The Tuesday, Sept. 23 season 12 premiere of “NCIS,” “Twenty Klicks,” sees Gibbs and McGee head to Russia to bring home “IT Kevin” after he reports he’s being followed, but that’s just the beginning. The entire episode is really just all about setting up the team’s newest adversary, Sergei, who has a very “personal” interest in them – and especially Gibbs: Ari was his friend, and his death left him with an “unhealthy interest” in the team.
“NCIS” season 12 gets off to a strong start with this episode. Not only do we get the chance to see Gibb and McGee working together, something that’s not too common, but we also get to see Gibbs in what really seems to be his element. Sergei may have an entire mercenary group with him, but wouldn’t you put your money on Gibbs every single time (even though Sergei survives)? We also get a great scene between Vance and Ducky in the Director’s office, as well as one of the best moments with Tony keeping everyone together and reminding Abby that they don’t have the luxury of losing it. One problem is that while the rest of the team feels very much like a family, Bishop doesn’t seem to fit in quite yet, and somehow, that seems to come across in the scene in Abby’s lab as Abby talks about how important Gibbs and McGee are to her, something Tony understands but Bishop just can’t.
As for Sergei’s motivations, it’s always great when the show brings it back to a past storyline and it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Ari and Sergei knew one another. Last season wasn’t necessarily the show’s best, but they were also dealing with losing Cote de Pablo and Ziva and introducing a new team member in Emily Wickersham’s Bishop. Now that that’s done, hopefully they can settle in and get back to what makes this the number one show on TV and a must-watch drama and has kept it on air this long. The premiere isn’t exactly what we’re used to seeing every week, but it still feels a bit like a return to what we expect from the show, at least quality-wise. Plus, it sets up what could be a great long-term arc with Sergei, especially since we assume that their past with Ari is going to have to be discussed at some point.
“IT Kevin,” as he’s nicknamed, went to Russia to visit his sick uncle, but he took refuge at the Embassy after he felt like he was being followed. It’s up to A-team Gibbs and McGee to bring him home safely, but a missile hits their helicopter and they go down. The pilots and crewmember end up dead from their injuries in the crash, but Gibbs, McGee and Kevin have much more to worry about than wolves. Sergei and his Russian mercenaries are following them, and they have no way to communicate with the rest of the team.
When Sergei and his men find them, however, Gibbs does take one of them out when they separate, and with that, they have weapons. It’s still 12 miles to Finland, and it’s around then that Kevin goes from being someone we want to see more of to someone we’d rather be left behind somewhere in Russia as he goes from “I can do this easily” to “oh no, I was shot and ow” and it ends up being satisfying to see Gibbs cauterize his wound. In between encounters with Sergei’s group, Gibbs gets Kevin to finally admit that he’s been lying to them. A few months ago, Sergei approached him for help with a weapon in exchange for money, and it was money he needed for his uncle’s medical costs. However, his conscience eventually kicked in, but Sergei shot his uncle. Kevin hid the weapon in his uncle; it’s a micro disc with a computer virus on it that can be used on defense systems. Only Kevin can deactivate it.
Back home, the team is told to “sit tight,” something that no one is okay with, but due to diplomacy reasons, SecNav wants them to let the Russians have first crack at the search and rescue. They don’t particularly care about diplomacy, and everyone’s working to figure out what happened. Abby’s friend is able to identify the missile after listening to the Mayday call, and it’s from a cache stolen two years ago. The suspects were mercenaries funded by Russian oligarchs. Ducky gets Kevin’s uncle’s body – only to find that he was shot and didn’t die of cancer. Not only that, but there’s a micro SD card, and while Abby takes precautions, the virus still manages to infiltrate NCIS’ network.
McGee is able to get a call out to D.C. long enough to give them the coordinates of their crash, and with that, Tony’s heading to Russia while Bishop works her contacts and uses the NSA’s network to get them a look at what’s going on in Russia, but all she, Ducky and Vance can do is watch the little representations of Gibbs, McGee and Kevin on the screen as they’re being hunted down by Sergei. Gibbs insists on McGee continuing on to Finland with Kevin, while he stays behind and takes out the remaining mercenaries with Sergei. Just as the two are facing off, Tony arrives, and while Gibbs shoots Sergei before getting in the truck, that’s not the end.
In the final scene, Vance pays Gibbs a visit in his basement to tell him all about Sergei, including his friendship with Ari – and that he survived. “He got up,” the Director says when Gibbs argued he hit him and saw him go down. No, he’s still out there and he’s going to be gunning for them. Well, now Gibbs is gunning for him, and we can’t wait for Sergei to get a personal taste of what that means.
“NCIS” season 12 airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of the premiere, “Twenty Klicks”? What do you think of Sergei?