NCIS: But she’s not a redhead, Gibbs!

This week’s episode of “NCIS” was — personally — a little disappointing. I mean, yes, it could have something to do that the final season of “Lost” was set to premiere immediately following this episode’s end (a scenario that is very likely, as I’ve been a fan since the first season), but I don’t know. There just seemed to be something missing from this episode. Perhaps it’s simply because last week’s installment, “Jet Lag,” was so superior to so many episodes of “NCIS” that have been aired this season.

Regardless, the show must go on, yes? This week’s episode opened in a fairly typical and uninteresting fashion: a guy at a bar attempting to hit on women. Oh, very original. Because us women haven’t endured that enough (either on TV or in person). Anyways, the guy was given a very entertaining name — Alphonso — and boy did he have some horrible pick-up lines. No wonder he was at the bar all alone! He spots a car chase on TV and — OMG — it’s his brother’s car. And then — no way! His brother calls him, and relays this cryptic message: “It’s happening. Wherever you are, you’ve got to run.” Cue bro’s car exploding on TV. Intense.

Following a cute little discussion between Ziva, Tony and McGee on the importance of obscure holidays (Tony’s favorite was Ballroom Dancing Day, while Ziva — surprisingly — showed a preference for International Talk Like a Pirate Day), we arrive at the crime scene. Alphonso’s dead brother was a Marine, and the explosion that killed him was likely to be an accident. Tony and McGee notice that there is a cell signal-blocking device towards the trunk of the car, as they lose service immediately as they move closer and closer to the trunk.

It turns out, the car had been carrying mass amounts of Cobalt-60, a substance that not only is among the main ingredients of a dirty bomb, but also creates great amounts of radiation. When the team finds out, they all don ridiculous radiation suits, the attire accessorized by Tony’s incessant need to complain about potentially losing his ability to have children (normally I love Tony, and while that scene was one of the more lively ones from last night’s episode, I did find him just a tad bit irritating in that moment).

The team gets back to headquarters, and there’s a nice scene in which all of them are simultaneously holding separate conversations on cell phones within three feet of each other. It’s kind of ridiculous how reflective of this era that that scene was. Anyways, a man from the Pentagon — Mr. Kane, who is involved in national intelligence — arrives at NCIS headquarters to meet with Gibbs and Vance. It turns out that the dead guy — now ID’d as Ramon Vega — was familiar with Kane in that Kane suspected him of being a member of a Peruvian gang setting up operations in the U.S. After a few more questions, Gibbs decides it’d be a good idea to locate Mr. Bad Pick-up Lines (aka Ramon Vega’s little brother).

The team goes to Little Brother Alphonso’s house, where they find with him the defense attorney from the Bell case (she helped the bad guy return to America from Mexico — sorry, but her name is escaping me right now — we’ll just call her Alphonso’s lawyer. But seeing as she’s kind of a bitch, I don’t feel all that bad about forgetting her name. But she does have some pretty good chemistry with our Special Agent Gibbs, who happens to be interrogating Alphonso. And Tony and McGee are watching, with Ziva on duty to go get popcorn. Unfortunately she returns too late to watch, but at least she succeeded at making the popcorn the second time around, right?

It turns out that our dead Marine was not Ramon Vega — it was a man by the name of Cook; this was confirmed when Ducky was so enthralled with the perfect teeth of the corpse that he ran a dental check (I hope they do that when people’s teeth are ugly too, otherwise that could be a problem). It turns out that Ramon Vega is the one featured in the terrorist-esque video linked to the so-called Peruvian gang.

The team locates Ramon, who says that he was recruited by a government official from the Department of Defense to participate in the video. This official was making fake videos and scenarios of terrorism to be used in intelligence training so that there could be practices on how the nation would handle such situations. So Ramon is not actually the bad guy. It turns out that Mr. Kane is the bad guy — he was being paid hefty sums through Congressional pork given to his company, the same company that was the sole source of information on this Peruvian gang (which wasn’t necessarily real after all). Official evidence marked him the murderer when photos related to the crime were traced back to Kane’s computer.

As always (even with a lackluster episode), there were great moments in this episode of “NCIS.” My personal favorite, as one who would so love an attempt at a Tony/Ziva pairing, was the semi-conversation they had about her experiences in Somalia at the hands of Salim in the 7th season opener that aired this past September. It was classic Tony/Ziva tension: just when you think one of them is going to open up, they shut down and raise their defenses.

Oh, and that lawyer constantly sparring with Gibbs? Yeah, well apparently the only pro-bono cases she takes on are the ones that revolve around NCIS. And Gibbs. Okay, so we’re supposed to assume that she’s attracted to him. I mean, I get it — Mark Harmon is kind of, like, the epitome of a silver fox, but I can’t say that I appreciate that particularly would-be pairing. There’s just something to grating about her character.

Anyways, next week’s episode looks promising. Hopefully the promo wasn’t misleading and “NCIS” can recover from this week’s sub-par showing. The good news, though? Even when “NCIS” disappoints me, it still produces better episodes than half the shows on TV. At least I can bask in that knowledge!


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