It's a truth universally acknowledged that there are good episodes of television and bad episodes of television. But there are also the bland, unmemorable, taupe episodes of television.
NCIS Season 15 Episode 6 fell squarely in this category.
While this marked an improvement over the cringe-inducing pain of the preceding installment of the series, it won't likely make anyone's top 10 lists.
The Case of the Week drew much of the focus of the episode, featuring the murder case of a Navy petty officer who moonlighted as a golf course groundskeeper.
The victim's pastime on ham radios played a key role in sussing out the motive in his death, and ultimately the culprit(s). Most real-life ham radio operators are normal folks, not the extreme paranoid introverts like Ricochet.
I actually know a number personally, people who are members of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), a national organization that provides communications support during disasters.
Your dork machine is ready for action.Torres [regarding a ham radio]
Yes, they're real, and they play a very important role in disaster response and don't get nearly the credit they deserve.
On a side note, having met a number of working law enforcement dogs and seen them perform demonstrations, I can say with some certainty that a real-life drug dog would not jump aggressively when scenting drugs, as Benjy did.
Maybe dogs just don't like McGee. It wouldn't be the first time in this series, after all.
The highlight of the episode was Torres's brief undercover sting as the cartel enforcer. Was it predictable? Sure.
But it was also entertaining to watch him so completely fool the woman into giving away El Gato, her boss in Mexico.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that Torres came to the team from undercover work, and that he initially had a great deal of trouble getting used to the whole new investigative mode of the MCRT.
The case itself didn't stick out a whole lot. I set my sights on the Sand and Turf owner early due to her rather obvious jumpiness and wariness around the agents.
Throw that in with the pointed noting of the repeated calls from the business to the victim, and they became the prime suspect in the murder. It did make me wonder, though, how one goes about cleaning up the sand trap that's now contaminated with cocaine.
The less-than-innocent veterinarian mildly amused me, with Gibbs getting to the truth in typically swift fashion.
This brings me to one of my two big beefs with this episode: the way Sloane was shoehorned in to help everyone do everything everywhere. She popped in on Abby, she helped McGee, she assisted Gibbs...
I understand: she's a new character, and they want viewers to get to know her as quickly as possible.
But when this comes at the expense of the rest of the cast -- specifically, the characters suddenly acting as if they need her help to do jobs they've done for years -- that's when it becomes annoying.
This is not a complaint against Sloane or Maria Bello. I'm just not sure that the character is necessary. Though she did provide this little gem, perhaps a friendly dig at fellow CBS drama Criminal Minds:
Sloane: He’s 45, chubby, and lives with his mother.
McGee: You can tell all that?!
Sloane: No. Profiling doesn’t work that way.
My other big complaint about this episode came courtesy of the other subplot involving Torres's mistakenly large donation to Jimmy Palmer's charity.
I have a great deal of admiration for the hard work of the many, many non-profit groups that do so much wonderful work for so many people. I personally know some fantastic people who do great things through charitable organizations.
But I did not like the heavy-handed emotional blackmail that NCIS engaged in at Torres's expense. Charity should be given freely, not out of guilt or shame.
Jimmy's non-profit group clearly did amazing work. But neither Torres nor the viewers should be made to feel bad about wanting a cool motorcycle.
Plus, what if the accidentally-large donation actually caused Torres cash-flow issues? After all, he doesn't have a nice rent-controlled apartment like McGee.
Finally, I want to wrap things up with a note about trailers and advertising for this episode that majorly played up the reveal that Sloane had a past with psy ops. In the episode proper, the only ones who care were Reeves and Abby.
Abby: You… you don’t know what I think!
Sloane: You betcha, I don’t.
Seriously, folks, just because someone was involved in psychological warfare does not mean that she's going to use it on her coworkers! That would be like saying that because Gibbs was a sniper he would kill his team!
Though, to be fair, Gibbs does like sneaking up on people...
What did you think of "Trapped"? Did you note the punny title? Did the case keep you engrossed? Are you curious about Sloane's past? What would you do about the $5000 donation if you were Torres?