Welcome back from the Olympic hiatus! The world can rest safely knowing that Gabriel Hicks is back in jail where he belongs after NCIS Season 15 Episode 15.
This one... well. If you were hoping for a climactic showdown, then you've come to the wrong episode. To put it plainly, Gabriel Hicks was no Ari Haswari. On the other hand, Hicks isn't dead like Ari, either.
Perhaps the single most frustrating aspect of "Keep Your Enemies Closer" rested in the plot's requirement that nominally intelligent characters behave ridiculously stupid at key moments.
Like McGee opening the apartment door the way he did. Even if it were a well-meaning neighbor and not a violent serial killer outside, McGee has a violent killer inside his apartment!
Number two on the annoyance list is probably the seeming non-existence of any other law enforcement officers other than our heroes.
Half of what Hicks attempted in this episode wouldn't have worked if Gibbs had, say, asked for additional manpower from Vance, or coordinated for the same from D.C. Metro.
After all, this was a very dangerous serial killer they were dealing with, and Vance himself didn't trust Hicks as far as he could throw him.
Fornell: How the hell does he know I’m in here?
Sloane: He can probably hear you grinding your teeth.
For all the build-up for Gabriel Hicks as a diabolical and highly-intelligent foe for Team Gibbs + Fornell, "Keep Your Enemies Closer" featured one glaring screw-up after another on his part, starting with the death of his lawyer.
This isn't actually a problem with the character. As pretty much anyone who watches Criminal Minds can tell you, even the smartest serial killer can be subject to devolution and breakdown.
Hicks had finally achieved his goal of freedom, even humiliating the man who was responsible for his imprisonment, only for his scheme to start unraveling almost immediately.
Curiously, it was his own arrogance that did him in right off the bat (pun intended). Hicks could have simply laid low, moved away, or anything other than walk around with a sandwich board reading "I'M A PSYCHO SERIAL KILLER."
Instead, he taunted Gibbs and Sloane by showing off his switch hitting skills, giving them their first piece of evidence beyond a mere gut feeling that Fornell had been right all along.
And then Hicks murdered his unfortunate former lawyer, despite the fact that she -- owing obedience to lawyer-client privilege -- couldn't reveal what she'd discovered anyway.
The icing on the cake was Hicks going after Fornell. And then, instead of just killing Fornell, Hicks kidnaped him and threw him in the trunk.
Let me reiterate: all this does not make Hicks a badly-written character.
On the contrary, he was skilled enough at his "craft" to get away with it for years before being caught by Fornell.
Hicks just wasn't as smart as he thought he was. Paul Triff had a point in his rather scathing rebuke! So it's fitting that Hicks didn't even get the "glory" of death-by-Gibbs. Just a TASERing and back to jail.
For those who were hoping for a truly diabolical foe for the team, this ending probably came as a disappointment. But Hicks' practically self-inflicted defeat can easily be seen as just as fitting for his own arrogance as the trap laid for Ari in Gibbs' basement.
Meanwhile, the whole side plot with Paul Triff spending time at McGee's home was weird, though not necessarily in a bad way (episodically speaking).
The repartee between Triff and McGee provided a lot of laughs, albeit rather uncomfortable ones. Frankly, McGee should've been more upset that Triff figured out about his kids!
And Triff's possessive, if not downright obsessive, behavior towards McGee quite possibly came off even creepier than the show intended. They were going for funny but came across more terrifying than anything else.
Remember, McGee: Triff knows where you live...
Guest star French Stewart did a fine job, all things considered. I certainly wouldn't want Paul Triff in my living room. (And I certainly wouldn't talk about my hypothetical kids with him!)
Honestly, I found Triff a potentially more terrifying villain than Hicks! He played everyone like fiddles and got pretty much everything he wanted, aside from a vegetarian sandwich.
Until the next time, then...
A few final thoughts before I turn the discussion over to you:
- How did Hicks know where McGee lived, and how did he know Triff was there? Did I miss something?
- Was I the only person to notice what was likely a sly reference to DiNozzo with Triff's bemoaning of movie posters?
- Where was Emily, Fornell's daughter, during all of this? She didn't even rate a mention in this episode, despite the fact that her father was assaulted, kidnaped, and nearly murdered.
- Tobias Fornell remains probably my absolutely favorite recurring character in all of NCIS. So I'm glad he didn't die!
If you missed this episode, you can watch NCIS online to catch up! And check back after NCIS Season 15 Episode 16, "Handle With Care," airs on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 8/7c on CBS!
What did you think of "Keep Your Enemies Closer"? Were you disappointed or satisfied with the conclusion of the Gabriel Hicks arc? Did you enjoy the interaction between McGee and Triff?
Let us know in the comments section below!