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TV Review: NCIS – “Witch Hunt”

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“Witch Hunt” is the NCIS Halloween show aired conveniently enough on Halloween. The festivities open with Dr. Leslie Burke (Susan Diol) carving a pumpkin in the kitchen of Marine Sgt. Erik Niles (David Earnest). Sgt. Niles enters the kitchen in costume (Gen. George Custer) with a fake arrow protruding from his shoulder beneath the left collarbone, a fake hatchet buried in his right shoulder, and a real bullet wound. He collapses and the plot, clear as blood, is on its way to a simmer.

Meanwhile, at headquarters, the NCIS team is variously preparing for the All Hallows celebration. Special Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) is dapper in coat and tie ignoring the holiday due to its magnetism for strange criminal happenings. Mossad Agent on loan Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) flirts with DiNozzo as he educates her Middle Eastern sensibilities on the finer points of the Western pagan tradition.

Special Agent Tim McGee (Sean Murray) is threatening to attend a role-playing soiree as a magic elf with a Redskins cheerleader he met at an Armani store and discovered she played role-playing games on the same server as he did. DiNozzo and David’s discovery of McGee’s costume and the ensuing heckling were just getting started when Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) rounds up the crew for an investigation at the Niles’ residence where “Gen. Custer has been shot and has a dead skeleton in his living room.” Previously discussing Halloween with David, DiNozzo finds himself vindicated in his fear that “strange things always happen on Halloween.”

The team arrives at the residence and find Gen. Custer dispatched to the hospital and the dead skeleton on the living room floor. Back at the morgue, Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) declares the dead skeleton’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the neck, but needs Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) to aid with identification, though the gothic princess is nowhere to be found. Agent Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) enters the room to announce Abby is indeed in-house and in-costume.

DiNozzo and McGee gallop to the lab to find a brilliantly tattooed and platinum Marilyn Monroe a la The Seven-Year Itch. DiNozzo, for once, is speechless; McGee is in frozen apoplexy. Once recovered, McGee provides the fetching Abby with photos of the dead skeleton and Gibbs calls DiNozzo to let him know the authorities have a party participant who may have seen the kidnapped and kidnapper. Gibbs wants the photos to show the wife, Laurie Niles (Katie A. Keane), accompanied by her sister Rebecca Biddle (Cheryl White), for identification. It is during this period that the team discovers that Laurie and Erik Niles are estranged. The blood begins to pop.

Back at the crime scene, questioning the party goer, DiNozzo and McGee discover car tags from where the car allegedly containing the kidnapper and Sarah Niles ran over pumpkins whose pictures were bewitchingly transformed into a partial license plate number by the delectable Abby. The car was identified and then determined stolen. Gibbs and Ziva continue to search Laurie Niles' house when the kidnapper calls and demands his ransom. Gibbs questions Laurie Niles, who denies knowing the dead man, but does so while protesting too much.

Gibbs is suspicious that Laurie is hiding something and questions her more deeply with her sister outside the room. He questions why her husband has moved out of their house and she reveals that she had a fling with an old boyfriend shortly before their marriage and the paternity of her daughter Sarah was in doubt. Her husband Erik found out when the old boyfriend, Robert Miller (Scott Michael Campbell) showed up wanting a paternity test. The team locates Robert Miller and crashes his party in a major way. The car used in the kidnapping is parked outside of Miller’s house and things look very suspicious. Gibbs is notified and leaves Laurie Niles and her sister in the care of Ziva. Laurie and her sister retire to a bedroom and escape through a bedroom window. Boy, is Gibbs pissed.

Back at the station, Gibbs is questioning Robert Miller and discovers he had nothing to do with Sarah Niles’ disappearance. Ducky reasons with Ziva that Laurie may be trying to protect Sarah for some reason. During Miller’s interrogation, Gibbs receives a phone call from Abby who has identified the dead skeleton and also found Robert Miller’s address on a burned piece of paper found in the trunk of the stolen car used to transport Sarah. The dead skeleton was found to have worked as a security guard for Kapp and Associates Law Firm who also happened to employ Laurie Niles as CFO. The team makes their way to the law firm and discovers Laurie and her sister under gunpoint by an unknown man. He is forcing her to enter the law firm’s computer system and transfer money out. At the point of funds transfer, Gibbs shoots the kidnapper and sends Ziva and DiNozzo to find Sarah, which they ultimately do and notify Gibbs. Gibbs tells Laurie that NCIS has her daughter and Laurie proceeds to giver her “sister” actually a woman in cahoots with the kidnapper, as ass stomping rivaled only by Ziva extraction of flesh from the Iranian intelligence agent in the episode, "Shalom".

"Witch Hunt" by far is the best-plotted episode of NCIS, currently in its fourth season. It was humorous, compelling, and further developed Gibbs' personality, particularly his relationship with his memories of his lost family. The episode had great humor between Ziva, Tony, and Tim, while Abby stole the show with her over-the-top Marilyn costume. This was the first 10/10 episode this season.

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About C. Michael Bailey

I am sanctified and Southern fried, My mama tried and daddy cried; I tell the truth 'cept when I've lied And I like my huevos on the side...
  • hello.
    Could you tell me what Mary Matilyn Mouser’s part in this episode was?
    She plays Jethros daughter and I would love to know what the flashback was this time.

  • Dear Heidur:

    Mary Matilyn Mouser appeared very briefly at the end of the episode when Sarah Niles was being taken trick or treating in the NCIS office by Abby. Gibbs was not visible and Lauren Niles was asking Tony to thank him.

    Gibbs was on the walk way to the Director’s office watching Sarah interact with the staff and Mary Matilyn Mouser;s image was juxtaposed over Sarah Niles. The effect was compelling as we can expect more regarding Gibbs’ family.

  • Abby’s costume was great.I just loved how McGee was drooling over her. I really enjoyed this episode, has to be one of my favorites.

    I enjoyed the review!

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