It’s the second to last episode of the season and it looks like the stakes are getting high. The team is recovering from the events of last week and Gibbs of course is in full determination gear. It looks like NCIS is back on its game, going back to its darker roots from the earlier episodes of season 12. While this might mean heartbreak along the way (and I mean a lot of heartbreak), the show has definitely made significant improvement.
This week’s episode picks up from the “To Be Continued” from last week and reminds viewers of the sadness that took place. The team deals with the aftermath of the bomb set off by Bradley Simeck while blowing himself up with it. It’s revealed that Bradley was manipulated by a terrorist cell called ‘The Calling’ who recruit children through chat rooms and online games and convince them to commit acts of terror. Very heavy territory for NCIS to tread, and it only gets heavier from here.
The team discovers Sadiq Samar, a leading member of The Calling who resides in the D.C area. Samar killed Agent Wilt with the weapon Bradley Simeck gives him. Gibbs and the team find a young boy, Luke, when looking for Samar in one of his bunkers. Luke was beginning to be manipulated by the group by making him feel like he was nothing. Gibbs of course tries to help Luke and ends up having to show him some tough love, which of course means that Gibbs really cares about you.
The investigation leads the team to several places, including Cairo where a conference held by Interpol is taking place. They also learn about Matthew Russo, a supposed head of the terrorist cell in France. McGee and Dorneget are sent to Cairo to meet with an Interpol agent to find out more about Russo. Back in the states, Gibbs meets with arms dealer Agah Bayer (from many episodes ago, I can’t remember which one exactly) to have him help track down extremely dangerous land mines that ‘The Calling’ are looking to buy. At the end of the transaction, Agah Bayar says to Gibbs, “Are you making a deal with the devil, or am I?” This line sticks out like a sore thumb and clearly foreshadows the lengths that Gibbs is willing to go to stop this terrorist cell, and the end of this episode solidifies this theory.
Now here comes the hard part. The re-appearance of Agent Dorneget in last week’s episode was hopefully a nice surprise for NCIS fans (at least this NCIS fan). It’s always a treat to have recurring characters pop up, especially in this case because Dorneget had really come into his own while still maintaining his geekiness. He provided the right amount of humor for an episode that deals with some pretty dark elements. That’s why his death at the end of this episode was heartbreaking, and of course the writers set it up so it would be. While McGee is interviewing Russo, he finds out that there are bombs at the hotel where Dorgenet was stationed, which is also where the conference that Interpol is holding was. Dorneget is able to evacuate a good amount of people but gets caught in the explosion that ends up killing him. A really hard loss, especially since Dorneget was becoming an important part of the team and made huge progress as an agent.
But then we meet Dorneget’s mother who is a CIA agent, and it’s suggested that she’s going to help NCIS stop the terrorist cell. While that is a very interesting and welcomed addition to the end of the episode, it still doesn’t make up for the sadness of Dorneget’s death. But that whole sequence, while heartbreaking, was a masterful piece of television and just shows that NCIS shouldn’t be counted out just yet. Yes this season has had many issues but so far the final episodes have been strong and have gone back to being daring, which is a very necessary move. And of course Gibbs is going to face his own demons once again, especially since at the end of the episode he sees the images of all the people he’s lost along the way, and Dorneget is at the center of the group
My one qualm with the turn of events is that the writers only brought back Dorneget just to kill him off. Yes he was an expendable character, but it did feel like that the writers mainly did this to make the stakes high. And of course it worked, it just brings up the question of when is it okay to kill a character off, and according to this episode it’s when something drastic needs to happen in order to increase danger levels for the main characters.
Despite this nitpicking, it’s undeniable that NCIS has been making a comeback with these last two episodes. They almost make you forget about that whole Sergei Mishnev mess. Of course arguments can be made about how this storyline should have been the main arch of season 12 (and I agree with those arguments), but it’s still a major improvement from where the season seemed to be going. It’s hard to say how the season is going to end, but there’s no doubt that the writers have something big planned for the season finale.