NCIS Season 17 Episode 17 Review: In a Nutshell

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Dollhouses and de-cluttering wouldn't seem to work together.

But those two topics were both jammed into NCIS Season 17 Episode 17.

The dollhouses certainly weren't your usual dollhouses. These were more gruesome.

A Disturbing Find - NCIS

As Ducky so eloquently explained, they were "nutshell studies of unexplained death," popularized by Frances Glessner Lee and used to train homicide detectives.

Of course, Kasie knew exactly what he was talking about. From their time together working on Ducky's book, those two are simpatico.

Spooky Find - NCIS Season 17 Episode 17

Gibbs was instantly able to diagnose each crime scene, quickly earning Claire's help when they needed it most and breaking the case wide open as a result.

Still, a lot was going on before they got to that point. Even one of the clueless kids at the beginning popped up again to complicate the investigation.

Brandt, Noah's killer, did an excellent job in muddying the waters to slow down NCIS.

Fischer, the local detective who failed to solve Noah's parents' murder, didn't cover himself in glory, attempting to obstruct NCIS's investigation and generally acting suspicious.

Instead of coming forward and offering what evidence and insights he had, he started looking into Noah's murder on his own, even asking Noah's boss Brandt to keep quiet about Noah's death.

Outside Help - NCIS Season 17 Episode 17

Then he was openly belligerent to Gibbs and Bishop when they tracked him down to question him about his interference. He just saw Gibbs as another fed trying to obstruct his investigation.

In the end, he was just a guy out of his depth. The O'Donnells' murder was the crime that continued to haunt him, and he tried to look after Noah and especially Claire, who needed all the help she could get.

And it turned out that he had just been working with the wrong feds, as Ducky got him the exhumation he needed so he could continue to attempt to solve the O'Donnell parents' murder.

Then there was poor Claire, who seemed to have fallen through the cracks despite the effort of Fischer and other sympathetic townfolk.

She had become the town's bogeywoman, who everyone was quick to blame after news of Noah's death got leaked.

Difficult Investigation - NCIS Season 17 Episode 17

As long as Claire was MIA, she could be considered a viable suspect.

But once Gibbs tracked her and talked her down, it became clear that she was just a sad, grieving woman who was now all alone in the world.

Claire had never gotten past her parents' death, which led to those nutshell studies, which seemed creepy at first glance. But Claire was just self-training herself to solve her parents' murder.

The dollhouses seemed more innocent then. Well, somewhat, anyway.

Jack attempted to shrink her way into Claire, but it seemed like Claire was just humoring her. Jack was not the first therapist that had tried to help Claire.

Back in the Field - NCIS Season 17 Episode 17

At least Jack gave Gibbs sound advice, telling him to try to get through to Claire before "you act like you." She was subtly telling him that intimidation isn't the best approach with everyone.

Claire said she killed Noah when in truth she just blamed herself for his death.

Noah got involved with the nutshell studies as a way to reach Claire. But he did it too well, finding the flaw in a crime thought solved, 

Gibbs got through to Claire by solving her studies, including the one that no one else got. That also led him to Noah's killer.

Yelling at Lookie-loos - NCIS Season 17 Episode 17

Noah had asked the wrong person, his boss Brandt, for help in solving the crime he had discovered. Brandt killed Noah to keep him from telling what he'd learned, then staged the crime scene to spookily echo his parents' murder.

Should we have suspected Brandt earlier? Probably not. He was pointing the finger at Claire, just like most of the townspeople.

All in all, it was an intriguing case of the week.

Not so the decluttering storyline.

Admittedly, I don't get the whole Marie Kondo craze. "Just keeps what brings you joy" seems like a pretty reductive way to look at life.

Checking Evidence - NCIS Season 17 Episode 17

I'm all for team-building exercises. But everyone had a different viewpoint of what Marie meant.

Not surprisingly, Gibbs didn't participate. He stripped his life down to the bare basics years ago. And the man builds boats in his basement as a way to cope. Nuff said.

Torres spent all that time undercover. So he's used to living a fairly minimalist lifestyle.

Whatever possessed McGee to let Delilah decide what gives him joy? McGee is an uber-nerd, and she wanted to give away all the pieces of his past, which he valued. Someone becoming an old married man wants to hang onto his youth.

Bishop's purge wasn't all that surprising, despite everyone's need to psychoanalyze her.

Bizarre Case - NCIS Season 17 Episode 17

Ellie's had hard times lately. Her husband betrayed her, and her last boyfriend got shot and killed. Now she's stuck with a commitment-phobe in Torres.

So how wrong was she to get rid of stuff that reminded her of these rocky times? But Gibbs was right to point out that it's possible to go overboard when trying to forget.

The text from Odette at the end was enticing. That makes you wonder how often she and Odette get together and what they've been doing.

And how long until we find out? There's not much left to the season.

To revisit Ellie's hard times, watch NCIS online.

Who did you suspect of Noah's murder?

What did you feel for Claire?

What's your thoughts on decluttering?

Comment below.

In a Nutshell Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (19 Votes)

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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NCIS Season 17 Episode 17 Quotes

McGee: What was Delilah thinking?
Torres: I don't think she realizes you're 11 years old.

I don't have a lot of stuff. The stuff I have I like.

Torres [to McGee]