Last season was a turbulent one on NCIS. The show was faced with the challenge of writing off the character of Ziva David and adding the character of NSA analyst, and new NCIS “probie,” Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop (Emily Wickersham). While the finale is usually a cliffhanger, last season NCIS instead paid homage to the death of actor Ralph Waite, who portrayed Gibbs’ father, Jackson Gibbs. It was an emotional episode that, in my opinion, is hard for true fans of the show to forget.

This season of NCIS kicks off with “Twenty Klicks,” which finds Gibbs and McGee going to Russia to bring home an NCIS computer specialist with classified information when their mission goes awry.

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From Russia, Without Love

We start off in a cafe in Moscow, Russia, where a man drinking tea, Sergei, is confronted by two sinister looking men. They accuse Sergei of supporting terrorists such as bin Laden and Ari Haswari. It turns out that Sergei and Ari, Ziva’s brother, were friends, and that Sergei is very interested in NCIS, especially Gibbs. In fact, Sergei’s men have been following an NCIS agent who is in Moscow.

Meanwhile, back at NCIS, Vance is concerned about Kevin Hussein, their systems administrator, who went to visit his sick uncle in Moscow. While Kevin was making arrangements to bring the body back to the US for burial, he suspected he was being followed. Hussein was spooked and went to the embassy and now needs an escort home because of all the classified information that he knows. The Secretary of the Navy knows just who she wants for the job — a less than elated Gibbs.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Tony and McGee try and come up with some excuses for why they cannot accompany Gibbs to Moscow, while Bishop eagerly volunteers. Since only senior agents have clearance, she is out of the running. After a professional game of “rock, paper, scissors,” McGee is the lucky winner of an all-expense-paid trip to Russia!

At the American Embassy, Kevin is thrilled to see McGee and Gibbs. They board a Navy helicopter, and of course, this is Kevin’s first helicopter ride. Gibbs offers Kevin some jerky when he gets air sick. That is the least of their worries when they are targeted by a surface to air missile, and they sustain a hit. Yikes!

Danger in the Darkness

Back at NCIS headquarters, Tony, Bishop and Vance are briefed in MTAC about the helicopter’s last transmission. Vance has a tense chat with Mr. Pavlenko, of the Russian Embassy, who denies any knowledge of the event. Pavlenko assures them that search planes will be going to the heavily forested area for “recovery.” Tony and Vance bristle and tell Pavlenko that it is a rescue mission.

After the crash, Gibbs has to shoot at circling wolves in the darkness. This mission must be cursed. Gibbs also tends to the wounded pilot, Banks, who informs him that they are about 20 clicks from Finland. McGee has no luck re-starting the radio but thinks that he can rig something up to send out a signal. Kevin is worried that a signal will lead whoever shot them down to their location. Gibbs demands to know who was following Kevin. They hear vehicles approaching, and the pilot urges them to leave her behind. Gibbs, being the honorable man that we all admire, refuses.

Sergei and his men approach on foot and ask the pilot about Kevin. She tells them that the other passengers were thrown out in the crash. Sergei decides not to waste a bullet on the pilot and opts to let her bleed out. What a charmer Sergei is! He leaves one man behind to search for something. When he doesn’t find it, he turns his attention to the pilot, right before Gibbs kills him.

Gibbs talks to Banks and asks about her family. She dies and Gibbs gently removes her dog tags to give to her mother. Suddenly, Sergei’s voice is heard over the mercenary’s radio. Gibbs, McGee and Kevin suit up and head for higher ground, hoping to get a radio signal. 

Abby Finds a Clue

Abby keeps listening to the mayday recording, hoping to find a clue that will help locate their missing team members. Abby is able to identify the type of missile with the help of her friend who is an anti-aircraft gunner. The type of missile that was used was stolen from Libya by a Russian mercenary group. The helicopter went down over the expansive Kola Peninsula.

Poor Ducky has the job of notifying Kevin’s family that he is missing. Ducky goes to see Vance after having a disturbing conversation with Kevin’s sister. She was unaware of his trip to Moscow, and she believed that her uncle’s lung cancer was in remission. Ducky discovers from the embassy that Kevin had his uncle’s body shipped to a funeral home nearby. Ducky makes arrangements to get the body to NCIS. What could Kevin possibly be hiding?

Ducky and Palmer discover that Edgar Hussein died from two gunshot wounds. If Kevin shot him, shipping the body home and being the only person authorized to receive the body would ensure him getting away with it. Ducky removes a micro disk from Kevin’s uncle’s body.

Confession is Good for the Soul

It is daylight now, and Gibbs has lost all patience with Kevin and his refusal to cooperate. That is, until Gibbs withholds water, and Kevin starts singing like a canary. He was approached by Sergei a couple of months prior and offered money for information pertaining to a weapon. Kevin agreed, but when he went to deliver the goods, he backed out of the deal. He found his uncle shot to death. Kevin inserted the micro disk, which contained a computer virus that could attack defense systems, into his uncle’s corpse. Kevin thinks that since no one will get the body, everything is peachy keen. McGee and Gibbs are furious now that Abby and the rest of the team are in danger because of Kevin.

Abby tries to access the disk, but puts up plenty of protection, and follows what she thinks McGee would do. The virus blows through all her precautions, and now Abby is in a panic. The virus is accessing all the computer systems, and even the phones. Miraculously, McGee is finally able to call Tony to warn them not to open the disk. Kevin is about to try and figure something out when they come under fire. Luckily, Bishop gets their coordinates. Tony hops on a plane to go and get them. Bishop, meanwhile, with her husband’s NSA contacts, gets a satellite feed that shows three men headed toward Finland’s border, but they are being pursued by others.

Fight to the End

Kevin receives a bullet wound, and I must say, at this point, I don’t feel bad for him because of all the mayhem he has created. Gibbs uses his sniper skills to help them get away. Sergei and his men are in hot pursuit of the NCIS team as they head towards Finland in the darkness. Gibbs orders Kevin and McGee to keep going while he stays behind to slow them down. McGee wants to do it, but Gibbs refuses. In the darkness, a vehicle approaches and it is Tony. Before getting in the vehicle, Gibbs shoots Sergei.

Vance tells Gibbs that Sergei Mishnev, an international mercenary, survived. Sergei’s plan with Kevin was to get back at NCIS for Ari Haswari’s death. Gibbs takes Sergei’s picture and sticks it on his wall, vowing to find Sergei.

I liked this NCIS episode, and I enjoyed seeing McGee out in the field, getting involved in the action.

NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Kim Stempel

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Kim has been covering television entertainment since 2013. She is addicted to Real Housewives, Pump Rules, Dancing with the Stars, and many more shows.