As the season moves along, it’s easy to pick out the good and the bad. Thankfully this week’s episode has more of the good, bringing back a character who has great recurring potential, and bringing back another character for the fans who’ve been around long enough to remember her story. There are still some kinks to work out, but this episode does serve as a reminder of the show’s potential.
This week’s episode has a different set up from most. A group of doctors in South Sudan (similar to Doctors Without Borders) are attacked by a violent group who kill three of the doctors there and kidnap the other two. It becomes an NCIS concern when someone who’s helped them out in the past asks for their help on this. This leads Tony and Bishop to go to the organization the doctors were a part of where Tony runs into Jeanne Benoit, his ex-girlfriend from many seasons ago.
Benoit’s husband is one of the doctors kidnapped, which is how she becomes involved in the whole episode. Clearly she’s still bitter about what happened between her and Tony (friendly reminder: he was tasked with getting close to her because her father was a big time arms dealer, but Tony got a bit too close). There are some glares exchanged, but ultimately it’s a nice little reunion by the end of the episode.
While the Jeanne Benoit plot point is an interesting one, another highlight is the fact that Jon Cryer as Doctor Cyril Taft is back (finally). It was kind of clear from his appearance in the first episode that he would be back, but the writers definitely took their sweet time in doing so. Taft essentially serves as Gibbs’ caretaker, making sure he’s not running himself into the ground with work and stress and all that. But Taft is also just an intriguing character, partly helped by Jon Cryer’s captivating performance. They have very good chemistry together, and here’s to many more episodes with Taft. He’s already gotten our attention, now we just need to see more of him. Much more, especially since the storylines of the main characters still need some work.
Gibbs is still figuring out how to manage work with his recovery, which is where Taft comes in. While it’s not the main focus of the episode, it foreshadows that their relationship will become even more relevant further in the season. As per usual, Bishop’s only real non-plot contribution is talking to Jake on the phone at the beginning of the episode, reminding all of us that their relationship is in rocky territory. And how could we forget since it’s been mentioned pretty much in every episode this season. Again, this will definitely be something that will tie into the main story arc of the season. There’s no way that the writers keep putting it in just for fun. They should be smart enough to know that most fans want to see more from Bishop than just having conflicts with Jake. So unless it’s actually going to amount to something, fans are not going to be happy.
In terms of doing something a little different, this episode successfully switches things up in terms of story by bringing in familiar faces. Having Benoit return is an interesting choice on the writers parts, and provided some good material and closure for Tony. Definitely one of the stronger episodes of the season so far, so maybe this means that the writers do the past when the deal with nostalgia. Bringing back familiar characters seems to always be a good move since it appeals to long time NCIS fans. But then creating new and good characters like Doctor Taft reminds fans that the writers are still capable of bringing new elements to NCIS.