NCIS brought back a favorite guest star and treated us to another first-rate episode Tuesday in "Lost at Sea."
When the Coast Guard is involved, Gibbs counterpart Abigail Borin (Diane Neal) usually is too, and the show's better for it. Smart, experienced and tough enough to retain her credibility as an authority figure, but still laid back enough to mix it up with Gibbs' subordinates, there's not a lot to dislike about "the other" Abby.
In addition to the week's mystery (a good one), Borin played a role in the night's entertaining side plot involving Tony and Tim, a.k.a. McGoose. After bragging about their exploits on the dating scene, the wannabe wingmen were challenged by Ziva to pick up the next woman they saw, which of course was Borin.
Tim and Tony may not be successful at picking up women, but it sure is entertaining to watch them try.
She was playing the guys all along, it turned out, with Borin in on the gag. Point, Ziva.
Her motivation? Not being asked to join the two for for drinks - although there was also a not-so-subtle implication from Ziva that Tony should ask her out on a real date, a hint echoed by Borin after the jig was up.
"You had your chance," she says. Hmm. One of these days he's got to make a move, right? While I wouldn't want NCIS to become The Tiva Show at the expense of other characters, what's the harm in one date?
As for Borin, the notion of the guys asking her out was funny because I couldn't picture it in either case. She's a good catch, for sure, as are they, but her connection with the team has always felt different to me.
Some tend to look at the CGIS Abby as a potential love interest for Gibbs (lots of letters in their employers' names, similar personality traits, red hair), but I see it more as an older sibling/younger sibling relationship, with Borin being the "cool" aunt who can relate to the "kids" while still commanding their respect when she needs to.
That said ... I wonder if she would've said yes had she not been in on the joke.
In any case, it was great to have her back, but that was just one component of an episode shrouded in mystery from the get-go. Something was clearly amiss, but it took most of the evening to figure out what.
It was a true Navy caper (and Coast Guard) involving a mission gone awry, which always feels a little more authentic compared to run-of-the-mill murders that just happen to involve Marines, and an unusual one.
The first dead end came in the search for a second aircraft, followed by the pilot's apparent suicide that wasn't actually suicide. Eventually, the money trail led Gibbs & Co. to question the three survivors' account.
Neither Lt. Hernandez or his troubled, last-minute replacement Lt. Comm. Happ could go through with the scheme in the end, and the latter paid with his life at the hands of the buyer of the chopper they planned to sell.
Staging a crash to sell off a dated helicopter for a measly $75,000 each? Probably not worth it under the best of circumstances, and it showed. Dehydration, brain damage, death and likely imprisonment.
Fortunately, Happ's wife and son didn't have to hear the false account the Pentagon was about to release. He was the hero who tried to stop it. The fact that the scrap dealer was the killer? Did not see that coming.
The case took so many turns and his character fit so nicely into Borin messing with Tony and Tim, it was easy to miss his connection to the crime ... until it was revealed that the officers were selling the machine, of course.
Very enjoyable episode overall. We'll all have installments we like more than others, for various reasons, but I think we can all agree so far that NCIS has plenty left in its tank in Season 10.
A few more stray thoughts and observations before turning it over to you ...
- Ducky clearly honed his covert prowess decades ago on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. A few security people at Walter Reed are no match for a man versed in international espionage.
- Vance's tie? Definitely not softening his mood from the looks of it.
- Hearing like a horse ... whisperer? I always love Ziva-isms.
- And Abbs and Abbs together. How can you not, right?
- Check out next week's promo for "Namesake" below:
What did you think of Tuesday's NCIS? Discuss in the comments!