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NCIS Review: Prankster vs. Prankster

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Someone's been pranking the NCIS gang, just as the writers of the series have been teasing us with possible replacements for Ziva. 

NCIS Season 11 Episode 6 centered on an explosion at an oil rig, which necessitated the involvement of CGIS Special Agent Abby Borin, as well as SecNav Sarah Porter, the latter of whom was sent to oversee the investigation, just in case it turned out to be a matter of national security. (Read: terrorists). 

Turns out it was just another get-rich-quick scheme by a lawyer for the oil company, who decided to short-sell his stock in the firm right before he smuggled a bomb onto the rig. He netted tens of millions of dollars out of the deal. 

Gibbs and Abby Borin

The story for the case included some well-crafted plot points, which diverted the team (and us) from the real culprit all the way through.  Funny, isn't it, how whenever a man-made disaster happens, the first instinct is to wonder if terrorists are involved? 

The fact that this was the first go-to point for the NCIS gang allowed viewers to dismiss it immediately. Their cases are almost never that straightforward.

The next diversion, involving a possible revenge attack by an about-to-be-fired oil rig worker, was more believable. Although perhaps less believable was the notion that a best friend would deliberately take the fall for him so that he wouldn't get fired. Perhaps such people exist - I've just never met any.

The third diversion - that of an eco-terrorist attack by a computer geek - was completely believable  It was almost disappointing to find out that wasn't the case and that the real culprit was someone who was just out for a few bucks.  Tony's note about the eco-geek brought a chuckle:

We live in a strange world, McGee. I miss the days when computer nerds looked like you.


It's great that DiNozzo got caught up on all of his sleep because the man was a grin a minute with all of his McQuips at Tim's expense.  Looks like the jokester is back. And for a while there, it looked like he was on jokester steroids, with all of the pranks that were played on the team. 

Except... I don't think it was him. Even though he denied it, I'm about 99% sure it was Gibbs. It's perfect, really, as he'd be the last person anyone would suspect (except for Abby Borin, who was the only one to raise a suspicion). 

There were a few clues:  when Tony told the team he didn't do it, and that he had a date after work, Gibbs chimed in to say that he stayed late and that he saw that Tony was still there. Which of course means Gibbs was still there too. Either one of them could have done it.  Another clue that might cause us to suspect that Gibbs was acting out of character was this little exchange:

Gibbs: Whaddya got?
Tony: Crabs.
Borin: We have a problem.
Gibbs: Worse than DiNozzo's crabs?

The final clue was Ducky's assertion that the prankster had to be Tony because everyone else got nailed except him - after which Tony also got pranked. Ultimately, everyone got pranked except for Gibbs. Gibbs the innocent, never-do-wrong father-type guy.  You can almost sense his smirk.

Final notes:

  • Borin got sort-of-offered Ziva's spot and sort-of turned it down. We can breathe easy - even though this is the fourth false alarm in as many episodes (Vera Strickland, Susan Grady and Delilah Fielding being the first three).
  • Benham Parsa wasn't mentioned by accident: the writers want us to keep his name front and center. We can expect to see him and his gang showing up soon.
  • Couldn't help noticing the soft lighting in a couple of scenes: one with SecNav Porter and another with Abby Borin. Almost a little too obvious. 
  • Speaking of Porter: the gang seemed nervous at her presence, even though she assured Gibbs that everything was fine, as long as his team kept delivering.  I miss Vance - he at least is a known entity.
  • Gibbs is getting a little predictable with the elevator: when he rushed to join Porter, you just knew he was going to hit that button.
  • Have you ever heard an annoying beep in your home? If you have, then you know it's frustrating as hell trying to figure out where it's coming from: might be the battery indicator on a smoke detector or it might be a message waiting indicator. So it wasn't difficult to sympathize with Ducky at all. Interesting note on that device that he found: it does exist and it's exactly what McGee said it was. It's called a ThinkGeek Annoy-a-tron.  Also, I bought one tonight. 

What are your thoughts on the episode?

Would it have been such a bad thing if Abby Borin had joined the team? What are your thoughts on Porter, given that she was seen talking with a few other new people above the bullpen? Do you think she has another agenda?


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (143 Votes)

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


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I can't decide which I like best, Borin or Sec Nav. Both are beautiful, talented women. Maybe we can keep them both.,


did everyone hear the good news THE NEW female agent is now staying


Man I have to say Ziva leaving Save NCIS

@ Michael

You can drop the anti-Ziva crusade. She's been gone for a month.

@ Michael

Go away


I vote for Abby Borin as the GirlPower member of the team. She's funny, sharp and great at standing up to the guys. She's always been my favorite reoccurring character, much more so than Mike Franks or DiNozzo & Gibbs dads. As previous writers have pointed out, Abby likes her, Tony & Tim respect her and Gibbs thinks highly enough of her abilities to ask her (sort of) to join the team. He sees her weaknesses and knows he would be a great mentor in helping her work through and overcome them.

@ BuckeyeGator

I would like Borin to join NCIS, but rather on a co-team. You know, Gibbs Team is not the only one. For the big cases, you know what I mean. Borin is really cool and Gibbs and her are an awesome team.

@ BuckeyeGator

I would rather it not be Borin, she would be redundant. Borin is basically Gibbs with breasts so there's little need for having her around permanently. As a character that pops in every once in a while she works, but I don't think she would work as a regular. It would also be a step down careerwise with her, she'd go from leading her own team to being the one lead and I don't think she'd go for that.


Overall, was very happy with this episode. The team is back, and dealing with Ziva's absence as Borin pointed out, and we got some backstory on Agent Borin to boot! Nice. As far as Borin joining the team? Gibbs asked her! Think about it!!!!!!!!!! GIBBS asked BORIN! so, yeah, she would be a good fit! she even admitted she had thought about the prospect! And yes, they would bump heads. Such is life! I think the writer's have a Plan B, just in case Plan A (Bishop) doesn't work out. In the meantime, I would love to see Neal in more than one episode per season. Didn't Abby Sciuto hint at that? LOVED that Gibbs was the prankster and Borin called him on it! LOL!


I like how mature tony been toward women


I see we're back to moron Tony, ogling girls, acting stupid. So much for his character growth.

@ Guest

"moron Tony"? And when was he "ogling girls"? Sorry, I have a very sensitive Tony filter, and hate it when they write him as overly silly, but I think Tony has been great in every ep this season so far. He definitely has his sense of fun back, but that can only be a good thing. I like the calmer, more mature, yet still funny Tony we're seeing this season. Tony without his humor isn't quite "Tony", and he worked the case and remained focused throughout. I honestly don't know how anyone could miss his character growth. I love that he's moving on and forward, and has gotten some of his trademark joy back.
Enjoyed the ep and all the character interactions. Nice that Gibbs has his sense of humor back, and Diane Neal is always fun and fits in with the team so seamlessly.

@ Mel

In the very beginning of the show, when he was walking behind that girl- pure old Tony. I agree with the other episodes, but I thought he was just silly this ep. I like Tony, that's why I don't like to see him acting this way. I thought they were moving forward. I didn't see it this episode. Maybe because he was so totally different than he was last week. The show is time accurate, so I don't see him being like that a week after almost losing it. Doesn't ring true.

@ Guest

Just because he has been through a lot does not mean he cannot have fun n has to turn into a monk. Is Halloween episode its supposed to be fun. You guys just take it too seriously it's entertainment.


I think they are setting Borin up for the new spin off they are floating next year. I love Borin but she could not join the team because where would she fit. She runs her own team now so if joining Gibbs team she may actually end up taking Tony's position as SFA.

@ Donna

He's matured! You can see it, he wasn't nearly as silly this episode as he has been in the past!


I don't like the new SECNAV. First off, the SECNAV doesn't have the time to show up at NCIS and if "he" did it would be to see the Director. So her character was out of place. And by the way, where is Vance?


I loved that Borin was in this episode. She is one of my favorite recurring guest stars. I'm glad we are getting a little backstory on her, I feel that means that she will keep coming back from time to time. I don't see her becoming part of the team, it IS a sideways move for her. But the team does respect her. It seems the writers are playing with us, having us think that she may be the 4th future ex-Mrs. Gibbs. The nice quiet scene at the end in Gibbs' basement had double meanings (want to join NCIS and want to join me?)