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NCIS - Keep You Enemies Closer - Review

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NCIS - Keep Your Enemies Closer - Review

15.15 - "Keep Your Enemies Closer"
Directed by Tom Wright
Written by Jennifer Corbett
Reviewed by KathM

Previously, on NICS (and previously, and previously...)

In episode 13.21, “Return to Sender”, we find out that Tony owns his apartment in the pricey DC-area market. It was so inexpensive because it was the scene of a triple homicide in which the victims were hacked to death with an electric carving knife.

In episode 14.7, "Home of the Brave", Tony DiNozzo Sr. arrives to see who wants to sublet Tony's apartment while he's living out of the country. He initially offers it to Torres, but Torres turns around and offers it to McGee. Now he and Delilah have a great new, reasonably-priced place to live.

In episode 14.17, "What Lies Above", McGee finds his the apartment trashed and a robber in residence. As the episode unfolds we find mummified remains under floor boards, diamonds, and encounter the triple murderer who owned the apartment before Tony.

And I think that's enough background info for anyone. And now tonight's episode, complete with bonus sarcasm.

In the last episode Jessica Schaefer, Hicks' lawyer, was killed when her car blew up. Sloane (who had been talking to her moments before) was far enough away from the blast to just get tossed on the ground, so she's okay. As we join this week's eppy we find NCIS on the scene, checking out the situation and gathering evidence. McGee and Bishop are talking about what kind of bomb it might be, and Torres throws out that due to the damage and the way the remains of the front seat look, it was a car bomb. And how, pray tell, does he know this? Because Torres used to make them when he was undercover. I like that he always has to qualify any random misdeeds (like making car bombs) with, “when I was undercover”, like we'd expect he did things like that recreationally. Meanwhile, Gibbs is questioning a banged-up Sloane in the ambulance about what happened. Keep digging, she says, as Schaefer resigned as Hick's lawyer, she knew something.

Time to call Hicks in for questioning! Bishop and Torres pick him up at the coffee shop where he now works, and where he was flirting with a woman who could have been his very next victim. No Interrogation Lite for him! Hicks is right down in Interrogation with Gibbs and Hicks is all, “Jessica was on my side, she was my only friend, etc.” Blah, blah. Shows no emotion at all, which makes sense since he's a sociopath who possibly just got away with murder (again!). Then he becomes all moany and talks about how he was in prison for a decade because Fornell (who's watching in the Observation Room) suppressed evidence, which he didn't even need to do because Hicks was guilty, although he was released 10 years later. Is it just me, or is Hicks staring at Fornell the entire time, even though he can't know for sure that he's in the Observation Room? Fornell thinks so, and Sloane tells him it's because Hicks can hear him grinding his teeth.

Gibbs goes out into the hall where Leon awaits. He tells Gibbs that they have to let Hicks go because of all the bad press NCIS got when Hick's conviction was overturned earlier in the season. Which I don't get because wasn't Fornell the one who withheld evidence? He was with the FBI. Whatever. Leon says he has to go and so Hicks is set free, as it were, from Interrogation. Hicks insincerely expressed his “sorrow” at Jessica's death once again, then ponders, “Who knows who could be next?” I'm thinking foreshadowing, although possibly not in this episode. “Strike one, Agent Gibbs”, Hicks smirks, then taunts Fornell, because he no longer has his FBI job. Tobias reminds Hicks that he doesn't need to be a member of the FBI because he can send Hicks back to jail regardless. You tell him, Tobias! But Hicks isn't ruffled, and saunters away from our disgruntled trio to go back out into the world and grind his beans. You know, at work? If this is some kind of double entendre, it isn't intentional.

Abby's in the basement checking out Jessica's car and confirms that the murder weapon is a car bomb. But not one that Torres made while he was undercover. She's also found a bug in what's left of Jessica's cell phone, she tells Clayton Reeves. He's in this episode, too! Hanging out with Abby and basking in her brilliance. I think he has a thing for her, personally.

In the Bull Pen Bishop tells the gang that Jessica's cell records only have one call that directly relates to Hicks. Only hours before she was killed Jessica call the Department of Corrections and had a chat with an inmate who served time with Hicks during the initial part of his conviction. Annnnnd who was that inmate? Why, crazed furrier Paul Triff, that's who! For those who are drawing a blank, Triff is the guy who owned Tony's apartment before Tony was lucky enough to buy it for way under market value. And why was it so very, very, cheap? Because Triff killed and dismembered three people in the apartment with an electric carving knife, that's why. Some people think this is icky, but I'd do it. In a highly (I'd say cutthroat, but it's too obvious) competitive and overpriced market, once does what one must. I mean you book some crime scene cleaners for a second tidy up, change the locks, burn some sage and you are good to go.

When Tony moved to France, of all places, with his overdone plot-device daughter, DiNozzo Sr. decided that Torres should get to rent the apartment. But Torres handed it over to McGee because he had Delilah and maybe they'd have cherubs one day.

Gibbs sends McGee to visit Triff, which is not his idea assignment. He tries to pawn it off on Bishop and/or Torres, but they are suddenly busy. The last time McGee met Triff the little creeper completely freaked him out, so fortunately Sloane goes with him. Sloane is going through Triff's file and delights in his fascinating psychosis, but McGee is not thrilled. Normally McGee does pretty well when he's interrogating someone, he's grown into it over the years. But the proximity that Triff has to his life (he's living in Triff's slaughterhouse, after all) really puts him off his game. I can't blame him for that, though. While I said I'd live in a place where a grisly murder occurred, I never said that I wanted to have tea and scones with said murderer.

Triff comes in and, after admiring Sloan's coat in the most disturbing way possible, sits down for a chat. No matter who asks the questions he replies to McGee, another way of rattling him. Sociopaths know when they have gotten to someone, or think they have. The chink in their armor, as it were. Then they peck at it and enjoy watching the person or persons unravel. He knows McGee is freaked out by his very existence, so Triff keeps the focus right on him much of the time.

When Triff finds out that Jessica was killed with a car bomb he takes that in but then says that he prefers more “hands on” methods himself. Yes, he did see Jessica yesterday, and he warned her that it was a mistake to come because Hicks might find out. And apparently, he did. Triff goes on to say that Jessica wanted to know the “truth” about Hicks, and when Triff told her Jessica was not ready. He tells Sloane and McGee that Hicks told him all about murdering Lt. O'Connell (“among others”) because Hicks wanted to impress Triff when he first arrived in prison. In fact, Triff has proof of Hicks' guilt, but he isn't going to give that information away for free. He wants to be wined and dined, as it were, and when McGee insists that they leave and stop indulging Triff gives them “a freebie”. Seems that Hicks complained about there being a loose end, a witness that he should have killed. Mary Smith? Asks McGee, as she was the witness in the Hicks trial against O'Connell that Fornell suppressed. Triff admits the name sound familiar. But why kill Mary, Sloane wants to know. Hicks was exonerated for O'Connell's murder and can't be tried again. What reason would Hicks have to kill Mary? Triff points out that someone doesn't necessarily need a reason to kill someone.

We now cut to Hicks entering Mary's room, closing the door and saying they have a lot to talk about. Mary looks terrified, as well she should.

Later Gibbs, McGee, and Bishop are in Mary's now empty room. The nurse said that she’d seen Mary an hour before she’d disappeared, and one resident said she saw Mary forced into a silver car with someone matching Hicks’ description. McGee ran the plates and the car had been stolen earlier in the day. Who could be next? Gibbs isn’t waiting around to figure it out.

So, Fornell is chilling outside the coffee shop where Hicks works. No way this is going to end well. Hicks approaches and Fornell tells him that’s he’s late. Did he have something to do? Just traffic delays, it would seem. Hicks says he has no idea where Mary is, and Fornell tells him they have a witness putting him at the scene. We all know how unreliable witnesses are, and Hicks is happy to remind Tobias of that fact. When he tells Hicks to pick on someone his own size Hicks says that Fornell isn’t his type, then asks after Emily, Fornell’s daughter. Oh, here we go. Fornell begins to beat on Hicks, who is grinning madly through the whole thing and asking Tobias if he’d hit a nerve mentioning his daughter. Gibbs swoops in out of nowhere and pulls Tobias off him, then tells him to take a walk. Hicks tells Gibbs that Fornell is dangerous, and that if he attacks him again Hicks will have to press charges. As he ambles into the coffee shop he looks over at Gibbs and says, “Strike two. Tick tock.” Gibbs looks appropriately both angry and irked.

As Gibbs slides into his car he asks Fornell, who is in the passenger side, if he had run messing up Hicks. He did but wishes Gibbs had let him go on a bit longer. Looks like the whole fight scenario was cooked up between the two of them to put a tracker on Hicks, in this case under the collar of his shirt. Will this lead our heroes to Mary in time?

Poor Leon, he absolutely should have called in sick today. Because Sloane wants NCIS to make a deal with Paul Triff. Excuse me??? Well, Sloane tells him, everyone knows that prisoners brag about themselves and what they’ve done, and Triff was Hicks’ cellmate for the first six months of his imprisonment. Sloane sees Triff as having a huge ego (she’s right), and he’s jealous of the attention Hicks is getting. Because of this he wants Hicks back in jail as much as NCIS does. So, rather make a deal with the devil they know? Yep. But what could Triff possibly…

Oh, hell no! Triff wants a 48-hour furlough with McGee in his “last place of residence”. Which is where the McGee-Fielding family currently resides with their cherubs. Not happening, Leon. Leon? You can’t let this happen. Leon, Leon…

McGee sits in his apartment, stunned mute, while Torres, Bishop, and Reeves try to be supportive. Because Vance did agree, and he just called McGee to tell him that Something is Coming to Dinner. Is he just having a nightmare, McGee wonders aloud, or is it really happening? Both, Torres tells him helpfully. And there is no sympathy card for this occasion. Palmer has been scurrying around the apartment, putting all cherub’s toys and nullifying any indication of McGee’s’ life with Delilah and the twins. He’s sent Delilah and the brood off to her mothers for the duration, and since she’s a good spouse who totally gets this whole secrecy thing, off she goes. You might want to grab the cutlery, too, Bishop tells Jimmy. Good call, girl.

Triff will be spending his time at Casa McGee-Fielding in a cage much like one might use for a tall hamster. Luckily Reeves will be staying with the roomies, so that if one decides to kill the other he can be the voice of reason. He presses Triff for some info about Mary and Hicks, since they complied with their part of the bargain. Triff tells them to check out the van Hicks had ten years ago. We have it impounded, McGee says, and they’ve looked at the van. Ah, but have they checked inside the van?

Apparently, it’s worth a second look, because Gibbs, Tobias, and Torres are now in the basement pulling the van apart. Aha! Gibbs finds a piece of pipe that happens, upon closer examination, to not only have Hicks’ fingerprints all over it BUT also the blood of everyone they’re aware that Hicks has killed. Suspicious much? The pipe was in an obvious location, no way it was missed the first time it was searched. Disappointed and wondering how Hicks will easily get out of this. Seriously, writers? If he turns out to have an evil twin, I’m done.

The hunt is on for Hicks, who didn’t show up for his coffee shop shift and has left his coat at home with a note attached. “Strike three”. And Mary will be the one Out if our intrepid investigators don’t find her fast. Bishop tracks Hicks’ cell phone to, of all places, Mary’s nursing home. Oy.

Mary is back, safe and sound at the nursing home. Seems that Hicks kidnapped her, threatened her nephew, then drove her to a wooded area and stuck her in the trunk of the car. He let her out some time later, giving her the cell phone and telling her he’d turn it on when they got to the nursing home. He also gave her a message. “Those who talk, get what’s coming to them.” Which could be who? Fornell? I’ll bet it’s Fornell. If he hurts my Tobias, I’m done.

Why yes, there are a lot of things that will result in my opting out of NCIS-land, and I will share them with you as they come up. Whether you like it or not.

Abby checks in with Reeves, who says that all is as well as possible at Chez McGee-Fielding. This reminds Triff that it’s a friend’s birthday and asks to use the phone. Instead Reeves leaves McGee to “psychosit” as he ducks into the bedroom to continue his chat with Abby.

McGee brings Triff a sandwich, turkey on rye. Triff is horrified; he’s a vegetarian. Turn out that being a furrier, which entails using innocent animal’s parts to make coats out of them, is different from eating them. McGee flops on the couch and tells him to eat the sandwich or not, and Triff picks up on his frustration. Maybe they should get to know one another better. For example, Triff tells him that his father was an emotionally unavailable workaholic who never had time for him. What about McGee? No comment. Yes, Tim, don’t get pulled in. Triff tells him that he’s sure that McGee is a much better father; despite their efforts to rid the cherubness from the apartment, Triff claims he can smell the spit-up. Ew. He sniffs the air again (ick!) and correctly tells McGee that he has a boy and a girl on different sleeping schedules, based on the bags under McGee’s eyes. Oh, crap. Somebody has been telling stories about McGee, because there is no way Triff figured that out for himself. Timmy looks tired, and Triff reminds him that he’s happy to listen to anything McGee has to say.

Okay, McGee? Run. Run from this conversation and into the insanely large kitchen and make something that doesn’t involve cutlery. Go, go. It’s a trap, don’t fall in! Too late. This better be game, because next thing you know Timmy is spilling all his and Delilah’s woes about getting the cherubs on a rational sleeping schedule and trying to bond with and singing to them for hours and…McGee, stop! Listen to me because I’m going to go a lot easier on you than Gibbs will if something goes wrong because of this.

Triff tells McGee to love his children, and the rest will sort itself out. McGee thanks him, and I feel nauseous. Oh, and Triff says that his parents never bonded with him and he turned out just fine. So, just…McGee, pay attention.

Reeves returns and tells Triff that Hicks is in the wind and it’s time he earned his keep again. Where would Hicks go? He’s not sure, but he’d let them know if he got a post card from Zihuantanejo. Whatever. He was with Hicks for six months; did he ever tell Hicks where he’d go to lay low? Triff ponders, then says he can’t think of anywhere he might have mentioned. McGee pushes him and Triff is hurt. How could McGee no believe him, after all they’ve shared? Apparently, he now considers Timmy his best friend, which is horrifying and hopefully not true. You never know with the crazy people, though.

Gibbs storms into Sloane’s office because he things are not adding up on the Hicks case. Yes, finally! I hope this is about the pipe. Before they talk about that, however, Sloane shares Hicks’ juvie records that she was able to score. Apparently, he was abused by this father, which explains why his victims are all the same type; men in their 30’s in positions of authority. But Jessica, while in a position of authority, isn’t his typical type, and that has Sloane worried. He’s move on from men who remind him of daddy an on to agenda. First Jessica, then Mary Smith. But he didn’t kill her, he sent her back with his phone and a message. Why? Gibbs thinks it’s to split the team up and asks Sloane where Fornell has gone. Back to his office as far as she knows. Crap.

Fornell’s phone rings, only to be smashed apart by Hicks with a baseball bat. He’s got Fornell tired to a chair, a little bloody but still going strong. Hicks taunts him about how he saw Hicks for what he was, but still wasn’t smart enough to catch him. But Fornell says Hicks will get caught soon enough and end up in a cell or six feet under. Tobias ain’t picky. Hicks taunts Fornell a bit more, gently threatening him with the bat, and finally Tobias just tells him to swing. But he won’t do it just yet, Hicks tells him. He wants to kill two birds with one stone. Do you know who else he wants? I do! I do! Well, I think I do.

Hicks, Bishop, and Torres arrive at Fornell’s, but he and Hicks have already left. They find his smashed cell phone and his taser, along with his driver’s license on the Murder Board, with a swipe of blood across the photo. These have been Hicks’ “trophies” from his victims in the past, so it doesn’t bode well for Fornell.

If Fornell dies I’m turning off the television and posting the review as is. Then I’m done.

See, I was right! Triff is the other “stone” that Hicks wants to kill! Reeves is called away to help look for Hicks and Fornell, leaving McGee and a surprisingly cooperative Triff alone at the apartment. Semantics ensure when McGee reminds Triff that he promised to help them arrest Hicks, but Triff says that he only promised to help stop him. Triff tells McGee that no animal would willingly go back into its cage after tasting freedom and says that McGee has no idea what he’s up against. McGee wonders if Triff is talking about Hicks or himself.

Reeves arrives in the Bull Pen, ready to help Bishop search traffic cams for signs of the stolen silver car Hicks is driving. Just then they get a call; the car is parked in front of McGee’s apartment. Crap.

Somebody’s knocking at the door, and I’m guessing nothing good will come of it. Triff hopes it’s Reeves, so he can get him some Tofu Ramen (some murders have a strict meal schedule it would seem). Nobody is in the doorway, so McGee moves out into the hall. Where Hicks is waiting to put a gun to McGee’s head and lead him back into the living room.

Triff taunts Hicks now, telling him that he sure took a long time to find him, and has he learned his lesson about bragging to former cellmates? But Hicks rebuffs him by reminding him that, hey, he’s not the one in the cage. Triff says he won’t be in the cage for long. He tried to mentor Hicks, but he saw how “disappointingly inadequate” Hicks was, how weak. He took pity on Hicks and he disappointed him. Hicks tells Triff that he knows what he’s going to do with him now, coming closer to the cage with his gun raised. But it’s Triff who scores by suddenly pushing the cage open onto Hicks, who stumbles back. He shoots, but only hit Triff in the back, but this gives McGee a chance to grab a spare gun out from under the coffee table and take some shots at Hicks as he runs out of the apartment. McGee checks Tiffs wound and tells him he’ll be okay, but Triff wants him to get a towel to mop the blood up because the floor is 200-year-old French Oak.

Hicks is met by Gibbs and Torres on his way out of the building and takes of running. There are too many people on the street for either of them to get a clear shot, so Hicks can get back into his stolen car and speeds away, Tobias still secured in the trunk. Gibbs takes off in pursuit while Torres checks on McGee.

Always resilient, Tobias can set himself free from his bonds and kicks a hole into the back seat of the car, then slides out and grabs Hicks around the neck and pulls back hard. Hicks drives erratically as he struggles to free himself from Fornell’s arm, then they crash into a parked car.

The car door opens and Fornell slithers out, pulling Hicks with him. He starts to beat the crap out of him, but Hicks retaliates, and the two of them roll around in the street for a while. Hicks gets the upper hand and starts to strangle Tobias, and I reach for my remote. Luckily Gibbs tasers Hicks and he falls off Tobias, then Gibbs pulls Tobias up and they have some smartass chit-chat. I love my boys.

So, McGee is lying to Delilah about the case. True, it is closed, and she can come home, but he left out the part about Triff saving his life and almost getting shot? Yeah, no. Triff stops by (in a wheelchair, chained, under guard) and Torres feels compelled to thank him for helping with the case. Triff again declares Tim his bet friend and says that of course, he’ll be happy to be godfather to the twins. Oh, dear.

Tobias tells Gibbs he can fix up his basement to look as nice as his office/garage as he descends the staircase with the Hicks files. The boys share a drink and they chat about how the FBI may reinstate Fornell, but he’s not interested. He likes being his own boss, and I hope he at least gets his pension back. He has room for a partner, he tells Gibbs, who just shakes his head and gives him that secret Gibbs smile. Tobias then presents him with an itemized bill for services rendered as he leaves, telling Gibbs they should work together again sometime.

What I’m Really Trying to Say Is
– Eh, it was okay. Messy, really. The Hicks thing was so anti-climactic, possibly because of the delay between this episode and the one the preceded it. I can’t see French Stewart as anything but Harry from “3rd Rock from the Sun”, so his whole performance had some creepy bits without being truly scary. I get a feeling he’ll be back to spend some time with the McGee-Feilding family sooner rather than later, but we shall see. I am glad Fornell is okay.

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