Is Taft ready to become a doctor/cop? How awkward does it get when Tony and Jeanne run into each other again? The answers, as seen in the Tuesday, Feb. 23 episode of “NCIS,” 13×16, “Loose Cannons,” are no and very. When a petty officer is murdered trying to stop the theft of weapons, Taft gets a bit too into the investigation part of it, while a twist in the case leads to a rough encounter for Tony.
Unfortunately, the days of Taft playing therapist to Gibbs may be over on “NCIS,” but someone worthy is taking that position. After all, Gibbs isn’t exactly sharing with Taft; over a game of chess, the doctor tells him about his father and in return, Gibbs tells him it’s his move. Taft wants him to see an actual therapist. “You were shot,” he feels the need to remind him. “You suffered trauma, much of it unseen.” But this is Gibbs, and so he doesn’t make it easy. As much as Taft wants him to meet his therapist, Gibbs refuses. But in the end, Gibbs does meet Grace, after an exchange of crossword clues and answers. “Ready,” she asks him. “Ready,” he agrees. And just in that one brief scene in the diner, Laura San Giacomo brings enough to the role of Grace to make her someone it would be good to see again. Not only could Gibbs in therapy – actual therapy not his sessions with Taft – be very interesting, but it would also be a shame if that’s the only time Grace is on screen. She can handle Gibbs. That’s enough for warrant a return.
Another guest star who ends up fitting in well in her role is Jodi Harris as Catherine, Taft’s wife. At first, Gibbs thinks that she’s Grace and that Taft is trying to force him to meet the therapist. However, that initial meeting, while it gets off to a bad start, doesn’t end that way. Instead, with Taft taking a phone call, the two have a chance to acknowledge the losses in their past and the fact that Gibbs and Taft’s friendship has been good for both men. And that has been; Jon Cryer has taken on the role of Taft in such a way that it’s sad that this could be the last time he’s seen. He’s become more important than just the surgeon who saved Gibbs’ life immediately following the shooting. However, when Taft and his wife nearly get blown up when their car explodes, it makes Taft realize that the notion of being a doctor/cop is a mistake. He could’ve lost his wife, and they may just take the long trip they always planned to around the world. Taft walking away from the diner once he sees Gibbs with Grace certainly seems to signal an end to at least a chapter.
The case is what brings Jeanne back into Tony’s life. One of the shooters ends up dead, but Ducky and Taft discover a metal plate in his arm that was once in a priest’s leg. It looks like a doctor in Sudan may have recycled the part, and in order to potentially find that doctor, they have to talk to none other than Jeanne and her husband. And if only talking to Jeanne because of their past is the biggest problem Tony faces… After assuring her that this has nothing to do with her father when Taft lets it slip that the case involves stolen weapons (which she doesn’t believe), a second bullet from years ago found in the dead shooter leads back to none other than Rene, or rather, one of his henchmen. (It is a bit disappointing and very predictable that this is the case.) Jeanne immediately thinks that Tony lied to her, with both he and Gibbs telling her they made the connection after they spoke. She does remember the man as her father’s driver, and thanks to the name she remembers him by, they’re able to track him down. However, he’s dead by the time they get to the house.
But what about the third shooter? Well, that’s where the “interagency cooperation” with ATF comes in. McGee and Bishop first run into ATF Special Agent Kitt at the hospital talking to the petty officer who was injured in the theft and then ATF shows up at the second shooter’s house immediately after the team. (So much for cooperation, right?) Then ATF says they found the guns and they’re on a plane to the Ukraine, presumably with the third shooter. Gibbs doesn’t buy it, and as is often the case, it’s so satisfying to see him bring Kitt into an interrogation room. Don’t try telling Gibbs it’s not his concern, especially when ATF is involved. Fine, it’s a top secret op, the agent admits. Military weapons have been disappearing for years, so they installed tracking chips. No, they’re not on the way to the Ukraine. And thanks to those tracking chips, he helps them find the third shooter.
As for Tony and Jeanne, awkward doesn’t even begin to cover how things are between them. (Nor does super-awkward.) David reveals to Tony that he knows all about their past; if he didn’t, he’d be worried about how she looked at him. And he knows that when affairs end badly like theirs did, they stay under the skin – but he’s not talking about Tony’s skin. Then, when Tony takes a moment to make sure Jeanne knows that going to see her had nothing to do with her father, she can’t help but wonder if one day, he’ll find another reason to stop by at the precise moment she’s beginning to feel whole again. Uh-oh.
Furthermore, as she tells Tony when he stops by her office after the case is wrapped up, she and David fought. Tony gets the “not feeling whole” part and admits that if he had one wish, he’d turn back the clock to when they got back from South Sudan because he thinks that was a better ending for both of them. Well, she’d go back a bit further. Their goodnight – and then goodbye – is charged, and it really seems like it could’ve gone either way – with a kiss or, as it did, with Tony leaving. But is this the end for them?
“NCIS” season 13 airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 16 “Loose Cannons”?