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TV Review: NCIS – “Angel of Death”

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“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 be heroin or perhaps cocaine, who arrived at the airport just after NCIS Director 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. His leg is badly broken and he is taken to the local hospital, just by chance employing Special Agent Tony DiNozzo's (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 are sweating like Shaquille O’Neill at the foul line and are 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 as 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 gastrointestinal 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 supported 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), possibly 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 of 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 whom 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 feelings 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 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 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 exiting the hospital for a limousine. 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 for 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,” concludes the 2006-2007 season.

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About C. Michael Bailey

I am sanctified and Southern fried, My mama tried and daddy cried; I tell the truth 'cept when I've lied And I like my huevos on the side...
  • CLS

    As far as I can tell, the only reason the junkies were there was so that, at some point in the near future, Jeanne can think back and wonder how it was that her boyfriend, “Professor DiNardo” was so adept with a gun and so quick to handle a situation that would have been outside the skillset of most college profs. Maybe?

  • matt

    maybe tony was the one being sucked in by the dr.???

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/c__michael_bailey C. Michael Bailey

    Good thought on both points. The writers have at least left things mirky enough that we do not know who is getting dupted, Tony or Jeanne.