A young man on a rented yacht eagerly awaits the arrival of the escort he hired for the evening, but when the smokin’ blonde struts in, her angry ex-boyfriend’s hot on her heels. And while the potential john may be disappointed, the audience definitely isn’t.
That’s right, friends, it’s time for another installment of NCIS Undercover! The first episode of 2018 features Bishop and Torres working slightly outside the rules to shut down a fentanyl-smuggling ring operating out of the Norfolk civilian marina.
Bishop-as-prostitute and Torres-as-angry-ex allowed them them to clone the dealer’s phone, and they immediately intercept a text message ordering the dealer to kill the person about to arrive for a drug buy. As the pair head back to the yacht to stop the murder, the boat explodes.
The next morning, Gibbs and company find the dealer dead in the water with a bullet to the head, but there’s no sign of Bishop and Torres. They eventually emerge from hiding to get dressed down by Vance for not checking in immediately, as protocol dictates. (Naturally, Bishop wanted to follow the rules, but Torres talked her out of it.)
At least they used their time wisely, using the dealer’s phone history to uncover the identity of the likely middleman in the drug ring: Mitchell Young, who runs a boating supply store. Gibbs and Vance tell Torres and Bishop that their covers could be blown and send them to the hospital for a post-explosion checkup. They reluctantly head out, but whaddya know, when Gibbs and McGee show up at Young’s shop, they spot Torres in his undercover duds heading inside.
There, Torres introduces himself as Luis and says he and his girlfriend, Charlie, ran an identity theft con on the dead dealer, and now that they know about the drug operation, they both want in.
Although “Luis” scores a job, Vance still pulls Torres in for a talking-to. Torres is unapologetic for doing what’s necessary to bring down the drug ring. Gibbs, of course, predicted what Torres would disobey orders, and in the end, Vance reluctantly approves the plan.
He then heads to Sloan’s office, wondering if he can trust Torres after he defied orders. Sloan argues that NCIS trained Torres to follow his gut and take chances — you know, like Gibbs would. The look on Vance’s face suggests that these two risk-takers are the cause of every ulcer he’s ever had.
Bishop’s also angry at Torres, who left her at the hospital without a word. He argues that he took the opportunity because it felt right. “At the end of the day, it’s how you stay alive.”
Abby’s able to pull a serial number off the gun used in the dealer’s murder, and it leads them to 9th grade science teacher Denise Mancuso, who’s about as squeaky clean as they come. She eventually admits that her sister-in-law, Frankie, stole the gun about a year ago, and she didn’t report it. UGH, in-laws. (This message is brought to you by every holiday dinner I attended over the last few weeks.)
Back at Young’s boating supply shop, Richard Lane, the owner of the destroyed yacht, is demanding compensation. Young’s employee, Donnie, offers Lane two scuba tanks as compensation. As it turns out, the drugs are being moved in these tanks, but Lane seems to think that two paltry tanks aren’t the equivalent of an entire yacht.
Then the undercover agents show up. Donnie tells “Luis” to start loading tanks onto a trunk while “Charlie” meets with Young for a job interview. The pair kiss before reluctantly separating.
Torres isn’t thrilled with the manual labor, but Bishop clearly gets the short end of the stick when Young orders her to kill a bound, terrified Frankie as a loyalty test. (Frankie killed the dealer after he pulled a gun on her, and the powers that be have determined that she’s too much of a liability.)
Thankfully, Bishop’s been listening to Torres’ many tales of his undercover exploits, so when the fire alarm goes off and he runs into the room, she knows that he’ll knock her hand away when she goes to shoot her target, just as he did with a partner on a previous mission. The plan goes off without a hitch, and Torres tells an angry Young that they don’t want a body on their hands with the fire department on the way.
In the end, Young tells “Charlie” to take Frankie elsewhere to kill her while “Luis” stays behind to continue loading product. And okay, I haven’t ordered all that many murders, but I’m not sure I’d trust a woman I met literally five minutes ago to perform an execution, and I definitely wouldn’t trust her to do it unsupervised and off site. (Next page: Seat belts save lives)
Naturally, as soon as Bishop and Frankie are speeding away in a van, Bishop calls NCIS. The team make Frankie up to look dead and snap some photos for Bishop to text to Donnie, but even though they’ve saved her life, she refuses to name names. Sloan then steps in with a stick rather than a carrot, taking a picture of Frankie with a “snitch” sign and asking her to pick which shot Bishop sends Donnie.
Frankie chooses wisely, and the death photo arrives on Donnie’s phone as he and Torres have a heart to heart about thwarted ambitions. Donnie says he wanted to be a fireman, a teacher, a cop, but his uninsured mom got sick and he needed fast cash. Torres gets melty and tells him it’s not too late to pursue his passion for education.
Then yacht owner Lane arrives again, this time with a gun. Torres texts this update to NCIS, where Frankie’s just told them that Lane’s the top of the drug ring food chain.
NCIS scramble to the scene, where Gibbs and McGee order Bishop to cover the front as they head inside. They find blood and Torres’ smashed burner phone, and then Young steps out of the back room with a gun.
Seeing her chance, Bishop enters through the front in her Charlie persona. Young thanks his newest employee for saving him. When he leaves her alone with the two agents, Bishop assures Gibbs that this feels like the right move. Again with the unearned trust! Does this drug ring operate on pinky swears and good feelings about every fresh-faced recruit who turns up?
When Young returns, Bishop gets in his face about her boyfriend’s whereabouts, and Gibbs guesses that Young is making a play to take over Richard Lane’s business. Young’s amused that they think Lane was the boss. And yes, that’s was; Lane’s now dead in the freezer after he shot and injured Donnie. Of course, this begs the question: If Lane’s not the boss, who is?
Aaaand we cut to another unwise act of trust, as Torres tells wannabe teacher Donnie that he’s actually NCIS, and they’ll go easy on Donnie if he’ll testify against his boss. But he can’t, you see, because Donnie is the boss. Oh, Torres, you sweet summer child.
NCIS has put this together, too, but Sloan can’t get Young to tell them the location of the safe house full of henchmen where Donnie’s likely taking Torres to kill him. Gibbs tells Sloan it’s his turn, and she should head upstairs. Naturally, she stays there to witness Gibbs chuckling menacingly and turning off the cameras.
Meanwhile, on the ride to the safe house, Donnie tries to convince Torres to join his crew as his man inside NCIS, arguing that sitting at a desk is no place for a man like Torres who comes alive in the field. He also implies that (a) Torres enjoyed kissing Bishop a little too much, and (b) she’s out of his league as she’s a hard 10 and Torres is a soft 7. UMMM AGREE TO DISAGREE ON THAT LAST PART, SIR.
But Torres knows that Donnie’s just trying to learn what evidence NCIS has against him before killing him, so when he sees an opportunity, he takes it, plowing the vehicle full speed into a forklift. Donnie wasn’t buckled in, and he explodes through the windshield. Just a reminder to wear your seatbelt, boys and girls!
Donnie’s in bad shape, but he gasps out that his three henchmen inside will finish the job on Torres. Torres looks rattled…until the men emerge from the safe house with their hands in the air and Gibbs, Bishop, and McGee at their backs. Whatever Gibbs did with the cameras off worked to loosen Young’s tongue.
Back at NCIS, Vance praises Bishop and orders Torres to move all of those scuba tanks out of evidence as punishment for his disobedience. Torres objects to being Special Agent Gopher, especially when Bishop wants to burn off her excess energy with base jumping or target practice.
Then they get downright flirty, talking about who taught whom what, and the best pre-undercover kiss dining options. (Hint: It’s not garlic pasta.) They agree that they didn’t want the operation to end, and when they do eventually wish each other goodnight, they both engage in what can only be described as a series of lingering glances as Bishop steps on the Elevator of Schemes and Secrets.
- Just how did Gibbs convince Young to talk while the cameras were off? With one of his agents in jeopardy, are we maybe better off not knowing?
- “I don’t give out free samples. I’ve got three kids to feed and a sick nana in Boca.” Gotta love Bishop’s commitment to her undercover identity!
- So Bishop and Torres, hmm? It sure feels like the show’s hinting in this direction. If so, are you on board? I’ll certainly keep an open mind, if only to see Torres-the-player wrestling with those pesky emotions. (Bishop-with-the-dead-fiancé wrestling with emotions sounds a lot less fun, though.)
- Happy new year, NCIS friends! What are your wishes for the show in 2018? Let me know in the comments!