NCIS: “Nature of the Beast”

 Grade: A-

Airdate: 9/20/11

NCIS started its ninth season with a classic NCIS episode. It had a lot of very detailed and kind of confusing plot lines. Also, it started very cryptic and was told mostly in flashbacks.

In the opening scene Gibbs (Mark Harmon) is walking down a hospital wing with Dr. Rachel Cranston, played Wendy Makkena, Kate’s psychologist sister. They are both talking about someone who was shot and allegedly killed an NCIS agent. They open the door to a room and we see that they are talking about Tony (Michael Weatherly). Tony was found with someone else’s NCIS badge in his pocket and three bullets missing from his gun. Tony can’t remember anything and Rachel says that he must have blocked the traumatic experience. Gibbs assumes that all this has something to do with the secret assignment he was given at the end of last season. Rachel tells Tony to tell her everything he can remember.

The majority of the episode from this point on is a flashback. It starts in late may just after Tony was given the secret assignment. We quickly find out that the file was a photo of the person Tony is supposed to take-out. The flashback spans the three months the show wasn’t on the air, so there is way too much detail to explain it all. Basically, everyone knows that Tony is working on a secret assignment but no one knows what it is and everyone is worried, especially Ziva (Cote de Pablo). Ziva and Ray are still together but he is on some secret assignment for the CIA.

For a lot of the episode we think Agent E.J. Barrett (Sarah Jane Morris) is the person in the photo. E.J. was caught on video removing a microchip from Agent Levin’s arm. The team is able to track Levin and other dead marine to an elite group of navy spies. The plot gets really confusing here. But the chip leads Tony to E.J. and then both of them to Cade (Matthew Willig). The three of them meet in the alley where, we have been told, the shooting takes place. They all got a text to meet there but everyone thought it was from one of them.

It turns out they got the text from a FBI Agent, played by Michael J. Fox, who Gibbs was suspicious about before. He shoots Cade, E.J. and Tony. Then takes Tony’s gun and shots Cade three more times and puts Cade’s badge in Tony’s pocket.

Back in the present, we find out that Cade is dead and E.J. is missing. Michael J. Fox ends up not being a FBI agent and actually part of the elite spy group. He was working for one of the guys Tony got his mission from. The microchips are like access cards to navy surveillance stuff all over the world and the head of the navy group and Fox’s character are selling the chips to what looks to be terrorist.

So, a few new story lines are already set up for this season. The episode focused rather heavily on Tony, which wasn’t a bad thing but I would like to have seen a little bit more of the other characters.

Watch “Nature of the Beast”

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