NCIS Season 14 Episode 11 Review: Willoughby

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Happy New Year, fellow fans of NCIS! I hope you enjoyed the holidays, because we're leaping right back into things with a thorough downer story on NCIS Season 14 Episode 11.

This episode finally delved into the mysterious Operation Willoughby, to which we had only been given the vaguest of clues prior.

Pretty Face - NCIS Season 14 Episode 11

There have been some questions as to whether there would be a long-term story arc this season – certainly, this business with Chen lays that to rest.

It would have been nice to have learned about this apparently notorious Super Evil Criminal before now, but we can't have everything.

It was nice that there was at least some prior establishment (however vague) of Operation Willoughby, but Chen's sudden introduction as a Napoleon of Crime-type villain came off as a bit abrupt.

The decision to kill off Rafi Silver's Qasim seemed a bit harsh for the character, especially given what he'd already gone through and survived in his first appearance on NCIS Season 12 Episode 21, "Lost in Translation."

Furthermore, I felt more than a little cheated in that we had only just learned about Bishop's relationship with Qasim a few episodes ago, on NCIS Season 14 Episode 8, "Enemy Combatant."

We barely got to see them together (and they were actually pretty cute, too) before blam! he was dead.

I would also like to point out that the fact that Qasim died to further Bishop's and the team's storyline over his own smacks of unfortunate implications.

Bishop and Qasim - NCIS

Specifically, a trope known as "stuffed into the fridge," which involves a one character dying or suffering for the sole purpose of affecting another character.

"Fridging" can be the result of writers in search of a cheap and easy way to create Drama and Angst with the protagonist.

I don't know the motivation behind the decision to kill Qasim, but it definitely did not make me very happy.

Bishop: I just don’t know how to say goodbye to him.
Reeves: Maybe you could close your eyes, and remember everything good.

I imagine that the very vocal subset of folks who dislike Ellie Bishop also have a thing or two to say about this episode, especially since both B plots involved her, compounded by the fact that she seemed most obviously to be prying into Reeves's private life.

While I have no specific antipathy towards her as a character, that behavior did come off as a little... stalkerish. To make it all a bit more weird, no one called her on it, either, though we did get this:

Bishop, I’ve been listening to you for the last ten minutes, and I *still* don’t know what you’re saying.

Gibbs

The more important character development to emerge from this particular B-story was the reason why Reeves volunteered for the suicide mission that was Operation Willoughby.

Apparently, the guy is a huge loner and he didn't want any of the NCIS family to put their own lives at risk of likely death.

Because they're a family (and apparently not federal agents who put their lives on the line everyday just by coming into work?).

While Reeves's argument was actually specious, it did say a lot about him as a person and clearly indicated that despite his apparent willingness to sacrifice himself, he actually desperately seeks the sense of connection that the team shares with each other.

Gibbs, being Gibbs, recognized this and pointed out that he's not actually alone. That scene at Gibbs's house was one of my favorites of the episode.

I was also reminded of a certain very famous fictional MI-6 agent who shares a similar backstory to Reeves, particularly as loner orphans who willingly volunteer for apparent suicide missions...

The grand "reveal" that Agent Moreau was a mole, meanwhile, left me unsurprised, as well, since she was played by Claudia Christian (who I remember quite fondly as Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5).

I rather suspected Moreau of perfidy from the moment she popped up on the screen in MTAC, so it pretty much drained any sort of dramatic tension out of the mole hunt.

Of course, had I been a fan of The 100, I might have recognized Neil Sandilands as Hendric Kruger (the South African agent), so maybe Moreau's guilt may not have been so obvious to me.

Ultimately, I suppose I found this episode just a bit unsatisfying, but I would imagine there are many out there who would disagree with me.

A few final thoughts before I turn the discussion over to you, my friends:

  • My father assures me that stropping a razor should be done before shaving, not after.
  • The reveal of Claudia Christian's character as a traitor was doubly amusing as her Babylon 5 character actually replaced another character who was originally slated to be a traitor.
  • The story of the Navajo code talkers in World War II is a fascinating one, and well-worth a read.
  • Reeves yelling "Paul! Paul!" at the flatlining pilot was unintentionally hilarious (in a black humor sort of way). It's not like the guy was asleep. His heart stopped.
  • Qasim apparently got hit by magic bullets that are capable of making 90-degree turns in midair.
  • Check out our NCIS quotes page for some of the notable lines from this episode.

If you missed this episode or want to watch it all over again, you can always watch NCIS online. Meanwhile, the series will take a week's break before returning on January 17, 2017 at 8/7c on CBS with NCIS Season 14 Episode 12, "Off the Grid."

What did you think of "Willoughby"? Were you satisfied to discover what the mysterious operation was all about? Did Qasim's sudden demise serve the show, or was it pointless? Let us know in the comments section below!

Willoughby Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (117 Votes)
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NCIS Season 14 Episode 11 Quotes

‘You think you’re alone in the dark. Close your eyes. Remember everything good.’ My mom said that to me just before she died. Smart lady.

Gibbs

Bishop: I just don’t know how to say goodbye to him.
Reeves: Maybe you could close your eyes, and remember everything good.