Mona Lisa
Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS
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S16 E18
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Wow, did those diamond smugglers pick the wrong NCIS agent to drug and kidnap.

At first, everybody’s surprised that Torres is standing them up that morning, but as McGee says, “It’s Torres. I’m sure he’s got a story.”

Still, it’s odd that he wouldn’t pick up the phone for Gibbs, or for any of Bishop’s thirteen calls. (She claims it’s because she wanted his help with paperwork. Sure, girl. “Paperwork.”) When they ping his phone, it shows him at a Virginia Beach marina, three hours away.

Cut to the marina in question, where Torres wakes up on a boat, shirtless, disoriented, and nursing a pounding headache. And who’s the first person he bumps into?

Yep. Gibbs is there to get to the bottom of things. Torres remembers going to his gym and then…nothing. He swears he didn’t have any alcohol, and his wallet’s intact, his motorcycle isn’t at the marina, and his discarded shirt’s spattered with blood. Gibbs suggests that he was drugged and orders him to hydrate because Gibbs is the best.

In-house doctor Palmer looks Torres over, diagnoses him as having “striking eyes,” and orders him not to leave the building. Torres ignores him and shrugs on a plaid button-up shirt from McGee’s go-bag. That’s how off his game he is, friends.

Torres’ trainer didn’t show up for his session the night before, so Gibbs and Bishop head to the gym to talk to him. He knows all about them both and says Bishop’s “been coming along lately,” according to Torres. He said it was weird that Torres didn’t wait for him when he got there an hour late because “it’s not like him to skip bis and tris day.” Oh, we saw.

When Gibbs and Bishop head to the parking garage, they find Torres, who seems…lost. He’s looking for Betty, his motorcycle, and is horrified to find her on her side behind a dumpster. That’s actually not the worst news, though: Underneath that, covered in cardboard, is the body of a young woman.

Her name is Jessica Ho, who was at the gym on a day pass and was killed with a gunshot wound to the neck. Torres offers to take the bullet to Kasie, prompting my lawyer husband to shout, “NO!” Thankfully, everybody else in the room was also thinking about chain of custody, and it’s handed to Bishop instead.

In the lab, Kasie reports that somebody slipped a roofie into Torres’s protein shake, and here’s where I start to see red: Torres calls himself stupid for getting roofied, and Bishop agrees that he’s not an easy target.

HEY THERE, GATHER ‘ROUND, BOYS AND GIRLS: Do you know who’s to blame when a person gets roofied? The person who did the roofie-ing. That’s it. Full stop. Sure, be aware of your drink and choose a closed container and all of that. But you. Are not. To blame. If somebody. Drugs you. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

Speaking of the drug cocktail, Palmer notices something strange and heads to Ducky’s new office to discuss it. And wow, did Ducky do some excellent work in kitting up his new space! He’s got big, interesting art and a treadmill desk and a VR set up. Also, he agrees with Palmer that it’s odd that Torres’ pupils were constricted when the drugs in his system should’ve led to dilation. Remember this. It’s important later.

Another piece of the puzzle is the boat that Torres woke up on. It’s been abandoned at the marina for months and is registered to three different owners. Sam Hendrix, commander of the Coast Guard and owner of an actual pet shark in a huge tank, video-calls in to explain that it’s a ghost ship, one of the workaday vessels that meet speedboats a few miles offshore and carry smuggled goods to land in plain sight.

Unfortunately for Torres, the team’s recovered parking garage security footage showing him walking out of the gym with Jessica, and forensics matches her blood to his shirt. Bishop immediately asks if there’s any chance he could’ve, you know, murdered her while he was drugged. NO, BISHOP. BAD, BISHOP. HOW DARE YOU, BISHOP. (Don’t worry. I’ll circle back to this, too.)

They get some movement on the case when Gibbs holds open Jessica’s eye (hork!) for Kasie to unlock her phone, and in it, they discover the only calls are to Torres’s trainer, Jordan. In interrogation, Torres shows Jordan a photo of Jessica’s body, and Jordan yells, “You know my whole thing with night terrors!” Ha!

Jordan explains that Jessica cold-called him with an offer of $10,000 to be late to his training session with Torres, and he took it. Yeah, uh, time for a new trainer, Nick. As the pieces start to come together, Torres refers to Jessica as a Mona Lisa—not the painting, but the woman in the Lil Wayne/Kendrick Lamar song who lures men into dangerous situations. Of course, that Mona Lisa didn’t end up dead.

The case finally comes together when they trace Jordan’s payment to Brueger Marine Lines out of Belgium, and Kasie announces that a broken blade on the abandoned ship is the kind used to cut diamonds.

Torres recalls that when he was undercover, he worked with the Coast Guard to recover $12 million of smuggled diamonds on container ships leased by Brueger. This means it’s time to visit Hendrix and his shark in person! He warns Torres not to knock on the shark tank glass, and as an aside mentions that she recently ate the male shark in the tank with her. “Beware the female shark” is advice everybody should’ve heeded this week, tbh.

Hendrix lets them review the evidence on the Brueger case, which is kept in a room secured with an iris scanner. When Hendrix’s assistant Nena Easterling opens the box containing the diamonds, she’s shocked to find it empty. And when they look at which of the four people with access to the room had been inside since the diamonds were last inventoried, the answer is one person: Torres.

Once he’s back at NCIS, Torres rips apart his desk drawers in case the diamonds are there. But Gibbs tells him flatly that he’s not a thief or a killer. And Palmer and Ducky come through with the final answer: Torres was given a drug that optometrists use to constrict pupils. This allowed the kidnappers to take a high-res photo of his iris to make a contact lens that would let them access the evidence room.

And who would give them directions once they were inside the Coast Guard facility? That would be civilian employee Easterling, who smugly suggests they search for the diamonds in her apartment and her car and everything she owns.

But Gibbs knows exactly where she stashed the goods: in her boss’s shark tank, where they just looked like clear little rocks.

Didn’t I see that in a movie once?” Bishop asks once they’re back at HQ, but Torres is in no mood to joke. She invites him to grab dinner, and he asks, “You sure you want to break bread with a killer?”

And then GET THIS: Bishop tries to joke her way out of it: “You accuse your buddy of being a killer one time…” She offers to apologize, but all Torres wanted from her was faith. She argues that he looked guilty as hell, and he would’ve asked the same questions of her.

“No. I wouldn’t,” he tells her. When she asks one more time if he’s okay, he says, “I guess I’ll find out,” and walks away with Sloane, hopefully to sort through all the troubling things that happened to him this week.

I would now like to speak directly to Eleanor Bishop: You, madam, did a terrible thing tonight. While the rest of your team offered Nick Torres their unwavering trust and support during one of the worst, most confusing days of his life, you straight-up asked him to his face if he was a murderer, and then you acted all surprised that your words wounded him.

It would’ve been bad enough coming from any of his fellow agents, but they came from you, who are either blindingly unaware or purposely ignoring the fact that he seems to have strong feelings for you.

This can and should throw the brakes on every facet of their relationship until (or if?) they can work through this. For now, consider the Ellick ship grounded—and just when she was “coming along,” whatever that means.

Now, to this week’s other storyline. Remember CIA agent Westley Clark and his fellow spy Mallory, who were running surveillance on Vance after his captivity at the hands of terrorist Hakim? They’re back. Mallory’s been getting verrrrry cozy with Vance, enough that she’s staying the night with him and swapping out his laptop.

Vance, meanwhile, has bought her a impressive ruby necklace. But before you go feeling bad for Vance, remember who we’re dealing with. He and Gibbs burst in on the Clark/Mallory meeting with the news that the necklace was a listening device. “Never spy on a spy,” Vance says.

Mallory excuses herself from the room (and her sham relationship with Vance), and Clark explains that it’s SOP for the CIA to monitor assets who’ve been held hostage to make sure they haven’t been turned into double agents.

He learned that this wasn’t the case with Vance in the first two months. Then he spent the next four months verifying that Vance and his team are the most trustworthy people in D.C. because Clark needs their help.

You see, U.S. Secretary of Defense Wynn Crawford is sitting on a secret off-shore slush fund with a quarter of a billion dollars in it, and no federal agencies want to get involved, given the political climate these days. “I think it’s time to run into that burning building,” Clark says. “Want to come with?

Stray shots

  • It looks like we have new slush-fund intrigue to take us to the end of the season. Gibbs is coming for you, Mitch Pileggi!
  • Speaking of season-long intrigue, Gibbs gives Bishop the go-ahead to clean out Ziva’s belongings from her private office. I HOPE SHE THINKS ABOUT BEING A BETTER FRIEND TO TORRES THE WHOLE TIME SHE’S WORKING.
  • So, uh, does the CIA employ honeypots? Because that was quite a thorough con Mallory ran on Vance.
  • A quick note about a simple line of dialogue that spoke volumes: “I’ve been doing much better with that,” Torres says when Gibbs questions his claim that he wasn’t drinking. That exchange holds a world of unspoken backstory about Torres’s alcohol habits and Gibbs’s concern for him, and it’s all conveyed in one quick, quiet moment. Well played, NCIS.
  • In conclusion, could somebody please give Torres a hug? And a cuter shirt?

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