeanne melts even more and confesses, “I guess I’d go back further,” which, SWOON. Tony stands up, far too close, and wishes her goodnight. She wishes him goodbye instead, and there’s so much tension in the air that my husband actually yelled, “She’s married, dude!” at the screen.

No way. No way is this the last time we’re seeing Jeanne, right? This has to be the Tony exit plan at the end of the season, don’t you think?

Finally, we cut to Gibbs striking up a reluctant conversation with a woman at the diner. It’s Laura San Giacomo, and she lures him into helping her with a crossword puzzle. Taft enters, sees the two of them talking, and quietly leaves. When Gibbs spots him outside the window, the NCIS theme plays softly on the piano as he puts it together that this is Grace, Taft’s therapist. But he sits down and joins her anyway, offering a seven-letter word for rejuvenation: renewal.

This was another good episode tonight! The season’s been stronger in its second half, and I’m always thrilled to see Jon Cryer show up. So what did you think, cats and kittens? Would Taft be a good series regular? Are you liking the final story lines DiNozzo’s getting? Do you want to see more of therapist Grace? Were those not the hottest villains in the show’s history?

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