NCIS Season 12 Episode 16 Review: Blast from the Past

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It's Old Home Week on NCIS. Sort of.

That's the only way to describe the resurrection of Mike Franks and Jenny Shepard. Or, rather, their undercover legend I.D.s at least.

NCIS Season 12 Episode 16 opened with a mysterious man operating under Gibbs' old undercover alias of Leland Robert Spears. He talking on the phone while moving toward a mysterious destination.

He was then mysteriously gunned down, proving once and for all that talking on the phone while driving is dangerous business.

You have arrived at your final destination.


It's been a while since I used a GPS, but I can't recall it ever using the word "final" – though, at any rate, it was a nice touch.

It was great to see Tom Morrow again, as he and Gibbs worked the case together.

Though the investigation for this episode wasn't nearly as exciting as the last few episodes – now that Mishnev isn't menacing anyone anymore – it was still fun to watch.

The fact that we knew that "The Architect" – a.k.a. Cat Lady – would be the culprit didn't reduce the fun that was to be had in trying to figure out how it all fit together.

It was a good thing they caught her; there's no doubt she was to be next up on the Serbians' Hit Parade.

I'm not sure what the message for this episode was supposed to be. Maybe it was "don't forcibly retire people because they can go all nasty on you if you do."  I mean, she obviously took pride in her work, and felt that she was effectively making art with her I.D. creations.

Why would anyone want her to stop creating just because she hit a certain age?

I liked her almost as much as I liked the Serbian assassin, who complacently copped to all of his crimes, secure in the knowledge he was safe from prosecution because of his diplomatic immunity.

The writer erred in not allowing us to see the look on his face when Gibbs announced he had no such immunity. Or maybe the show just ran out of time.

If there was a weak point in the show, it had to have been Bishop's meandering thoughts about hypothetical situations in which she might have to ignore her marriage vows in order to do her job. What was up with that? Who really cares about hypothetical situations? Why borrow angst from an imaginary future? That subplot didn't make sense.

Bishop went a step further than any of her team mates would have when she asked Gibbs do you think that working undercover for so long affected your marriage?

What was the point of that question? Was this supposed to be a glimpse into Gibbs' past? You would have noticed that he smiled and didn't actually answer but instead told her to go home to her husband.

I like Bishop a lot, but felt she was poorly used in this subplot.

The other subplot – having to do with Tony's angst around meeting Zoe's parents – was left open-ended. The only clue on that was his statement that "meeting the parents....could trigger a whole chain of events," which can only mean he's skittish around the "M" word. Marriage.

I like how he told Abby and McGee to stop judging him. Though we know for sure that Abby has yet to meet Burt's parents (hence she shouldn't judge Tony), it's implied that McGee has yet to meet Delilah's parents. It's hard to know what to make of that.

After everything Delilah's been through, I can't imagine McGee not meeting them at least once. Perhaps this is a plot hole.

We really need to know the end of Tony's thought, however. Is he nervous because he's been thinking about marriage?

I seriously hope not. It's too soon and we need to see that relationship go forward for a while just as it is.

Lastly, we learned about Gibbs' undercover work as Leland Robert Spears. Like any good story, it's better to show it than to just talk about it. And man, we sure did get a lot of talk about his story didn't we?

Next up on the wish list: a flashback to Gibbs' undercover work as Spears. Maybe we'll see it on NCIS Season 12 Episode 17!

Final thoughts:

  • Gallium Nitride exists. I'm always glad when a story like this uses real technology in its plot. It makes it far more believable than any conjured tech.
  • Now that "Ranger Burt" has been mentioned – it's past time he made a reappearance. Same goes for Agent Zoe.
  • Abby and McGee giggling at the thought of Gibbs operating as an "IT geek".
  • The next new NCIS episode airs in two weeks.

What did you think about this episode? Was the premise believable? What are your thoughts about the subplots? Be sure to watch NCIS online and then hit us up in the comments!

Blast from the Past Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (54 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 16 Quotes

McGee: You know something I don't? Working tonight and tomorrow night?
Tony: No, Tim. It's just that Zoe's parents are in town and they want to have dinner. I'm not ready for that.
Abby: So you deceived her.
Tony: I was put on the spot. I was not prepared.
McGee: Whoa. Hey. What are you afraid of?
Tony: I don't know.
Abby: They're probably really nice.
Tony: I'm sure they are. I've just never had dinner with the parents of a woman I'm seriously involved with.
McGee: That's not true. What about Jon Benois?
Tony: No, technically that wasn't me because I was undercover as Tony DiNardo, professor of film studies. I wasn't myself back then. Meeting the parents for dinner could trigger a whole chain of events.
Abby: It's just dinner, Tony.
Tony: You have dinner yet with Ranger Burt's parents? I didn't think so. Then put down the gavel, take off the robe and stop judging, both of you.
Abby: Okay.

Gibbs: You need something Bishop.
Bishop: Nope. I'm good.
Gibbs: Wasn't a question.
Bishop: Deep undercover work, like Tony did years ago. Hypothetically, would you ever put me in that position?
Gibbs: That's tough to answer.
Bishop: I'm only saying....I know the big picture. Eventually, everyone's time comes. And I understand and accept that.
Gibbs: Forget the big picture. Look at everything close up.
Bishop: Do you think that working undercover for so long affected your marriage?
Gibbs: Go home to Jake, Bishop.