NCIS Review: The Pretender

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Of all the scenes you'd never expect to see, having Gibbs play the part of a street person would be near the top of the list.

The opening of Canary" was well played, with Gibbs scavenging through trash and Ziva doing a valley girl routine on her phone while walking down the alley in stilettos, all in an effort to nab Ajay Khan, the second most sought-after cyber-terrorist in the world. (The mysterious "MC" - who we've yet to meet - was number one).

Canary Picture

Khan was identified as a key player in MC's organization who, as it turns out, was charged with getting an Ebola infestation in place. 

After grabbing him - and more importantly, his laptop - Abby and McGee were able to get an address to a warehouse off of the hard drive prior to it going up in smoke.  The warehouse contained another employee of MC who had died after being infected with the Ebola virus. Upon determining the shipping details of the disease, Gibbs and McGee were able to hunt down the shipment and safely dispose of it. Meanwhile, Ziva and Tony (and improv artist Kevin) worked on overconfident Khan in an eventually successful effort to have him give up the IP address of his boss.

So this time, everyone was back to his/her old self. And Ziva was still learning English language idioms:

Ziva: All warehouses are the same.
Tony: Up there with old houses, churches and prisons. Gives me the willies.
Ziva: Is that the thing where people lick their fingers and them they put it in someone's ear?
Tony: That's a wet willy. | permalink

Last episode's unsure Abby was back on board and on fire, despite her ridiculously wild nightmare hair.

The most compelling aspect of this episode was the character of Khan. Often we are treated to fiends who are just a little less intelligent than the NCIS team. Typically, Abby and Tim sort through the clues, after which the criminal is identified and brought in for interrogation, who then confesses the reasons for his or her behavior. 

Not this time, though. Khan was written to be a canny guy who not only knew his rights, but was able to guess at many of the tricks the team might throw at him to get him to talk. You have to admire the fact that he held on until the bitter end, still doubting NCIS's commitment to send him to Gitmo, even after he puked into a bag while uncomfortably detained on the plane. 

While it was easy to guess that all of the excitement at Gitmo was acted out for Khan's benefit, the most surprising thing to me was discovering that they hadn't gone there at all. Khan was probably one of the most irritating know-it-all smarmy characters to appear on the show, so it was cathartic to watch McGee plow through all of his logic in order to arrive at the conclusion that indeed Khan did know MC's IP address.  

Khan: Who is this?
McGee: Someone smarter than you who's about to hang up. | permalink

Speaking of McGee, it was interesting to see Abby and him working so close to each other as they tried to break into Khan's notebook. And then later on she said "from the ashes, McAbby will rise!" Was that foretelling?

Throughout the episode Deputy Director Craig showed his lack of courage and need to cover his butt, right up until Abby informed him that the anthrax agent could conceivably kill a very large crowd of people. Interestingly, Gibbs didn't give him a lot of grief about it - I suppose because he knew Craig to be self-aware enough to know that he ultimately wasn't suited for the job. Gibbs tends to say a lot when he says nothing at all. Craig reached his own - correct - conclusion:

Gibbs: The job's never done, Jerome.
Deputy Director Craig: No. Which is why I don't think I'm the man for it.....yet. | permalink

A couple of final notes:

  • You may have recognized the actor who played Khan as Vik Sahay.  He played as Lester Patel in the now-defunct series Chuck.
  • The title to this review refers to a couple of themes in the show, but also to a song from 1977 - the year Tony said that music died.  "Free Bird" also came from that year, but wasn't chosen because then you might not have been able to stop thinking about it.
  • As always you're invited to check out our NCIS quotes from this episode.
  • Our NCIS Round Table is up.  Check it out.

What did you think? Were you taken in by the "Gitmo" scenario? Do you have any thoughts about McAbby? What was your impression of Khan?


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (270 Votes)

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



Great episode this week! It was a different episode for NCIS..instead of searching for a dead marine, they are taking on computer hackers-right up ole McGeek's alley!
The beginning had me go huh and then start laughing. Loved the comment that Tony made to Ziva and what she shot back at him. :)
Abby's hair made me go OMG. That's he craziest hairstyle I've ever seen!


This episode was exciting and peaked my interest. I wasn't sure until the end that the whole situation was set up. There were ideas that indicated that it might be.
@sickofwonderziva Every character is important to the team. Just because you do not like Ziva (whom I do like) doesn't mean you have a right to use all the adjectives to describe Tony. NCIS would not be the #1 Hit it is if it weren't for the comedy. Pauley Perrette said on THE TALK that when the show first started, MW said "Let's play this for fun". MW (Tony) believes that there should be that time of comedy in the beginning. If you were a Tony fan, you would know this. No matter what anyone says, I'm proud to be a Tony fan.


I like all of the episode except for the first ten minutes. Why do the writers have to ever so predicatably make Tony look stupid, and fanwank Ziva all the time? It's not even funny. Tony being obnoxious and Ziva getting applause? Why can't they ever let Tony be right and Ziva do something that makes her look stupid in the bullpen for a change? This constantly used formula has gotten so cliche. The super Ziva one punch and Khan was out was ridiculous too, but the writers had to get the obligatory sexy bad ass babe moment checked off the list too I guess. Once we had the Ziva wankage/humiliate Tony moments out of the way, I really enjoyed the episode. Everyone was featured and the show actually had a team feel to it for a nice change. They didn't even have to kill off recurring characters to make this one interesting. The cast and writing (after the first ten minutes) had more old NCIS feel to it and I LOVED that.


I love Abby and McGee together, I caught the McAbby part and I'm hoping they will start flirting with each other again. If they could hop into bed together that would be AWESOME!!!


@tova: I'm with you. This episode just didn't ring true to me; it felt forced and most assuredly contrived. In addition, once again, I find it extremely difficult to believe that Craig is really such a ditz (not to mention a total p*ssy); I can't see him as a low-level agent, let alone the Deputy Director of a federal law enforcement agency. I still think there is something sinister underlying his bumbling, self-deprecating behavior. Time will tell.


I miss Chuck... I always figured Lester would be on a Most Wanted list some day... Not the bet episode, but any NCIS show bets about every other show on the air, just because I love the characters so.


@Doug H Goverment have different IP then Local people


By and large, I liked this episode. Having watched many an episode of "MI", I figured Khan was being conned. Still, it was believable, up to the last few minutes of it -- that all seemed like a bit of a stretch. Nevertheless, it was a good episode. The variety that we have seen from the last half dozen episodes shows NCIS still has plenty of life left in it.


Suz...NCIS is the best thing that has happened to television...I will say I am a very Big fan of the shoe...If the characters were to change in any way it would not be pretty.....the characters and their personslities are what make the show as great as it is......suz get a life!

Avatar is a show.......the people are just actors....if Abby & Dinozzo did not have the per sonalities that they do the

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NCIS Season 10 Episode 14 Quotes

Deputy Director Craig: Congrats Gibbs. You did it.
Gibbs: No. It's a team effort.

Gibbs: The job's never done, Jerome.
Deputy Director Craig: No. Which is why I don't think I'm the man for it...yet.