NCIS Round Table: Did the Team Fail?

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On NCIS Season 12 Episode 1, Gibbs, McGee and an NCIS system admin were placed right in harm's way, thanks to their downed helicopter and an implacable enemy who was hunting them.

Below, TV Fanatic panelists Christine Orlando, David Taylor and Douglas Wolfe debate and discuss what worked on the premiere, along with what didn't ring true. Won't you join them?

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Gibbs operated as a sniper and bush man in this episode. What are your thoughts?

Christine: I loved it. I enjoy it when they use a character's past history or experience in a current story. It's always helpful to have a sniper in your back pocket when you're being hunted by a terrorist! I kind of laughed when Gibbs told McGee and Kevin to go on ahead and McGee said he would stay behind. And do what exactly? In this case (as in most) Leroy Jethro Gibbs was the man!

David: I liked it too. Since most of the action usually takes place in the Navy Yard, seeing Gibbs get back to basics was a welcome diversion. And since we all know what a crack shot he is, and what a sleaze ball this new villain seems to be....

Doug: We are so used to seeing Gibbs as the team "boss" that we forget that he was a field operative at one time. And a damned good one at that. I truly enjoy seeing this side of him and, like Christine, I hope to see a lot more of him doing this kind of work.

Abby and the super-virus. Believable? Did she bite off more than she could chew with that one?

Christine: I thought it was kind of silly. If they really believed what was on that chip was a threat, why not boot up a laptop not hooked up to anything else, disable the wifi and then open the chip to find out what was on it? That way it can't infect their entire system. Maybe that's too simplistic and I'm certainly no techie but it's what I would do.

David: Oh, Abby Abby ABBY.....you know better than that. That's NOT something McGee would've done.

Doug: Having worked for many years as a techie, this scene got me laughing.  First of all - a cage to house the computer and protect the lab from the computer?  Uh, yeah, that's a little crazy. Secondly: a virus that can apparently magically leap from computer to computer via power cords?  If that was true, there wouldn't be an uninfected computer in the world.  That scene was beyond believable for me.  

On the other hand, it was nice to see that Abby isn't the infallible specialist she's been made out to be in other seasons.  It makes her a bit more human. 

Who was the episode MVP (and why)?

Christine: Gibbs. Definitely Gibbs. From taking control of the situation after the crash, to figuring out what Kevin was up to, and his kick ass sniper skills, I think he showed in multiple ways why he's the leader of his team.

David: I agree with Christine, but I've got to give props to Bishop for using her connections to get a satellite link and locate their position. We've seen the satellite used before (a female soldier who was leading girls to safety away from a school that was to be bombed), but not with an infected network--Bishop found a workaround.

Doug: I agree with Christine too. It was touching to watch Gibbs try and keep the pilot alive, just through pure will and asking her questions.  He pretty much shone throughout the episode: as a sniper, as a woodsman, as a leader, a comforter and finally as a selfless warrior (when he told McGee and Hussein to go on ahead so that he could slow their attackers down).  Gibbs was the consummate warrior here.

There was no opening dead body scene in this episode. What do you think? Should this happen more often or do the writers need to stick with the formula that's always worked?

Christine: I hadn't even thought of that so I obviously didn't miss it. I liked that they changed it up a bit. I hope they do that more often.

David: I did think it unusual, but it didn't ruin anything for me.

Doug: You know, when I watched the premiere of NCIS: New Orleans, I groaned just a bit when the opening scene involved a severed leg, thereby setting up the case of the week.  So yeah, the lack of such a predictable opening made this episode refreshing. I get the feeling that with all of the scrambling that went on at the beginning of NCIS Season 11 - when Cote de Pablo dropped out, and they had to do a lot of script re-writing - Glasberg and company discovered an important gem: they could think outside the box and take a chance on new story formulas. They saw how it worked last season, and realized they weren't losing their audience at all.  I'm so on board with that decision (if indeed that's what it is) and hope they continue making the episodes more exciting and unpredictable.

We saw a few failures in the team (or what they might consider failures); e.g. Abby with the virus and Gibbs not being able to will the wounded pilot into staying alive. What are your thoughts on those?

Christine: Was it just me or was Abby really whiny in this episode? Yes, we know how much she loves her friends but everyone was worried and scared. Expressing her feelings once would have been enough but it felt like it came up in every scene she was in and it started to annoy me. As for Gibbs, he's amazing but he's not God. I was happy with the way he stood with the pilot and kept talking to her and encouraging her until the end. It was a sad moment but not a failure.

David: I think Abby's emotions got the better of her, more so than usual to echo Christine.  In contrast, Gibbs was a rock (as usual) and I liked that he offered the pilot a "peaceful passing" among friends instead of dying alone on foreign soil.  No failure in that.

Doug: I agree with you both: there were certainly no failures from our points of view. I think the characters themselves would see it differently though. I like it when characters make what they see as mistakes or failures: it makes them more believable and therefore more endearing to the viewers.  And yeah - Abby was certainly whiny in this episode. Almost cloying really. But that's our Abs.

Overall conclusion: What did you think of the opener?

Christine: I really enjoyed it. I loved seeing Gibbs out in the field and McGee was a solid sidekick. I thought having the revenge plot go all the way back to Ari's death was a bit of a stretch. What's it been, like a decade since Ari was killed?  Where has this guy been all this time? But I'm OK with him being the new villain on the scene. Overall, I'm just happy to see all of my favorites back again for a new season and I'm looking forward to seeing more.

David: I enjoyed it too, but I'm wondering if  "the formula" will be applied this season as in the last few:    Enter a new villain who toys with them for a few episodes, disappears, and then reappears a few episodes before season's end as a vehicle for a cliffhanger.  I hope I'm wrong.

Doug: David, I think that's exactly what will happen, and it's why we were introduced to the unkillable Sergei Mishnev.  All in all though - and despite the computer illogic involving the virus - I really liked this episode.  I thought it was an outstanding way to start the season, and can't wait to see how the rest of the episode progress. I even like the fact that Sergei's going to be around to bother the team for a while.

Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter

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NCIS Season 12 Episode 1 Quotes

Vance: I'd go with the cat.
Abby: Yes, most of us would, but WMD.
Tony: WMD?
Abby: What would McGee do?
Tony: That's two Ws, Abs.
Abby: Whatever.

  • Permalink: Whatever.
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Vance: Our intel says Sergei survived.
Gibbs: What? How? I hit him. He went down.
Vance: He got up. No body was recovered. And wherever he is now, knowing all this? There's a good chance he'll be gunning for us.
Gibbs: Not if we find him first.