Wednesday, January 7, 2009

NCIS “Caged” Should Be Kept Locked Up

Last night’s episode of NCIS (CBS) , “Caged", got the NCIS crew out of their element as Agent McGee (Sean Murray) gets caught up in a women’s prison uprising. McGee was sent to the prison to obtain a confession from a woman, Celia Roberts (Martha Hackett), who had already been incarcerated there for two previous murders. As a third body was found – the murders long ago attributed to the woman - NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) wanted to tie up this last loose end so he could close the books on the case, which he originally investigated. Rather than send Agent DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) to a woman’s prison, and maybe not sure Agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) was right for the task, he sends McGee in to do the job, and tells him not to come back without a signed confession.

While McGee is talking with Celia Roberts in a separate room, one of the guards gets murdered and the prisoners overtake the other guards. When McGee hears the commotion and checks it out, he’s taken hostage too. This pulls in the NCIS team, who seemed to be able to easily gain access to the prison, despite the prison being on lockdown.

Of course, the only one who can save the day is McGee, as he convinces the impromptu and uncoordinated group of women to use him as a hostage negotiator. If that wasn’t a stretch to begin with, things got even more unbelievable when McGee communicated the groups’ demands to the warden and to Agent Gibbs, and they just go ahead and agree with the demands. This included releasing all the other guards and visitors who were in the area at the time, and bringing in the NCIS team to help solve the murder. As the hostages are being released, the first thing that went through my mind is that no one seemed to be concerned that any of these people had any involvement in the murder. I would think that all the hostages and guards should have been taken to one separate area for questioning. And, as Gibbs seemed to be criticizing the warden for the warden’s lack of experience in these situations, I wondered why Gibbs thought that he and his own NCIS team could do a better job. I can’t recall any time where Gibbs handled a hostage situation like that, much less at a prison. Clearly Gibbs should have known not to just let all the hostages and visitors take off, but he seemed to miss that important step.

The episode continues to spiral downward as the team has to bring some of the prison guards back in for questioning as they suspected their involvement. And what is a prison storyline without drug smuggling? It seems the writers couldn’t resist adding the drug smuggling and drug use component to the story, making it even more trite.

Particularly annoying in this episode was Abby (Pauley Perrette). Usually I enjoy her antics, but for some reason, her panic over McGee’s situation seemed a little juvenile. In fact, I think that the character of Abby is getting to be a little too repetitive. While I would like Abby to retain her edginess and her quirkiness, sometimes I wish that they could develop her character past her current persona. It’s getting old.

Also not a surprise was Roberts taking the rap for not only the body they recently found, but for the murder of the guard. She didn’t want the real killer, a woman who was only in prison for one more year and had a daughter who the guard was abusing, to have to face the penalties. I could see that one coming from a mile away.

But the whole experience must have turned McGee into a real man, because when he got back, he laid down the law to his auto mechanic. Personally, I would worry a little bit about a field agent who couldn’t have spotted his mechanic trying to rip him off sooner.

This episode, while entertaining, was not one of NCIS’ best. Frankly, “Caged” should have just kept itself locked up.

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