NCIS: Season 9, Episode 12

Housekeeping (3 Jan. 2012)
"NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service" Housekeeping (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Comedy | Crime
8.3
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Streets kids discover the corpse of a navy commander whose car crashed. He had been shot fatally, while driving, from pro-sniper distance. Thus the team finds missing, almost presumed-dead ... See full summary »

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Title: Housekeeping (03 Jan 2012)

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Leon Vance (credit only)
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Streets kids discover the corpse of a navy commander whose car crashed. He had been shot fatally, while driving, from pro-sniper distance. Thus the team finds missing, almost presumed-dead NCIS special agent Erica Jane 'EJ' Barrett. Tony must guard her in a safe-house, both being probable targets of the elusive but extremely deadly Phantom unit, whose member Casey Stratton is recognized on a neighborhood security recording. Their boss, Sean Latham, maintains Stratton's innocence to the navy secretary and meets to pass on the safe-house. Written by KGF Vissers

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3 January 2012 (USA)  »

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Special Agent Jethro Gibbs: I don't kill innocent people for money.
Casey Stratton: So why do you kill innocent people?
[singing]
Casey Stratton: South of the border, down Mexico way. That's where I fell in love. Where the stars above came out to play.
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Too Much Like Port-2-Port
3 January 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I think the NCIS writers are running out of ideas. Several old ones get rehashed in this episode.

Namely, a military Special Forces officer recruited into a secret ops unit to kill bad guys but who then turns on his fellow Americans and starts killing the good guys. Here, it's Stratton (Scott Wolf). Before, it was the P2P killer.

Also, federal agent suddenly can't trust even her closest friends and goes on the run. Here, it's E.J. Before, it's any number of episodes, from both "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles." You can also see it in "Criminal Minds" "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" when Goren went undercover to get his job back and nearly got killed by Eames.

And, finally, SPOILER ALERT: Killer finds NCIS safe house and blasts it only to find the target(s) in question weren't there. Here, of course, it's Stratton again. Before, it was Rivera (Marco Sanchez). The only cliché worse on this show (and its spin-off) is faking the death of bad guys who were forced to be bad because they or their families were threatened.

Anyway, in this episode, Stratton (aka Capt. Wolf) is still hunting E.J. who disappeared from the scene where he gunned down Cage and DiNozzo. Gibbs finds E.J. and puts her in a safe house with DiNozzo while he forces SecNav to get Latham to set Stratton up.

Needless to say, we all should known Latham's fate after this.

Overall, the show was rather average. In some ways, it was below average. There was no real tension. Even when Barrett made her grand entrance, you could see it coming from a mile away.

Abby and McGee really seemed to be wasted this time around. Ducky was almost on hiatus, while Director Vance must have been on vacation (hard to imagine Gibbs being able to interrupt SecNav's lunch without getting an earful from the director).

As for the finale, that was embarrassingly stale. Latham, before meeting his doom, tells Stratton where E.J. and DiNozzo are hiding. Stratton heads there, blows up the house with a rocket and then is herded by Gibbs, Ziva and McGee into a roadblock filled with heavily-armed SWAT and FBI agents. He smugly gives up, thinking Tony and E.J. are dead.

Gibbs then calls them and Stratton blanches to know they're still alive.

I would, too. SecNav and Latham both say Stratton was a top-notch Special Forces officer. A top-notch officer (any SpecFor officer, for that matter) would have cased the house to make sure the targets were there. This isn't some grieving corrupt Mexican cop who thinks his sister is already dead and is going to fire at anything that moves.

But, we should have expected it. The episode began with a Navy commander crashing full-speed into a parked car in a quiet neighborhood. He had been shot in the neck and killed. E.J. had been a passenger in the same truck and Stratton had been in a passing vehicle taking the shot. Two kids hear the crash and arrive on scene in seconds, yet Stratton's car is nowhere in sight on a straightaway street.

Even more puzzling, E.J. is nowhere to be seen either. If the killer was after her, he would have or should have seen her fleeing the truck. At the very least, he should have scoured the streets to look for her until he heard sirens. Yet, he allows her to escape on foot in a suburban area and then loses track of her until the last few minutes.

Finally, at the end, when Gibbs talks to a chained Stratton, he says he and Stratton are nothing alike. He doesn't kill innocent people.

Stratton then says he knows about Mexico, somehow inferring that the drug dealing father of Rivera and Paloma Reynosa was innocent. Of course, one can hope the writers finally got original and are setting us up for something else. Yet, Mexico has been done to death, what with Col. Bell, Reynosa, Rivera and Mike Franks. They need to pick another part of the world.

Perhaps all this time at no. 1 in the Nielsen's has made the writers soft. Maybe Mark Harmon, as executive producer, is coasting on his laurels while he devotes his creative energies to blasé dreck like "Certain Prey" and "Weathergirl." In this episode, the only remotely interesting thing is that Tony and Ziva begin making subtle romantic overtures to one another. Even here, unless it's done carefully, it's liable to come off clumsy (clue: watch the early years of "Cheers" and not the later years of "Moonlighting").

Here's hoping Harmon and company get back to the good stuff quick.


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