NCIS Season 14 Episode 20 Review: A Bowl of Cherries

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What do ransomware, cryogenics, flip phones, family photos, and twelve-hour ribs have in common? Each played a role in NCIS Season 14 Episode 20.

It all started when a Navy admiral's personal laptop was compromised by the aforementioned ransomware. And yes, ransomware is unfortunately very real.

Gibbs' Flip Phone - NCIS

A relative of mine who works in information technology pointed out, however, that networks do not work that way; infecting one computer on a network will not magically infect all the computers on the network.

Otherwise, then all computers ever connected to the Internet would be constantly infected with malware all the time. (A lot of malware requires, for example, clinking on a link or opening a document.)

To be fair, the lack of understanding about how technology works isn't anything new for TV series like this.

We still laugh over an episode of CSI: New York in which an "access point" somehow broke through all the lab's security and downloaded all the information from the computers. An access point that was built into a suit jacket, no less.

Bruce Boxleitner made a welcome return to NCIS as Admiral Chase; he previously appeared back in 2010 in NCIS Season 8 Episode 7, "Broken Arrow."

Forty-one years in the Navy, I have never surrendered to the enemy. I’m not about to start now!

Admiral Chase

This line reminded me heavily of Boxleitner's role of Captain John Sheridan in Babylon 5 in the mid-90s. Sheridan was big on "no surrender, no retreat" (though that time the stakes were literally the fate of the galaxy).

Here the ball got rolling because of Admiral Chase didn't want to lose his family photos, cherished memories of his late wife. To that end, he literally committed felonies in order to properly motivate McGee to help.

I'm glad that they brought back a familiar face in Boxleitner instead of some random victim-of-the-week (that dubious honor fell to Clint Asher).

Clint Asher was haunted by the past with the return of the Elliot virus he had created in college. I still question how he was able to get out of the building without getting caught. Didn't they say he worked for the CIA? Isn't the building secured?

It's also rather perplexing that he didn't just explain his problem to our NCIS heroes. What was he afraid of? Sure, he made the virus in the first place, but it's not like he was going to get fired over it.

The virus was created when he was in college; he was booted from college, and he was recruited after that. So surely his employer knew about the incident. Right?

While watching the team struggle with the "ancient" technology was comical, their complaining and difficulty strained credulity after awhile. Yes, it was played for laughs, but...

I'm younger than most of them, and I was raised in a tech-savvy household, and I still wouldn't have nearly the trouble they had with such things as communicating, navigating, and photographing without their precious smartphones.

Beyond that, this was not the first time this sort of thing has happened as a plot point on NCIS. I recall an episode where there was a widespread power outage, forcing the team to rely on legacy technology.

(For the record, it was NCIS Season 7 Episode 8, "Power Down.")

Here's a question: what's Reeves's actual job at NCIS? MI-6 liaison? International intelligence coordination? Escorting grumpy veterans? Doing whatever Gibbs wants at the moment?

The case itself proved fairly pedestrian, despite the exotic elements like cryogenics. The perpetrator was a would-be scientific innovator who clearly belonged in a mental institution over a research lab.

In case you're wondering, one of the key reasons cryonics doesn't actually work to preserve living people is that ice forms inside cells; any significant intracellular ice formation is highly destructive to cells.

McGee: Mr. Hackett? The password, please?
Hackett: And if I refuse?
Gibbs: A shower! A cold one!

Please be sure to check out our NCIS quotes page for some of the notable quotes from this episode!

The best part of the episode, by far, was Quinn as she struggled with her mother and the realization that her mother's deteriorating mental state would only get worse.

The scene in which Quinn had to remind her mother that her father had been dead for three years... proved remarkably emotional. Heart-wrenching, indeed.

And the way Quinn's mother later described it...

It’s like a window that keeps closing a little, and a little bit more everyday.

Marie [on losing her memories]

Anyone who has struggled with a relative suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's understands the agony of their loved one slipping away a little more everyday.

Can Quinn balance looking after her mother with her stressful, high-pressure job at NCIS? What would be the best choice in the long run?

The use of A Streetcar Named Desire was very well played: the Tennessee Williams work ends with Blanche taken away to a mental hospital after a breakdown. The bit about always depending on the kindness of strangers comes from that scene.

Finally, the concept of the past tied pretty much every part of this episode together. The team struggled with old technology; the ransomware virus created years ago; Admiral Chase's family photos; Quinn's mother's memories.

For a look back at previous episodes, be sure to watch NCIS online. Meanwhile, NCIS takes a brief hiatus, with next week off.

The show returns on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 8/7c on CBS with NCIS Season 14 Episode 21 "One Book, Two Covers."

So, what did you think of "A Bowl of Cherries"? Was it emotional or merely going through the motions? Let us know in the comments section below.

A Bowl of Cherries Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (58 Votes)
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NCIS Season 14 Episode 20 Quotes

Vance: You intentionally infected an NCIS agent with a computer virus?!
Admiral Chase: I was trying to motivate him.
Vance: By committing a felony? Five felonies!
Admiral Chase: Look, I meant to send it to Tim only.
Gibbs: Viruses spread.
Admiral Chase: Look, are you going after me, or the hacker who started this?
Gibbs: We can do both.

Forty-one years in the Navy, I have never surrendered to the enemy. I’m not about to start now!

Admiral Chase