NCIS Season 12 Premiere Recap: The Russian Is Coming

NCIS Season 12 Premiere

CBS’ NCIS opened its 12th season on Tuesday night with an episode that started off as a routine escorting of a team member home from Russia, but soon enough segued into an action-adventure, stranding Gibbs and McGee in the Russian wilderness.

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Setting up the events, we briefly meet Sergei Michnev, a Russian mercenary whom Deputy Ambassador Anton Pavlenko suspects has been stalking an NCIS tech whiz named Kevin. Michnev shrugs off the implication of bad behavior, stating that his interest in NCIS Special Agent Gibbs, back in the USA, will “remain personal. Deeply personal.”

Back here, Gibbs gets word from Vance that this Kevin senses he is being followed, so SECNAV wants Gibbs to escort the lad back to the States for the funeral of his uncle (whose body is being flown from Russia to the U.S.). With Gibbs in need an extra man, lean-and-mean DiNozzo feigns injury from running with the bulls in Spain this summer and McGee notes he just got back from Dubai, leaving Bishop to volunteer. Gibbs can only take a senior agent, though, and McGee it is.

Getting to Kevin in Russia is no biggie, but their helicopter ride to an awaiting ship is shot down out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile. Two crew are dead, but Gibbs, McGee, Kevin and a female pilot, Banks, survive — though the latter is gravely injured. Sergei and his men eventually show up at the crash scene, but Gibbs, McGee and Kevin have hidden by then, and the pilot refuses to give up their location. It’s only when one of Sergei’s goons gets too fresh with Banks that Gibbs resurfaces to drive a blade into the dirtbag.

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Gibbs & Co. make tracks for the Finland border 20 klicks (kilometers) away, while back home it is discovered that the dead uncle Kevin had shipped home was not felled by cancer but bullets — and he has a micro SD card buried in his skin. On that card is a defense system-crippling virus Kevin was set to sell to Sergei, to pay his uncle’s medical bills, but at the last minute the kid came to his senses. Alas, an oblivious Abby accesses the mystery file and releases the worm into the NCIS computers, even jamming the phones just as McGee has gotten high enough in the mountains to call HQ.

In a shootout with Sergei’s men, Kevin gets hit, and Gibbs is a bit too happy to cauterise the chatterbox’s wound with a hot knife. Then, just as they make it to a cleared road, Gibbs offers to stay behind and slow down their pursuers. McGee reluctantly agrees to the plan, and Gibbs proves, of course, quite adept at thinning the enemy’s ranks, with two rifle shots. But just as Sergei himself steps into the crosshairs and Gibbs fires his pistol at the baddie, DiNozzo arrives with a vehicle to spirit everyone to safety.

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Gibbs thus leaves Sergei for dead, but later learns, during a very serious visit from Vance, that Sergei in fact survived — and that he’s got some sort of connection to Ari Haswari, the rogue Mossad officer/half-brother of Ziva David’s who years ago killed Special Agent Kate Todd and ultimately was taken down by Gibbs (so the official record says, though it was actually Ziva who dispatched with her kin).

Now, still alive and obviously with a score to settle, Sergei surely will be “gunning for us,” Vance warns. But as Gibbs notes, “Not if we find him first.”

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50 Comments
  1. spartan says:

    Thanks for paying attention to NCIS ,,, Yeah, it’s formulaic, but the cast chemistry keeps it popular! Actually, Ari also was mentioned early in the episode as an operative Sergei had been close to (and obviously mad about losing). I was a fan of Ziva (though not of Tiva) and find it interesting that they seem to be opening a door to her making a return appearance.

    • Andrea says:

      I think that’s a matter of perspective. I don’t think Ari is necessarily any sort of nod to Ziva. Ari was the first baddie on NCIS. He attacked Gerald, Ducky, and Kate before the character of Ziva was ever introduced. She was connected to him, not the other way around, so I think it’s entirely possible to mention Ari independently of Ziva. I prefer to think of it as Glasberg choosing to connect this season’s baddie to the show’s initial baddie. Sean did make mention of “classic” NCIS. Maybe that’s the classic that Glasberg’s trying to achieve. I enjoyed the episode.

  2. auntiemm says:

    That was good! This should be an excellent season.

  3. Karen says:

    I am a big NCIS fan, but this one just didn’t do it for me. The world is a dark place right now. This needed lightening up just a little.

  4. Robin says:

    Awesome!! There was no jerkiness to the story. It flowed. It didn’t seemed like the story was forced; it was one of their best eps in a long time. Hope the rest of the season is this great!!

  5. Joni says:

    First. Thank you for the write-up.

    I thought Gibbs snapped the neck of the goon who was getting too personal with Banks. Watching in SD so I could be wrong about that.

    Abby wasn’t oblivious – she took precautions with the “cage” but the virus was too strong and “escaped”.

    I loved Tony manhandling Gibbs into the back of the armored vehicle! He just grabbed hold and drug him away (from going back to retrieve the bodies of the pilots & Petty Officer the crewman.

    Gibbs didn’t take down Ari (thought that’s the accepted story), Ziva did it (remember, she had orders to kill him to gain Gibbs trust?).

    I think Sergi might just give Ari a run for his money in the bad guy department.

  6. Rory says:

    It was a very interesting story-line, but I found it a tad hard to follow. It was so dark the whole time, too! I find the way a bad guy from season 1, Ari, can have such a lasting impact on the show fascinating. Perhaps this recent occurrence could bring back Ziva. I mean, if this season’s bad guy is upset over Ari’s death, he might want to harm Ari’s killer.

  7. Rachel says:

    I loved this episode! Had great technical elements (loved the music and cinematography), and it set up some really interesting things. Bring on the rest of the season!

  8. LucyAppa says:

    This story felt very hollow to me. The instantaneous travel to Russia (esp for Tony) was questionable. Bishop’s “patch” to the satellite field was extremely illegal, way worse than anything McGee ever did, but I’m sure she will get candy and a hug. Loved seeing McGee get screen time. Very disappointed that the one Middle Eastern guy at NCIS is, of course, a criminal. Come on.

  9. Pat says:

    This first season episode was not to bad. It came out of the gate with some action and that is a good thing so I hope that they continue with this. I was not to happy with some of the episodes during season 11, which I felt were flat. So I am hoping this will be a good sign for season 12.

    • Jackie says:

      I totally agree with you Pat. The best part of the episode for me was how little Bishop was in it. I hope the nod to Ari means Ziva will be visiting or returning.

  10. Matthew Weber says:

    It was okay, but I didn’t get the sense that the team was ever in any real danger. And the thing with the virus was dumb and didn’t add anything to the episode. I still have high hopes for this season, but this episode was a tad bit disappointing. Also I’m yet to see anything from this Big Bad that makes me think he’s worthwhile in anyway. They’ve burnt the whole Ari thing a little to long IMHO.

  11. Nancy Wells says:

    I enjoyed it–the story, the pace and the action. My interest was held through out the entire episode and I loed the feel of the story. Great job NCIS–glad you are back–it’s been a long summer!! ;-)

  12. alissa boron says:

    How fabulous was the scene at the end with the “Ralph” coffee cup. Such a nice nod to him.

    • I was going to say the same thing!! Hey Matt I cant believe you missed that!! All in all a good episode…tho Im not a big fan of this adversary as some others are. I think its a cop out. A lot of the baddies have been all from the same area or places (all places the US has issues with or had issues with). I would be interested to see someone come out of left field for once…like Zach from Bones.

    • Andrea says:

      @alissa, I actually went back to look for the mug because of your post. So, thanks for that. I had missed it the first time.

  13. Rusty says:

    The writers really need to have a military adviser on staff. They have a helicopter flying 1100 miles each way to Moscow, (according to the maps used in the show). A UH-60 Seahawk (the one used in the show) can make the trip in ferry mode, nothing but gas on board, no passengers. Max cruise speed 170 MPH. The best way to get this guy out was to take the longest and slowest way out? The Moscow airport is less than 5 minutes from the American Embassy via helicopter. Don’t get me started on how Tony got on board a magical supersonic airplane that got him all the way to Finland and driven to the border within an hour or two???
    The writers seem only to be able to do stories that always include Americans as traitors as if it was a very common occurrence. The story line of a super virus jumping from a lap top to the NCIS computers in an instant? Without any WiFi or land line attached? This show is starting to get into the realm of science fiction.

    Please do something about the Bishop character. Find a trained monkey, anyone that has a personality and some acting skills.

    • bonniew88 says:

      Totally agree about Bishop!!

    • Price says:

      Terribly mean spirited comment.

      • John NYC says:

        The internet brings that out in far too many. IMHO.

      • Carolann says:

        I agree with ou, Price. The whole comment was unnecessary….did anyone else care about the flight time of the helicopter? NO………….

        • Darius says:

          YES, some one care.
          What about DiNozzo flight time from N.Y. to Finland?
          2-3 hours….sci-fi!
          Wolf in scene? Sci-fi!
          Virus true power cable? Sci-fi!
          Coroner, police, othre people in Moscow don’t see two bullet hole in uncle’s body?

          This episode was crap!

          • Brian Masters says:

            Well, if it was “crap” why didn’t you turn the channel? I also agree that “Rusty’s” mean spirited comment was totally inappropriate and unnecessary–sadly, even after a year has passed, certain people haven’t matured enough to make comments that don’t sound like third graders at recess.

          • Darius says:

            @ Brian Master
            You are so “genius” !
            Why I turn channel?
            Because I like show, and a was hope for nice episode.
            Because Glasberg promised some restart of the show.

            So, that why.
            I like the show, but I not non critic idiot, who eat every crap, what producer served on my plate.
            If is one , two…five episodes crap, is mean whole show is crap?
            I don’t think so.
            Is your favorite team play all season perfectly?
            NO!
            They have some match, with bad result.
            Same is here.

            Am I right?

            If you like crap, or you enjoy it, serve your self.

            I wrote, what was bad in this episode.
            Can you wrote, what was good?
            Or, can you (or someone) wrote, if I wrong, with what I wrote?
            Because I read just “it was good” but what, and why it was good, I didn’t see.

            Your turn.

          • Connie Edwards says:

            Wow, someone criticizes your comment and states their opinion and you attack them? Guess what? Mature adults don’t start throwing the word “crap” around just because others disagree with them. You mean to say, cause you call it “crap” everyone has to agree with you? I enjoyed it and I don’t agree with you at all–going to take a run at me now? This is a fictional show, to quote you, “Wolf in scene? Sci-fi! Really how is that sci-fi–I’ve seen wild wolves in many areas–are you saying they don’t exist? I don’t see anywhere that Brian said he was a “genius”, what I do see is someone who is rude and arrogant. I watch the show for the people and the stories. I don’t spend every minute dissecting each scene and crying foul if it’s not realistic enough–I certainly don’t mind discussing things with people–but, not the way you try to bully responses. I like the show warts and all–maybe Brian is just sick and tired of people attacking a show he likes–I know I am!

          • Darius says:

            @Connie Edwards
            Really?
            Crap is crap, even you use other word.
            .
            .
            ““Wolf in scene? Sci-fi! Really how is that sci-fi–I’ve seen wild wolves in many areas–are you saying they don’t exist?”
            Yes, is sci-fi, because wolves behavior in wildness, is TOTALLY DIFFERENT.
            Behavior, what was in show, in wild nature doesn’t exist.
            New for you, isn’t it?
            .
            .
            What about other bull…ts, what was mentioned?
            You are so quiet about them.
            .
            .
            “don’t spend every minute dissecting each scene and crying foul if it’s not realistic ”
            Same like me.
            BUT, that facts, is obvious for some (many) people, without study every scene.
            Many peoples know about that facts, and they know, that is unrealistic sci-fi.
            .
            .
            “…maybe Brian is just sick and tired of people attacking a show…”
            Maybe Brian, and you, need use your brain.
            NOONE attacked show!
            Here was attacked facts in one creepy episode!
            Yes, just facts in one episode, just open your eyes.
            So please, give to us some opposite opinion, about mentioned sci-fi facts.
            What remarks, about mentioned sci-fi facts, wasn’t true?
            .
            .
            Please, give me your mature answers.
            And ofcourse, technically correct.
            .
            .
            You like show?
            Me too!
            But that doesn’t mean, I am idiot, and technically illiterate!
            .
            Please, now some facts.
            I can’t wait for answer.

          • g says:

            Suggest you stop watching.

          • leia says:

            Dinozzos flight took more time than that you should pay better attention. there are 180-200 wolves in the wild in Finland, fact, and I doubt that they respect the borders therefore there are wolves in Russia. Virus thru a cable yes, bigger mistake having computer connected to power very unAbby like. Integrity in Russian cops and the like, Laughable, Me thinks you need to analyze your crap better.

          • Mark says:

            Well, Darius you are quite the opinionated person aren’t you? Someone dares to disagree and you start bullying them with your lengthy dissertations on what is “crap”. Know everything about everything do you? I’ll make it easy for you to understand, since English is obviously not your native language. You comment–others comment–don’t like what they write? Too freaking bad, I suggest you go back on your meds–you have a really bad attitude…

  14. Tvtime says:

    As good as a season 12 on network TV can be with 24 ep a season. Was getting a little worried when last season did not have an arc with a season finale cliffhanger

    • John NYC says:

      With the proliferation of summer shows the density versus filler aspect of the two seasons has started to be noticeable hasn’t it?

      Though I welcomed the lack of a finale cliffhanger: that’s a rather tired gimmick IMHO: like I would not come back without some lead actor who WILL NOT die being trapped in a plunging elevator?

  15. Dar says:

    Only one word, BAD!

  16. Carolann says:

    Look everyone. We all know Bishop is not Ziva…they are two completely different types of agents… I see Bishop as kind of a blend between Kate and Ziva. Why not give her a chance. Everyone is Bishop hating without allowing the character to morph….. Cote did not wish to continue playing Ziva…PERIOD…… Everyone had a hard time in the beginning after Kate was killed…enter ZIva. It took a while for everyone to accept her character. Maybe, if you stop harping on the Ziva character, Cote/Ziva may make an appearance.

    In the meantime, this is still my favorite all-time show…..and thoroughly enjoy NCIS-NO. Keep up the great work and writing….

  17. Stormy says:

    If a satellite could pick up thermal imaging in a forest wouldn’t the real life cops have caught the Pa. cop killer by now?