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



Hmm... This should be a round table question...


How is it obvious? How would you know? How would I know either for that matter? And why would the creators decide to do it? What's so different about this Tony, then the Tony of Season 1. I need specific examples. @Kevin
I don't remember anyone saying that Gibbs should be killed off and that Tony should take his place. Where does it say that exactly?


Ah there is the other thing I don't like is Tony fans always crying that he is nothing but a clown. I like Tony but don't like Tony fans because they act like he should be the star of the show and if it was up to them they would kill of Gibbs and have Tony be the main character. If they made Tony serious all the time he would just be a young copy of the Gibbs character and the show does not need that.


Well I thought the ticket scene made McGee look bad, and certainly not much of a friend to Tony. I get tired of the poor little victim McGee/meanie pants Tony defense when Tim is a butt. Tim's a grown man - if Tony started to take advantage, McGee could grow a pair and tell him enough already. MW is a great ad libber, but that scene was quite obviously highly orchestrated with one objective in mind. To once again demean Tony as the inferior person who no one actually likes. Ha Ha. In the early days, Tony was funny without the joke ALWAYS being on him. The humor was far more spread around. Now the joke is ALWAYS on Tony. I guess I should be grateful that at least they didn't portray him as incompetent as well.


MCAL while I joke around with my brother I never mock him like Tony mocks McGee. IMO what Tony does at times is on the line of being a bully not a brother. Only time he has been there for McGee was in "Probie" Otherwise he picks on him until he goes so over the line he knows and then feels bad.


@Kevin Actually yes. Yes I would. Friendly manner would suggest we are friends and why would I not do something with a friend. Or if we made a big brother/little brother comparison then it would still be yes.


I still don't get what is wrong here? As long as Tony gets the job done (And like I just said he does. He always does.) then what is wrong with him being comic relief. You guys have to explain better why that is and tell me. When has Tony's jokes ever prevented him or NCIS from catching the bad guys? What's really wrong? And don't give the excuse that it is to make other characters look good. He's been like that since season 1. In fact it was actually worse back then. So tell me when, unless there has been the death of an agent or some one close to him or a person who was close to another agent, has Tony not joked around during the series and has it affected resolutions of the case?


To all the Tony fans mad at Tim for not sharing his ticket insider with Tony why should he? Tim was on the mark. Tony's character would abuse it by always bugging Tim to get tickets for him. Also why should Tim help out Tony? He always mocks him and yes while you say it is in a friendly way it is still very disrespectful. He does not do that with anyone else. If someone mocked you but said it was only in a friendly way would you want to do things with and for them?


This was a decent episode. Much better then last weeks which I thought was the worse of the season. Ducky and Jimmy played off each other real well I thought.


I loved this episode. Great Ducky / Palmer friendship. Love McGee and Tony. In regards to Tony, many of Michael Weatherly commic scenes are ad lib by him and he was encouragd to do so by creator DB and all producers since. He is called on NCIS set the "King of Libs". So it might not be the writers.

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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.