NCIS Review: I Hate Computers ...

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NCIS delved into the world of video games, torture devices, dismembered digits and high-stakes hacking last night in what was certainly an interesting episode.

While it was difficult to invest in the action taking place largely virtually on computer screens and some plot details bordered on hokey, it was an entertaining ride.

The title, "Kill Screen," took on a dual meaning after the climactic scene. As much as you knew that was coming, it was fun to watch Gibbs unload on that thing.

Dismembered Victim

It had to bring our fearless leader such satisfaction to put a dozen rounds into the mainframe, punctuated by the coup de grace after it threatened to crackle back to life.

How did we get to the point where Gibbs navigated through a maze reminiscent of a 21st Century Legend of Zelda labyrinth to take down a computer? Let's review:

Marine Corporal Troy Amstrong is found dead with his fingers and teeth gruesomely removed. He was also tortured to death, all stemming from a credit card purchase.

One, it turned out, he didn't even make.

Maxine Edwards, played by Leverage star Beth Riesgraf, was recouping money he owed her by using the credit cards and playing video games, at which she's amazing.

Naturally, she was immediately pegged as a love interest for Tim, despite his efforts to take time off from dating after last week's debacle. Fortunately, that didn't stick.

After an attempt on her life, we learn Maxine reached the kill screen - where a game simply shuts down because it can't handle your awesomeness - of a popular game.

That screen revealed a set of codes that someone was clearly after. But who put them there and for what purpose? This is where it got a little confusing and out there.

The programmer was identified but also found dead, leaving Martin, DOD advisor and private security guru, the prime suspect, something that should've been obvious.

After all, he had been hovering in the office throughout the episode, under the guise of investigating NCIS security issues, and talking in a really creepy, raspy voice.

Either one of those should have been tip-offs, and you'd think Gibbs would have been wise to that sooner. In any case, he did figure it out, but it went beyond Martin.

The reason he whacked two people was that the Pentagon nearly was cyber-bombed and extremely vulnerable, which would've resulted in millions of lost contracts.

But the programmer set it up so that if he didn't check in one day, the virtual attack on the Defense Department would commence, sparking a race against the clock.

As NCIS episodes go, this will never be considered among the best, and as climactic scenes go, Gibbs was running through a maze a la James Bond was a bit silly.

Just the same, it was suspenseful and fun enough. Not every episode can hit the nail on the head, and this was certainly a departure from the norm if nothing else.

It became clear after a minute or so that the McGeeminator could only go so much and only Gibbs' last resort would suffice. The man hates computers, after all.

Best of all, Tony set McGee up with Maxine for a laser tag date. Here's hoping she recturns and this actually goes somewhere besides Tim getting his identity stolen.

Other thoughts and observations:

  • Vance's absence felt strange when the Pentagon was being hacked and the stakes were this high. That revelation came about quickly, but nevertheless.
  • Think Maxine could take Barney from How I Met Your Mother at laser tag?
  • Ducky's encyclopedic knowledge of zombie lore? Amusing and unexpected.
  • Palmer spotting a knockoff Chanel purse instantly? Yeah. Don't even ask.
  • McGee thought Gibbs might relate to Pong. Even that was a stretch.

What did you think of last night's NCIS? Discuss!


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (71 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


Computers can have fourteen cores.
I love someone analyzing the realism of a fictional television show, but that was wrong! D:


It looks like I'm the only person that didn't like this episode. There were so many inaccuracies and plot holes in the show this time. It's almost like they went out of their way to show computers and video games they way my 90 year old grandfather sees them. Highest score in almost every MMO? Really? Forgetting the fact that they don't have scores, no person has enough time in the day to be that good at that many time-sinks. I wish I had x-ray vision like McGee so I can see that a computer has 14 cores (not possible, but I digress) from looking at the case. You need to take out his mainframe to stop the virus! No, you need to shut down the game servers to stop it. And even then, if he's a smart programmer he'll have the virus portion run as a background process on each PC, no way to stop it without shutting down the PC's themselves. Of course, all you really have to do is disconnect the target network from the internet (which it isn't actually connected to in real life anyway). Shooting the monitor kills the computer? Are you kidding me? I hope in the future the writers actually do a bit of research on the episodes they write featuring computers. It's scary, because they seem to at least try to get the investigative analysis right. TL;DR: Great show, crappy episode.


I kinda liked this episode loved McGee and Maxiane Tony askin Maxiane on a date for McGee. I love Tony hes funny and I loved seeing his sweet side as well.


Not their best ep, but I still enjoyed it. Loved McGee's line at the end, begging Gibbs not to shoot the computer. And it was refreshing to see Tony be nice to McGee (also good to see McGee acknowledge it). Loved seeing Beth guest on the show, but I kept expecting her to be "Parker"... (adore her on Leverage!)


I think tim looked much skinner than before, hope he is ok.I really enjoy the show.....................Shirley

Sue ann

@Tuesday You are so right about Gibbs leaving McGee to twist in the wind -- and Vance has ordered him to hack into other agencies' computers, too. Gibbs simply is not that heartless. That was very strange. @Janice Watson I think that even though the stated reason for Sean Murray's thinness is that he has dieted it off, he looks more like people I have known in my personal life who have been on chemotherapy. He looks decidedly godawful. I was watching Hocus Pocus the other day. He was in it, as a boy. He was beautiful, and looked healthy. He looks terrible now. I noticed the silliness of expecting shooting the monitor to kill the computer, also. I think it was better to watch this episode with the gear shift on your brain set at "neutral", aka, not engaged. I liked it, but they have done better.


Has anyone else noticed how gaunt and skinny/sickly Sean Murray looked. The episode was an interesting one, but I have noticed that Sean is not looking well. I hope he is not just over doing a weight loss diet. This whole cast is great and I do love this show.


I thought the case was a little silly but the rest of the episode made up for it in having some great character moments: Palmer was hilarious (I love that guy, because everything he does is absurd) when he recognized the knock-off purse, and I loved how seriously Ducky was taking the zombie conversation. We got to see that Ziva and Tony, for all that they give McGee crap, really care about him; she encourages him to ask Max out, and Tony setting him up on that date was one of the nicer things we've seen him do in a long time. Which is good, because most of the time I can't stand that guy. And McGee got an actual episode! With an actual part! It's nice to see the writers occasionally portray him as something other than a walking font of technological knowledge. He was competent, he solved the case, he got the girl (with some help); it was refreshing. The one thing that really irritated me was Gibbs, who is consistently my least favorite character on this show (I know, it's blasphemous). His determined ignorance about technology is starting grate on my nerves. Hitting a computer with a baseball bat? Really? (And a note about the writing: shooting a computer monitor destroys the computer itself? Do any of them actually know how computers work?) But what really annoyed me is how he left McGee out to dry when that security guy was investigating him. As far as I can remember, pretty much any hacking McGee does (at least from work) is to solve a case and is often done under Gibbs' command or at least with his tacit permission. But when McGee is facing a lot of potential trouble for doing his job, everyone else just acts like it's kind of amusing. And when Abby asks, Gibbs can't tell her with confidence that he thinks McGee won't get in trouble. So why doesn't he do something about it?


I will take Tony over McGee anytime!


I thought last night's episode was funny! I had to LOL @ Gibbs whacking the computer with his bat & the tone of his voice when McGee mentioned Pong! LMAO! I hope McGee does get to have Beth Riesgraf as his main girl with her making occasional guest appearance, BUT she better not leave Leverage or her on screen time on the show become less because of it!!! I absolutely adore her! As her character Parker, SHE'S AWESOME! =) Cracks me up everytime she does something off the wall & Elliot tells her "there's something wrong with you!" LMAO

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