NCIS Season 15 Episode 14 Review: Keep Your Friends Close

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After fourteen and a half seasons, it's actually surprising that they hadn't already used the famous "Keep Your Friends Close" phrase as an episode title. Welcome to NCIS Season 15 Episode 14!

This story answered lingering questions about the fate of long-standing favorite recurring character Tobias Fornell after Gibbs's testimony during the Gabriel Hicks case.

Forced To Work Together - NCIS

In a surprising subversion of probably all expectations, Fornell actually landed on his feet, starting up his own private investigator business and apparently doing well enough for himself to afford some nice technology.

That made it a rather bitter pill to swallow when it was revealed that Gibbs had been avoiding Fornell ever since the trial, out of guilt in knowing that his friend had been right about Hicks all along.

The sudden reunion made things very uncomfortable for Gibbs, to be sure. "Entertaining" isn't quite the word I'd use to describe his squirming, but there was definitely some satisfaction when he finally 'fessed up.

And while Fornell expressed understandable anger over Gibbs hiding the truth, it would've been all too easy to draw out the estrangement between the two characters, milking it for the sake of drama.

Honestly, I'm glad they didn't. Fornell and Gibbs make up one of my favorite on-screen non-romantic duos. They don't always get along, but they manage to work things out even while sniping at each other. (Sometimes literally.)

Storytime with Abby - NCIS Season 15 Episode 14

There was a brief, and frankly slightly baffling subplot with McGee playing super-agent... by drinking excessive amounts of caffeine-laden Caf-Pow!, Abby's signature drink of choice.

If they were going for a serious point about McGee overextending himself at work and at home, then they missed the mark with the comical treatment during the "intervention" scene.

On the other hand, if they were trying feature some sort of funny gag, it didn't land there, either, since that sort of behavior actually is worthy of concern in reality!

McGee, you’re like this giant hamster on this giant guilt wheel! You have to get off of it!


The manner in which McGee just brushed it off with a "Fine, I'll just stop drinking Caf-Pow!" just appeared oddly abrupt, especially given that it wasn't mentioned again in the episode.

It's possible it will become a more significant plot point in the future, but at the moment it's simply an oddity.

The Case of the Week that brought the Dynamic Duo of Gibbs and Fornell back together felt like pure filler as if they were killing time before getting back to what we were all waiting for: Gabriel Hicks, the switch-hitter.

That's not to say that there wasn't anything to recommend the A-plot -- those two moronic crime scene clean-up guys in the interrogation room comes to mind. Plus Fornell getting to try out his Taser.

Fornell Needs Help - NCIS Season 15 Episode 14

The writers tried to muddy the waters in terms of the suspect pool by making the actual killer a hired gun who had no personal beef with the victim. It worked... sort of.

By the time the episode near its end, there were few options for who hired the killer and why. In fact, only two: Hathaway and the wife. Since Hathaway was the one with the obvious grievance, it had to be the wife.

Tony DiNozzo probably would've called it five minutes in. (Of course, he always suspected the spouse first!)

The actual drama of the case really rested in the tension between Fornell and Gibbs and the giant elephant in the room.

Joe Spano clearly had a riot playing Fornell, who spent a lot of the episode totally in the dark as to why Gibbs was clearly avoiding him. Even Vance got in on the fun.

Couples therapy is not in my job description.

Vance [regarding Gibbs and Fornell]

Be sure to check out our NCIS quotes page for a rundown of some of the notable lines.

If you find yourself going through withdrawal during the hiatus, you can watch NCIS online! And don't miss the conclusion, NCIS Season 15 Episode 15, "Keep Your Enemies Closer," on February 27, 2018, at 8/7c on CBS!

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

  • Hicks' lawyer actually has no basis to complain about supposed harassment of her client. They were merely following and observing him, well within the provisions of law enforcement.
  • Extreme caffeine addiction does not improve performance at work. Jitteriness and lack of proper sleep, as one might guess, do not turn a person into a super-agent.
  • Who else was just waiting for the lawyer's car to blow up right on cue?
  • I'd like to mention one more time for the record how much I love Fornell and Gibbs, and how glad I am that they are talking again.
  • If Hicks is responsible for the lawyer's death, as we're clearly meant to think, he may well regret it. Look up the term "revealing cover-up," and you'll see what I mean.

What did you think of "Keep Your Friends Close"? Were you glad that Gibbs and Fornell made up despite everything? Did the explosive ending leave you anxious to find out what happens next?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Keep Your Friends Close Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (57 Votes)
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NCIS Season 15 Episode 14 Quotes

Gibbs [enters in a hurry]: He’s right behind me, and you gotta say no!
Vance [confused]: Say no to what?
Fornell [enters leisurely]: Director! It’s good to see you.

Gibbs: Tobias? What the hell’s going on?
Fornell: What’s going on? You got me fired!