The bubonic plague hit New Orleans on NCIS: New Orleans Season 1 Episode 2, as the team had to reach out to Director Vance, Tony DiNozzo and Abby to help them investigate and contain it... all without creating a panic.
Below, TV Fanatic panelists David Taylor, Kathleen Wiedel, Christine Orlando and Douglas Wolfe dissect the plot and characters in this second episode of the series...
How would you describe this episode in one word, or three (or more)?
David: Breaking Bad Biology.
Kathleen: Plague in the City.
Christine: The Big Queasy.
Doug: Don't Mess with Pride.
What was your favorite scene or quote? Why?
David: Well, as a science geek, I kind of liked having a medical bent to the plot, but if it's specifics you're looking for, you nailed it in your review - the quote about the sick 'gators.
Kathleen: I thought Tony referring to himself as "the Plague Whisperer" was pretty funny, though I definitely agree with David on the 'gators, too!
Christine: I enjoyed Loretta quoting Steinbeck while mulling over an autopsy. Nothing better than a scene that can combine CCH Pounder, Scott Bakula, great literature and a murder mystery all in one.
Doug: I really enjoyed the scene where LaSalle threw the poker player into the water, and Pride called the move "pretty."
What didn't work?
David: It was just one line: "We'll stop it...before it stops New Orleans." I dunno...it struck me as hokey and cartoonish...like something you'd hear in one of those "Batman" shows from the 70s.
Kathleen: Or worse - that line David mentioned sure sounds like a Horatio Caine-ism from CSI: Miami! That, my friends, is not a compliment. Also, I was unimpressed by the motive behind outbreak. It seems like an old Hollywood trope: intentionally infecting people in order to generate the need for people to buy the vaccine/cure. There have been numerous variants on this, but you get the idea. I'd have been more interested if someone had intentionally infected people just to watch (and enjoy) the chaos it caused.
Finally, the scene in which the Sebastian, Abby, and Carol figure out that the plague came from contaminated muffins? I actually found myself rolling my eyes. They didn't even have the muffin foils in front of them, yet they were apparently able to detect the presence of Y. pestis two seconds after finding holes in the wrappers! I know that modern technology is amazing, but don't you actually have to do tests to figure that stuff out?
Christine: Oh God! Horatio Caine-isms are a bad, bad sign. But we've seen this plot before on many other procedurals. Money hungry mad scientist releases disease so that they can then supply the cure/vaccine and make millions. Yawn. Also, for me LaSalle telling Brody how they like having her around felt off. I kept waiting for him to make a joke out of it.
Doug: All of the above. Plus something another thing that struck me as unbelievable: the notion that you can mobilize so many health care workers, while at the same time preventing any of them from leaking the news of an outbreak of bubonic plague to the media.
Could the episode have been done without the assistance of Vance, Abby and Tony? Did we need them?
David: I didn't seem them as "value added," though I was happy to see Meredith Eaton again. I'm getting a little concerned about these crossover appearances (Mark "Gibbs" Harmon will be on the next episode); while they're obviously meant to boost viewership, it also seems like they can't let the fledgling leave the nest.
Kathleen: I agree with David; however fun it was to have Tony and the others pop in, they really have to let NCIS: NOLA forge its own identity separate from the mothership. I'm not saying that I wouldn't like to see Gibbs and company pop up in the future, but a little crossover goes a long way. They just have to manage the crossovers in such a way that it fits organically with the story.
Christine: It's pretty standard to have crossovers during the first season of a spinoff. Launching a new show is simply too hard not to use everything you can to gain an audience and I'm always happy to see more of Tony. That said, I think this cast already stands out in its own.
Doug: I really don't think they were needed. The show is interesting - and I think, strong enough - to stand on the strength of its stories, location and characters alone. There's no need to keep injecting it with seasoned characters from its parent show. It's not "NCIS - Side B" - it's its own show.
David: Uh...YEAH!!!!! I'm starting to wonder if his temper is at least partially responsible for why he's living apart from his wife.
Kathleen: While Gibbs is stoic and nearly impossible to read most of the time, Pride is much more obvious in his displays of emotion, both positive and negative. When he gets upset, he gets really upset! I think it would be very odd to set a thing like that up and not go anywhere with it. This isn't the first time we've seen Pride behave rashly when provoked, nor do I think it will be the last.
Christine: Definitely. I think he's able to get away with more down in New Orleans but at some point, his temper will probably catch up to him. There are always consequences.
Doug: I agree with you all - particularly David. That said - I'm digging this new NCIS team leader, emotive personality and all. And part of me really wanted to see him throw the miscreant doctor into the brink.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.