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'NCIS' recap: 'Homefront'

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Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson via CBS


TV Show
Action, Crime
run date:
Mark Harmon, David McCallum, Pauley Perrette
Current Status:
In Season

Wait, did they just…? Is Agent Fornell actually…? Gah! Why do you do this to us, NCIS?

When we left our crew last week, turncoat MI6 agent Jacob Scott had killed former NCIS head Thomas Morrow and then escaped. But before we dive into the “to be continued,” let’s tackle tonight’s standalone case. When Marine Master Sgt. David Marshall is redeployed to Iraq following a security threat, he tells his 14-year-old son, Henry, to take care of his mother and baby sister. “Protect them for me.”

Cut to David cowering in a closet with a gun, having just shot a man during a home invasion. The bullet grazed the intruder, and one of the police officers who responds to the call says this is her third smash-and-grab of the week.

Thankfully, Abby finds a DNA match to Micky Doyle, an ex-con with ties to the drug trade. McGee shows Henry a picture of Doyle, and Henry confirms that he’s the home invader. (“That’s not how you do a lineup,” offers the defense attorney I’m married to. But hey, an ID’s an ID.)

Abby’s not just solving crimes this week, though; following Morrow’s memorial service, she creates #LivingRocks to celebrate people before they’re gone. “I’m a little bit afraid that people might think I’m talking about an actual rock that’s alive, although that would be really exciting, too,” she says. Anyway, she compliments Gibbs for catching bad guys and being “a man of gleaming silver hair” (TRUTH) and McGee for lighting up a room as fast as he can ping a phone. Gibbs asks her to please “hashtag get to the point,” and Abby’s staggered that he used “hashtag” in a sentence.

But she hashtag does, pointing out that fingerprints and ballistics from the gun match Henry’s story. What doesn’t match is when he got the gun. It wasn’t that morning as he claimed but two days earlier, according to the log on the family’s safe. To figure out why Henry lied, McGee — who knows a thing or two about growing up with a father deployed overseas — takes Henry out for a burger to discuss the mix of anger, sadness, fear, and pride that comes from having an absent, active-duty parent. (“Serving on the homefront is a very different thing,” as McGee tells Gibbs.)

Henry confesses that a few days ago, he saw Doyle murder someone in an alley, and he took his dad’s gun from the safe. So yes, the break-in was to silence Henry. But they don’t know how Doyle tracked Henry down. Consequently, the Marshalls head into protective custody, and the agents head to the local police station to talk about open murder cases. (The head detective, Det. Swanson, is played by Pete Gardner, a.k.a. Darryl Whitefeather from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and I must say, not having him sing about how having a daughter is weird was a terrible waste.)

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Abby and Bishop strike out at the murder scene, which has no traces of blood anywhere. Also, Abby celebrates Bishop eating like Paul Bunyan and having a heart as big as he did, too. Bish in turn celebrates Abby giving great hugs, and Abby celebrates Ducky for inspiring dead people to talk and living people to listen. #LivingRocks, or as Ducky refers to it, “Anthropomorphic​ stones, how curious.”

Henry’s able to ID the victim when a body’s pulled from the river, and Det. Swanson confirms that the victim was part of the area’s escalating drug problems. The team finally locate Doyle’s RV and find him dead inside, along with the murder weapon. His RV is a pigsty, which puzzles Abby in light of the clean alley. She realizes it was scrubbed with a professional cleaner and then covered up with alley grime, and the person who did that probably also killed Doyle. 

In short order, the team realizes that a police officer accessed nearby traffic cams to track Henry, then sent Doyle to take care of him. Thankfully, it wasn’t Det. Swanson because that would’ve broken my musical-loving heart. Instead, it was the officer who responded to the home invasion and was in league with the local drug dealers.

NEXT: Um, things don’t look so good for Fornell


In addition to solving the crime, Bishop was also digging into the situation with Henry’s mom, Anne. Despite 15 years of experience, Anne’s not able to practice law in West Virginia because the state’s bar doesn’t reciprocate California’s. “It’s not right, Gibbs,” Bishop argues. “When troops fight for their country, their families do, too. Anne Marshall, all the military spouses out there, who fights for them?” 

“We do,” Gibbs replies.

Bishop suggests they contact Joining Forces, a real initiative that supports military veterans and their families. But of course, Gibbs has already made that call. He meets with a Naval officer to explain the situation and encourages him to expedite the transfer of Anne’s professional certification across state lines. They both agree that Joining Forces is making headway in helping military families in situations like this.

Speaking of, Gibbs gets summoned to a special meeting. At the White House. With First Lady Michelle Obama. She’s invited Anne to be part of a Joining Forces roundtable, which helps the administration stay connected to military families.

“We know the sacrifices our military families are making, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Nor do the sacrifices of our veterans,” Obama tells Anne and Gibbs. You know, after she leaves the White House, Michelle could pursue acting. She was a natural.

This story line ends happily with father David arriving home after the security threat at his base blows over. Hugs! Hugs and tears all around! Not from Gibbs, though; he’s stoic.

Now, to the “to be continued” portion of the episode: Fornell and Vance jet off to green-screen England to track down Jessica Terdei, the now-retired MI6 head during Scott’s tenure. She’s off the grid, but they reason that she could also be a target. (Fornell’s okay with the trip since he just caught up on Sherlock. Whew! That would’ve been awkward if he’d bumped into Benedict Cumberbatch.)

DiNozzo, who himself is in Russia following up leads on Scott, set up a complicated drop with an MI6 agent so Vance and Fornell will receive a briefcase of guns and information about the location of Terdei’s uncle, Hugo. The duo track him down in a British pub, where Fornell awkwardly shouts, “Cheers, mate!” Hugo greets Vance and Fornell with a shotgun but agrees to take them to Terdei once he realizes that she may be in danger.

One incredibly bumpy car ride later, the three arrive at the world’s most picturesque English cottage/sheep refuge, where Terdei also greets them with a shotgun. But when she learns that Scott escaped and Morrow’s dead, she puts the kettle on and explains that she always knew that classified op would come back to bite them. See, during the raid, Scott’s Russian agent wife was killed by an unidentified sniper. MI6 and NCIS assumed it was the Russians themselves keeping her from spilling information. But the bigger point is that somebody inside the op leaked the information on the raid, and it wasn’t MI6. Morrow knew and buried it.

Suddenly, the sheep outside start freaking out, and gunfire tears through the cottage. Everybody shoots back, and a car peels away. Realizing that they still have a bit of a mole problem, they decide to take Terdei to the U.S. for safekeeping, but nobody answers my main question: ARE THE SHEEP OKAY?

Fornell and Terdei arrive at Gibbs’ house, which Fornell describes as a floating safehouse. He tells her he trusts Gibbs “like no one else — though he did shoot me in the ass once.”

Then he notices a footprint on the floor and an unlatched door, and he goes on high alert, telling Terdei that he’s come around to her idea of sheep as an early warning system. Terdei gets his message, but it’s too late. A shooter shows up, plugs Fornell with two in the chest, then turns his gun on Terdei.

We close with the sound of a ringing phone as Fornell’s daughter’s call goes unanswered while he weakly reaches for his phone before collapsing.

Nope. I reject this. Fornell’s too good of an antagonist to Gibbs to not survive those, um, two gunshots straight to the chest. I refuse to consider the alternative.

Stray thoughts:

  • Mark it: Bishop isn’t hungry after funerals.
  • “How come you never responded to my Snapchat?” Fornell asks Gibbs. Oh, come now. Gibbs wouldn’t have an account to send anything to. Don’t insult our intelligence by slinging around buzzwords about social media, show!
  • You’d better believe DiNozzo’s running around Europe impersonating Bond and referring to himself as “the spy who loved you.” How else would he be in a position to offer McGee a Russian mail-order bride, Delilah be damned?
  • No, but seriously, we have a finite amount of Tony episodes, and this one featured no Tony. I don’t use the phrase “crushing disappointment” often, but…