Thursday, May 10, 2007

Media: NCIS – Navy Criminal Investigative Services - "Trojan Horse"

“Trojan Horse” first aired May 8, 2007

Holy S**t! What a trainwreck of an episode! But that is not a bad thing for the tangle of the story is intriguing and that is what all drama writers hope for: a plot complex, misshapen, dirty…kind of like real life. “Trojan Horse” is the penultimate episode to the 2006-2007 season and it is going to be interesting to see how the writers resolve this cacophonous dissonance into a final brilliant chordal consonance (be that one that will certainly a cliffhanger).

“Trojan Horse” is two episodes in one. NCIS Director Jennifer "Jenny" Shepard (Lauren Holly) is in Paris, attending a security conference and leaves Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) in charge, much to the chagrin of Shepard’s Girl-Friday, NCIS Tech Cynthia Sumner (Stephanie Mello), with whom he spars with, more often than not coming up short. Gibbs’ and Sumner’s two-minute exchange along with his telephone conversation with Shepard are two of the high comedic points of the season. Meanwhile, a dead Yemeni National shows up in a cab at NCIS creating quite a stir at the gate, awakening Gibbs from the bureaucratic slumber as acting director, launching him into action, causing NCIS Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) to win the office pool on how long it would take Gibbs to return to field work (four days). Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) turns out to be the loser.

First story line: the dead Yemeni National, Hamal Fahan, is a cover to smuggle one Mario Vincetti (Gary Morgan) into the NCIS lab where he could make a pistol exchange in the evidence locker related to a case Forensics Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) had been working on. This thread seems almost incidental as the plot element is just floating unattached to anything in the episode. The cab arrives with the dead man and the cab driver, Joey Kelly (Michael Patrick) is detained for extended questioning. Meanwhile, Vincetti, hiding beneath a false front bench seat in the cab (how did Abby miss that?) peals away the Velcro cover, subsequently breaking into the elaborately secured evidence storage in Abby’s garage lab (hence, the title “Trojan Horse”). Kelly continues to be questioned and occasionally receives phone calls on his cell (would his cell not been immediately removed from him?). Pretending that these calls are from his wife (some are), the last one is from Vincetti, telling him he is finished with the evidence switch.

But before Vincetti calls Kelly he is almost caught by Abby entering the evidence hold to remove the gun. Abby notes a small piece of foam and picks it up for further inspection. After she has left, Vincetti calls Kelly and returns to the hiding place in the cab. Kelly is released and on his way out when Abby discovers that the foam from the evidence lockup is the same as that from the cab. The cab is stopped at the gate and Vincetti and Kelly attested. The dead Yemeni National, Hamal Fahan, you ask? Oh, yea…he was killed with saxitotoxin, a marine neurotoxin closely related to tetrodotoxin (known to block sodium channels necessary for neural transmission). The man tried to obtain a student visa and was turned down and later had his alternate temporary visa extended as he was named an employee of the Yemeni embassy. He was found in the cab with a list of names, his being one. All on the list were dead. This was a red herring to divert NCIS’s attention from the evidence subterfuge. An attaché from the Yemeni embassy even comes to identify the body. The scheme was engineered by a mysterious entity “Scaletti” and his defense team to alter the evidence in his favor at trial. This party had a group of his own experts coming in to repeat Abby’s original ballistics. This part of the plot is painted a bit too thin with literary water color to lend it much validity. This story line should have been better separated expanded for a full episode of its own.

The second story line: the “real” story, occupying only about one-quarter of episode are Director Shepard’s activities in Paris, ostensibly attending a conference. She meets with Trent Kort (David Dayan Fisher), the CIA operative in deep cover with Shepard’s sacred Le Grenouille. He reveals that Le Grenouille is in Nice. In the meantime, Kort supplies Shepard with information on the whereabouts of one Colonel-General Dimitri Borov (Vladimir Skomarovsky), who is currently dying of lung cancer and whom Kort had informed Le Grenouille the Director was seeking earlier in the episode. Shepard flies from Paris to Moscow to see Borov, who had been a rival and friend of Shepard’s father during the Cold War. Okay, a lot is revealed in a short amount of time. Shepard want Borov to sign a document stating that he sold arms to Le Grenouille. Borov informs Shepard that it was he and her father involved in the affair. Borov and Shepard discuss her father’s death in 1995, when Borov informs the Director that he had seen her father just three weeks ago.

Dropped in the middle of all of this intrigue is Dr. Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson) calling DiNozzo and informing him that she has found a house for them to buy. DiNozzo is nonplussed as the last time they spoke, they were to get an apartment together. Benoit and a nurse at the hospital (both clad in pink, a touch too cute) discuss Benoit’s decision to drop this bomb on DiNozzo. On the NCIS side, Mossad Agent-on-Loan-to-NCIS Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) coyly (or lamely) drops the viewer’s hints of her feelings for DiNozzo. This relationship is the most confused of the series. Contrary to other opinions, Ziva has something other than Platonic feelings for DiNozzo. This mess of an episode sets us up for the season finale where it will take some magic to resolve even part of those threads that have existed throughout the season, the least of which is the DiNozzo-David connection.

The next episode, “Angel of Death,” will air May 22, 2007.


Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon)
Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly)
Mossad Agent-on-Loan-to-NCIS Ziva David (Cote de Pablo)
Special Agent Timothy "Tim" McGee (Sean Murray)
Forensics Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette)
NCIS Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum)
NCIS Director Jennifer "Jenny" Shepard (Lauren Holly)

Guest Stars:

Armand Assante (Le Grenouille)
Trent Kort (David Dayan Fisher)
Marine Cpl. Keener (Celestin Cornielle)
Marine Srgt. Maria Sanchez (Michelle Wolff)
Mario Vincetti (Gary Morgan)
Russian Nurse (Aleksandra Kaniak)
NCIS Special Agent Lynn Davis (Corie Vickers)
Colonel-General Dimitri Borov (Vladimir Skomarovsky)
Darya Borov (Sima Kostov)
Nurse Carly Marcano (Marcy Harriell)
Dr. Ameen Temani (Brian George)
Joey Kelly (Michael Patrick)
Regine Smidt (Sandra Hess)
Dr. Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson)
NCIS Tech Cynthia Sumner (Stephanie Mello)

This review was first published in

© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2007