The good news is that the phone call Gibbs got from Fornell at the end of NCIS Season 12 Episode 11 was not as ominous as many of us thought: Fornell's alive.
The bad news is that he's now having trouble with his grief over Diane – and he refuses to take time off.
The worse news, though, it's not really that bad: this episode had very little to do with Mishnev.
NCIS Season 12 Episode 12 opened with the rescue of a supposed hostage in Syria; a woman who said she had been captured while doing volunteer work at an orphanage.
Only it turns out she had been working with her supposed captors to obtain money from the U.S. government in order to finance their terror operations.
Silly jihadists... were they really that stupid? Did they think America would change their policy on negotiating with terrorists?
Of course, many think that while the government openly states they won't bargain with such enemies, there's a possibility they actually do on occasion, yet choose to cover it up.
Frankly, I love it when NCIS goes off the reservation and deals with exciting cases like this, leaving the dead-body-case-of-the-week stories behind. That burst of adrenaline that hits when Vance rushes into the room, telling everyone that one of the identified home-grown terrorists has just cleared customs at Dulles Airport, is far more gripping than the usual "oh dear, it seems someone is trying to sell faulty vests to the troops" tale (NCIS Season 11 Episode 15).
When watching the latter type of story play out, there's just no need to sit on the edge of your seat. You can sit back and enjoy your popcorn, knowing that NCIS is going to find the perpetrator. You'll relax with the fact that in the end it'll all be just about good old greed. Mildly interesting, if nothing else.
Ever since she-who-must-not-be-named left, the writers at NCIS have really stepped up their game. Even before she left, the stories were beginning to get quite good.
Even when the "A" story doesn't fascinate as it should, the "B" story involving the personal lives of the NCIS team is there to keep everything afloat.
Speaking of the "B" story – what a great surprise to see that Tony has finally left his frat boy days behind for good (which we thought might happen after Abby confronted him in NCIS Season 12 Episode 6) and has gotten serious with Zoe Keates. The chemistry between them in their first scene of this episode was too hot for words.
I like how Gibbs knew from the start, too, but wasn't outwardly obsessing about it the way McGee and Bishop were.
Although inwardly he'd been obviously thinking about it, given his comment of exasperation after they "came out:" It's about time. Geeze.
Back to the case: I suspected almost from the beginning that Sarah was up to no "Goode." She was just too pleasant, too laid back and not at all the frightened captive she tried to portray in her ransom demand tape. The only real question until the end was: what was her game?
Although the common rule of dramas is nothing is ever offered without purpose, I'm ashamed to say I didn't immediately pick up on the fact that Imam Musa ibn Hasan was a target until seeing Sarah Goode show up at the luncheon. Then it all came together: the price on his head, the plastic gun deal, and – of course – Sarah showing up.
Knowing she was likely one of the bad guys made me look at her closely, especially during her last interview with Gibbs. She practically telegraphed her grief at him when he informed her that White had killed himself. Why wasn't Gibbs' radar up? Why didn't he pursue her more closely at that point?
- I'm curious about the nature of Fornell's "undercover work" – work that necessitated him shaving his head bald.
- I can't wait to see more of Zoe Keates. She is such an intriguing and – let's face it - perfect match for Tony. I like how she blithely announced he was going to treat them all to drinks. And I like how he just acquiesced so quickly. The man's in love.
- We've been seeing more of the profiler coming out in Ducky recently – an addition to his bag of tricks that works well for the team.
- It seems that no one can truly keep a secret from the NCIS team. Not from the investigators with their uncovering of Sarah Goode's secret, and not from the gossip mill with their stalking of Tony.
What did you think of the episode? How early in the show did you begin to suspect Sarah Goode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! Remember - if you need to catch up, you can always watch NCIS online.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.