NCIS Review: "Out of the Frying Pan"

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This was a somewhat atypical episode of NCIS, with very little carryover from the previous few weeks, and it was also a bit unusual as standalone episodes go.

That's because suspect, Nick Peyton, was in custody the whole time, with the team (and viewers) under the assumption that this was an open and shut case.

Only at the end, after the 18-year-old finally confessed to killing his father no less, did Gibbs believe otherwise, questioning Vance's motives in the process.

Good Cop, Hilarious Cop

Vance was CERTAIN Nick Peyton was a monster who slayed his father with an axe, but from the moment Gibbs took over the case, you could tell he had his doubts.

Not only about Nick's guilt, but regarding why he was even doing this. Vance seemed to care a little too much about doing his U.S. Attorney's office contact a favor.

This deviated from the procedural episode boilerplate significantly, and gave "Out of the Frying Pan" a much different premise, and it got better as the stakes rose.

Even with most of the action taking place in one dimly-lit room, dueling mysteries unfolded. Did Nick really whack his dad - and was Vance abusing his authority?

The interrogation scenes were all terrific, from Tony's attempt to be the bad cop (more funny than anything at first, but he actually did well) to Vance's meltdown.

Cameron Monaghan of Shameless fame was great as Nick, whose fearful confrontation with Vance and scenes with Gibbs throughout the night were so well done.

Using deception (and a little movie trivia), Tony and Gibbs got Nick, who had a prescription drug problem, to admit he had little memory of the night of the murder.

That breakthrough was all Vance needed to go completely off the rails.

Gibbs and the Kid

There's something about Rocky Carroll wielding an ax that scared the heck out of me too, so it was easy to see how be basically manipulated a false confession out of Nick.

The truth came out then, too, that Vance's vendetta was personal. Who knows how far he would've taken it if that didn't work, thinking little of how a jury would view it.

Despite Vance's assurances that it was over, Gibbs trusted his gut over Nick's own words. That's when things started advancing rapidly outside NCIS HQ in typical fashion.

The psychiatrist lying to protect Nick. The neighbor who lost his daughter because of Nick's drug habit. Nick's mysterious missing mom. The suspects were numerous!

The investigation felt somewhat hastened, and perhaps a little hard to believe (these people were out there the whole time), but Vance felt he had his man all along.

Perhaps the most telling scene of the night came after Gibbs nailed the real killer (the mom). It almost didn't matter to Vance, considering how the events played out.

The tension between these two had been rising already. Now it's been kicked up several notches. You have to think that an epic confrontation is building this spring.

You also have to think (and least I do) that the mysterious E.J. Barrett - spoken of but not seen this week - is involved. Did Vance bring her in to keep tabs on Gibbs?

We'll find out soon enough. But who locks their desk?! Seriously now.

Some final thoughts and observations ...

  • Odd as it seems to call America's most popular TV star underrated, Mark Harmon truly is. His nuanced acting is so impressive in episodes like this one.
  • Of course Tony managed to work Casablanca into his interrogation technique. The funny thing was that all that knowledge helped trap the kid in a lie.
  • Nursery rhymes? Ducky is slowly losing it after all those years in the basement, and it's great. We just need Ziva to visit him down there more often.
  • Recreating crime scenes with mannequins and deadly accuracy. Salvaging blood-soaked tablet PCs. Great to see Abby and McGee doing their thing.

What did you think of this week's NCIS? Discuss!


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (80 Votes)

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


Ahora que Vance mostró el juego y llamó a EJ a último hora, demostró que pretende sustituir a Gibbs y equipo por ella !! Espero que los próximos "asesinados" en NCIS sean EJ, Vance y equipo.


I thought it was a bit unrealistic to see both Gibbs & Vance bullying the 18 yr old kid without a lawyer present. Also I don't like the confrontation and tension between Gibbs & Vance. They shouldn't make Vance out to be a bad-guy. It seemed to take them too long to identify other potential suspects, esp the neighbor's daughter being the kids gf, and dying of an overdose? The missing mother seemed a bit far fetched. No one asked about her for a long time. Good acting all around tho. Everyone plays their role to perfection - been at it so long, they must see themselves as their characters...


This was the worst episode I have ever seen, and I've seen them all and loved most of them. This was a case of everyone going after one suspect, the suspect not defending himself, and Vance and Tony going out of control. The interrogations were out of control and chaotic - talk about overkill! The show lacked all of the complex forensic techniques usually demonstrated. The plot was so thin. And worst of all, the new character is just a shadow - threatening to replace Gibbs. I don't like it!! If this represents what we'll see this season, I may have to opt out of watching.


It's not that I dislike Vance per-se, it's that he doesn't fit. The original director was "military tough" like a senior officer Gibbs obeyed once in a while or to whom he justified things and was given room to work. Jenny was excitable because of their past, but ultimately let Gibbs do what he needed to do and covered for him. Vance is all about mano-et-mano with Gibbs, playing the "boss" card as often as he can, but really trying to duke it out for machismo's sake. Last night's episode was a joke, I could see the ending a mile off and knew it would end in humiliation for Vance, which he will hold as another strike against Gibbs, caring not that there was justice for the boy, but that Gibbs bested him once again. As far as the "guest" agents, they will come and go, maybe they will be the "red shirts" and die instead of the main team members. Still waiting for the Abby episode


Thought this episode was great. The Gibbs/Tony interrogation with Nick was just fantastic and the Tony/Gibbs dynamic has been sorely lacking over the last 2+ years, THRILLED to see it back.


Seems like I have seen this NCIS episode before


Loved the interagation scene with Gibbs and Tony. Its so amusing to see tony as the bad guy. I don't think i'm ever going to trust Vance... I loved seeing vance and gibbs bump heads.


I loved the episode itself, I liked that they threw in some different dynamics. I loved the intense Tony/Gibbs interrogation- I think Tony is very underrated ;) I did not like how they couldn't keep away from some of the really unrealistic moments though...


Liked the episode, especially the interrogation with Gibbs and Tony playing good cop, bad cop. I still do NOT trust Vance and he's been there how many seasons? Even more, I do NOT trust EJ. I am getting anxious about the coming episodes and next season just because of all this talk about new agents. UGH, UGH and triple UGH!


I love NCIS. I didn't like this episode. It was boring.

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