No. No, no, no, no, no. Just no. Whoever thought the plot of NCIS Season 15 Episode 18 was a good idea... just no. Wait a minute: this one was authored by none other than Christopher J. Waild!
It's not often that I call out screenwriters, but this same Mr. Waild was behind two of this season's weaker entries, NCIS Season 15 Episode 3, "Exit Strategy," and NCIS Season 15 Episode 10, "Double Down."
Both the aforementioned episodes required multiple characters to make mind-bogglingly poor decisions in order for the plot to unfold. "Death From Above" featured not just that but the protagonists being defeated by their own defense measures!
By the time the credits rolled, I seriously wanted to take this story and throw it into the burning pile in the evidence garage.
Yeah. Because that was the bad guys' plan: bribe an NCIS agent to get them into the Navy Yard so they could sneak into NCIS and destroy the evidence against a drug kingpin.
Because, despite how breathtakingly stupid the plan was, it actually worked! Well, until Mr. Kingpin got arrested for the conspiracy to destroy evidence and all.
I'm sure there are people out there who found "Death From Above" to be a fun diversion, with the various characters Die Harding their way around NCIS Headquarters. I was not one of them.
That's not to say the episode was entirely without merits. It's just that even the good parts felt diminished by, well, everything else. Take this scene from the end of the episode:
It made for an entertaining fight, sure. But the fight made no sense. Gibbs had plenty of chances to take down the villain prior to this point. It felt like he was purposefully taunting the man!
Plus, he armed himself with a heavy piece of pipe or rebar, which instead of whacking the bad guy with, he threw through the skylight. Gibbs is known for his gut instinct, but he literally had no way of knowing if anyone was actually in the squad room at that exact moment.
To be fair, he knew that the response team was on their way there, courtesy of the radio before they climbed on the roof, but why take all the extra steps to eliminate the villain?
I will say that it was gratifying to see Robert Wagner return as DiNozzo Senior, who provided an all-too-brief update on Tony and little Tali (not to mention himself!).
Despite the fact that his presence didn't make sense after the evacuation (seriously, why was he still in building?), his protectiveness of Abby coupled with his impersonation of Ducky worked pretty well.
Better, in fact, than pretty much anyone else on the show! The bad guys never actually realized that Senior was an imposter, after all, unlike Torres.
Rocky Carroll, who directed the episode, also deserves props for making the most of the lackluster script.
Then there was McGee and his technical difficulties in MTAC. The less said about this, the better. I have family who work in IT; while I'm not super-experienced, I do know some things.
Like turning things off and then turning them on again is pretty much Step 2 in IT Troubleshooting for Idiots. (Step 1 is checking whether the device is plugged in.)
And turning your equipment on will not cause a data-destroying power surge. That's what surge protectors are designed to prevent.
Speaking of surge protectors, how in the world did messing with a door control cause a power surge strong enough to light Major Mass Spec on fire? (Couldn't they have slipped an SOS sign in the window instead of blowing things up?)
And will NCIS bill Jimmy and Bishop for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages they did to Abby's lab?
Still, they did provide one of the most entertaining exchanges of the night, with Jimmy demonstrating a rather amusing instance of misplaced priorities:
Jimmy: I mean, I guess I can see how some lawyer could use the confusion of an evacuation to call into question the chain of evidence, but, well, Autopsy *and* Abby’s lab have secure storage. These new rules clearly are written by some out-of-touch bean counter!
Bishop: I helped write the protocol when I was at NSA.
Jimmy: You used the words “evacuation” and “evidence” twice in the same sentence.
I go into each episode hoping to enjoy myself. I want to love every story. In this case, I simply could not bring myself to overlook this one's glaring flaws.
A few final assorted thoughts and notes before I turn the discussion over to you:
- Building a pipe bomb is basic chemistry, not basic physics. What happens when the bomb goes off is physics.
- Cute callback: the sniper Jimmy mentioned when explaining the reinforced window in Abby's lab was none other than Ari Haswari, who took a shot at her in NCIS Season 3 Episode 1, "Kill Ari, Part 1."
- Incidentally, Ari was also responsible for another major incursion into NCIS Headquarters in NCIS Season 1 Episode 16, "Bête Noire."
- "Death From Above" is pretty much a bottle story; these are filmed almost exclusively on standing sets, often to save money to spend on other episodes.
- While the quotable lines were fairly sparse this time around, you can find them on our NCIS quotes page.
If you enjoyed this episode more than I did (and I really hope you did), you can always watch NCIS online.
Tune in on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 8/7c on CBS for NCIS Season 15 Episode 19, “The Numerical Limit.”
What did you think of "Death From Above"? Were you entertained by the shenanigans at NCIS Headquarters, or did you find yourself frustrated? Were you glad to see DiNozzo Senior again, or was his appearance wasted?
Let us know in the comments section below!