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TV Review: NCIS – “Suspicion”

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“Suspicion” first aired January 16, 2006.

A murder is discovered in a no-tell motel out in the hayseed town of Edenvale. Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) video-conferences with Marine Major Bradley Raines (Mark Derwin), learning that the recently deceased was a high level Marine Intelligence officer, Marine Lt. Rihama Shaheen (Necar Zadegan), putting the killing in NCIS's jurisdiction.

The NCIS team heads to said town, meeting the mother of all cloistered, inbred law enforcement communities run by related good-ole boys, Sherriff Tom Barrett (Brian Howe) and cousin Deputy Tyler Barrett (Jon Curry) with a country cute CSI, Ruby Rae (Lynsey Bartilson) in tow. The NCIS team is necessarily unimpressed, the elitist Special Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) and consummate outsider Mossad Agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) shamefully having fun at the good folks' expense.

The NCIS team encounters an overly familiar and faux-helpful colleague in Sherriff Barrett, who takes his sweet country time bringing the team up to date. By the time NCIS Medical Examiner Dr. Ducky Mallard (David McCallum) arrives, the autopsy has already been performed. Then the team is introduced to local CSI Ruby Rae who processed the crime scene. Agent Tim McGee (Sean Murray) strikes up a collegial relationship with Rae, advocating for her to an unimpressed Gibbs.

The sheriff finally gets around to telling the team that he has a suspect, one Masoud Tariq (Cas Anvar) and Iraqi relocation from the American occupation who allegedly met with the Marine Intelligence officer. Tariq currently cannot be found. Gibbs is skeptical. The team discovers that Lt. Shaheen, a Kuwait native, was acting as a linguist for the Marines. Lt. Shaheen apparently drove from Washington DC and checked into the local motel under a pseudonym.

Gibbs sends DiNozzo and Ducky back to headquarters to question the deceased’s superior about what her most current assignment was. Gibbs sends McGee with Rae to re-evaluate the crime scene. Gibbs and Ziva are left to locate the mysterious Tariq. Gibbs and Ziva go to Tariq’s house to have a look around. They find potential bomb making materials in the garage and interference from the local law enforcement.

A nosy neighbor provides Gibbs with rather sophisticated surveillance photos of Tariq with two unidentified Middle Easterners that the neighbor did not share with the locals. The threat of terrorism begins to loom large in the plot. Tony goes to have dinner with the delectable Dr. Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson) in the parking lot of the hospital where she works, the scene replete with his Italian charm. Ziva expresses concern about DiNozzo’s mysterious behavior, believing that he is suffering from an illness for which he is receiving episodic treatment. This aggravates Gibbs, who ends the conversation abruptly.

Back at headquarters Tony and Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) discuss the mystery of two slugs recovered from Lt. Shaheen’s body that appear to have been fired from separate guns, one with a high velocity and one with a reduced velocity. Add to this that only one shell casing was recovered and the plot thickens. Meanwhile, NCIS and the locals play the banjo on the front porch back at Tariq’s house; the Sheriff threatening to call the FBI, Tariq drives up and is promptly shot by the deputy sheriff before Gibbs can call him off.

With Tariq in the hospital, Gibbs and Ziva can better question him where they discover that Tariq was part of a relocation program for Iraqi nationals who were helpful to the US Government in the war. The requisite discussion between Tariq and Ziva about their respective nationalities ensues and Gibbs gets the festivities back on track by finding out that the men with whom Tariq was photographed were two other relocated nationals. Also, Gibbs has discovered Tariq’s real name, Waseem Abulati. Gibbs talks with Abby, who assures him she is not pregnant, and tells him of the bullet differences and that identification of Tariq/Abulati’s friends. Ziva manhandles Deputy Tyler Barrett, stopping short of the traditional NCIS female-issuing-an-overbearing-male-a-major-league-ass-whipping.

Meanwhile, DiNozzo and Lt. Shaheen’s superior, Major Raines, discuss the case. The Major reveals that Lt. Shaheen had been involved in a top secret mission in Iraq codename “Cauldron.” In Edenvale, McGee and Rae reveal a certain fondness for one another with McGee promising to read Rae’s investigation report, which no one seems to have looked at. McGee discovers Shaheen’s cell phone, discovered at Tariq/Abulati’s house was placed there after it had been dusted for prints, indicating the national had been set up. A little inquiry reveals Deputy Barrett as the culprit who also planted the explosives materials. At this point McGee asks the Deputy to remove his pants to the strains from “Dueling Banjos” echoing in the background. On a tip from Ruby Rae, McGee swabs the Deputy’s pockets, finding explosive materials.

Everyone returns to headquarters and DiNozzo briefs Gibbs on Operation Cauldron. Gibbs wants more information on Tariq/Abulati’s friends. McGee, finally reading Ruby Rae’s investigation report, finds information that opens the case dramatically and summons the CSI to Washington. Ziva and Gibbs again question Tariq/Abulati; he reveals that he did not know these men until after they left Iraq and that they acted suspiciously towards him and questioned him on what he shared with the authorities in Bagdad. Tariq/Abulati admits to having lied to the two men. He tells that Lt. Shaheen was investigating the two Iraqi men who were relocated with him.

The two men are eventually identified. Ruby Rae comes to Washington and explains the mystery of the two bullets, one of the bullets having been degraded by oil. The killer fired the pistol; it misfired, and fired again, the two bullets colliding and the gun exploding. All the team needed now was to find the principle with the injured shooting hand, who happened to be Marine Major Bradley Raines, who had been paid to provide these Iraqis passports. This is a false ending as the team goes on to locate the two errant Iraqis and their bomb-making materials.

After a holiday hiatus, NCIS returns almost to full speed. The Dinozzo-Benoit-Ziva triangle simmers and a possible love interest appears for McGee, more than likely not to be pursued. DiNozzo appears completely captivated by Benoit and Ziva is or is not characteristically clueless. “Suspicion” is an average NCIS episode that makes the viewer long for the fireworks of the superior ”Sandblast”.

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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...