On NCIS this week, Gibbs was surprised when he found out a murdered man had been using one of his old covert identities from years ago.
That revelation was only the tip of the interesting iceberg on NCIS Season 12 Episode 16, as a few more old identities also cropped by, courtesy of the services of a retired CIA woman who had resurrected these IDs.
Below, TV Fanatic panelists Kathleen Wiedel, Christine Orlando, Tanya Moat and Douglas Wolfe gather to discuss all of the above and a lot more. Ready to jump in to the debate?
What was your favorite scene or quote from the episode?
Kathleen: I loved the scene where Gibbs walks into the office building in his undercover guise and McGee is trying to feed him all sorts of technical gobbledygook to say to the guard, and Gibbs totally ignores McGee and does his own thing... which works perfectly.
Christine: I actually liked that they brought up Tony DiNardo and how he fell in love while undercover. That was one of my favorite storylines and I appreciate that its place in Tony’s history is not forgotten.
Tanya: I enjoyed all the callbacks, from Tom Morrow to Tony DiNardo, too. This show has such a rich history, and I love that they don't forget it either. My favorite scene, however, was the same as Kathleen. Gibbs was hilarious as an IT guy. He may not know technology (4 hours!) but he knows people.
Doug: I enjoyed the scene where one of The Architect's cats was rubbing up against Gibbs' leg. Though he claimed to not have a problem with it, you could tell he was distracted.
Was there any scene which struck you as odd or wrong?
Kathleen: I was slightly bugged by Bishop's apparent hangup on the whole "deep cover" concept. There's been no indication whatsoever before now that any of them would be going into a deep cover, after all, so her concern seemed a bit unwarranted.
Christine: I agree, Kathleen. Her obsession on the subject seemed very odd. No one has asked her to go undercover, never mind a long term, deep cover operation. She seemed inordinately worried about being asked to do something she wasn’t comfortable with.
Tanya: I have to concur with everyone else. Bishop's concern seemed so out of place. I expected to find out that she was working a super secret, undercover mission that Gibbs and team knew nothing about.
Doug: Let's make it unanimous. That part didn't fit with the episode at all. It made no sense to me.
What do you think of the premise that a foreign country would recruit spies, give them undercover IDs and then start killing them?
Kathleen: It sounded like an awful lot of investment for such a little payout. It's not like gallium nitride is hard to come by, after all. The stuff is grown commercially, for heaven's sake!
Recruitment and training of skilled intelligence agents isn't cheap, so you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. Killing your own spies should be an option of last resort, especially if you're unable to kill them without drawing undue attention.
It was the death of that first spy that ultimately led to the collapse of the whole operation in this particular episode. I'd imagine the foreign spymaster who orchestrated the plan was probably fired... with prejudice.
Christine: I honestly found the making of the ID’s themselves and the ID maker the most fascinating part of the story. The need to kill the spies seemed a bit convoluted.
Tanya: I never completely understood the rationale of the killer. None of the covers had been compromised, so why kill them now? It didn't make sense to me. I also didn't quite understand the Architect's motivation. She was bored?
Doug: Kathleen summed it up best for me as well. Killing is a messy business, which just begs for the police to start investigating your covert operations. Why take the risk?
As for the architect, I don't think she was bored so much as deflated after being forced into retirement.
Is Tony getting ready to take a few steps backward in his relationship with Zoe?
Kathleen: I sure hope not. We've all seen Tony have relationship issues before -- it's time for something new. He's 40-something now, and it's well past time for him to go forward in a mature, serious relationship.
Christine: Meeting the parents is always a big deal and since Tony’s never actually done it before, I could understand him being skittish. But as Kathleen pointed out, he’s not a kid anymore and it’s time to man up if he wants a real relationship with Zoe.
Tanya: I have enjoyed Tony's maturing and regression would be really irritating. Meeting the parents is a big deal and it's understandable that he'd be anxious, but it just seemed more like a step back versus a step forward. We really don't know much about their relationship, so I'm not sure what our take-away was supposed to be with this little tidbit.
Doug: Tony is lying to his girlfriend now, just because he's nervous about meeting her parents? Seems someone can't seem to shake that immature frat boy persona that I was sure we'd left far behind. It's ridiculous and represents a step backward in Tony's character development.
Sure, let's let him lose the girl over this, and maybe we can put a beanie hat on him and some clown makeup and we can all go back to old times.
Gibbs as an IT geek. Were you able to reconcile the apparent dichotomy between that and his technophobia?
Kathleen: As Gibbs clearly demonstrated, he didn't have to know a thing about computers to pull off his cover as a computer technician. What he does know, as he told McGee, is people. No matter how advanced our technology gets, people don't fundamentally change.
Christine: I loved that Gibbs is still able to surprise his team. His inherent talents and instincts helped him far more than understanding technology. Of course if he was more proficient with a keyboard perhaps he wouldn’t have been stuck there half the night.
Tanya: He was great and believable. Gibbs has his fabulous gut, so he knows how to read people. It would have seemed off if he was suddenly a computer whiz and not nearly as fun. Given his trouble finding the CAPS lock key, he probably had a migraine by the time Abby and McGee talked him through it.
Doug: Gibbs seemed more believable to me as an older IT geek guy who'd received a late night phone call than he would have had he tried to come off as an Abby or McGee. That said, I still don't see how he had a covert I.D. as an IT geek all those years ago and yet today is somewhat of a Luddite around computers.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.