Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Media: NCIS – Navy Criminal Investigative Services - "Angel of Death"

"Angel of Death” first aired May 22, 2007

The final episode of NCIS’s fourth season does not require lengthy discussion. What it did require was a two-part episode. The writers and staff of the procedural were overly ambitious in conceiving this season finale. Commercial teasers indicate that everyone has a secret and they will be revealed. Well, perhaps some of them. The episode is complicated by a subplot involving two junkies and their mule, body packing what I presume to the heroin or perhaps cocaine who arrived at the airport just after NCIS Director Jennifer "Jenny" Shepard (Lauren Holly) returned from her European conference where she learned her father was still alive and had done business with Le Grenouille. No point in a blow by blow: here are the two subplots making up the episode.

Subplot 1: Three Junkies

Devon Watkins (Mike Erwin) is hit by a cab outside of the airport while texting an unidentified party that he has just cleared customs. This leg is badly broken and he is taken to the local hospital, just by chance employing Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) amore Dr. Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson). Benoit is assigned the case, tony happens to be at the hospital at the same time when Watkin’s sister, Bernadette (Shelly Cole) and a surly Irishman named Nick Kerry (Alan Smyth) request to see him. The pair is sweating like Shaquille O’Neill at the foul line and is as manic as Robin Williams on an eight ball of crystal. Benoit allows ten minutes and repairs to the cafeteria with DiNozzo.

Meanwhile, Devon begins to tank while talking to his sister and Kerry, fearing that he is “leaking.” This suspicion reveals that Devon was acting and a drug mule and that the vehicular accident caused one or more of the balloons containing the contraband to rupture, introducing a huge amount of drug into his gastro intestinal tract. He codes, bringing Benoit back to the room where Devon expires. Kerry wants to know when the body can be released. Benoit demands an autopsy. The body goes to the morgue. What Devon was body packing is unclear.

His two accomplices display the classic symptoms of opiate withdrawal. This is support by Kerry’s suggestion to Bernadette that they acquire a bottle of codeine cough medicine at the hospital pharmacy (Federal Schedule V, requiring only an address and signature). Devon experienced symptoms more akin to a stimulant overdose (hypertension and Tachycardia) possible cocaine (as he flew in from South America) or amphetamine though also does occur in acute opiate toxicity depending on the extent of respiratory distress syndrome.

DiNozzo and Benoit go to the morgue to accost the two who are attempting to extract the drugs surgically from Devon. While waiting outside the morgue Terry opens the door and points a gun at them, forcing them into the morgue and ordering Benoit to dissect Devon to extract the drugs while his sister looks on. As encouragement, Terry pistol whips DiNozzo. Benoit agrees, putting on a mask and telling Bernadette to turn around to reduce the possibility of being exposed to diseased material when Devon is opened. This causes Kerry to back up. Benoit makes the incision and extracts a portion to the intestines containing some of the balloons dissecting them and liberating the drug into the incision site. An angered Kerry attacks Benoit over the table, where Benoit promptly plunges the scalpel into his shoulder causing him to drop the gun. Dinozzo retrieves the pistol and fires into the ceiling to discourage any more action from Kerry. That explanation dispatches this needless plot appendage.

Subplot 2: Le Grenouille

Director Shepard arrives home to find an open bottle of scotch and a half-filled tumbler. The scotch was her father’s, Colonel Jasper Shepard (Webster Williams) brand and the housekeeper, Noemi Cruz (Roxana Brusso) denies anyone had been in the office in her absence. Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) visits Shepard a short time later informing her that a 21 hour period she was unaccounted for in Europe is now causing her entire staff to be polygraphed, a fact revealed to Gibbs earlier when talking with FBI Agent T.C. Fornell (Joe Spano), who also alludes that it is the CIA requiring such measures.

It is a Friday night and Shepard calls all hands on deck to the NCIS headquarters (most of who are doing shooters at a local bar). Only NCIS Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) and Mossad Agent-on-Loan-to-NCIS Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) remain. Ziva attempts to call DiNozzo, whose phone is off as he is being assaulted by Kerry. The pair’s conversation is vague regarding Ziva’s true feeling s for DiNozzo. She tells Ducky she has a “not so good feeling.”

At headquarters, Shepard brings in the scotch bottle and glass for NCIS Forensics Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) to identify the finger prints, which ultimately belong to Shepard’s ostensibly dead father, recorded as a suicide as discovered by Special Agent Timothy "Tim" McGee (Sean Murray) and Gibbs. Gibbs orders McGee to hack the CIA database to discover who is interested in NCIS and discovers it is a military arms section, linking the investigation once again to Le Grenouille.

The episode ends with DiNozzo and Benoit exited in the hospital for a linosine. Benoit says it is her secret. Benoit opens the back door, addresses the occupant in French, DiNozzo takes the far seat and is kissed on both cheeks and welcomed to the family by Benoit’s father, Rene Benoit - Le Grenouille.

Nothing would please me more than if I could froth over the NCIS season closer, “Angel of Death.” But I cannot. I am more than interested in what the writers have in store of next season, but this season’s final episode was ill conceived and at the very least should have been a two-parter sans the three junkies. NCIS blogs have long speculated that the DiNozzo-Benoit relationship was an undercover gig for DiNozzo. If it is, then NCIS is not paying him enough, because he has acted convincingly with Benoit. Touted as an episode to reveal all of the agent’s “deepest” secrets, “Angel of Death” falls woefully short. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

“Angel of Death,” is the final episode of the 2006-2007 season.


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)
NCIS 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:

NCIS Tech Cynthia Sumner (Stephanie Mello)
NCIS Medical Examiner Technician Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen)
NCIS Special Agent Michelle Lee (Liza Lapira),
Dr. Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson)
FBI Agent T.C. Fornell (Joe Spano)
Emily Fornell (Payton Spencer)
Armand Assante (Le Grenouille)
Trent Kort (David Dayan Fisher)
Bill (Sky Soleil)
ER Orderly (Dayo Ade)
Noemi Cruz (Roxana Brusso)
Nurse Annie Hayes (Shandra Thigpen)
Bernadette Watkins (Shelly Cole)
Devon Watkins (Mike Erwin)
Nick Kerry (Alan Smyth)
Colonel Jasper Shepard (Webster Williams),
Craig Nigh (Melvin)
Samantha Bailey (Little Angel)

This review was first published in

© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2007