NCIS recap: Charade
A stolen identity leads to a flock of phony Tonys and a full-blown identity crisis for the real one
One Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo is a good time. Four? Well, that’s a few Tonys too many.
The problems start when DiNozzo fills in for Gibbs at a swanky political event with Sens. Kelly and Bransfield. Kelly’s unpleasant assistant, Lisa, tries unsuccessfully to bounce him for not being on the list. It might have been better if he’d been removed, though, because a furious Bransfield calls him a despicable piece of filth and shoves an envelope of cash at him.
Back at HQ, McGee glances at the stacks of bills and correctly pegs it as $20,000. Before anybody can ask further questions, Gibbs comes running into the big orange room, calling DiNozzo’s name. He just got word that an NCIS agent was killed in a car crash.
“That’s terrible! Who died” DiNozzo asks.
“You did,” says Gibbs, ever the master of understatement.
This leads a testy Tony to cancel his credit cards while the team fills in the blanks. The dead man carried IDs with DiNozzo’s information, and his car was run off the road by a light-colored, older-model Mercedes or BMW with some kind of bumper sticker.
Once Sen. Bransfield realizes his problems vanished with his blackmailer’s death, he refuses to help NCIS get to the bottom of the fraud — particularly because it’ll keep his secret intact. But the ever-useful (and possibly extra-legal?) Abby hacked into his email, where they discover photos of him with a woman who’s definitely not his wife. As they’re snooping, a new blackmail demand lands in Bransfield’s inbox.
“There’s another phony Tony,” DiNozzo sighs.
Tracing the email reveals similar extortion messages sent to Sen. Matheson and Sen. Kelly, and the team realizes that there are three faux Tonys (Fauxnys?). Kelly’s is dead, but Bransfield’s and Matheson’s are still out there.
The team then sets out to con the cons by dressing Gibbs as Matheson and McGee as Kelly and nabbing the Fauxnys at their drops. (The resemblance between the agents and the senators is slight; you’d think the blackmailers would have photos of their targets. But pshh details.)
Under questioning, the Fauxnys admit that they’re actors and a woman hired them from Craigslist.
“She told me that I’d get to play a government agent. You know, like Jason Bourne. Except, of course, I get Jason Boring,” Little Fauxny says.
Then they pile on, calling DiNozzo pathetic. “You have no life,” Big Fauxny says.
“It’s true. You have no wife, no kids, no hobbies. Same job, same apartment. I mean, nothing changes with you,” Little Fauxny says.
“What a fun conversation,” DiNozzo snips. Poor guy. You can practically see the hamster wheel that is his brain turning, but he’s not thinking about this week’s case.
Anyway, Frick and Frack actually prove useful when they admit to dropping the money at a bus station locker with a security camera. Turns out, the woman who hired them is…drumroll…DiNozzo’s fizzled one-night stand from “After Hours”! You remember her: Blond, pretty, annoyed that DiNozzo got distracted from serenading her with Sinatra as he tried to solve the fishy self-defense murder case from three episodes ago.
Unfortunately, DiNozzo’s no help in locating her. She gave him a fake name, he tossed out the email address she gave him, and he’s had so many women at his apartment that he can’t be more specific about any details. Gibbs is not pleased that he was such an easy target (emphasis on easy) when she approached him at the bar.
“They usually do!” DiNozzo replies.
Back at his place, Abby’s dusting for fingerprints even though it’s been more than a month and many ladies have come and gone since then. DiNozzo thinks she must’ve used a flash drive or her camera phone to swipe his deets when he was in the kitchen and confesses to feeling violated — “and not the way I like.”
While dusting, Abby finds his reversible cat/dog picture.
“It’s a long story,” Tony says.
“Yeah, you pretend to have a pet to impress women,” Abby says.
“So it’s a short story,” Tony says. Ha!
Then she psychoanalyzes that it’s not that he hasn’t met the right one; he’s just afraid of whom he might find. Before the moment becomes too uncomfortable, DiNozzo realizes the wine bottle the mystery woman drank from is still in his fridge. And just like that, they’ve got a fingerprint and a name: Elizabeth Elliot, former mortgage lender.
While this is unfolding, the rest of the team is starting to think that Elizabeth didn’t have anything to do with the dead Fauxny’s murder because Sen. Kelly drives a white 40-year-old Mercedes with a newly repaired bumper and fresh parking sticker. (His secret? Bogus medical discharge that kept him out of Operation Desert Storm.)
NEXT: DiNozzo suffers a crisis of confidence
Oh, did you think DiNozzo had hit rock bottom before? Not quite. He’s cruising in a rental car (he’s test driving new ones for himself) when a cop pulls him over because the card used to rent it was reported stolen. The officer doesn’t care that DiNozzo insists it was stolen from him, not by him.
“I believe you could just as easily be the thief in all this. You’ve got beady little red eyes like one,” he snarls as he arrests DiNozzo for impersonating an officer. No respect!
McGee bails him out, and DiNozzo, who was seated between two guys who stole a hot dog cart and now smells of sauerkraut, moans, “I feel like my life is a charade.” Drink! (I’m sorry, do you not play the game where you drink when the characters say the name of the movie or the title of the episode? Um, you should be.)
Anyway, he tells McGee he did a lot of thinking in the big house.
“You weren’t even booked. You sat in the lobby,” McGee points out.
“Time passed real slow,” DiNozzo replies. Then he gets serious, saying he feels like he’d already lost his identity even before it was stolen. But McGee reminds him that he survived the pneumonic plague (good times!) and saved Gibbs from drowning (heck yeah!) and is one of Tim’s best friends (awww!). DiNozzo seems touched.
Okay, time for another sting. Big Fauxny’s wired up and sent in to meet with Elizabeth at a park as the team observes undercover. Gibbs poses with a dog (does NCIS have rental pets for situations like this?), McGee listlessly rakes a patch of grass, and DiNozzo awkwardly scrunches in the backseat of a car since Elizabeth knows his face.
Alas, Big Fauxny freaks out and rips the wire off after he’s in place, which sends Elizabeth scurrying back to the car. But aha! DiNozzo’s in the backseat of her car. (Wait, how did they know which one was hers? Eh, details!)
She tries to charm him, but he just pulls out the cuffs and says, “You know, I imagined putting these on you. It was just under different circumstances.” Man, he really has no game.
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In the interrogation room, she’s a cool cucumber, asking for immunity in exchange for implicating Sen. Kelly in killing the first Fauxny.
However, the team makes yet another leap: Somebody on the inside had to know Kelly’s secret to get the idea about blackmail. This leads them to his mean assistant, Lisa, from the opening scene.
She and Elizabeth worked at the same mortgage company until the bubble burst in 2008. When Lisa sniffed out blackmail, she enlisted her con artist friend, and then they expanded to other senators. Lisa’s the one who ran the first Fauxny off the road when he threatened to squeal. (Seriously, at least 50 percent of the murder victims on NCIS are offed because they’re having second thoughts about their dastardly plans. Snitches get stitches, people! Never forget!)
At the end of the day, OG Tony’s eating with his mini-me’s, who both seem surprisingly chill that they’re going to be serving time for their roles in the extortion plot. In fact, Big Fauxny’s more interested in the hot peppers for his sandwich. Actors, yo.
So, this is the start of the Tony exit, right? In the morgue doing the autopsy, Ducky lectures the Fauxny corpse about the Newtonian law of inertia: An object in motion tends to travel in the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
DiNozzo’s going through the same motions, day after day, year after year, and he’s getting itchy in his own skin. He’s not pathetic, but his eyes are opening to the fact that he needs a change. The question is, was this episode the unbalanced force he needed, or is something even bigger coming? And what will that change look like? Three more episodes, people!
- With all this speculating I’m doing about how DiNozzo will choose to leave the show, it’ll serve me right if it’s actually in a body bag. (Oh please don’t let it be in a body bag!)
- If DiNozzo’s game is talking about Katy Perry, it’s a wonder he ever lures any women back to his apartment.
- In the competition to name the new aircraft carrier, Bishop’s suggestion makes it to the finals: U.S. Admiral John McGee, the deceased decorated war veteran, a.k.a. Tim’s dad. Sometimes this show gets you right in the heart, doesn’t it?
- It also gets you in the funny bone. DiNozzo’s annoyed suggestions of Peanut and Brett Favre as carrier names are perfectly, delightfully absurd.
- Hey, Goldfish Kate and Goldfish Ziva!