Sergei Mishnev made an appearance by proxy this week when he sent an assassin to kill a Navy research scientist in Washington in NCIS Season 12 Episode 4.
Meanwhile, Tony appeared to find a new love interest in FBI Agent Leia Pendergast. Are you a fan of Ziva 2.0?
Come with us as TV Fanatic panelists Christine Orlando, Michelle Carlbert, David Taylor, Tanya Moat, Kathleen Wiedel and Douglas Wolfe debate and discuss all of this and more. Then, join in the discussion yourself in the comments...
How would you describe the episode in a few words or a sentence?
Christine: Don't Lose Your Head (Goodness that was a brutal way to go.).
Michelle: Tony Has a Type.
David: DiBozzo the Clown Returns.
Tanya: Men's Restrooms: More Than Bathrooms.
Kathleen: Russian to Meet You.
Doug: A Little Off the Top Please.
What was your favorite scene and why?
Christine: Tony and Pendergast talking about Stephen J Cannell had me smiling from ear to ear. The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, The Rockford Files, Hardcastle & McCormack, 21 Jump Street. I know them all. He was such a prolific writer and I was a huge fan of The A-Team as a kid. As a writer, Cannell is a hero of mine and I was so sad to hear of his passing a few years back but this scene made the episode for me.
Michelle: Christine already said my favorite as I too loved the conversation between Tony and Pendergast about Stephen J. Cannell shows. I think Pendergast has actually seen more than I have, which is saying something. So I'll go with their confrontation in the interrogation room as another favorite scene of mine. I liked that Tony didn't allow his feelings for Pendergast to get in the way of him getting to the truth about whether or not she was the leak.
David: It doesn't rise to the level of "scene", but Tony's jab at Pavlenko (along the lines of "Yes...I extracted the team myself...because...help was slow to arrive.") was just beautiful. I also agree with Michelle--Tony trying to call out Pendergast as the leak was well done too.
Tanya: I'm going to cheat and give you two: I enjoyed the scene where McGee approached Benin at the bar and asked her what she was drinking. Water would mean she had nefarious intent while alcohol meant she was innocent. Good to know. I also enjoyed the team ribbing on Agent Pendergast for not liking Star Wars. I can only imagine the kind of teasing you endure when your name is Leia.
Kathleen: I smiled every time the team found a way to stick it to Pavlenko - even if the guy's not evil outright, he's definitely a weasel.
Doug: I enjoyed the confrontation between Tony and Pavlenko. Tony knows the score and wasn't about to let Pavlenko score diplomatic points against him. I'd really like to see more - much more - of this side of Tony. The take-no-prisoners professional.
What, if anything, didn't work for you?
Christine: That the Russians would leave without checking that their valued scientist was dead or that they wouldn't ask for her body to be returned to them. The fake shooting went down far too easy for me.
Michelle: You know, I gotta say that I didn't really have a problem with any aspect of this episode. I thought the team interaction was spot-on and the case was quite interesting.
David: Well, I'm curious why a foreign scientist didn't have a thicker foreign accent.
Tanya: I wondered the same thing, David. I could buy that she would speak English well, but not having a Russian accent was strange. It bothered me enough that in some scenes I paid more attention to her lack of accent, than what was happening.
Kathleen: I'm with David and Tanya - I, too, was bothered by Benin's total lack of Russian accent. It's really not an easy thing to accomplish, after all, when you aren't actually immersed in the language (in this case, American English).
Doug: The accent thing didn't bother me. I was conscious of it, but it didn't reduce my enjoyment of the show. The close-up of Tony as he's being the team clown bugged me a lot though. He is long past the single one-note frat boy stage. It's time the writers took a cue and allowed him to mature already.
What are your thoughts on Pendergast?
Christine: I'm still working that out. She's a little hardcore but she bantered well with Tony which is obviously the point of her character. I didn't hate her but I didn't love her either. I'm going to give her some time before I make a final call.
Michelle: So far, so good. I like her personality and the way she doesn't back down to Tony. More importantly, I like that Tony isn't turned into an incompetent idiot when he's around her. I think the best thing I like about Pendergast so far is how she and Tony interact. I'm definitely curious to learn more about her.
David: I don't like her. While she was a good foil for Tony, I think she's a legend in her own mind and it put me off. If the FBI had to be involved, where was Fornell? He's worked with the team before and would have fit in better.
Tanya: To be determined. I like that she's a confident woman who isn't afraid to fight back or speak her mind. At the same time, she didn't really slide right in with the team either, and I'm not eagerly anticipating her next visit. I'm neutral for now. I didn't instantly dislike her the way I did EJ, so that's good. I hope.
Kathleen: I'm with David - if the FBI had to be involved, Fornell (a highly-experienced senior agent who knows how to deal with NCIS and Gibbs) should have been the agent on hand. And Pendergast definitely seems to think she's better than she actually is. Tony successfully distracted her while the others retrieved Benin, after all, and fooled her into thinking that he didn't know what was going down with the death-faking at the end, too.
Did Pendergast actually do anything that the NCIS team could not have done themselves? I felt that she was ultimately pointless to the episode other than as someone to bounce off Tony's rapier wit - but there are other characters who can do that just as well. I wanted to like her, but she wasn't really much more than a running joke throughout the episode.
Doug: I think they could have made a better choice for a character to challenge Tony. Isn't there a strong woman out there who isn't so full of herself - cocky and arrogant? Do we need a female Tony - or worse, another version of Ziva? Pendergast doesn't impress me at all.
What about YOU, NCIS Fanatics, do you like FBI Agent Leia Pendergast as Tony's new love interest?
Sound off and then check out the official promo for NCIS Season 12 Episode 5:
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.