This week's NCIS story focused on the troubling issue of sexual assault in the military, much of which goes unreported.
The case only came to light when the loyal friend of one such rape victim was himself killed.
What did TV Fanatic panelists Christine Orlando, David Taylor and Douglas Wolfe think about this direction in NCIS Season 11 Episode 21, "Alleged?"
Gather around and find out in our TV Fanatic Round Table below!
How would describe the episode in three words or a sentence?
Christine: Hard Fought Change.
David: Do the Right Thing/Let the Right Ones In.
Doug: Tackling the toughest issue.
What was your favorite scene or quote?
Christine: "You can't buy me with your pepperoni. I want a steak." That's why I love DiNozzo.
David: "Never underestimate the advantage of a well-placed dumpster."
Doug: The scene were Cabot strikes a blow to the XO's neck, followed by Gibbs' surprised reaction: "you've been saving that one, Mo!"
What, if any, where the problems that you saw in this episode?
Christine: I was a little surprised at how quickly the XO turned in the interrogation room. He's kept his crimes a secret for years. I would have expected him to be able to hold his tongue and his temper just a little bit better.
David: I'll second that. Agent Cabot sure came up with the photos of his other victims quickly; it seemed a little too "convenient." Also, I think that the impact of the rape case might have been greater if the motive for the murder was to shut him up BECAUSE he knew about the rape. However, keeping it "in the background" still put the rape front and center.
Doug: I re-watched the scene where Gibbs and Tony bursts into Burke's room and he shouts "I didn't do it!'. Both Tony and Gibbs tried to get him to open up about what he meant, and when he told them he'd better not say any more without a lawyer, Gibbs barked "if you want a lawyer, call one!" We never found out exactly what it was he "didn't do." It could be a writing continuity problem that they never got around to fixing. At any rate, that question was never adequately answered.
The bartender was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Fair?
Christine: Unfortunately, yes. Just because he didn't intend anything to happen doesn't mean he isn't responsible. Hopefully a jury will find him not guilty or he will get probation and community service. That would be fair.
David: I think so too. However, he's obviously repentant and since he owns a business in the community (such as it is), a reduced sentence shouldn't draw too many complaints.
Doug: I had a tough time with this one. Some things are just accidents, as this clearly was. If I were the D.A. I'd not want to waste the court's time with a charge.
Driving while texting: is Ducky's observation on the money or is he too harsh?
Christine: Absolutely on the money. It's damn dangerous and you can easily get someone killed. We all know better.
David: AMEN sistah!!!!!!
Doug: Couldn't agree with you more, Christine. It's no different from drunk driving: the driver may think he's fine - drinking or texting - but study after study has shown that he's not. Ducky hit the nail on the head.
Is there enough evidence to convict Commander Wexler?
Christine: Without DNA or any physical evidence to link him to the crimes it can become a case of he said / she said and she doesn't even remember who it was. I don't doubt for a minute that he's guilty but it will definitely be a difficult case to prove.
David: Tough call. Christine's point is well taken. Still, Wexler seemed to turn, which could be perceived as a confession, but that's not enough. If more evidence was needed, we all know Gibbs' team will dig to China to find something on him.
Doug: All of the evidence is circumstantial at best. There is no doubt he did it, but the witnesses were not clear about their assaults (it wasn't possible, as they were drugged when it happened), and he denies it. Their only real evidence is the coincidence of his ship being present at all nine assaults, in which his presence is the common denominator. There isn't even any DNA. A good lawyer would be able to get him off due to "reasonable doubt".
Will Holly Farrell have any kind of normal Navy life, now that the whole issue is out in the open?
Christine: It won't be easy. There will definitely be talk and not everyone will be kind. I have to believe she can still have a successful Navy career if she just continues to put one foot in front of the other and stays strong.
David: I agree. Once she separates from her current fellow JOs, she won't have the same support system she once had. However, I would like to see this as an opportunity for her to head up some initiative or task force on this issue.
Doug: I think she can have a somewhat normal life, but only if she goes for counseling. Her character struck me as being somewhat introverted. It will take some major inner strength to go back to her brothers and hold her head high against the whispers.
Though I'm glad the Navy was keen to see this episode made and aired, I still worry about the Neanderthals in the "old boys' club" among some of the officer ranks; people who might prevent an ensign such as Farrell from receiving promotions down the road.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.