NCIS Review: The Pretender

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Of all the scenes you'd never expect to see, having Gibbs play the part of a street person would be near the top of the list.

The opening of Canary" was well played, with Gibbs scavenging through trash and Ziva doing a valley girl routine on her phone while walking down the alley in stilettos, all in an effort to nab Ajay Khan, the second most sought-after cyber-terrorist in the world. (The mysterious "MC" - who we've yet to meet - was number one).

Canary Picture

Khan was identified as a key player in MC's organization who, as it turns out, was charged with getting an Ebola infestation in place. 

After grabbing him - and more importantly, his laptop - Abby and McGee were able to get an address to a warehouse off of the hard drive prior to it going up in smoke.  The warehouse contained another employee of MC who had died after being infected with the Ebola virus. Upon determining the shipping details of the disease, Gibbs and McGee were able to hunt down the shipment and safely dispose of it. Meanwhile, Ziva and Tony (and improv artist Kevin) worked on overconfident Khan in an eventually successful effort to have him give up the IP address of his boss.

So this time, everyone was back to his/her old self. And Ziva was still learning English language idioms:

Ziva: All warehouses are the same.
Tony: Up there with old houses, churches and prisons. Gives me the willies.
Ziva: Is that the thing where people lick their fingers and them they put it in someone's ear?
Tony: That's a wet willy. | permalink

Last episode's unsure Abby was back on board and on fire, despite her ridiculously wild nightmare hair.

The most compelling aspect of this episode was the character of Khan. Often we are treated to fiends who are just a little less intelligent than the NCIS team. Typically, Abby and Tim sort through the clues, after which the criminal is identified and brought in for interrogation, who then confesses the reasons for his or her behavior. 

Not this time, though. Khan was written to be a canny guy who not only knew his rights, but was able to guess at many of the tricks the team might throw at him to get him to talk. You have to admire the fact that he held on until the bitter end, still doubting NCIS's commitment to send him to Gitmo, even after he puked into a bag while uncomfortably detained on the plane. 

While it was easy to guess that all of the excitement at Gitmo was acted out for Khan's benefit, the most surprising thing to me was discovering that they hadn't gone there at all. Khan was probably one of the most irritating know-it-all smarmy characters to appear on the show, so it was cathartic to watch McGee plow through all of his logic in order to arrive at the conclusion that indeed Khan did know MC's IP address.  

Khan: Who is this?
McGee: Someone smarter than you who's about to hang up. | permalink

Speaking of McGee, it was interesting to see Abby and him working so close to each other as they tried to break into Khan's notebook. And then later on she said "from the ashes, McAbby will rise!" Was that foretelling?

Throughout the episode Deputy Director Craig showed his lack of courage and need to cover his butt, right up until Abby informed him that the anthrax agent could conceivably kill a very large crowd of people. Interestingly, Gibbs didn't give him a lot of grief about it - I suppose because he knew Craig to be self-aware enough to know that he ultimately wasn't suited for the job. Gibbs tends to say a lot when he says nothing at all. Craig reached his own - correct - conclusion:

Gibbs: The job's never done, Jerome.
Deputy Director Craig: No. Which is why I don't think I'm the man for it.....yet. | permalink

A couple of final notes:

  • You may have recognized the actor who played Khan as Vik Sahay.  He played as Lester Patel in the now-defunct series Chuck.
  • The title to this review refers to a couple of themes in the show, but also to a song from 1977 - the year Tony said that music died.  "Free Bird" also came from that year, but wasn't chosen because then you might not have been able to stop thinking about it.
  • As always you're invited to check out our NCIS quotes from this episode.
  • Our NCIS Round Table is up.  Check it out.

What did you think? Were you taken in by the "Gitmo" scenario? Do you have any thoughts about McAbby? What was your impression of Khan?


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (270 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter



me encantan todos estos comentarios, y no se que quimica, atraccion, sexsappele etc...lo que tienen Ziva y Tony, que..en definitiva no tienen Magee y ABBY, y miren que me caen super bien los dos...pero Tony y Zia trasmiten algo al televidente, con solo mirarse,y en mi opinion, eso es lo que los escritores deben explotar. Weaterly y De Pablo son excelentes actores para trasmitir al televidente, enemoramiento, que.....OJO, no todas las parejas de la television lo hacem.


You have to wonder what go throw people minds when they ask something so stuipd like why arent they using real phone number or IP address


@gatorgal - So Hollywood doesn't have a range of I.P. addresses dedicated just for TV and movies like they do for phone numbers? That sucks big time :( @Douglas Wolfe - He he. It definitely wouldn't have been out of character for Khan to say it as one last act of defiance and nonchalance at what he'd be facing.


Re: the IP address and the other comment re: all phone numbers starting with "555" This has nothing to do with reality, it has to do with legality. Chris Waild stated (I will not quote where do to the childish nature of some people on this site) that it was the only address they were "allowed" to use-hence a legal issue. "I hear ya. But it was only thing they'd let us use. Please address all complaints to CBS Legal Department." That's why none of the hospitals mentioned on any show in DC are the names of the real hospitals in DC- which I know since I work in DC- LEGAL. Also, re: the scene with Ziva and Tony, which those who cried foul would never have if it had been Gibbs and Tony: "I saw it as more of an allegory. Tony=NCIS the TV Show & The other agents=TV Critics Tony's just asking for a 'lil love." It is not always black and white, and it isn't about making Tony look stupid and Ziva like Wonder Woman.


Abby and Tony might be cute too. They used to have fun and sometimes harmlessly flirty moments, but now that the writers are trying to convince everyone that there is sooooo much chemistry in "tiva" Tony isn't allowed anywhere near Abby. They won't even let him have any meaningful scenes with Gibbs this season either. He's chained to Ziva. I guess his strong chemistry with just about any actor/actress he shares a scene with is so strong, that it's perceived as a threat to the almighty tiva. Conversely, they seem to be teaming Ziva with absolutely everyone. I guess they're trying to convince us that she can have chemistry with others. It's not working.


@Kevin I've often thought that if they wanted to upset EVERYONE they could put Ziva and Tim together. I've seen her look him over a few times.


Just for laughs I would like to see a show done were Tim and Ziva have to go undercover as a couple or have a AU were Tim and Ziva are a couple and Tony and Abby are a couple. Would be funny to watch and even funnier to see TIVA fans lose their minds in anger if that would happen.


@sickofwonderziva Thank you for your opinion and I tend to agree with you. I think the opening scene in past seasons was funnier and no one was the highlight They were all a team. Sometimes with the beginning, I wish we could go back to past seasons.
Also may I suggest looking up Tony DiNozzo fan fiction. The stories are excellent and Tony is the main subject. Just an idea!


This episode had nothing on the ones from the beginning of the season or even the last couple of weeks.............looking forward to Vance coming back.......


Does anyone know how old Abby is supposed to be? I agree with others who feel it's time for her to stop dressing like she did in college. In 'Gone' she had a great look, that edgy, kind of retro dress. Still Abby, but more mature. As for Tony, I've always wondered how he can get ANY woman to sleep with him, especially if he's using the same kind of approach he does in the office. Maybe he's going to bars and meeting up with women who are looking for a one-night stand. Characters can grow and change, like real people do, and still be themselves. McGee has done that and in case you don't remember, for years Tim was the butt of almost all the jokes and harassment. Somewhere (wish I remembered where) Sean said that he kept pushing the writers to have McGee grow and mature. If Abby and Tony don't continue to develop as people, I worry that they will become caricatures. Change can fascinate.

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NCIS Season 10 Episode 14 Quotes

Deputy Director Craig: Congrats Gibbs. You did it.
Gibbs: No. It's a team effort.

Gibbs: The job's never done, Jerome.
Deputy Director Craig: No. Which is why I don't think I'm the man for it...yet.