Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Media: NCIS – Navy Criminal Investigative Services - “Identity Crisis"

“Identity Crisis” first aired Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Some things are more than we could ever hope for. NCIS’s fourth season had its share women issuing ass kickings. If the first three episodes of Season Five is any indication, we can expect the same brutality about every other episode. In Ex-File NCIS Forensics Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) pops her protagonist-antagonist one good one. In the current “Identity Crisis” another satisfying female-issued ass kicking occurs much to this writer’s delight.

“Identity Crisis” opens with NCIS Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) is demonstrating an autopsy to enlisted students. After having opened the skull and removing the brain of a donated corpse, Ducky instructs NCIS Medical Examiner Assistant Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) to pass the brain around to students the first of whom finds mercury dripping from the brainstem. Something is terribly amiss. .

The introductory levity portion surrounds Special Agent Timothy "Tim" McGee (Sean Murray) looking online for a dog from an animal rescue site. Before long Mossad Agent-on-Loan-to-NCIS Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) and Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) chime in before Gibb’s suggests McGee get an Australian Shepard because they are “workin’ dogs.” Gibbs goes to Ducky’s lab to find the good doctoring a fury over shoddy work of the original medical examiner who first examined this particular body before releasing it to cadaver autopsy. Ducky and palmer have determined that the deceased is a middle aged African-American man who had lived a violent life and been in prison (both devined by the presence of scars and tattoos.

Gibbs and Duck decide to pay the previous medical examiner a visit where Ducky threatens to treat the other doctor to a piece of his mind. Entering an autopsy suite, Ducky inquires if a Dr. Jordan Hampton is present and is greeted by a harried but very attractive female party claiming that title. Ducky is obviously taken with Dr. Hampton and his threats of giving her what for melt away as she smiles at him. Ducky and Gibbs inform her that they are looking into her former patient as a homicide, citing the mercury injection into his brain. Dr. Hampton grabs the John Doe’s file, elaborates that the police could not identify him. She claims a backed up morgue with an uncooperative police staff that would rather just close cases for the lack of protocol afforded this particular John Doe. Ducky perfectly understands, prompting Gibbs as they are leaving to remark, “Yeah, I hope she recovers from that tongue lashing.”

The scene breaks to the DC pier area where Gibbs, Ziva, McGee, and DiNozzo are looking for evidence. Gibbs and DiNozzo enter a local eatery flashing pictures of the murdered John Doe, meeting a waitress named Shannon O'Hara (Nikita Ager) who says that she has seen the deceased, who paid cash and tipped big. While discussing these findings, Gibbs and DiNozzo notice a woman too well dressed to be patronizing this particular café and observe her with curiosity. They think it odd, look away and then back only to find the mysterious woman gone. The two notify Ziva to intercept said mysterious woman outside where the three discover she is none other than FBI Special Agent Courtney Krieger (Dorian Brown), ultimately the protégé to Senior FBI Agent T.C. Fornell (Joe Spano). Ms. Krieger identifies NCIS’s John Doe as Marvin Hinton, who had previously been working for the FBI.

back at NCIS headquarters, agent Krieger makes herself at home and exchanges information with Gibbs’ team. McGee points out that he cannot find any record of Marvin Hinton and Krieger informs him he won’t. While prison mates at Cumberland penitentiary attest to Hinton’s incarceration in prison, all subsequent signs of him have disappeared. The FBI has had to literally assemble the man’s life manually. Krieger tells McGee that Hinton goes occasionally went by the alias Frederick LeClair, who is pulled up as Hinton on the computer revealing a lengthy criminal past.

As the crow flies, the FBI has had Hinton on their collective radar because his identity had been so thoroughly erased, indicating that a specialist in such identity reassignment was operating in the area and the Bureau was interested in finding the said eraser. Krieger admits that she was just babysitting Hinton while Bureau did its thing and he was murdered. Ziva reacts coldly to the FBI agent and her revelation while DiNozzo dutifully holds her hand. The renewed sexual tension between Ziva and DiNozzo is apparent and developed too soon after the exit of Jeanne Benoit. Krieger acts as sliding pitch in the two NCIS agent’s developing relationship.

Krieger takes the team to the safe house where she was holding Hinton where the team collects evidence and identifies as well as copious and conspicuous bodily fluids on the sheets of the bed as well as mercury. The team declares the safe house as the murder scene. The scene breaks to Abby’s lab where all of the evidence is taken for her analysis. Abby is quite taken with the jail-house tattoo located on the deceased body. She senses that this is a breakthrough clue but cannot decipher its secrets. Additionally, Abby identifies the presence of hair from six different women. Up in head quarters, Krieger shows DiNozzo and Ziva pictures of all of Hinton’s contacts, all women. During an interlude, Ziva, with McGee, begins to suspect Krieger as the eraser and searches her purse for hair samples from Krieger’s brush to match to Abby’s samples. McGee and Ziva discuss the pros and cons of Krieger, McGee defending her as being new to the job and Ziva noting that Gibbs dislikes her when McGee notes that it appears DiNozzo is fond of her. Ziva’s face says it all, but there remains something askew in the Ziva-DiNozzo love angle. Things are just not quite fitting.

Gibbs goes to Fornell’s office to discuss the case and specifically FBI Special Agent Courtney Krieger ultimately revealing Krieger’s novice mistakes in reporting to her superiors (via email rather than immediately by phone). Fornell reveals that what Krieger was working on an identity modifying mastermind named Kamal Konkani. Gibbs and Fornell bring this information to the attention of NCIS Director Jennifer "Jenny" Shepard (Lauren Holly) and the team has a meeting in the Director’s AV room. Krieger notes the presence of her superior with fear and Fornell proceeds to brief the group on the identity and activities of Kamal Konkani, who is thought to be a Pakistani national reared in India and England. Konkani made his name working with international terrorists and was partly responsible for several notable terrorist attacks. No country’s intelligence community has ever photographed the phantom Konkani who apparently has taken refuge in the United States in the DC area, plying his trade as an identification reassignment specialist, his true talent making people’s pasts disappear. These are handy aptitudes to have when working in the terrorism area.

Leaving the meeting Gibbs and Ziva discuss the case while Fornell trashes Krieger for her bad communications methods. Ziva is visibly pleased with this dressing down while DiNozzo defends the beleaguered agent. Ziva claims to not like cleaning up after others and accuses DiNozzo for wanting to sleep with Krieger. DiNozzo does not deny this and Ziva pretends disappointment in what she perceived was growth in DiNozzo during his relationship with Jeanne Benoit. Ziva states, “[Krieger] is just a girl; the man you were becoming needs a woman.” It is a strange relationship between Ziva and DiNozzo. There exists a sexual tension, but not like that between Maddie Hayes and David Addison on Moonlighting. This one may be playful on DiNozzo’s part but is not on Ziva’s. This is very strange Mojo, indeed.

The scene breaks to Abby’s lab where she is discussing the tattoo with Ducky via the officer monitor. Gibbs enters and Abby dutifully devotes her attention to him as he. Abby discovers that a note written by Konkani was written on cash register ribbon contaminated with spices used in Eastern Indian Food. Meanwhile, Krieger accosts Ziva in the hall and asks her if it is hard to be the only woman on the NCIS team. Ziva confidently responds no and the conversation continues with Ziva giving Krieger advice to not try and be perfect, if you make a mistake, “get back on the horse” that prompts Krieger to say she had equestrian experience and Ziva to reveal an uncle who bred Arabians. The two women begin to warm to one another.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team is tracking down Indian restaurants close to the area where Konkani is thought to live. They identify one Tandoori restaurant, which after an undercover inspection by DiNozzo and Krieger leads NCIS to a delivery boy (Robert Graves [Joe Egender]) who is questioned closely but appears clean. At this point it appears that the dead black man may have not been waiting for the eraser but was the eraser. Contemporarily, a woman (the waitress Shannon O'Hara) who had previously murdered her husband using the mercury injection to who apparently bought a new identification from Konkani, is framed by the alleged new operative for the murder of the old eraser (the original dead guy).

The plot leads the team back to the Robert Graves, who turns out to be the apprentice to Konkani, who is just being released by Ziva and Krieger at his home when Gibbs calls and tells them to detain him. He senses this, grabs a gun and attempt to shoot Ziva at which time Krieger exercises some impressive moves to disarm him while proceeding to give him a satisfying ass whipping. This finally endears Ziva to her. Back at headquarters, Gibbs and Fornell take questioning off video and proceed to extract information regarding Konkani from Graves the old-fashioned way, which ultimately leads to the true Konkani’s arrest.

“Identity Crisis" is over circuitous in the extreme and confusing, but the ass-kicking scene in the end goes a long way to forgiving these shortcomings. The DiNozzo/Ziva relationship remains muddled while introducing Krieger to the mix prompting some NCIS pendants to opine Ziva as a bisexual. I think this unlikely because of her faith conviction, but the thought is provocative. Should Dinozzo and Ziva ever sleep together, I suspect that will damage the balance of the show. There is no way these writers are going to allow Ziva to have an intimate relationship with Krieger either. But no matter, there remains much fun in this series.


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)
NCIS Medical Examiner Assistant Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen)

Guest Stars:

Senior FBI Agent T.C. Fornell (Joe Spano)
FBI Special Agent Courtney Krieger (Dorian Brown)
Dr. Jordan Hampton (Torri Higginson)
Shannon O'Hara (Nikita Ager)
Robert Graves (Joe Egender)
Navy Lt. Carl Greer (Emerson Brooks)

Written By: Jesse Stern
Directed By: Tom Wright

This review was first published in

© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2007