Friday, November 17, 2006

Media: NCIS – Navy Criminal Investigative Services - "Once A Hero"

While at a highbrow social function honoring the retiring Secretary of Defense held at a local DC Hotel, NCIS Director Jennifer "Jenny" Shepard (Lauren Holly) is nearly hit by the falling body of a veteran Marine, Sgt. Ryan Wright, who apparently fell from a high floor in the interior chamber of the hotel. Shepard informs Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) that a congressional aid Andy Nelson (Jonathan Woodward), who works Congressman Frank Getz (Ned Schmidtke) encountered Wright, providing Gibb’s his first witness. Gibb’s questioning of Nelson revealed that he had been attacked by Wright, while Nelson was on the sixth floor delivering some papers to a congressional subcontractor. During the questioning, the congressman spins the incident as a damaged veteran committing suicide. Gibbs bristles.

While inspecting the dead Marine’s possessions, Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) discovers Wright was missing a shoe, had no wallet, but did have a begging note and a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart with two Marine Stars, the latter readily indicating that Wright was a war hero. This steels Gibbs in his defense of Wright as the plot unfolds. Agent Timothy "Tim" McGee (Sean Murray) finds Wright’s other shoe and floor from which he fell. Back at the station, DiNozzo reports Wright was formally registered at the Hotel. Mossad Agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) reports that the congressional aid Nelson had an unremarkable history. McGee obtains Wright’s medical records what indicate he was on medical leave for the past four months after serious shrapnel wounds to his head but had not been seen by VA medical officials for the past three weeks. Gibbs’ patience with the poor treatment of this fellow Marine intensifies when discovering Wright was homeless, living hand to mouth.

Gibbs reasons that perhaps Wright was staying at the hotel all along. Gibbs and McGee return to the Hotel to find a maintenance man, Luis Romero (Francesco Quinn, actor Anthony Quinn’s son) who was a former Marine and who admitted to allowing Wright, as a fellow Marine to stay in rooms undergoing repair. While Romero shows Gibbs and McGee the room Wright was using, he receives a frantic call from the house staff that has discovered the dead body of a young Southeast Asian woman who had been strangled. NCIS believes that the two cases are connected and political heat enters from all sides. Physical evidence is recovered from the body, a black pubic hair, and a swab of saliva from the dead girl’s face. Recovered from the scene was a master key that Romero had provided Wright, providing the first connection of Wright with the murder of the girl.

Meanwhile, on the personal front, Tony is obviously burning the candle at both ends with work and his new amour, medical student Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson). While being questioned regarding his unusually haggard appearance by Ziva, Tony receives a phone call on a private cell phone rather than his usual one. It is his girlfriend arranging to see him that afternoon. Ziva, already suspicious from a previous episode (”Sandblast”) that Tony had a love interest and now her interest is piqued even more so. Tony continues to play coy in spite of his titillating conversation with Ziva in “Sandblast.”

McGee and Forensics Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) analyze the recovered pubic hair for the presence of drugs that Wright would have had to be taking for his post-traumatic disorder. The gas chromatography-mass spectrometry proves inconclusive due to a lack of sensitivity and Abby tells Gibbs she needs a $100,000 Infrared Spectrophotometer (IR). Not having one available to her, Abby attends an instrumentation tradeshow, meets a kindred spirit selling such instruments and determines that he sample does not contain the drugs expected from Wright but does indicate the presence of the preservatives used in the post 9/11 anthrax vaccine. Wright’s medical record indicates that Wright was never administered the vaccine and the recovered pubic hair could not be Wright’s.

While Ducky discovers unexplained bruising to the chest of the dead girl as well as where she had come from, a province in China within the past several weeks, NCIS Special Agent Michelle Lee (Liza Lapira) comes to the morgue for Ducky’s signature and disappears into a backroom with Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) leaving Ducky to find himself with Gibbs who had since come in. From the autopsy news Gibbs thinks that the girl was part of in imported sex trade ring and that Wright did not kill the girl but tried to administer CPR to her after she had been injured otherwise (also accounting for the saliva on the dead girl’s cheek, identified as Wright’s).

The pubic hair is identified as congressional aid Nelson’s who gives up the fact that he killed the girl whom he had acquired from a slave trader Davey Chen (Ming Lo) he had done business with in the past. Michelle Lee goes undercover as a courtesan attempting to purchase her ostensible sister (the dead girl) from Chen. Through an elaborate sting operation, the NCIS team apprehends Chen and his henchmen which includes agent Lee issuing Chen’s bodyguard a serious ass whipping. This is a trend in NCIS. A satisfied Gibbs sees his late fellow Marine vindicated.

NCIS continues to be the crime scene investigation show that does not take itself too seriously and has more fun than any of its competition. Love triangles continue to develop making the show interesting without making it too dark and too compelling. I would continue to reason that if one want’s something more gritty, the CSI franchise is the choice. If one wants the more cerebral, then Criminal Minds and Numbers may be more appropriate. But if the consumer is looking for memorable characters with a bit of a sense of humor, NCIS is the way to go.


Special Agent Anthony "Tony" Dinozzo (Michael Weatherly)
Forensics Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette)
Agent Timothy "Tim" McGee (Sean Murray)
NCIS Director Jennifer "Jenny" Shepard (Lauren Holly)
Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon)
Mossad Agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo)
Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum)
Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen)
NCIS Special Agent Michelle Lee (Liza Lapira)

Guest Stars

Congressman Frank Getz (Ned Schmidtke)
Maria (Laura P. Vega) Maid Discovering Prostitute’s Body
Marty Pearson (Michael Gilden) IR Salesman
Davey Chen (Ming Lo) Slave Trader
Andy Nelson (Jonathan Woodward) Congressional Aid
Luis Romero (Francesco Quinn)
Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson) Tony DiNozzo’s Love Interest

This review was first published in

© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2006