This week's NCIS episode saw the much-anticipated return of Jamie Lee Curtis' Dr. Samantha Ryan, not as an adversary but as a partner - in and away from the field - for Gibbs this time.
The joint NCIS and PsyOps operation was compelling from the start, and even though things dragged toward the end and meandered into less interesting territory, it was enjoyable overall.
It was clear the show wasn't reprising the time-honored assassination attempt on the Secretary of the Navy when it happened with Gibbs standing right there AND he didn't catch the shooter.
Instead, it was all a mole hunt for one man's "tell" and the secrets it could reveal.
While extremely elaborate - that a government agency would go that far to root out the leak of classified information seems a bit dubious - it was an appropriate vehicle to reunite Gibbs and Ryan.
And reunite they did. That's what it's all about, right? The "bounce" in his step was obvious to his team members (and hers), as we were frequently reminded, even as they clashed professionally.
Throughout the episode, Gibbs and Ryan tried every trick in the book, making veiled threats, twisting arms, misleading and lying by omission to get to the bottom of a crucial blackmail scheme.
When it came to brain gaming Phillip Wickes (William Russ), Gibbs was off his game and couldn't hide his disdain for Ryan's tactics, voiced via that tiny little earpiece, in the interrogation room.
Rarely do you see Jethro get that flustered, and not even at the suspect.
Wickes is a personal friend of the SecNav, and the fact that the Navy's new Green Initiative meant fiscal doom for his steel company gave him obvious motive to blackmail the Navy to keep his contract. But he did not.
Gibbs was right to trust his gut about Wickes, who was innocent all along, but Ryan wasn't completely wrong about "The Tell" she spotted toward the end, which indirectly led NCIS and PsyOps to their man.
It turns out the blackmail was a diversion, and the hacker's true goal was not to secure Wickes' contract or to release of classified info but to steal Autec's off-book government funds, earning interest in a nine-figure account.
This felt out of place, like it should have been an entirely different episode (a McGee-centric one, perhaps, given the cyber warfare angle). The investigation even took them back to that same secure server encryption facility!
Body odor and all, Amanda Baylor would've been a worthy adversary for McGee, and as for the real mastermind, Wickes' half-brother? That also came out of nowhere, though it did explain Wickes' inner denial about it.
Cobbled together and full of unanswered questions as it was - why didn't Wickes bat an eye after being conned by Jarvis? - the case kept you guessing, and provided the obvious vehicle for Gibbs' personal dance with Ryan.
I like that Gibbs has an age-appropriate love interest, and that more of Ryan's personal history and vulnerability were revealed this week, making her more than your stereotypical "strong woman" love interest.
They enjoy some of the same things - breakfast at 4:00 a.m., charades (as the kids call it) - and have a nice rapport. Both have complicated pasts and are surprisingly complex individuals despite their tough exterior.
Of course Gibbs would state point blank that he can help with her ex - it's one of the many reasons we love him, unconditional and unwavering support for those close to him - but will he get the chance?
Jamie Lee is a good actress and I liked the character more this time around, but Gibbs is a man that leads from the gut, not the head. Ryan, for better or worse, is the epitome of a tactician, a very cerebral person.
Do they balance each other out enough to run away together on a little sailboat (metaphorically ... who didn't love that drawing)? Or are their personalities just too different? Questions, I hope, for another time.
A few additional observations before turning it over to you:
- Ryan had some great interactions with the rest of the team this week. Talking to the body with Ducky, reading Abby's thoughts, getting under Tony's skin with the game show host comment ... all great scenes.
- Michael Weatherly absolutely could be a game show host later in life if he wanted.
- I'd watch a whole episode in which Abby "maps out" unexplained phenomena.
- Exchange of the night? "You need more sex." "I'm not answering that."
- Ziva correctly using the word "cahoots"? Nicely played, Agent David!
- No Jimmy Palmer again this week. What gives!
What did you think of this week's NCIS? Discuss (and vote in our poll) below!
Do you like the idea of Gibbs and Ryan as a couple?