“Iceman” welcomes back one of
“Iceman” opens with NCIS Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) entering his domain of the NCIS morgue for an early morning autopsy of one Marine Corporal Liam O'Neill (Jeremy Roberts) who was found ostensibly frozen to death the previous day. Ducky opens the body bag to find a fit Caucasian man in his early twenties who apparently sustained some trauma to his face. About the time Ducky notes this fact Corporal O'Neill opens his eyes and inhales deeply. Ever the Scot, Ducky takes it all in stride and the episode is off.
Opening headquarters banter between Special Agents Timothy "Tim" McGee (Sean Murray), Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), and Mossad Agent-on-Loan-to-NCIS Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) addresses Ziva’s uncharacteristic tardiness, DiNozzo’s serial tardiness, and alludes to both Christ’s raising of Lazarus and past episode ”Dead Man Walking all in one dialog. DiNozzo reveals that Corporal O'Neill was to be redeployed to Baghdad in two days after 15 days stateside. In the morgue, Ducky and Gibbs discuss the case, Ducky dithering on, trying Gibb’s poor patience. Just when Gibb’s thinks Ducky has nothing to offer him, the doctor informs Gibbs that the Corporal was struck in the head and his face held in the snow until the Corporal was “dead.” Ducky defined the prognosis as equivocal. Out at the crime scene DiNozzo is on the phone with Dr. Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson), whispering sweet nothings while Ziva declares to McGee that DiNozzo has commitment issues ( The lady protests too much, methinks). DiNozzo’s side of the conversation is a bit cheap as he and Benoit make plans while Ziva finds the Corporal’s cell phone. The team locates the Corporal’s car and searches it.
Gibbs and Abby have a summit at the lab where Abby alerts Gibbs to a packet of some green organic substance yet to be identified and some receipts indicating that the Corporal had spent some time back in Baghdad during his two-week furlough in the States. McGee identifies the Corporal’s trip within his trip. Apparently, O'Neill left the US eight days previously under his civilian identification arriving back previously two days. His transportation was on a cargo transport called Fast Flight (presumably making his detection as an airline passenger impossible through standard channels). Gibbs and Ziva go to check out Fast Flight and meet one Nick Taylor (Steven Elder), owner of the operation. When confronted with O'Neill transport, Taylor proved all was legal and that the flight was free for the Marine. Taylor explained that he understood that O'Neill was returning because his unit had been hit and his friends injured. When Ziva revealed that someone attempted to kill O'Neill, Taylor was taken aback and revealed that O'Neill met son “BAGs” (bad-ass guys) in Baghdad. Ziva receives a call alerting her that someone is at the hospital. Gibbs assumes next-of-kin; Ziva replies O'Neill has no next-of-kin the pair arrive back at the hospital to find Former NCIS Special Agent Mike Franks at his son’s bedside.
Franks gives Gibbs the Reader’s Digest. Franks fishes Gibbs for his son’s assailant. Prognosis is poor as O’Neill has poor brain function. Meanwhile DiNozzo and his ladylove go climbing on a store-bought ledge. They are to race to the top and should DiNozzo win or not, he must tell Benoit he loves her. True to form, DiNozzo fails with rippling ramifications. Abby and McGee go to work on O’Neill’s cellphone, learing that they must break a pin for voice mail. They do unearth an association O’Neill had with a Pagoda Investments owned by a loan shark Jimmy Shaloub (Navid Negahban) from whom O’Neill tried to borrow money. Shaloub is on Homeland Security watch list and has dealings with foreign banks that are suspicious. Gibbs and Ziva meet with him. Shaloub proves a cool one, not rattling during interrogation. Gibbs has Ziva call in cards in Tel Aviv on Shaloub and activates McGee on Shaloub’s finances. And Franks brings bad news to Gibb’s regarding his son. Franks glimpses Shaloub’s information before Gibbs can stop him.
Franks goes to Abby to get O’Neill’s effects, his dog tags and rosary. Franks goes to the hospital to detach his son’s life support, draping him with his dog tags and placing the rosary in his right hand. O’Neil dies quietly. Meanwhile Abby finds a match to fingerprints in O’Neill’s car; they are Franks, placing him in O’Neill’s car. Franks enters into shadowed suspicion. While evaluating the situation at headquarters, Franks calls Gibbs on his cell phone and asks Gibbs to meet him at a secluded place. Tony cannot get a hold of Benoit on the phone to Ziva’s glee, and interrogates DiNozzo about “getting the cold elbow [shoulder].” Ziva does reach to the heart of the matter, accusing DiNozzo of not taking care of emotional business. Ziva is just a wee bit obsessive about this relationship.
Franks meets Gibbs they have a heart to heart, Franks revealing that he had seen his son and did not tell Gibbs to avoid questions about what his son was involved in. Gibbs pries and Franks owns loaning him $25,000, O’Neill taking $500 and leaving the rest with his father. Gibbs becomes angry with Franks’ evasions and Franks confronts Gibbs on his reaction to his daughter’s death. The exchange is charged, Franks defiant to Gibbs at his threat of coming after him. Franks departs via rental and Gibbs takes the plates. Meanwhile DiNozzo goes to Benoit’s house and is confronted head on about his lack of commitment. DiNozzo equivocates and Benoit shows him the door.
Ziva reports to Gibbs that her Tel Aviv source found next to nothing on Shaloub. Gibbs gives Franks’ tags to Ziva and has her and DiNozzo locate him. Abby reports the makeup of the green substance found with O’Neill, it is Henna, a substance used as body art and hair dye in the middle east. Gibbs goes to the morgue to find if O’Neill had any tattoos, and he has not. McGee breaks O’Neill’s voice mail code and finds a message from Fast Flight’s Nick Taylor demanding more money. The flight Taylor mentioned in the message landed in just the previous hour and a half. The team heads to Fast Flight to find three dead bodies and evidence of human transport (of three people) it a cargo vessel.
One of the dead was Taylor and the other two were determined to be foreign undesirables who had paid their way into the US. A third person is missing; whose belongings contained a Koran. Franks’ car is located and in it a recently fired pistol. Thinking Franks is guilty the team goes on all points. The pistol is covered with a mysterious white dust determined to be powdered silica proved to be from a glass plant next to Fast Flight. Reinvestigation of Shaloub proved that he frequently traveled Fast Flight. Abby identifies the gun from Franks’ car as the murder weapon. Gibbs realizes that Franks had it to plant on Shaloub. Gibbs breaks Shaloub in interrogation with the silica evidence and the claim of an eye witness watching Shaloub dump the gun in a Dumpster.
Gibbs meets Franks and discovers the third occupant of the plane, O’Neill’s future Moslem wife and current mother of his son. Franks reasons that they are not relevant to the case and takes the pair to Mexico.
The end is spooky. It shows an unidentified woman looking at surveillance pictures of DiNozzo and Benoit. Are those the lips and nose of Ziva David? Is it Jeanne Benoit? Or, is it a hitherto unidentified fem fatale? Oddly, the final five seconds prove to be the most provocative of a superior episode of NCIS. The season finale will be a barnburner.
The next episode, “Grace Period” will air April 10, 2007 (tv.com)
Forensics Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette)
Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly)
Special Agent Timothy "Tim" McGee (Sean Murray)
Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon)
NCIS Director Jennifer "Jenny" Shepard (Lauren Holly)
NCIS Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum)
Mossad Agent-on-Loan-to-NCIS Ziva David (Cote de Pablo)
NCIS Medical Assistant Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen)
Former NCIS Special Agent Mike Franks (Muse Watson)
Marine Cpl. Liam O'Neill (Jeremy Roberts)
Nick Taylor (Steven Elder)
Dr. Jane Leisten (Stephanie Venditto)
Jimmy Shaloub (Navid Negahban)
Dr. Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson)
This review was first published in Blogcritics.org
© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2007