Nick Torres took the spotlight in NCIS Season 14 Episode 21, in which a past undercover operation of his came back to haunt him in a big way.
The plot shed some light on his character, which was welcome, though the development felt somewhat cheapened by Torres's less-than-brilliant behavior and choices from start to end.
The part that irked me the most (Yes, I just used the word "irked.") was when Torres went all the way to Vance's office to whine about being benched.
Sure, Vance dressed him down, but Torres was acting like a child who wasn't picked first for the team in gym class.
Get a grip, man. You're a highly-trained federal agent, not a middle-schooler.
To be fair, one could definitely argue that this behavior is merely an extension of his "doesn't play well with others" attitude from the start of the season.
Plus, Gibbs's dismissal of his intelligence on Mitch Monroe seemed high-handed.
Too bad the episode's mystery was pretty much spoiled the moment Royce revealed his very specific pottery-making hobby. Law of conservation of detail: that mysterious "not mud" Jimmy found? It's gonna be pottery clay.
Ducky: What have you found, Dr. Palmer?
Jimmy: I’m not sure. Maybe, mud? Maybe? But not exactly?
Ducky: Ah, that’s quite an analysis.
Cue my utter lack of surprise when Royce was revealed to be the true leader of the new Rosewood Boys.
The situation did leave me scratching my head, though; Royce was supposedly in Witness Protection, right? I fully admit to not knowing exactly how it works, but aren't they supposed to hide people far, far away from former associates?
So how did the WitSec marshals somehow miss that Royce was now running his old gang? In fact, the marshals were barely even mentioned at all.
Here's another good question: How in the name of sanity did Royce know where Torres lived? Surely Torres didn't tell him. And a guy with a history of undercover work like Torres wouldn't have a listed address!
How then, pray tell, did Royce manage to get the dirt bike into Torres's garage? Maybe I missed the scene where Gibbs asked Torres how many people knew where he lived.
The revelation that Torres actually planted evidence to bring down the Rosewood Boys made for an obvious Gibbs parallel, which Gibbs himself lampshaded.
It once again raised a serious moral quandary about the protagonists of this beloved long-running series. Was Torres justified in planting the evidence, as he claimed?
Gibbs's own extra-legal action (killing Pedro Hernandez – thanks for not showing that flashback again) came back to bite him big time. By comparison, Torres got off lightly.
You did the wrong thing for the right reasons. Never do that again.Gibbs
While it was left somewhat ambiguous whether Royce's evidence was real or not, it was heavily implied that Gibbs covered for Torres, much like everyone else (particularly Vance) once covered for Gibbs.
Gibbs's drug-dealer-killing backstory came across as incredibly sympathetic because of the horrific murder of his wife and daughter, and the viewers got to see how much Gibbs lost.
By comparison, Torres's story here wasn't given nearly as much development. Mostly, it was just him talking about it. There was far less emotion, less opportunity for the audience to really connect with Torres.
This was not helped by his less-than-sympathetic behavior towards the rest of the team, what with the running off on his own, keeping of important information, and self-centeredness.
It's important to note that these are not necessarily a problem with the episode. As stated above, it's been an established character flaw of Torres to not being used to working with a team.
Obviously, though, that very trait can definitely be frustrating for viewers hoping to connect with the character.
I can’t help unless you help yourself. Time to tear off that band-aid.Gibbs
Then there was the dirt biking.
I understand and accept that they wanted to get the most bang for their buck with the dirt biking, but it sure made Gibbs's team look like amateurs when Royce was able to get away initially.
Oh, well. File this with (more or less) acceptable breaks from reality, like the obvious California scrub standing in for backwoods Virginia (or wherever).
Be sure to stop by our NCIS quotes page for a rundown of some of the notable lines from this episode.
If you missed this episode, no worries! You can watch NCIS online to catch up.
The next new episode of NCIS won't air until May 2, 2017, with NCIS Season 14 Episode 22, "Beastmaster."
What did you think of "One Book, Two Covers"?
Did you like getting a look at part of Torres's past? Were you shocked that he actually planted evidence? Was Gibbs telling the truth about the recording?
Let us know in the comments section below!