NCIS Season 12 Episode 9 Review: Grounded

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The problem with having a near genius I.Q. like Bishop – such that you can memorize an entire textbook in a single weekend – is that your brain can sometimes get overloaded with information.

On NCIS Season 12 Episode 9, Bishop struggled to put a name to the face of a man who bumped into her. Unsuccessfully, as it turned out, until it was a little late in the game.

The Air Marshall's killer ended up being a go-between; a man who could impersonate the Air Marshall long enough to get his gun into the airport, to be handed over to an assassin.

It seems like the writers are having a blast setting up new and different stories on NCIS Season 12. This one – a success in my book – took place mostly at the airport.

Not only did it give us an opportunity to meet Bishop's husband, Jake, but we were able to get a peek into the dynamics of their relationship. He's protective of her, but until this case had no idea what her life at NCIS was like.

I like how he challenged the fake Air Marshal when he was rude to Bishop after bumping into her. It wasn't so much that the man didn't say "excuse me" back (although, come to think of it, who does that as a matter of course?), it was that Jake's perception was that his wife was being dissed. And that was something "up with which he will not put."

Bishop didn't need his defense, but he felt the need to provide it anyway. I think that's sweet.

What an eye-opener for him, though, when he saw that Bishop regularly carries around a gun and various crime gear.

The other cool thing about this episode is we got to see Tony in action again. Without Gibbs to take charge, Tony pretty much lead the airport investigation while the team at the office provided the necessary backup and research services.

When the fake Air Marshall didn't provide the correct groaning response to yet another Tony joke about his last name, I think we all immediately caught on to the important clue. Especially after so recently seeing Jake groan at Tony after he joked about his name.

What's the use of habitually cracking puns if the ability can't be used to crack cases like this? Seriously, without Tony's humor, they might not have caught onto him. Although... perhaps Bishop's memory might have eventually flipped the switch and she would have remembered investigating him.

The writers went to great lengths to make the real killer obvious, however: when the white-haired guy escorted Walking-boot Wendy to the gate and then went back, we again knew he was being displayed to us for a reason. There are very few off-the-cuff inconsequential actions in a series like this.

Speaking of Wendy: I got a laugh out of Tony profiling the couples and various people at the airport like self-important Pete and his Electric Lady, or Daddy-issues Debby and her college professor Marty Midlife.

Tony is much easier to take when his humor is directed outwardly instead of at himself. I feel for him, too, and can't imagine a worse vacation than going to Jamaica by himself where he is surrounded by couples.

Palmer was a tad irritating with his constant droning about coming up with a name for his baby. I like the actor a lot but hate the part he has to play. It's Tony Redux: a grown man playing the part of a clown, such that his colleagues even have to ask him to pipe down.

Final notes:

  • Did you notice the female disgruntled passenger Ruth Potts? She was played by Edie McClurg, who is well known for playing many different supporting roles. While few of them are memorable, she has brought each one to life as no one else can. I was hoping she would have been one of the bad guys.
  • One thing you learn when taking an improv comedy class is that if an offer to do an action is made, you have to do the action. Gibbs was offered the option of doing a snow angel with Abby. The show should have portrayed him doing just that. I felt ripped off.

What did you think of this snowed-in airport Thanksgiving episode? What do you think of Bishop's husband Jake? Do you approve of the way Tony was portrayed in this story?

Be sure to watch NCIS online and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Grounded Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
  • 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (89 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 9 Quotes

Palmer: Well there's Dirk, if it's a boy obviously. Or Oskar, with a "K".
Abby: Oskar Palmer. It's a lot of "Rs".
Palmer: If it's a girl, we're thinking Frieda, Greta, Liesl. Something von Trappish.

Bishop: His gun's gone, Tony.
Tony: Great. We're snowed in here with an airport filled with cranky passengers, a dead fake Air Marshall and his killer on the loose somewhere on the loose with a knife and a gun. Anybody else feel like they're playing Clue?