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The Worst Storyline In NCIS Season 12

"NCIS" has outlasted nearly every TV show originally on air when it premiered in 2003, largely because of the consistency of the episodes. Every week may have a different crime to solve, but as a viewer, you know you'll always get snappy team repartee, a side story about the main characters, and a thrilling case that can be wrapped up in about 42 minutes (without commercials).

That sense of storytelling stability, even when some main cast members leave the show, is why it remains one of the biggest shows in television 19 seasons in (via Los Angeles Times). Cast member Donald McCallum credited this to the show's tight scripts, telling Digital Spy, "We have a team of writers that give us a wonderful vehicle." The writing remains strong, but certain stories, including the new agents in Season 14 and Season 16's dredging up of Gibbs' past, definitely didn't work for everyone.

That's especially true of an early storytelling decision in Season 12, which makes a crucial mistake with one of the main characters.

DiNozzo's behavior early in Season 12 is out of character

Season 12 of "NCIS" deals with the loss of Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) and the impact of her absence. In the wake of the character's departure from the show, the "NCIS" story brings in new agents, like Eleanor "Ellie" Bishop (Emily Wickersham), and new bad guys, like Sergei (Alex Veadov). But Episode 4, titled "Choke Hold," feels like the weakest episode of the season, primarily due to how exaggerated Agent DiNozzo's (Michael Weatherly) subplot feels as a viewer. 

With Gibbs' (Mark Harmon) guidance and stern tutelage, DiNozzo really changes a lot over the course of "NCIS," even shedding some of his self-centered, jokester, playboy personality. So, to see the veteran agent still acting like a goofy class clown while examining a crime scene in early scenes in "Choke Hold" feels like a jarring regression. In one scene, Gibbs, DiNozzo, and Ducky (David McCallum) regard a grisly murder involving a mechanical garrote. DiNozzo's tone reads as light, which doesn't seem too respectful considering the deadly device led to the separation of the victim's head from their body. Joking around is fine on other jobs, but maybe not when you're a fortysomething government agent at a crime scene. 

Similarly, his flirting with Agent Pendergast (Stephany Jacobsen) seems like a retread of his early interest and teasing of Ziva when they worked together. He even later acknowledges "I have a type" to justify some obviously unprofessional moves. Both Ziva and Gibbs impacted the agent's behavior, and seeing him back to his old inappropriate self felt wrong by Season 12. The killing of a Russian defector as part of the case is interesting, but it wasn't a unique enough investigation for "Choke Hold" to overcome how poorly the characters are handled.