NCIS Review: 101 Uses for a Dead Mole

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This week's Ducky and Palmer Show was a welcome change from the usual NCIS storyline. 

They were forced to take a slight "Detour" when the accomplices of the dead Navy mole kidnapped them in an effort to try and figure out where he hid a USB thumb drive that contained sensitive information. Ducky employed his knowledge of corpses to figure out a plan of escape and, after Palmer shot one of the spies in self-defense (only to find out he was wearing a bullet-proof vest), they were rescued by Gibbs, Tony, Ziva and McGee.

Palmer and Ducky Picture

I expected to be bored with this plot, but found myself intrigued instead. 

The idea of the two medical experts using their expertise to foil their kidnappers was inventive and different. Relying on the gastric acid from the corpse's stomach to burn through their leg irons was smart, as was their plan to escape the kidnappers by placing a cigarette butt with gauze in an oven in order to produce an explosion. 

I have no idea how the latter idea was supposed to work, but have to imagine some other body fluid from the corpse was key to that as well. This episode was pretty much a MacGyver entry almost all the way through: emptying the corpse's heinous stomach contents in order to clear the room so that Ducky and Palmer could hatch their plan was brilliant.

The same can be said the re-engineering of the body's hearing aid to create a sort of microphone, which was used to listen in on the spies' plans.

I thought the explanation for the mole's suicide was sketchy at best: he had gotten into a fight with the husband of a woman he was seducing in order to access military secrets, after which police began to notice him. 

So instead of meeting his handlers as planned, he stumbled over to a plumber's truck and chugged down some drain cleaner. Ziva's explanation that his secrets would otherwise be exposed seemed barely logical. If the authorities caught him and discovered that he was impersonating a Navy officer, and if he was then renditioned or sent to Guantanamo, perhaps his secrets would come to light. 

Those are big "ifs," though - certainly not threatening enough for a spy to want to kill himself. Wouldn't the more rational choice have been to figure out a way to pose enough lies to buy some time?

Ducky and Palmer's innovation was once again admirable when they concocted the idea of the spy having swallowed a gym locker key in order to protect his secret, knowing full well that the key was to Palmer's own gym locker. I laughed when I saw the female spy pull out Jimmy's jersey with his last name emblazoned on the back.  Good plot twist there.

Palmer is such a gentle soul too, isn't he? His plan to "take a stand" and use one of the kidnapper's guns to take down their enemies was engaged when he emptied the gun at one of them. His imminent PTSD was curtailed once he realized that his target had been saved by his bullet-proof vest. Sort of a win-lose dichotomy. ("Hey, I didn't kill anybody. Darn, he still wants to shoot us.")

Missing from the picture was Director Vance and Deputy Director Jerome Craig. Also, Tiva. No sparks there at all: I know. I checked.

The most compelling scene of the episode was Jimmy Palmer's adamant refusal to leave Ducky to the mercy of their kidnappers. 

Palmer: Doctor, I respect you more than anyone in the world, so please forgive me when I say - go to hell. I'm not leaving you. | permalink

What was your take on the episode? What did you think didn't work? Do you think we'll ever find out what country/ group was behind the mole? Did you buy the idea of the mole committing suicide to protect his secret? Did you find this episode boring or engaging? 

Note:  Our NCIS Round Table discussion is up!


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (273 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter



@MCAL I look up what Mcgee was doing and it is Illgeal to resell tickets and to give someone tickets for free. @Guest
Maybe now he is because the people on the show hate him but back in season 1 and 2 he was written as Gibb right handman now that go to Ziva Hell everything go to Ziva and that what people are bicthing about not just for Tony but Gibbs Abby and Mcgee have all been made stuipd to make Ziva look super.


why the hell should tim help tony out with tickets? tony would just bug him to death and bully him into getting them all the time.
liked ducky and jimmy together. they actually act like they like each other. unlike others on the team.


Tony has a serious side and appreciate when we can see that he has compassion, depth and is less glib- that being said, most of the time he is glib and sometimes it is overdone taking away from the plot, but most of the time there does seem to be a balance; some shows like NCIS LA allow the joking and glibness like Kenzie and her partner to get in the way of the plot and the character development which is why I very rarely watch the show; good to see Ziva dressing up more in bright colors; love Ducky of course.


@Michael What the hell are you talking about?! Tony found out cause Ziva and Palmer (and whoever that other guy was) gave it away. Or what? Just cause I found out a secret kept from me, I should go to jail. Logic! Logic! Logic! Use some of it before you make a post and everyone can criticize it.


I am beginning to hate Tony (and I really like him) just because of his fans on this site. They hate anything and everyone that make him look less then perfect in their eyes, including the writers. Tony is written as an outlet...a breathe of air...a release to the heavyness of a crime drama, not written to look bad because of any other character. Good or bad, this is who Tony is and will ALWAYS be, so stop hateing on him, McGee, Ziva, Gibbs and everyone else. Have favorites....fine...but stop the hating of the other characters.


I agree it made mcgee look very immature and selfish and looking into it what he was doing could be consider a crime


BTW, I don't think that Tony will ever be anything but immature when he feels like doing so...its part of his charm, and I know a lot of men who are very much like him. They're funny, charming, damaged, sexy and a huge pain in the rear, but when the chips are down, they are THERE for the people they love, no questions asked. Gibbs realizes Tony has his flaws and his eccentricities, and the way that he deals with them is to use the Gibbs slap to the back of the head to keep him in line and keep him focused.
I believe that viewers love this show because of the variety of realistic, wonderful characters that inhabit it, and because justice is served by the end, and all is right with the world, which is very satisfying.


I loved this episode because it contained lots of scenes with one of my favorite three characters, the holy trinity of Abby, McGee and Ducky! Dr Mallard is just a marvelous character, played superbly by David McCallum. Like Sean Connery, McCallum is still a vital and intriguing man who will never lose his sex appeal or his wonderful witty talent. And I don't blame McGee one iota for keeping Tony from his ticketing pal, because Tony would, indeed, abuse whatever privilege that McGee showed him. That's Tony's way, he's immature and takes advantage because he was raised by an immature man. I think that Tony's being humorous is one of the show's saving graces, because in the midst of death and mayhem, Tony manages to keep everyone together and rolling their eyes, if not laughing at his stupid jokes or immitations or movie quotes. And I though Jimmy Palmer aquitted himself rather well in this episode. Good for him.


Also, shouldn't the number of fans be going down if the characters are becoming worse. If what TPTB are doing things and the number of fans continues to rise, why should they change anything? I think people just have to accept the characters for who they are as long as more fans keep on comming. This goes for anyone of course.


Nice to see a Palmer centered episode, though I was expecting Palmer to get killed off the entire episode because Plamer has hardly ever appeared in an episode for the last season or so, ever since he started getting married, and when he was there he didn't do much of anything. It was good to see Palmer featured promiently for once and actually contribute.

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NCIS Season 10 Episode 16 Quotes

Palmer: Oh my God.
Ducky: What?
Palmer: I just realized that I missed my nine-month wedding anniversary. Breena's going to kill me.
Ducky: You do know I have a heart condition.

Doctor, I respect you more than anyone in the world, so please forgive me when I say - go to hell. I'm not leaving you.