Out of the Frying Pan…
Original Air Date: Mar 22, 2011
Maria – Sr. Reviewer
We open on two parking enforcement officers, bickering about the job. The elder one is all for issuing tickets whilst the younger one wants to give the people the benefit of the doubt, knocking on the door of the nearest house to see if it’s their car. If it is their car though, he’s got no chance of it being moved: the man is lying battered to death on the floor.
By the time the case reaches NCIS it is two weeks old and Vance is the one who wants it investigated, Gibbs knowing nothing about it. Yale Peyton was a retired Marine who was struck with an axe seven times. The police knew they couldn’t get a conviction without a confession and NCIS has officers who are very good at interrogations. The reveal comes when we see the suspect, Nick Peyton, the eighteen year old son of the dead ex-marine, but he looks as though he’s twelve.
The interrogation scene was a little jarring. It was odd to see Tony so aggressive, especially as Gibbs is so laidback and gentle with the kid. Nick claims that he’s innocent. He certainly doesn’t look like the “monster” Director Vance described. As Abby explains, Nick was on a cocktail of pills when he was brought it. There’s no way of telling what he was capable of when high.
There is one possible witness, the neighbor Mark Stafford. He’s been living next to the Peytons for almost fifteen years. He says he hasn’t seen anything of the wife, Donna, since she left years ago. Tim has tried to track her down but she went off the grid two years ago. Ziva theorizes that Yale may not be the only parent Nick has killed. More importantly, Mark Stafford declares that he saw Nick on the night of the murder and that he heard them arguing. Stafford stresses that Nick was buzzed on drugs and adds that drugs killed his daughter.
Tony is able to pick holes in Nick’s alibi because Nick used his credit card to watch Casablanca on the night of the murder. Nick doesn’t recall the movie though; he doesn’t recall much of anything. Nick can’t remember if he murdered his father or not and Vance isn’t too happy with that answer. He gives the team three hours before he interrogates the kid himself.
Medical Examiner Ducky has come to an alarming discovery that the blow which caused the death was not from an axe. “Dr. McFrankenstein” as Abby dubs Timothy McGee, has also been able to retrieve something from Yale’s blood-soaked computer tablet: It appears that Yale was having an affair with his son’s psychologist from rehab, Dr. Ellen Gracey. She also received a phone call ten minutes after the murder.
Nick is back in interrogation, but this time, Vance snaps. He plays the message, where a distressed Nick called Dr. Gracey after seeing his father’s body. Vance wields an axe that looks similar to the one used against Yale. The scene is very ugly, especially for long-term viewers who have watched Vance for a long time. To see him lose it, abuse the kid so much, tell him that he was a failure, pushing all possible buttons to make him confess, culminating with Vance forcing Nick to face a picture of his father and then putting an axe through it. It turns out that Yale Peyton was a friend of Vance’s.
Vance got a confession, but there’s only one problem: Gibbs doesn’t believe Nick. Gibbs has a good talk with the kid. They talk about Nick’s mother, the reason she left and they also talk about rehab. Nick had a girlfriend in rehab, that was why he agreed to go, but she died six months ago of a drugs overdose. Megan was Nick’s best friend, his girlfriend, the girl next door. Megan was Mark Stafford’s daughter.
Mark Stafford looks a likely suspect because he blamed Yale and not Nick. The axe belonged to Mark Stafford, yet the real killer was the missing mother. Nick does the responsible thing and wears a wire whilst she talks to him and tells him what happened. The mother is arrested.
There’s more to this episode than just the case though. There are references to past episodes; references to E.J Barrett, even though she did not appear in this episode; there’s the character of Vance and how he’s becoming so dark. I found it to be a good episode because I think the central character of Nick was well played by actor Cameron Monaghan, but I’m also looking forward to see what the future brings for NCIS. What are your thoughts on the episode? Please, feel free to share your TwoCents by clicking that reply button.