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NCIS - Season 12 - Season Recap & Review, Poll and a Look at Season 13

In a little more than two weeks, television's most-watched show returns to our screens. NCIS has had quite the season last year as the team faced a dangerous mercenary, dealt with tough challenges in the character's private lives and ended with children being used by terrorists and Gibbs getting shot as a result. Before the show returns on September 22, it's time to look back at season 12 and look ahead to the new season. I will start this article with a brief recap of the main events of last season, then do a review of last season and finally I will look at the information we have for season 13.

Recap of season 12

The first half of season 12 saw the team being hunted by Russian mercenary Sergei Mishnev. He first stirred trouble in the season premiere when he shot down a helicopter with Gibbs, McGee and a few others. Guided by the NCIS team in DC and Russian Counselor Anton Pavlenko, the team made it through a tense hunt in the Russian forest. In the end, Gibbs shot Sergei, however, it turned out to be a non-fatal gunshot and Sergei ends up on the NCIS most wanted wall. After another tense situation with Pavlenko over a Russian scientist, Sergei returns to taunt Gibbs and eventually kills his first ex-wife Diane, who was getting back together with her other ex-husband Fornell. As Gibbs continued to grief and push people away out of fear they might get hurt, he also helped Fornell with his grief. In the meantime, the team found out that Sergei was most likely the half brother of Ari Haswari, who was killed in Gibbs' basement nine years ago. When Sergei once again returned, Gibbs set up a trap with Pavlenko's help and allowed Fornell to kill the mercenary.
Meanwhile, every team member had their own challenges in their personal lives. Vance was worried about spots on his lungs, but fortunately it turned out not to be lung cancer. McGee had to say goodbye to his father around Christmas and maintained a long-distance relationship with Delilah until her eventual return to the United States. Ducky reconciled with the woman he fell in love with half a decade ago, while Bishop had her own problems in her marriage with Jake. Also on the love life front: Abby dated park ranger Burt and Tony started a relationship with ATF Special Agent Zoƫ Keates, which had a bump later on the road when Tony had some issues with his father. Tony also flashed back to his young days as a cadet. Meanwhile, Jimmy became a happy father when his wife Breena gave birth to Victoria Elizabeth Palmer.
After a lot of weekly cases, the team had a bigger case near the end of the season. They investigated a terrorist group known as The Calling, which recruited young children through the internet. This resulted in a boy named Bradley nearly blowing up a bus, while Gibbs did his best to prevent another boy named Luke to get under the influence of The Calling. One of the group's leaders, Daniel Budd, later sets up a series of s-mines at a hotel in Cairo, which killed NCIS Agent Ned Dorneget. This led to Dorneget's mother, CIA Officer Joanna Teague, joining NCIS to help take down The Calling. While they tracked down Sadiq Samar, another one of their leaders, The Calling took Luke to Iraq. When Gibbs, Joanna and Tony made the trip to Iraq to get Luke back, they didn't realize it was a trap. As Daniel called Tony to taunt him, Luke put two bullets in Gibbs' leg and chest, ending season 12 on a cliffhanger.

Season Review
Season 12 started out very strong. The premiere had a lot of action and made me very excited for the season. The Sergei storyline intrigued me already and I was looking forward to seeing more of him. Episodes 2 up to and including 9 all had some great character moments, mostly interesting cases and we saw quite a lot of character development. Standing out among these episodes were the Ducky-centric episode "So It Goes", in which we met his long-lost love interest, and "Parental Guidance Suggested", when Tony had a serious conversation about Ziva's departure and we saw a case with a killer twist. The Christmas episode featuring flashbacks to previous seasons sadly gave me mixed feelings. A lot of story potential was wasted when McGee's father died after not having seen or heard from him since season 10.
As has been the case for the last few years, the show returned with a bang in its post-holiday episode. In fact, "Check" was the best episode of season 12 for me. Even though I didn't like Diane's death as the episodes with her were always hilarious, I loved "Check" and the fallout from Diane's death was executed pretty well. I enjoyed seeing Gibbs struggle with his guilt and also liked how another visit from Hollis Mann helped him cope with that. We did not only see Gibbs' grief, but fortunately the show also devoted screen time to Fornell's grief. However, I didn't agree with the way Fornell cold-bloodedly executed Sergei and I would have liked to see Sergei's arc carried to the season finale.
The episodes in between the end of the Sergei arc and the beginning of the finale arc were mostly average. I was most disappointed in the episode "Blast From the Past" since it wasn't that much of a blast from the past. We also had the annual DiNozzo Sr visit and he returned again just a few episodes later. There were some developments in the romance development for both McGee and Tony, which were good. Right before the finale arc kicked off, we saw Bishop killing a man in Afghanistan, marking her first kill since joining NCIS. That was quite interesting and later also led to her having some issues with Jake.
The finale arc, which started in episode 22, was an intriguing story and included stories from the headlines as we saw how children were recruited and used by terrorists. The penultimate episode was the best of that arc and Dorneget's death made for some great emotional scenes. It was interesting to meet his mother, who is also a CIA Officer. The finale was sadly once again a Gibbs-centric one. I wasn't a huge fan of the finale and the cliffhanger felt predictable and unoriginal.

Conclusion: Season 12 has been a pretty excellent season. All the characters had some intriguing storylines and it was great seeing a lot of character development. Most of the cases were strong and interesting and I think season 12 had quite a few unique cases that we had never seen before. All in all, I would say this is the best season in recent years. I would give this season a grade of 8 out of 10.

Best Episode Poll
In the poll below, you can vote for what you think are the best episodes of season 12. You can choose up to five episodes from the season. Let me know what you voted for in the comment section below.

Season Guide
Here's a season guide so you can (re-)read reviews of indvidual episodes. Every episode has its own review, except for episodes 18 and 19 which was a double review. You can easily access the reviews by clicking on the episode title.

12.01 - Twenty Klicks
12.02 - Kill The Messenger
12.03 - So It Goes
12.04 - Choke Hold
12.05 - The San Dominick
12.06 - Parental Guidance Suggested
12.07 - The Searchers
12.08 - Semper Fortis
12.09 - Grounded
12.10 - House Rules
12.11 - Check
12.12 - The Enemy Within
12.13 - We Build, We Fight
12.14 - Cadence
12.15 - Cabin Fever
12.16 - Blast From the Past
12.17 - The Artful Dodger
12.18 - Status Update
12.19 - Patience
12.20 - No Good Deed
12.21 - Lost in Translation
12.22 - Troll
12.23 - The Lost Boys
12.24 - Neverland

A look at season 13
From interviews with various cast members, teasers/scoop on different entertainment websites and other sources, there are already a few things we know about season 13. There will be some spoilers here so if you don't want to read them, skip this part.

First of all, Gibbs getting shot won't be solved within just one episode. He won't die, but the shooting will definitely affect him both mentally and physically. The rest of the team is naturally concerned, and it will lead to some conflicts, for example between Gibbs and Tony. According to interviews, the show will really change as a result of the way things ended last season.

Also, we have information on some of the early episodes of season 13. The Calling will return in the season premiere, and it's up to Tony and Joanna Teague to take them down. Episode 5 will be an Abby-centric episode that has been called a 'Die Hard Abby' story where she has to use her forensics to save the day. Elsewhere, Bishop's marriage with Jake will continue to be tested. Vance will also have to take a step back as Director when he is going back in the field together with Gibbs.

Besides NCIS, there's also some information on NCIS: Los Angeles. Michael Weatherly will guest star in an episode of the show's first spinoff, which is set to air on October 19. Information regarding that storyline can be found here and here.

Here is a general overview of the teasers and interviews that have been released so far. If I forgot anything, please let me know.
-We already know the following episode titles:
13.01 - Stop The Bleeding
13.02 - Personal Day
13.03 - Incognito
13.04 - Double Trouble
13.05 - Lockdown
13.06 - Viral (this episode will be directed by Rocky Carroll)
Remember you can view all available episode titles in the SpoilerTV Database where you can also find press releases, promotional photos and promos.
-The following guest stars have been announced: Jon Cryer as Dr. Cyril Taft (recurring in at least 3 episodes), Muse Watson as Mike Franks (season premiere), Mimi Rogers as CIA Officer Joanna Teague (season premiere) and Ally Maki in an as of yet unknown role.
-These are the cast or crew interviews that we have seen so far:
Interview with Jon Cryer
Interview with various cast members
Interview with Michael Weatherly
Interview with Gary Glasberg

Lastly, here is a promo for the season premiere:

All information regarding NCIS can be found under the SpoilerTV label of NCIS. You can also receive an email whenever new information is posted on our site. Instructions about these email notifications can be found here.

Now it's your turn. What did you think about the twelfth season of NCIS? What were the things you liked, and what were the things you were unhappy with? Which were your favourite episodes of the past season? And how do you feel about season 13? Has the information so far got you intrigued for the new season? What are your hopes for season 13? I would love to hear your opinions and theories in the comments below.

About the Author - Daniel van der Veer
Daniel van der Veer is a Dutch university student studying Psychology. On SpoilerTV he is a reviewer of NCIS, The 100, Madam Secretary and Quantico. He also enjoys LOST, Arrow, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, Nikita, The Blacklist, Scorpion and How To Get Away With Murder.
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