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



This weeks was good a bit down from the last few weeks, but there's something for every body. I do agree it time for Tony to grow up a bit. You can wear out a good thing. They all have their good and bad points. As for mc gee isn't time , we actually see his father an family . We have met his aunt and sister .Is there more to meet?It was a good con with the prison , but even the bad guy wasn't convinced.Im not sure about Vances replacement wouldn't Granger be the next one up for the job . Now Gibbs and Granger NCIS LA that would be fireworks. Interesting show.


Spent most of the episode rooting for Kahn. I am no fan of Gitmo nor of the Patriot Act.


I guess I am the only one so far who didn't like this episode. So much so I fast forwarded through much of the show on dvr. I am tired of Tony's immaturity, Why doesn't McGee stand up to him? Oh well all good things come to an end..I don;t understand how they can masterfully do a two parter where the director's wife and Ziva's father are murdered. And then revert to type.


WOW Whata ride! My husband thought Gitmo was a setup but I didn't. I lost the bet. The snow at the end and Abbey's hair was so great. It was good to see them shake up the routine. Is it me or is this show getting better and better. They must have access to the best writers (and crew) in Hollywood. I just read their detailed Wikipedia bio and sad to see no Emmy awards or nominations.Their highest priority is to keep their fanbase highly entertained. Keep that rollercoaster ride coming.


This was a fun episode and yes reminiscent of Mission Impossible. Of course Gibbs would think old school, yet he is smart enough to use his people, Abby and McGee for the think tank work and Tony and Ziva for some action and acting. I loved the opening too, nice to see the gang out of the office doing dress-up to catch a bad guy.
Love this show.


@klimville Pretty sure you could have multiple Dept Directors out there.. He's in DC so he can take over without moving... I also wish they had used a more realistic IP address... 192.168.1??? Anybody who's setup a router knows that's the standard local addresses... Oh well.. I too thought of old school MI with this episode... If I'm in severe nightowl mode, repeats on at 2am on MYTV...


@dcbentley: Yes actually I've watched old MI re-runs. Just never expected them to use that device here. Pleasant surprise. @Robin Roderick: I agree - it was kind of cool that the show didn't start off with a dead body. The writing on this show is top notch.


Gibbs and Granger working together!! Episode was great as always and so glad to see NCIS will be around for another year or more, with "Gibbs" signing a new c,ontract.


Have a question for NCIS/NCIS-LA fans....wasn't Granger introduced by Hetty in LA as the Deputy Director to Vance last year? Then why is DepDir Craig acting while Vance is in mourning?? Although, think about it....Granger and Gibbs wor



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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.