NCIS Season 12 Episode 5 Review: The San Dominick

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Is McGee a bona fide leader? Or an impressionable puppet?

While you decide, I'm going to go with the latter.

NCIS Season 12 Episode 5 provided us with an opportunity to see Agent Abigail Borin teamed up with Gibbs and Tony again, as they took part in a training exercise.

Tough luck that their outing was ruined by the discovery of a dead body floating in the water near their ship.

Also: what astounding luck to find that dead pirate in such a large body of water! And especially to find it 60 nautical miles away from the ship from which it fell!

Hey, it could happen, right? Super Gibbs with his Superman vision could easily spot it. (I'm trying hard to keep a straight face here.)

While it was a fun episode to watch, the hits just kept on coming - and many of them were telegraphed.

Let's begin with the captain. Despite his knife wound, his explanation of the pirate takeover had the word "LIES" written all over it. He was sketchy from the get-go. So it didn't come as much of a surprise when he was caught at the end.

Then there was the "engineer" who was shadowing the first mate. Gibbs saw through him right away because of his canvas shoes. Those of us not versed in maritime protocols can be forgiven for missing that, but not for missing his suspicious behavior the entire time, especially as he practically stood on the first mates toes everywhere he went.

I understand that the viewer has to be given clues so as to not accept everything at face value, but maybe we can be assigned a certain level of intelligence and not be fed the whole thing. Maybe a little can be left to our imagination. It enhances the surprise once the secret is revealed.

McGee was fun to watch as he assumed not only the mantle of "boss" at NCIS HQ but also the spirit of Gibbs as well. He fulfilled his duties well, but in doing so became a carbon copy of Gibbs. 

This is great if that's the goal, but not so great if we want a guy who can think for himself. Adopting Gibbs' mannerisms just means he's impressionable and probably views Gibbs as a hero to be emulated. That's not leadership material - that's the qualities of a sycophant. A follower who adores and mimics his boss.

This brings us to "Rule 70." It wasn't a bad rule as rules go, but I have to agree with Abby on that one. The rules aren't his to make.

"Keep digging till you hit bottom" almost sounds like fluff, until you parse it out a bit. You could easily just say "don't give up until you've got what you came for."

I thought at first he just pulled the number 70 out of the air. Turns out I'm wrong, as there is indeed a rule 69. ("Never trust a woman who doesn't trust her man"). So rule 70 was indeed the next one in line.

Final thoughts:

  • The case itself could have been fleshed out more. The premise was great, having to do with a cartel trying to move their money to countries with sketchy banking laws; and a captain who originally conspires to steal one of their shipments and share it with a pirate, only to turn against him in his greed. We only got to see the tail end of that, though.
  • We didn't see enough of Borin in this episode.
  • Bishop's character as a "by the book" woman was solidified. She reads voraciously, and memorizes everything. So, by her estimation she should have passed the training test. It bugs her (though it doesn't bug anyone else, including the viewing audience) that she didn't pass it. She is completely linear, so her major weakness is revealed: she can't easily think in abstract terms.
  • There was mention once again of the Kobayashi Maru. I have to admit: I love when writers use this now-classic Star Trek reference.  We saw this also on The Big Bang Theory Season 4 Episode 7 when Penny said Kirk cheated. Yes, he did, and Bishop figured that since Gibbs was the only one to ever pass the training test she endured, he cheated as well. Interesting that she was all gung-ho to confront Gibbs, until Tony and McGee set her straight. She seems truly to be a kind of Sheldon for the NCIS team.

Now it's your turn. Were you impressed with McGee's leadership? Were you able to suspend disbelief and enjoy this episode?  Be sure to watch NCIS online and then let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Here, meanwhile, is your first look at NCIS Season 12 Episode 6, "Parental Guidance Suggested."

The San Dominick Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (77 Votes)

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 5 Quotes

Abby: Gosh I just got chills.
McGee: Why is that?
Abby: You're just changing, right in front of our eyes. Your gruff manner, your clipped replies. You're no longer McGee. You're McGibbs.
McGee: What? That's....wait, what?
Bishop: It's true. Ever since Tony put you in charge, you're like...channeling him.
McGee: Stop it.
Abby: You got it. Boss.

McGee: Rule number 70 - keep digging till you hit bottom.
Abby: McGee! There is no rule 70.
McGee: Well, I--
Abby: You just made up a rule. This McGibbs thing has really gone to your head. I don't even recognize you right now.