What an entertaining episode this was. I especially liked that it showed Gibbs moving on from working on himself to working on his other project this season, Tony. We have had a couple of moments this year where Gibbs has called explicit attention to Tony’s personal life and lack of love and to ex-fiancé, Wendy, in particular. This episode served as a fruition of sorts for those efforts. And lets face it, real life superheroes are fun and you can tell everyone enjoyed this episode. That there was no Palmer was just icing on the cake!
Grab your gear and let’s go.
Soon to be Dead Flower Guy is taking orders down from his answering machine when Soon to be Dead Navy Captain comes in looking to get going. Conveniently for plot purposes, a menacing message promising revenge comes over the answering machine just as Now Dead Flower Guy and Now Dead Navy Captain are shot, well, dead. Credits.
In the bullpen, a Ziva speeding ticket for 80 in a 40 leads to a Tony confession that he uses his federal credentials to get out of all sorts of stuff and gets free food and drinks. Also? He gets a smack in the head form Gibbs. Off to the crime scene!
The Flower Shop Crime Scene. Tony finds some chewed fingernails by the now empty safe when Ducky shows up apologizing for being late; seems Palmer never made it in due to wedding caterer crisis and Ducky was, I guess, trying to wait for him? Anyway, Captain Jack Wallace and Flower Guy Dexter Murphy are the victims. Everyone agrees that it seems like a simple robbery except for he answering machine message which the play for Ducky. As an aside, is it just me or does the answering machine voice sound a lot like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons? Which makes total sense in this episode. As a clue to what I am talking about, Ducky rips open Captain Jack’s shirt to reveal a superhero emblem underneath (showing a protractor and hammer).
Back in the bullpen, we go through the victim history and learn that Captain Jack was a Navy guy by day and a Real Life Superhero by night. The RLHs (as they are called) are basically community activists who organize things like neighborhood watches and do other kinds of charity work. They also dabble in (nerd) vigilantism. They even have a website, Earthsuperherounion.com (which sadly does not exist). Captain Jack went by Captain Code (his specialty was building code violations) and Murphy’s specialty was neighborhood watches. Not surprising at all? Everyone’s reactions. McGee thinks this movement is awesome (and I am shocked he’s not a current member), Ziva is biting her lip trying not to mock McGee and the RLHs, Tony is openly gleeful in his mocking delight and Gibbs is just annoyed at the whole thing.
In Vance’s office, Gibbs walks in to find out that he and his team will be working the case with the help and cooperation of a reporter who had a call from Captain Jack a couple of days ago. Gibbs and the lady reporter know each other and if you’re a fan of this show, you already know that this is Wendy, Tony’s ex fiancé (played by guest star, Perrey Reeves). They all agree that, “Navy Captain in Charge of Nuke Removal Program Found Dead in Superhero Costume” is not a good headline and so he’ll work with her and give her the access she requires.
In Abby’s lab, Abby pops out in modest cat-woman like costume and is totally looking forward to meeting her favorite RLHs. That she’s a fan is again, not a surprise to anyone. She proceeds to show DiNozzo a Cybervid (YouTube) video of Murphy and Captain Jack, both in full costume, breaking up a drunk idiot bar fight. The footage was shot by ICU but she hasn’t located his secret identity yet. Outside of the lab, Wendy and Tony run into each other for the first time and we learn that Gibbs has made Tony her point person. That devious bastard! Tony finds Gibbs and expresses as much displeasure as he dare with Gibbs (he grabs his arm for a nanosecond) but gets no where. Resigned, Tony liaises with Wendy and its not long before their conversation dissolves into a discussion of their relationship issues. She tells him she invited him to Christmas Brunch because she thought it would be nice to see him and they both acknowledge that people change (she’s now a ballsy reporter instead of school teacher and he wears $1000 suits). Wendy also knows that the video was shot by a trust fund baby whack job (my word, not hers), Clarence Tobett.
ICU’s Lair (which is really his Rich and Embarrassed Dad’s living room). Clarence (ICU) is working it out with his sweet vigilante moves when Tony and Ziva come in for a chat. After asking how they found him since he goes through a lot of effort to safeguard his true identity, he admits that he shot the video while out on Bait Patrol. Bait Patrol, if you are wondering, is where they put a woman on a corner and basically hang around waiting for someone to harass her so that they can come in and beat up said harasser. Or something. Rich and Embarrassed Dad comes in to interrupt the meeting and to also scold and belittle ICU for borrowing his head security goon who is in fact a real Bronze Star earning hero. After Rich and Embarrassed Dad leaves, ICU gives Tony and Ziva a partial license plate from the night of the attack. As they make to leave, he gives them a business card (which is basically a superhero trading card ) and tell them he’s got t-shirts too.
The Morgue. Ducky, as he is wont to do, is speaking to and complimenting the dead heroes on his table when Gibbs comes in. They discuss the men and their chosen night profession and Ducky tells Gibbs about how Captain Jack’s body was riddled with old wounds from presumed street fights. This is fuel to Gibbs’ dismissive attitude that these guys should leave it to cops so they don’t get hurt themselves. Ducky goes deeper and says that that most of these people had been hurt already, either emotionally or as victims of crimes or otherwise. Take Captain Jack as an example, Ducky continues, he lost a wife in childbirth and then daughter in a balcony collapse at a shopping mall (remember Captain Jack’s superhero specialty was building code enforcement?). Feeling his oats, Ducky presses forward and calls Gibbs out for pairing Tony with Wendy; just what is he up to? Abby comes in with a hit on their drunk idiot from the vigilante video. His name is Felix Quintero, a small time hood who has reformed. He’s a locksmith now and ICU’s partial license plate matches Felix’s car.
Tony and Ziva go to pick Felix up as Ziva takes this time to pick at Tony about his Wendy issues (she’s really fishing for information on their own situation). Tony stops the car short and announces they are being followed … by Wendy. She whines about how she has to follow him or else he won’t tell her anything. As it turns out, it’s a good thing he stopped because her car’s engine goes on fire. Oops! Back in Abby’s car lab/warehouse/garage, Abby has found the evidence of intentional fire starting. At the same time, McGee and Ziva come in with notes found in Wendy’s car which show that she had a pre-existing relationship with Captain Jack, even though she said she didn’t know who he was. Liar!
Vance Office Interrogation of Wendy. Wendy, having been backed into a corner with her lying liar lies, lashes out in protest that her notes are confidential to which Tony responds they are now a part of an attempted murder investigation. Calming down a bit, she says that she had contacted Captain Jack on an expose she was writing revolving around Navy contracting corruption. She really doesn’t know anything about why he called the other night and doesn’t know anything about the reasons for the shootings. Seeing as Vance just learned about their romantic history (with a stink eye to Gibbs), Vance turns to Tony and asks him if Wendy’s lying; he says she is not lying. Since someone needs to escort Wendy to a safe house, Vance offers Tony a chance to get off Wendy detail but he sacks up and stays on it.
At her regular house to pack some things, Tony calls Wendy on inviting him to brunch to squeeze him for information on her Navy story, that it had nothing to do with seeing him. She says that’s right and they start arguing which turns into angry kissing which would have turned into angry sex but Fred, Wendy’s kid, and Tina, his nanny, walk in. Awkward! Left alone with Fred, Tony stammers and stumbles until Fred tells him not to be kissing on his mom again.
Later that night, McGee and Tony are on a stakeout … somewhere. Lipstick on his collar reveals that Tony was making out with Wendy earlier today and McGee asks some probing questions on what the issue is with moving forward with her? Tony deflects the answering phase by leaving the car to talk to a woman who has been randomly standing on a corner for a bit. When he approaches her, she runs and Tony and McGee pursue. I like how Tony always complains when people run; I’ve noticed it a few times this season and I think I’d feel the same way. How frustrating that must be to almost book someone only for them to take off. Seriously? Anyways, she runs into an alley and when the Dum Dums pursue her they get pepper sprayed for their trouble. Seems Tony and McGee wandered into a Bait Patrol trap. With stinging and teary eyes, they announce they are arresting all of them, including Felix who is a RLH himself. In addition to Felix, back at the warehouse/garage lab, Tony offloads Spandaxia, Bolt Cutter and Whipcord. Gibbs enters and is just dumbfounded by these people and their costumes and everything and I love it!!! He confiscates their weapons and Spandaxia complains about how their little group has reduced crime in their area by 50%; that they are doing real good. File that away in case it becomes important later. Gibbs mentions to Tony that Ziva is alone with Wendy up in the interrogation spy room. Tony takes off to break that noise up with a quickness.
Felix Interrogation with Gibbs. Felix thinks its nuts that he’s a suspect and Gibbs plays him the ICU video. Felix says that was all staged by Murphy and Captain Jack as a promotional stunt. Also, they never paid him for the work which is why he left them that answering machine message … the tone of which doesn’t really seem to fit the alleged crime of nonpayment. But Gibbs moves past this so I will too. When Felix got to the flower shop to collect, they were already dead so he took what money he saw in the safe as payment for services. Also, he’s got a roomful of retirement home folks across town that can provide an alibi for him.
Back in the bullpen, we learn that Felix’s alibi was confirmed (he does magic shows at the old folk’s home in costume). That avenue closed, they turn back to the Wendy angle and Gibbs tasks them all with running down remaining threads. Gibbs sends Tony down to Ducky’s for his latest and greatest.
Down in the morgue, before the therapy session can really get going too much, Ducky shuts it down by telling Tony that Tony carries as much pain as Gibbs and has since the day Ducky met him. He goes on that Gibbs dealt with it by marrying the wrong woman over and over again but never really healed. Similarly, Tony has dated the wrong woman over and over again for the last 9 years and has never moved past it. Tonty admits that he never dealt with it but that Gibbs is setting him up to deal with it. Back to the case, Ducky has discovered a string of superhero deaths around the same district as where Murphy and Captain Jack worked. Kick it to Abby’s lab and McGee and Abby have put together a pattern of the murders as well as a cell phone signal in the same place at the same time as all of the murders, ICU’s phone. Gibbs isn’t sold that ICU is the culprit.
ICU’s Lair (which is really his Rich and Embarrassed Dad’s living room). Ziva dials the killer cell phone revealing that it was Rich and Embarrassed Dad’s head goon’s phone (Rich and Embarrassed Dad keeps the company in his son’s name making the cell phone a company phone). Book ‘em Danno. Sorry, wrong CBS show.
Wrap Ups. Wayne Tobett was a slum lord and couldn’t have superheroes cleaning up his shitty neighborhoods. So, he started killing the RLHs to keep the properties that he was buying, cheap. The Wendy Angle is that she did a story on depressed housing and was a target because Rich and Embarrassed Dad thought she was getting too close to his connection. This was a real Scooby Doo ending for me; I was totally waiting for Rich and Embarrassed Dad to rip off a mask and say he would have gotten away for it too if not for those meddling kids and their middle-aged, grey haired boss!
At the flower ship, Tony finds Wendy taking pictures of the crime scene for her revamped story of crazy slumlord corruption. She tells Tony she lied about lying, she really did want to see him again at Christmas. This girl has some lying issues Tony, be wary. For his part, Tony wants to know why? Why everything? She sums It up that Tony was the One and when they got engaged, she wasn’t ready yet for the One . But she is now. And she leaves him with that.
Oh noes, my heart is breaking for the Tony Ziva Shippers of which I am one. That being said, based on what I saw tonight, I’ll take 1,000 Wendy’s over 1 more E.J. Barrett. Until next week! And Jamie Lee Curtis taking on Gibbs!