As opening episodes go, this was not a bad one - better, IMO, than the way Season Four started. However, had I been the producers I would have ended Season Four with this episode as it was a far stronger episode than 'Angel Of Death' and sewed quite a few things up - albeit not everything, by a long way.
So the things that were tied up/we now know for certain:
What we still don't know for certain:
The episode opened with some flashbacks from Season Four with various key points to remind us of the main themes: Jeanne, Jenny, Tony and La Grenouille. And they culminate with DiNozzo being kissed on both cheeks by La Grenouille and called 'Professor DiNardo'. (Was it me or did the whole intro music and the shots of the stars seem shorter and rushed? Maybe that was to allow for the 'previously on . . .').
We then move to Jenny asleep in her office and dreaming; we see her father and a gun at his head, and then someone else shooting him and her running along the corridor.
Back in La Grenouille's car it becomes clear that Jeanne has suspicions that maybe Tony isn't all he seems/has been pretending to be; she knew that he not only knew how to shoot, but deliberately missed killing the drug dealer. Tony tries to play it down and whilst Jeanne is explaining it all to her father, she gets a message to return to the hospital to sign the death certificate of the drug smuggler. Meanwhile Tony is trying to use his mobile phone.
Back at NCIS, McGee and Ziva run into one another at the lift, and simultaneously ask 'What are you doing here?' )We know what McGee has been doing there, he's been helping Gibbs). Ziva tries to claim that she asked first, but McGee says it was too close to call, but adds:
McGee: "But as my parents raised a gentleman and your a killer, I was defragging my computer." :-)) (Nice line, Tim).
Ziva calls him a liar - it wasn't a very convincing lie, I must admit. Even if I hadn't know he was lying, I would have known; for a Federal Agent, Timothy McGee is not the world's greatest liar. Ziva also basically has to admit that she's there, on a Saturday, because she's worried about Tony.
She spots evidence that not only has McGee been there all night, but so has Gibbs and her reaction is rather nice, part of her is almost like a petulant child who has been left out of something, and it just again shows how far Ziva has come in being part of the team. Of course it's partly because she's in love with Tony, but more, I think, that she really does now consider herself to be a member of the team and as such didn't want to be left out. She goes on to tell Gibbs that team members don't lie/have secrets from one another (rather ironic given what is about to be revealed) and half threatens them saying that McGee will her.
Meanwhile Tony and La Grenouille have coffee together whilst Jeanne is signing the death certificate. They talk about how much they both love Jeanne and talk about lies. La Grenouille asks Tony if he plans to break Jeanne's heart and Tony says no. When Jeanne comes back out, Tony insists that he'll go in his car as if he doesn't move it he'll be in trouble with hospital security.
Down in Abby's lad, Abby is asleep on the floor (with Bert) and flashing up on her screen is the result of the finger-print test carried out on the whisky bottle/glass, showing Jenny's father (Jasper Shepard). Jenny comes in and cancels the search at which point Abby wakes up, and there ensues a very Abby-style monologue. Jenny lies re: the search and leaves, however, all she did was to cancel the search, she didn't erase it. Jenny also gets a call from Tony's undercover cell phone that rings and then disconnects; Jenny leaves the lab. When Abby goes to the machines, talking to them and feeling sorry that they'd worked all night for nothing, it asks her if she wishes to erase the result. And of course she finds out just who the match was.
Back in the squad room, Gibbs has told McGee and Ziva that the CIA are basically after Jenny, and Jenny walks in and tells them about Tony's undercover operation. Gibbs, not surprisingly, is not happy; not happy at all at the fact that the assignment was kept from him and he and Jenny have one of their 'stand-offs' where as much is said via tone than in actual words, and Gibbs calls her Director stressing the word in the way he only does when he's showing his displeasure or trying to make a point. McGee is triangulating the call and they are watching Tony's car on the city cameras; they can't see if anyone is tailing Tony, it doesn't seem as if anyone is, and Gibbs wonders if it's Tony who is doing the tailing.
We discover that Tony's cover was the he was meant to be a Professor teaching film studies on-line. McGee comments that no wonder his cover was compromised and asks whose bright idea it was to make him a Professor; Jenny says "Mine." Ooops. Meanwhile Gibbs wants to know just how deep the cover was and Jenny says it was deep enough to fool La Grenouille. Gibbs is still not happy with the whole thing.
And then we watch Tony's car blow up - and we are meant to think that Tony was inside it and as such he is now dead. It is, of course, blatantly obvious that he isn't, what's not so obvious is how come he's not in the car and also who blew it up. I think we are meant to believe at that point that La Grenouille is responsible for blowing the car up and thus killing Tony as he knows the truth about Tony.
Gibbs, McGee, Ziva, Ducky, Jimmy and Jenny are all at the scene of the explosion and we have a few seconds of slow-motion movement, which is quite effective. Ducky says that mercifully the shock wave would have killed Tony before the fire did and that death would have been instantaneous. In the car is Tony's ID, his gun and both mobile phones.
Ducky says that the body can't be identified by finger-prints and although the general build is that of Tony, he'll need dental records for a full identification and asks Jenny if there's any chance it isn't Tony. She says none that she can think of and walks away. Ducky moves close to Gibbs and says that Jenny blames herself and asks whether or not she should. Gibbs doesn't answer him, as such, merely saying 'Let me know when you've finished, Duck'. Which for someone who knows Gibbs as well as Ducky knows him is as clear an answer as if Gibbs had said 'yes'.
Back 'home' Abby won't accept that Tony is dead, she keeps on repeating to Gibbs that he's not dead until Ducky says he is and finally throws her arms around him and begs him to tell her that Tony isn't dead. He holds her and tells her he can't. She wants to be alone and as he turns to go, he sees the bottle and glass Jenny brought in and ask Abby how they got there.
Abby: "Er, Director Shepard swore me to secrecy when she brought them in, so I can't tell you."
Gibbs gets as angry as he ever gets with Abby and asks her if there are any more secrets she can't tell him.
Abby: "No, because when he lied about the results she didn't swear me to secrecy."
It was a nice touch of humour in another otherwise, thus far, very tense episode.
She shows Gibbs the results and he says it can't be; she insists the prints register ten points, i.e. they are fresh.
In Jenny's office Gibbs and she have a head-to-head scene about her father and the forthcoming polygraph. She keeps repeating that her father is dead, he keeps pushing her and that's when it comes out that she believes her father was killed - by La Grenouille. She claims that if he thinks she's obsessed with La Grenouille because of her father, he's wrong. Gibbs's parting shot is to tell her not to take the polygraph. I don't know whether to say Jenny is lying, or whether she is so obsessed that she actually believes herself.
Meanwhile McGee keeps replaying the scene prior to and of the explosion. When Ziva asks why he points out that Tony wouldn't have had his ID, gun and both cell phones, plus something Gibbs said had made him wonder - the bit about Tony tailing someone. Together they watch the replay and this time see La Grenouille's limo and realise it's in every shot.
Down in Autopsy poor Ducky and Jimmy are performing the autopsy on the body they believe to be Tony's. The blood tests arrive back and they are A+, which Tony also is. Ducky points out that 34% of the population have the same blood group and is still determined to wait for the dental records; you can tell by his tone, face and body language that his words are merely for his sake and Jimmy's; he's trying to delay the obvious.
Then he starts to give his report for Jimmy to write down and he gets to 'minimal scaring', he pauses, repeats it, Jimmy tactfully mentions he got that bit, but Ducky's now on a different trail. There is minimal scarring in the body's lungs, which there couldn't be if the body was Tony's because of the time Tony had the plague. A very happy Ducky then leaves Autopsy for the squad room.
There are Gibbs, McGee, Ziva and Jenny talking about the limo and the company to whom it is registered. Ducky grabs Gibbs and pulls him round and explains his findings. McGee and Ziva beam, Jenny however wants to know who the body is then and Gibbs where Tony is.
At which point Kort turns up. Another very unhappy and angry at Jenny man (she's certainly done a good job on getting the men angry with her). Kort wants to know where Tony and La Grenouille are - he's lost La Grenouille. He tells them that the body isn't Tony's and he demands a private briefing with Jenny - she refuses, and Gibbs in his indomitable style talks mentions 'Operation Lodestone' which doesn't go down well with Kort and makes him even more angry; he tells Jenny it won't end well for her.
He strides to the lift and lo and behold who should appear, smiling and playing the 'fool', but Tony. Kort grabs him and in micro-seconds has three guns those of Gibbs, McGee and Ziva trained on him. He leaves - still not happy.
We have a scene in Jenny's office with Gibbs, Jenny and Tony. Tony is clearly shaken up by the whole thing, but tries to keep his 'Tony-style' to an extent. He tells them he saw, heard and felt his car blown up and we learn that he was in La Grenouille's car with Jeanne and La Grenouille. Tony tells Jenny that his cover had been blown several months ago. and we get a flash back scene with La Grenouille stopping Tony from getting into his car, telling him that one of his men will drive it and that Tony is to come with them and he calls Tony 'Agent DiNozzo'.
And then we learn that Tony did fall in love with Jeanne. Jenny is angry and says he wasn't meant to that, he gets (rightly so) sarcastic and says he'll try to remember it for next time, and adds 'wait, there won't be a next time', which could be taken two ways: he's going to leave NCIS (which isn't the option I'd go for) or that he won't play that kind of game again (which is the one I think he meant).
He also stands up to Jenny and refuses to tell her what Jeanne said, saying that she doesn't need to know. Gibbs has a very small smile of approval, only there momentarily, but there: he has taught Tony well. Tony also reveals that La Grenouille says he wants out and is going to call NCIS as they are the only agency he trusts; he wants to give himself up to them.
We then have a rather nice humorous scene when Tony returns to the squad room. Firstly he head slaps poor McGee for believing he was dead; McGee points out that he didn't, but Ziva did, which she can't deny. So instead she asks:
Ziva: "Is everything cool with the Director and Gibbs?"
Tony: "Beyond cool. Almost icy."
He tried to ring Jeanne and Ziva admits she has already done that and has discovered the Jeanne has taken a few days off. When asked what he's going to do, Tony says he'll wait until the morning and speak to her.
Abby then appears and hugs Tony and also says that she didn't believe he was dead, but that Ziva did. And then we discover that people had already taken 'mementoes'. Ziva has Tony's paper knife; Jimmy his American (something, even after half a dozen replays I can't catch it) coffee mug; Ducky his Might Mouse stapler.
Ducky then appears and carefully, from across the top of the screens, hands Tony it back, also declaring the he never thought Tony was really dead and says 'welcome home'. Gibbs then comes back in and makes a comment about it not "being every day that people think you're dead, DiNozzo."
Poor Tony actually looks really hurt by the snaffling; nice to see that whereas he really does give Ziva and McGee threatening glares, his look at Ducky is duly reduced in intensity - he knows far better than to ever threaten Ducky (even though Gibbs wasn't actually in the room at that second).
Abby then reveals that she knows how the car was blown up and the type of explosive ties in with lots of other explosions - all arms dealers. And then they realise that it wasn't Tony they were after, but Jeanne, as Tony used to pick her up every morning. Tony and Ziva are sent to Jeanne's home.
At Jenny's house, her phone rings: it's La Grenouille, who calls her 'Madam Director' and says he wants to meet; she asks when and he says 'now', he's in her house (which was obviously going to be the case from the moment she opened the front door). Then he calls her Jenny and tells her that he liked Tony, as did Jeanne.
He wants sanctuary and he wants protection for Jeanne, he knows she's targeted by his enemies. Gibbs duly turns up and is present for the rest of the conversation between Jenny and La Grenouille. La Grenouille says he can no longer trust Kort and Gibbs asks if he ever did. The CIA thought they were going to control La Grenouille and were, until NCIS came along.
Jenny says he's been in the study before (I think she meant the night before when she found the whisky bottle) and he says he has, when her father was alive. He says he was a fine man with a conscience. And then he says that he knows that her father took the bribe for which he was being investigated prior to his suicide, because it was La Grenouille himself who gave him the bribe. Jenny refuses to accept it and, predictably, pulls a gun on him. Just as predictably the bullets have been removed. She refuses to help La Grenouille, she's purely out for vengeance. And he leaves.
Once again Gibbs calls her on the feelings and how they are clouding her judgement; she also gets angry, again denies it but tells him if he wants La Grenouille to get a warrant. He asks her what would have happened had he not been there and had the bullets been in the gun, would she have shot La Grenouille. She says "we'll never know."
At Jeanne's empty place, Ziva finds a note left for Tony by Jeanne and gives it to her. An interesting little conversation follows:
Tony: "Ever lie to someone you love, Ziva?"
Tony: "Did they forgive you?"
Ziva: "They never found out."
Tony: "Mine did."
Ziva: "He told her?"
Tony: "No. I did."
So again we have the confirmation that Tony was and still is, in love with Jeanne. But about whom was Ziva speaking? Was she referring to someone in her past? Or is she talking about her feelings for Tony? A nice double-edged conversation on Ziva's part.
We then have another flashback scene between Tony and Jeanne. He begs her to tell him she loves him, she says she does, but she's confused about it all. And then he admits who and what he is. He says he did lie, but not about the important things and that he loves her. She asks who he was after and he looks at her father, who is standing a way away and says "ask him'.
Back in Jeanne's apartment Ziva says she'll put a BOLO out on Jeanne, but Tony says she doesn't want to be found.
The scene changes to the office again with just Ziva and McGee, no Tony and they don't know where he is. Gibbs comes in and McGee shows him a picture of a yacht and a marina which has been traced back to being owned by the same people as the limo, and they confirmed that a man with an accent had been staying there - alone.
The three of them, with a warrant that might or might not stand up, go there, but . . . Predictably no La Grenouille. There ensues a little exchange that they'll catch up with him; or someone will; one day.
Pan to the body La Grenouille floating in the water with a single shot to the head.
So who killed him?
As I said at the beginning a pretty good opening episode.
It had tension; was pretty good pace-wise; some minor touches of humour; good team interaction on the whole, and more balanced than some of the season four episodes.
It answered questions and left some still to answer and raised some more.
I just hope though that the whole Jenny and La Grenouille and her father thing isn't going to be the main focus of the rest of the season. And we are still left really with Tony and Jeanne, is it over? Will she reappear? And will she end up like her father?
Nice to see Jimmy - it always is.
Too little Ducky - I know, I know, I sound like a broken record.
Nice Abby scenes, a little more of her would have been nice.
I am going to rate the episode as I go along, but they'll almost certainly end up being amended as the season goes on. But for now a pretty solid: