NCIS definitely knows how to raise the stakes with international missions, inter-agency subterfuge and kidnapped military personnel. Far from a run-of-the-mill murder case, tonight's investigation was just the onset of an intriguing new arc that could continue through next month's season finale, if not beyond.
The conclusion of "The Missionary Position" unfolded very quickly and felt anticlimactic after a compelling, slow-building first 45 minutes in the U.S. and Colombia, but it was just the opening chapter.
More questions were asked than answered, and none greater than what Dr. Samantha Ryan (Jamie Lee Curtis) knows about the mysterious Monique Lisson (Karina Lombard), whose penchant for secrecy and suspicious background were evident from the start. In that respect, Lisson is a fitting adversary for Ryan.
Following their apparent sleepover at Gibbs' house, were led to believe that Ryan's reappearance could be purely personal, to showcase her new relationship with Gibbs, and not necessarily related to tonight's case.
Similarly, Ziva just happened to have an old friend in Cartagena, Colombia. Wishful thinking. You knew there would be more to both characters' involvement, but their connection to each other was a surprise.
NCIS does a nice job of creating intricate situations involving multifaceted individuals you can't make sense of. You want to like Ryan, and to a degree Monique, but there are parts of each that are so, so shady.
The show also intertwines personal relationships and casework, whether it's with old friends or new romantic partners, blurring the lines even further and weaving a tangled web for its characters to circumvent.
Not everything is black and white, as we were reminded many times tonight, but with Ryan, you have no idea if she's one of the good guys or not. She and Gibbs are on the same team, but it doesn't feel that way.
Will she shape up after this and be a team player? Coming clean about wanting to talk to Lisson is a good start, but Gibbs' romance with someone he clearly can't trust is enough to give anyone pause.
At the same time, he's clearly attracted to her. It's neat that he has an age-appropriate love interest, and how could you not like Gibbs' awkwardly happy smile after he told her "we did okay" in their attempt at coupledom?
Overall, the episode was less about Tony and Ziva, or the latter's past, and more about the casework. Posing as missionaries to collect DNA samples and infiltrate cartels through vaccinations? Diabolical.
For his part, DiNozzo was anything but dead weight, particularly during his heart-to-heart with Chaplain Castro. Tony sounded a lot like Gibbs when comforting her and telling her how much guilt he carries.
We learned a little more about Ziva the human being instead of Ziva the action hero. Told by her longtime friend to search internally for happiness, she may again find herself reexamining her worldview.
Ziva's not the only one who will need to dig deep and look to herself before this is over. This case, if it does indeed continue and grow more intense, could test the instincts and fortitude of the entire team.
This case has the potential to get ugly, given the complexities and people. Cartels aren't known for keeping things above board, and the warning signs were abundant. How deep will NCIS go?
The Navy Chaplain was rescued after the CIA connection was exposed, but "The Missionary Position" clearly set the table for bigger things. This isn't over, and the next chapter should be very interesting.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Palmer spent the bulk of the episode hemming and hawing over who to choose for his best man, and after much deliberation, went with his gut and made the only logical choice ... Abby!
As an octogenarian, Jimmy's mentor Ducky would've been an unusual dark horse pick as well, but he bowed out, leaving Abbs to do the honors. Miss Scuito as the best man-woman? Somehow it just works.
All in all, an unconventional but solid episode with both a satisfying conclusion and plenty left unresolved. A few additional thoughts and observations before turning it over to you ...
- Gibbs punching McGee's arm in celebration of the rescue? Awesome moment.
- Of course a trip to Colombia ends in Tony rattling off Puss in Boots quotes.
- The dead body dropping near a picnicking couple was a bit Bones-esque.
- The funny thing about Palmer's wedding tuxes? They were once in style!
- Is Richard Schiff's character also connected to Monique and Ryan?
- Was the "Colombian" seaside at the end actually Long Beach?
- Please, please, let them show Palmer's bachelor party.
What did you think of this week's NCIS? Did Palmer make the right call? Do you like Gibbs and Ryan together? Where is this case headed? Discuss in the comments below!