It can be rough being part one of a two (or more!) part story.
It's easy to get relegated to set-up, with all the excitement reserved for the back half of the story. NCIS Season 14 Episode 15 didn't exactly escape that, unfortunately.
To be fair, it's a bit more complicated than that; there was a more-or-less self-contained plot for "Pandora's Box, Part I" in the less-than-fake terrorist attack that was an attempted assassination.
The connection to the follow-on portion on NCIS: New Orleans, however, depended on the rather impressively coincidental timing of a hack that resulted in the loss of Homeland Security's terrorist response playbook.
After all, Mr. Vengeance-Murder Homeland Security Aide didn't hack the playbook.
I could complain about the fact that Alex Carter's Homeland Security boss was so stupid and careless to make such a thing vulnerable in the manner he did, but that part was sadly believable.
As was his equally-stupid attempt to cover up the part he played in the breach.
Reeves: We spoke to your wife. She said you were at the office all night.
Gibbs: No nookie!
So, the loss of the playbook was a complete coincidence that just happened at the same time that some other Homeland Security guy decided to use an overly-complicated strategy to murder the guy responsible for the death of his parents?
Those who were hoping for a full-on crossover episode with NCIS: New Orleans were likely sadly disappointed, as NOLA was basically relegated to a mere couple of brief video calls in MTAC.
And even those came relatively late in the episode!
This episode was fairly Abby-centric, with a focus on her impressive abilities and qualifications (which have repeatedly been established over the years).
While I do appreciate this, Pauley Perrette got weirdly over the top and narmy when talking in the third person about being "Evil Abby." Though I did enjoy the image provided by this exchange:
Abby: This is my nightmare! The only thing missing is Vance riding in on demon wings to fire me!
Torres: Well, that makes sense.
Abby: I usually wake up when his mustache turns into a snake.
Furthermore, I want to express my pleasure in further developing Abby's character, even in small tidbits like mentioning how she'd see Earl Goddard at church.
We rarely get to see our principles in situations outside of the office, so I liked having a little peek.
Another positive were the hints of potential character development for both Quinn (a very brief mention of "family issues") and Torres.
While I haven't seen the back half of this story, I have hopes that we might learn something interesting about Torres and his undercover issues. Plus, I liked that Gibbs immediately assigned McGee to keep an eye on Torres and watch his back.
Whenever going undercover comes up, Torres reacts like an addict, so it made perfect sense to make sure that Torres didn't fall right back into the rather dangerous behaviors Gibbs has worked to fix.
One thing that confused me repeatedly throughout the episode was Clayton Reeves's involvement. After all, he's on the international desk, isn't he? And yet, he spent the whole episode acting like a member of Gibbs's team for some reason.
As far as I could tell, Reeves had no real reason to be a part of the initial investigation, other than the fact that he's on the main cast and his desk is just on the other side of the wall from Team Gibbs.
The potential theft of the Homeland Security terrorist response playbook (or similar MacGuffin) has played out on numerous other series. I distinctly recall, for example, such an episode of Elementary.
Since that theft served as the setup for the story crossover with NCIS: New Orleans here, though, I wish it had played a bigger role in this episode.
As it was, the fact that the theft of the playbook and the (not) fake terrorist attack were pretty much unrelated resulted in a somewhat disjointed episode.
A few final thoughts before I turn the discussion over to you:
- Did any viewers believe for more than five seconds that Earl Goddard was actually responsible for the not-fake attack?
- I could listen to Lucas Black talk with that 'Bama accent of his all day long.
- Anyone else wish that David McCallum had more to do in this episode?
- Remember: Reeves is not really an NCIS agent. He's still MI-6, as far as I'm aware.
- Speaking of Reeves: for the record, his actor, Duane Henry, is indeed from Birmingham.
- Check out our NCIS quotes page for some of the notable lines from this episode.
If you missed this episode, you could always watch NCIS online to catch up! And don't miss the review for the second part of this story, NCIS: New Orleans Season 3 Episode 14, "Pandora's Box, Part II."
Meanwhile, tune back in on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, at 8/7c on CBS for NCIS Season 15 Episode 16, "A Many Splendored Thing."
So, what did you think of "Pandora's Box, Part I"? Was Evil Abby terrifying or ridiculous? Who stole the terror playbook,? Will Torres have the undercover blues again? Let us know in the comments section below!