Fans of NCIS surely are feeling a bit of déjà vu, Boo-Boo, with all the buzz surrounding the Cocaine Bear horror comedy now in theaters. Here’s how to check out the CBS drama’s October 2022 take on the coked-up creature.
Inspired by the 1985 true story of “a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine, and the black bear that ate it,” the Cocaine Bear movie follows a group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest where “a 500-pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of cocaine and gone on a coke-fueled rampage for more blow… and blood.”
Elizabeth Banks (Charlie’s Angels) directed a cast that includes many familiar TV faces such as The Americans’ Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Margo Martindale, the late Ray Liotta (Shades of Blue, Black Bird), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Swagger), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones), Kahyun Kim (American Gods), Christian Convery (Sweet Tooth) and Brooklynn Prince (Home Before Dark), plus Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story) and newcomer Scott Seiss.
How exactly did TV’s NCIS borrow from the real-life wildlife tale?
In the October 2022 episode “Leave No Trace,” the NCIS team works with a National Parks Service agent to investigate the campsite murder of — what else? —- a petty officer. (It’s always a petty officer.) Early into the investigation, the agents hear tales of a “black bear that is behaving oddly,” but team leader Alden Parker thinks nothing of that at first, and instead just makes a “pic-a-nic basket” joke.
But later in the episode, the aforementioned National Parks Service agent, Gage Winchester, is seen being chased through the forest by a large, black furry mass when Special Agent Knight checks in with him. Agent Winchester gets away with his life, though, thanks to not one but three tranquilizer darts fired into the beast by a park ranger.
Sure enough, the NCIS team’s forensics scientist, Kacy, later reports that the felled black bear was determined to have copious amounts of cocaine in his system, ergo the rampage.
“Cocaine Bear rides again!” trumpets Agent Parker, before educating his puzzled team about the real-life “Pablo Eskobear” that back in 1985 happened upon, and sampled, a huge stash of coke dropped into a Tennessee forest by a panicked drug smuggler. “Pablo Escobear” is not known to have gone on any rampage, blood-thirsty or not, but that is what the Cocaine Bear movie at least attempts to (over-)dramatize.
You can watch the NCIS episode “Leave No Trace” right now on Paramount+; and if you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up for as little as $4.99/month and cancel after your 7-day free trial.