NCIS Season 16 Episode 17 Review: Silent Service

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Yowza indeed.

Is it wrong that what I considered the best parts of NCIS Season 16 Episode 17 had nothing at all to do with World War III and everything to do with little pleasures in life such as humorously speaking your mind?

I sure hope not because the case of the week was very tough to swallow, no matter how small it got chopped.

Funny Stuff - Tall - NCIS Season 16 Episode 17

Despite the rousing laughter in the featured photo, there shouldn't have been anything all that funny going on with the investigation NCIS was conducting.

What began as a simple look into a dead Petty Officer turned into an internet troll's attempt to start World War III.

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There was so much about it that didn't work that there was never any danger to Gibbs and Bishop (who were on board a submarine when it did a deep dive to stealth levels and was incommunicado).

Bishop: Prep all of our defenses? What does that mean?
Gibbs: It means this submarine is preparing for war.
Bishop: But, with who?

Bishop felt slightly off-kilter when she thought about the events, but Gibbs just let it go.

There was no investment with any of the characters on the sub, and because of the way the case came together, it wouldn't have even been alarming if White's death had gone unsolved.

Maybe that's because NCIS isn't about the cases at all, but about the people who solve them.

By that definition, "Silent Service" had some redeeming qualities.

Listening Intently - NCIS Season 16 Episode 17

The episode was directed by Director Vance himself, Rocky Carroll. If he knows anything, it's the chemistry between the actors. 

He took what was a rather dull hour and managed to remind us the cases get solved because good people who excel at their jobs man NCIS.

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Whether it was Sloane discovering the smoking gun with a "yowza" or Palmer fretting over the gifts he didn't score for Ducky, everyone with the NCIS team was acting as always.

I've only been around a short while, as you know, and I've read that many of you don't know what Torres adds to the team. For the second time, I'm going to toss out there his comedic element.

Lurking in the Trees - NCIS Season 16 Episode 17

Wilmer Valderrama knows how to deliver a line. His years on That 70s Show are not wasted on the writers of NCIS, and they use his talents admirably.

At what other time would we have been reminded that the perpetrator of the plan to begin World War III with Russia was a hermit who went into hiding to see his scheme play out?

Torres: I guess World War III is going to have to wait.
Wilson: Listen to me. We have to launch. We have to launch.
Torres: Blah, blah, blah, creepy hermit.

Wilson's capture was otherwise incredibly uneventful, just as was the entirety of a situation that should have been so much more.

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You know, the internet will be the death of us all.


Walking the fine line of politics by asserting that an internet weirdo would gain access to a nuclear submarine to carry out his vision of the United States as a rough and ready opponent who had been leaving the doors open too far for its enemies should have been worrisome.

Chef in Trouble - NCIS Season 16 Episode 17

After all, how in the heck did the guy get access to the sub? Are any yahoos allow to sell their wares (or whatever) and gain entrance? 

Under Secretary of the Navy, Jennifer Leo tried to appear shocked at what was happening on the Memphis, but the script was so god-awful it came off as comical instead.

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Every time she appeared on the TV screen with her important Skype call, it was ludicrous to think the US Government had lost track of a submarine. The story is too implausible even if Wilson had retained the assistance of someone on board.

If you had any doubt that the story was miserable, just remember this oft-repeated phrase:


Petty Officer Hardy

Failure to launch, dude. Failure to launch.

The best scene, by far, occurred at the end when Ducky discovered he wouldn't be leaving NCIS.

Ducky on the Move - NCIS Season 16 Episode 17

If this is a surprise party, you know I would rather shave my eyeballs.


I've never heard of someone almost shaving his eyeballs, but NCIS historian is the perfect role for Ducky. 

No doubt many of you caught on to what was ahead by the many people who referenced Ducky's vast knowledge of the history of NCIS. They weren't merely rude about his age!

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It's a keen move for production to offer to David McCallum something new to do on set while also ensuring Brian Dietzen can move up given his recent work on the show as Palmer.

Your comments haven't gotten lost on me about how far the character of Palmer managed to grow throughout the series, so this seems like a win/win for everyone involved.

Standing Tall - NCIS Season 16 Episode 17

I can't imagine the stress a writers' room would feel trying to keep any series alive for 16 years and counting, but if they want to remain at the top while they go out, they need to step up their game story-wise.

Fewer cases of the week or cases that somehow directly relate to those in NCIS seems like an excellent way to go.

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NCIS Season 16 Episode 13 focused on Ziva, whetting the whistles of that rabid fanbase. NCIS Season 16 Episode 14 sent McGee and his family front and center, while NCIS Season 16 Episode 16 offered information on Palmer that was even interesting to long-term viewers.

Without a personal stake in the case of the week, they don't go over well. The attempt to make this hour personal by holding Gibbs and Bishop 10,000 leagues under the sea failed. 

The investment has to be emotional.

So what do you think?

As long-time viewers, are you more interested when the cases relate to the main cast or do you enjoy the cases with little emotional investment?

Or maybe I'm missing the connection emotionally, and you can show me the light.

No matter what you think, hit the comments and talk about it. 

And if you can't wait for more of the team past and present, you can watch NCIS online to get your fix.

Silent Service Review

Editor Rating: 2.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (31 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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NCIS Season 16 Episode 17 Quotes

Well, no offense Ducky, but if I'm still working when I'm your age. [chuckles] I'm not going to finish that sentence. Ducky, you look fantastic.


Let me make myself perfectly clear. If either of you interferes with the operations of this boat, I will fire you out of that torpedo tube myself.

Submarine Man