NCIS

The Spoony One | Aug 9 2009 | more notation(s) | 
NCIS

A Review by Noah Antwiler

I know jack about NCIS, truth be told. I'm only watching this one because my brother stuffed the DVD into my hand and demanded that I watch the fourth episode. NCIS? I'll take "Acronyms You'd Never Guess In A Million Years" for $800, Alex! If there actually is an NCIS, I'd bet you three-quarters of the people in it couldn't tell you what it stands for either. Already this show is pissing me off and I'm just looking at the cover. You can't name your show after an acronym this stupid and unguessable! At least with CSI you had a shot. And what's worse is that it's yet another crime scene investigation show that got lost in the prime-time shuffle.

There are certain shows that become major successes, spawning a half-dozen clones that-- however good they might be-- are indistinguishable frοm one another. Like when Lost came out and a sudden glut of alien invasion cliffhanger shows clogged late-night TV. Before that the big success story was CSI, a horrible, massively overproduced show about insufferably smug crime scene investigators solving ludicrous, overly elaborate murders through the flagrant use of flashback sequences and POV camera sequences of bullets crashing in people's skulls. People loved it. People still love it. Fucked if I can tell why, but it produced a legion of clone shows, most of which were amusingly just CSI in different cities like the incredibly dreary CSI: NY (doubling up on the acronyms because it looks cooler than just spelling New York) and CSI: Miami (or as I like to call it, CSI: M), what I consider to be the worst show on television. Then you had really idiotic ideas like NUMB3RS (because 133t 5p33k is t3h ru1z), the ill-fated Dragnet retread, Cold Case, and on and on.

So really what you've got is an acronym collision between CSI and JAG. No coincidence there because the writer of NCIS test-fired the pilot disguised as a two-part episode of JAG. He writes them both. Sort of like what the Highlander series did in the sixth season when all they were doing was screen-testing female immortals for a lame spinoff.

Why are they all looking in different directions?

It just looks derivative as hell, doesn't it? Look, if I want to watch CSI, that's all SpikeTV plays. If I want to watch JAG I'll ask my brother to issue me a savage beating. I can't work up any enthusiasm when shows like this are blatant attempts to cash in on flash-in-the-pan success. I loathe spinoffs and I don't know why the entertainment industry is so creatively bankrupt that its only response to duplicate the same shit that's accrued any significant viewership and throw buckets of it against the wall in the hopes that some of it will stick. All I know is that the last people you want to associate with are the people who write these crime shows. They're sick, sick people. Think about it; you're a writer for one of the many crime shows on television and really your only job is to find new and creative ways to murder people. All they do is sit alone in a room and plot out how to kill people in ways that nobody would ever figure out. Tell me that's not creepy!

I don't know how they do it. For all my complaining about creative bankruptcy they still manage to churn out a new murder plot every week. CSI alone has figured out every conceivable way to murder another human being including lead poisoning due to tainted M&Ms made frοm unsafe pesticides used on African cocoa plants. That particular episode had to have been reverse-engineered starting only with the premise "death by chocolate" and working backwards. Take into account all the crime shows since then and it's a wonder crime still exists in any form. You're telling me Gil Grissom can solve all these murders but he can't find out who killed Tupac?

On the other hand, most of these murder plots are ridiculously convoluted and as much as people credit these shows' intelligence, anyone with experience in the field of criminal justice will tell you that everything about them is flat-out wrong, wrong, wrong. Ask a cop about how realistic CSI is and be prepared to be yelled at for a few hours. The worst episodes I can remember, though, are the plots involving gamers and nerds. I remember a horrible episode of Law & Order: CI involving vampire LARPers who orchestrated a murder through some kind of autoerotic asphyxiating carbon dioxide chamber sex toy...thingy. The worst I ever saw was an ep of CSI: Miami that must have made Jack Thompson cream in his shorts about a group of psychotic gamers re-enacting the Grand Theft Auto videogames in real life. The ringleader drank himself to death on Jolt Cola after a 72-hour gaming jag just to get a little "ripped frοm the headlines" action.

I'm watching this episode of NCIS, called The Immortals, with very little advance knowledge of the plot or the series. All I know is that it involves gamers in some fashion, too, which means that I'm in for an incredibly stupid ride. There's never been an episode written about gamers yet that hasn't been outright insulting to our intelligence. There may be more nerds out there, but for some reason the mainstream cultural ignorance about us is still mired in the Mazes & Monsters era where people still think reading enough D&D books will cause people to lose all touch with reality and walk around claiming to be an elf princess, or playing enough GTA will cause people to pick up hookers for the health boost then back over them with their car to get their money back. Hookers giving a health boost? Fantasy.

Huh, this DVD was produced by CBS. No wonder I never saw this show. It's even got a little menu at the beginning that asks if I'd like the main menu or if I feel like suffering through ten minutes of previews. For some reason this strikes me as very, very funny. "Would you like some ice cream or would you rather get slapped around by a feral gorilla for a little while first?"

The show opens immediately on a small yacht cruising around with a group of 4 twenty-somethings partying down. Well not so much partying down as sitting around in international waters in a near comatose state of advanced drunkenness and listening to hideously annoying island music. There's not really much room on this skiff to do much else, really. One of the guys in an upsetting state of shirtlessness stands up on the side of the boat, flings his arms in the air like Leonardo DiCaprio on the prow of the Titanic and screams "YEAAAAAAHHHH!!!" presumably in celebration of the fact that beer is really really good. He snatches up some goggles and slurs out the words "C'maaahn!" as he prepares to dive into the ocean.

"BOOOOOOOOZE! WOOOOOO!!!"

His friend who looks an awful lot like Dean Cain (and therefore Superman) warns him that someone told him there were mako sharks spotted in these waters. I heartily endorse your plan of diving in the water. Drunkie pshaws and says the odds of being devoured by mako sharks are like, 10,000 to one, man. He saw it on the Discovery Channel, which is really just something to say so you can win arguments without proof. You calling the Discovery Channel a liar? And the best part is, if you're wrong you can just blame the Discovery Channel to keep frοm looking stupid. I'm more worried about those damn stingrays. I demand a documentary on those murdering sons of bitches on the Discovery Channel so I know how to track and kill them.

The guy dives in the water over the objections of his friends and swims along the coral reef until he nearly swims into the drowned corpse of a sailor in full dress uniform, complete with sabre with weights chained to his waist. I guess Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.

The credits are set to an oddly inappropriate piece of house techno which doesn't exactly scream "Navy" or "Criminal Investigation" to me, but I suppose they're trying to hip it up for the kids. The cast appears to be the Smug Know-It-All, his Cute But Not Quite Hot Chick With a Gun Simmering Love Interest That May or May Not Pay Off By the End of the Season, the Rookie Kid With Groovy Modern Slang Who Can Relate What We're Seeing To People Who Have No Idea What's Going On, the Crotchety Seen-It-All Coroner, and the Hot But Perky Semi-Goth Lab Rat. Your standard loadout for a crime show, but the Hot But Perky Semi-Goth Lab Rat seems mighty out of place, as does the complete lack of a Token Black/Hispanic Guy.

We're taken to NCIS Headquarters (I assume), an impossibly high-tech installation with wood paneling, lots of ringing phones, and huge plasma-screen TVs with pertinent information everywhere. Smug Know-It-All outlines the facts, Dead Guy drowned less than 24 hours ago and was stationed on the USS Foster on maneuvers down to Roosevelt Roads. Chick With a Gun spouts off that she knows exactly what class of destroyer the Foster is, and Smuggie is all "whoopie for you." Did anyone ask you? Does anyone care? No? Then clamp your piehole, lady.

Someone drowned Lance Bass!

Rookie Guy starts whipping out his cock and beating it all over the Dead Guy's dossier, hooting about how Roosevelt Roads is a part of Puerto Rico and how he loves the place. "How great for you," Smuggie drones, clearly wanting to hook his fingers into Rookie's nostrils and ram his skull violently into a filing cabinet.

"No! No!" Rookie continues, "I mean I love Puerto Rico. I mean I LOOOOOOVE it!" He accentuates the word LOOOOOVE by clenching his fists and vibrating like a schoolgirl who just got asked to the prom by Brad Michaelson, complete with little gay hopping between his feet and an orgasmic rolling-back of his eyes. Oh sweet merciful Christ I think I may be ill.

The briefing grinds to a halt as Smuggie and Chick With a Gun share a glance at each other wondering who's going to jump on this crazy grenade. Finally she indulges him, hoping this is going to be short. "You been there a lot?" she asks.

"No, that's just it! I've never been there!" Smuggie subconsciously reaches for the fountain pen on his desk, every primeval urge in his body screaming to stab him in the eye and swirl it around in his forebrain until the office is cleansed in his sweet virgin blood. "But I've always wanted to go! Ever since I was a kid I was soooooo..." he drifts off, rubbing his nipples and humping Smuggie's leg.

"...wanting to go," Smuggie finishes the sentence, realizing that he's just snapped the pen in half resisting his murderous impulses. The Rookie silenced, he looks around to see if he can continue with the briefing at last or if he really does have to sew someone's ass to their face to get some respect around here. Everyone stays quiet. Apparently nobody knew he was missing until he failed to report for duty.

Rookie asks, "anything else unusual?" I'm sure he's getting to that, you stupid shitnugget.

They go to the morgue where the Dead Guy is stretched out on a slab. Crotchety Coroner says "this is exactly how he was found." Well except for him not being underwater. They wonder at why he's in his dress whites when there were no formal events scheduled, and why he's wearing an officer's sword when he's clearly an enlisted man. The coroner whips the sword out and says it gets even weirder; the sword has been sharpened and is clearly a lethal weapon. Then he goes on to ask why people drive on the left in England (he happens to be English so I suppose he'd know). Nobody knows or gives a shit, but he explains that it goes back to medieval times. Most people are right-handed so it allowed people to hack at each other in-passing while on horseback. Hey you stupid mick, when you get near something resembling useful information wake us up.

Chick With a Gun asks about the chain around his waist, so he shows them the 25-lbs. weights attached to him when he sank. "Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get this seaman out of these wet clothes!"

"You're not going to say 'and into a dry martini,' are you?" Rookie asks. Um, eew, no...Rookie, you're really creeping the hell out of me, you know that? I think maybe you need to sit this case out.

Smuggie tells Rookie to get his ass over to the Dead Guy's mom's place and conduct an interview. Rookie whines something about wanting to go to Puerto Rico and asks why Chick With a Gun wouldn't be a better choice. She tells him he's the new guy, bottom of the heap, and shit rolls downhill. Smuggie wonders aloud when his orders suddenly became open to debate and sends them both to remind them they're both his bitches. Good on you, bro. Keep that pimp hand strong.

The Wonder Twins arrive at Dead Guy's home, and Rookie gets out of the car looking like he's about to blow chunks. He must have seen the next two acts in the script. Apparently he's okay looking at bloated, waterlogged corpses but interviewing the bereaved just makes him all icky inside. Chick With a Gun tells him to close his eyes and think of Puerto Rico which actually seems to clear his head. I'm thinking we just send this assclown to Puerto Rico for a week to keep him out of our hair for this case. If this guy thinks he's gonna land any choice 'Rican pussy this trip should do wonders to give him a sense of perspective, because he's a Haddaway soundtrack away frοm being a Roxbury boy.

They go inside and Rookie immediately shirks his duties to go stare at a sword mounted on the wall while CWAG interviews Mom. CWAG asks why Dead Guy didn't appear to have many friends, but Mom says that he had tons of friends that he talked about in his letters home. Rookie asks if the sword was his, but it actually belonged to his father who apparently was a Scottish woad berserker, killed fighting Edward Longshanks when Dead Guy was twelve. CWAG asks if Dead Guy showed any outward signs of depression or suicidal thoughts, but Mom shoots that one down right away. He might have been a quirky dude, but suicide is a mortal sin, she says, and the camera pans to a little statuette of the Virgin Mary. I guess if you commit suicide Mary will be waiting in the afterlife to kick your ass.

They leave the house. CWAG wonders aloud if it's always this hard to interview a dead person's family, and Rookie says he wouldn't know, he's never done it before. I got news, buttfudge, you still haven't. She did all the work. CWAG can't believe this news and asks how that's possible if before joining the NCIS he was a homicide cop in Baltimore. Rookie replies that he always had someone else do the interviews. So basically what this show is telling me is that Rookie is a complete pantywaist who pawns off his duties on others. CWAG looks like she wants to jam the car's cigarette lighter into this guy's balls and fill his pants with rock salt. I hope Rookie does go to Puerto Rico and scores with some nasty, dirty 400 lbs. pre-op named Rusty and gets anal herpes.

Cut to some stock footage of a helicopter landing on a destroyer. The gang climbs out with all their gear and speaks with the Master Chief.

Not THAT Master Chief!

Smuggie asks the usual barrage of get-to-know-ya questions: anyone see anything, what's the deal with the dead guy, blah blah. Master Chief says he doesn't know much, the Dead Guy kept to himself. Smuggie puts on a bit of an air of superiority and says "That seems to be the consensus... (massive beat in the script so large it could crush a bus) or the party line." Did Smuggie just implicate the entire crew of a destroyer as accessories to murder? This guy is cynical, man!

The Big MC tells them they're stationed in the XO's quarters, and I bet he's doing fucking cartwheels on the deck over this one. Bounced out of his quarters for some lab rats? By the time they get to his cabin the XO's leaving and he looks just ecstatic he's got three idiots stanking up the quarters he spent years trying to get. Smuggies tries to thank him but the XO doesn't even look his way as he says "Yeah no problem, hope you die" (only without the 'hope you die' part). CWAG seems a little non-plussed that they're getting such a blasé reaction frοm the crew. Like she was expecting a bellhop to take her luggage and a mint on her pillow. Smuggie tells her not to worry about it: to these guys NCIS is to the Navy what Internal Affairs is to the police. Only shows about Internal Affairs and real cops are way cooler. Like The Shield.

CWAG suddenly realizes with horror that they're all sleeping in a room the size of a McDonald's bathroom stall. There's a long moment of internal debate in her head over whether or not she'd prefer to sleep with a bunch of sex-starved, dateless, hideous, unappealing, horny men or the crew of the USS Foster. Welcome to the Navy.

Smuggie heads down to the barracks where everyone gives him a "yeah, whatever" reaction. He pulls one guy aside who happens to be Dead Guy's roommate, Petty Officer Carnahan, who doesn't know anything. Hobbies? Uh, I never paid attention. Friends? I don't know, the guy kept to himself. (I guess it is the party line!) Smuggie presses him for info but doesn't seem all that surprised that everyone on the ship is clamming up over this. He tosses the guy's bunk and finds absolutely nothing. I mean nothing. No candy wrappers, no letters, no porn?

Commence...wanking!

Rookie hits the ship's CIC and asks the resident IT guru, some lieutenant about the Dead Guy. The lieutenant says he was good with a computer. Rookie somehow senses weakness here and really starts hammering on this issue. Good? He was good? Well how good? Better than you? (I mean he's getting in this guy's face now)

The Lieutenant says he graduated frοm MIT and he'd really like the six inches in front of his face back. Dead Guy was a year out of high school. Rookie keeps wailing on about how the best IT nerd at NCIS is a Harvard grad and when he gets stuck he calls his 14-year old nephew. So how good was he, huh? Huh? Was he real good? I mean really really good? The Lieutenant rolls his eyes and says yes, the Dead Guy was very, very good. Even better than YOU? The Lieutenant sighs and says "yeah, even better than me," probably just to get this nutjob out of his face. The Lieutenant says he doesn't know if the Dead Guy killed himself, but it's definitely possible. He was trouble, and he'd been distracted lately. The Rookie, triumphant in getting some guy to admit that another guy was really good at computers, isn't really listening. He's too busy pumping his fist in the air and hooting "WHO DA MAN!" over his superior interrogation skills. Truly, this investigation is getting somewhere.

CWAG is talking to the medical corpsman. Who happens to be a woman. She says that Dead Guy was having trouble adjusting to life aboard ship (no shit) and that he'd been growing obsessed with some mysterious friend nobody ever had met "who was here, but not here," probably named Harvey the Rabbit. But there was no way he'd kill himself, no way!

The group convenes on the deck to pool their knowledge, which isn't much. We can pretty much rule out an accident, can't we? The general concensus is that suicide is unlikely. But we've got a guy in his dress-whites with a sword he shouldn't have that shouldn't be sharp with weights attached to him. Not only that, Smuggie says, but he was teaching himself how to use it. He holds up a book he found in the guy's pillowcase entitled "The Japanese Sword Art of Iaido." Why would he feel compelled to hide a relatively mundane book in his pillowcase? And where was he practicing to use this sword? Below decks in a destroyer? Where would an enlisted man even keep a sword? I imagine he was standing on the prow of the ship, shirt off, chest oiled, going through katas as the sun rose majestically behind him like Connor MacLeod.

Perky Semi-Goth chimes in over a video conference on the latest analyses: the only other things he had on him were a St. Christopher medal and a "character charter" for an MMORPG. Everyone looks blankly at Pigtails and stammers "MMO-whatchucallem?" So she gives out the brief Dummy's Guide to MMORPGs and explains that a character charter is a listing of an online fantasy character's basic attributes, goals, morals, ethical code, etc.. Smuggie loses interest almost immediately, his eyes glazing over at all this nerd-talk. He gripes that he's glad the Navy's million-dollar machines are being put to good use so some nerdlinger can sling spells on Everquest. Somehow I doubt you could get away with this on a military vessel's CIC while on-duty. God, I pray you can't.

Smuggie finally asks if these games are violent. Pigtails considers this and says "well there's poisoning, thievery, stabbings, decapitations (no there isn't!), the occasional garrote (I had a bleed-rogue on WoW who did this shit all the time)." Suddenly I'm having mean flashbacks of another movie here...

Rookie agrees that's pretty violent, looking suddenly very afraid that these gamers are lurking everywhere with swords unsheathed and an unsated bloodlust for crime scene investigators.

Smuggie says all right, then what should they look for next? Pigtails says if he was any good he wouldn't leave any traces. Yeah, except for...oh I don't know, Everquest installed on the computer? CWAG suddenly says there's only one place they might find any answers, and waits for everyone to stop and look at her, allowing the beat written in her script to detonate in the middle of the room like a fucking atom bomb. Where should we look? TELL ME!!

"CYBERSPACE!!!"

Okay, nobody calls it cyberspace. Nobody. Ever. Only TV reporters writing exposés about kiddie porn and chat room stalkers use the word 'cyberspace' and that's only because they don't know what in the hell they're talking about. It just sounds like a cool word because it has the scary word "cyber" and the spacey word "space" which makes it sound like something horrific and Kubrickian. Really the word 'cyberspace' only exists to let real nerds know who the posers are and whether or not we can take anything someone has to say about technology seriously. It's the Internet. We don't even call it the 'Net. "The 'Net" is gay. We just say "the Internet." Honestly these writers are frigging clueless.

Pigtails says maybe she could find something on teh intarweb, but "these gaming sites are all run on anonymous server-clients in every country on the planet." Um, no they're not. They're totally not. Gaming companies keep meticulous records so they can bill you. Here's a tip: try checking his goddamn credit card bill. And what the hell is a "server-client." I guess she's referring to the client-server model of computing, but it still doesn't make any sense why she thinks every online game ever made in every country is completely anonymous.

CWAG says that the Dead Guy's file didn't show that he had any foreign-language skills "so the file you're looking for is probably in English." FUCKING BRILLIANT! I'm glad we've got these college grads heading up the murder investigation! Rookie chimes in that he was using some hi-tech government machines, and that equals phat bandwidth! Pigtails agrees and says that eliminates the "weekenders and lo-fi guys." I still have no clue what she's talking about. She also says that the sword he was carrying had nicks in it frοm coming into contact with other metal thingies.

They video-conference over to British Coroner Guy (depressingly named Ducky") who's literally halfway through the autopsy. He concludes frοm the salt water in his lungs and the dirt under his fingernails that he was alive when he went into the water. Why it's almost like he drowned or something!

Rookie talks to a random ensign about the officer's swords, who says that all 36 officers' swords are accounted for. He doesn't know how an enlisted man might have gotten a hold of one unless the clerk at the base exchange was too lazy to check IDs, but he would have had to hide it because enlisted men aren't allowed to carry weapons on the ship. "That'd be insane!"

The captain of the Foster tells Smuggie that Dead Guy had been in fixing his PC, but he seemed really out of it so he ordered a drug test that came up negative. Smuggie mentions the MMORPGs and the captain is familiar with them; his kids play them all the time. Smuggie says he thinks Dead Guy took it a step further and was having sword battles with someone else on the ship. The captain is incredulous and asks how the hell anyone would have a swordfight with anyone else on a ship and not get caught. Smuggie's all "you tell me, dickhead." So the captain finally reckons that the only place would be damage control at night.

I had this expression when I learned how bad they nerfed paladins. Jackholes.

Pigtails is busy in her office playing an MMORPG as some kind of hot Night Elf in bondage gear, heavy on the tats. You know, those fantasy elves who have gigantic boobs and seem perfectly comfortable running all over the place wearing thigh boots and a leather thong into battle. She's leaning way in towards the screen to get a better look at her elf's ass, giving every male viewer on the planet a tingling lesbian vibe that no doubt keeps them tuning in to watch NCIS week after week hoping she gets topless. Ducky wanders past her office as she's playing the game and giving a running commentary, as if this game is the most kickass MMO ever and she's already completely and hopelessly ensorcelled by the magic of Azeroth. Ducky stops and stares at this hot chick geeking out (not that I blame him) when she suddenly screams "turning left into the dungeon...and I spy a...OHHH! GREAT STAFF OF POWER!!"

Dude, she got a Great Staff of Power? I went through Scarlet Monastery like a dozen times and couldn't get that drop.

Ducky enters her office looking more than a little scared as she explains "I already surpassed the third level of the fortress and made it into the dungeon corridor of the castle's only stronghold...well, after slaying two gnomes, some drunken dwarf and a frenzied ogre." She ganked an innocent dwarf while he was gettin' his drink on? Whore.

Ducky edges back out of the office very, very slowly.

CWAG goes back to the medical corps(wo)man and asks for complete records of all documented laceration treatments over the last couple of months. She says it'll take a couple of hours to which CWAG replies, "I like the symmetry." Um, what? She also follows up on Dead Guy's mystery friend and asks if he seemed afraid of Harvey the Rabbit. The corps(wo)man says he only mentioned it once, and it wasn't so much fear as awe.

Ducky comes back with a fresh load of caffeine for Pigtails, who is still leaning so close to her monitor her eyes are about to melt out of her skull. She lurches to one side of her chair, announcing that she's just dodged a flaming arrow. Ducky, in that way only long-suffering British butlers can affect, patronizes her with a monotone "Yes. Well done." She keeps going on about how she's almost reached the middle of the orc-lord's fortress in cringe-inducing dialogue that only continues to hammer home the point the writers have never played an MMORPG in their lives and know fuck all about gamer culture. I really can't take much more of this pseudo-geek-speak.

She explains that she doesn't know if the Dead Guy was playing "The Immortals," but if she can reach the orc lord's stronghold she can see a list of all the people who have ever played this particular game. Ooooooookay. So mighty warriors frοm all across the land routinely conquer the orc lord's castle and tag their name on the wall? Ducky shouts a warning that there's an orc approaching, but too late, she's dismembered before she can cast a Shield of Faith. "Now I have to infiltrate the fortress all over again!" she whines. Baby, all you gotta do is type "LFG Orc Fortress PST" and they'll run you through that sombitch in no time.

Ducky sighs and stuffs the Thirstbuster of Caf-Pow! into her grubby mitts, hoping that a little magic potion will aid her quest. Poor Ducky. He studied medicine at Oxford to work in this hole.

Later, Pigtails rings Smuggie up on the Foster and explains that she finally found where Dead Guy was spending most of his dragonslaying hours. Apparently has was playing "Weylan the Elf Warrior-Prince" or some shit, and he had an online rival named Kinvaris. And their favored method of dispute was the parley. Smuggiesayswhat? Parley, she explains very slowly. You know, swordfighting? Um...no it isn't! Parley is just about the farthest thing frοm swordfighting. It's just talking in order to avoid a fight, isn't it? Guh. Anyway, she says that's not all, the guy who played Kinvaris also logs in frοm the USS Foster! Wow, she learned a lot frοm conquering that fortress. Apparently the list you get to read of everyone who's ever played The Immortals comes complete with a full set of IP addresses and GPS coordinates. Couldn't you just call up the corporate office with a warrant or something?

Spacewar: the eternal struggle between chubby rockets and skinny commie rockets!

"The same ship you're on!" she continues. Yeah, dumbass, I think he got that. Instead of giving her a bitter retort, he just hangs up the phone like a dick.

"Imagine," Smuggie laments, "Pong turning into online roleplaying."

"Pong?" Rookie asks like a complete fucking tool. Oh please, like nobody knows what Pong is.

"The first ever videogame," he explains. No it wasn't! The first ever videogame was Spacewar! developed at MIT in 1961. I'm a nerd. I know these things. Do your research, NCIS. Your half-witted fumbling in my domain insults me.

They both wonder at what the odds are that two people playing the same MMORPG who happen to be bitter rivals just happened to be stationed on the same U.S. destroyer. Quite good? Smuggie theorizes that someone found out his online archenemy was stationed on the same ship and decided to take their rivalry to the next level: swordfighting like crazed idiots!

Rookie offers to go down to Puerto Rico, the Foster's usual port-of-call, go undercover to buy a sword, bust the clerk, and extort the identity of the guy who plays Kinvaris out of him! It should only take him, oh, 24 hours. Smuggie sighs and lets him go to fucking Puerto Rico just so he'll shut up about it and gambles he might actually try to get some work done.

Pigtails is busy "hacking" The Immortals game and finds a place where every gamer has a link to their personal website. It just so happens that Dead Guy fashioned an elaborate ego site to his own character Weylin, but she runs into some kind of password protection. She brings up one of those Mission: Impossible computer programs called "Codebreaker 7.8" that starts scrolling through assloads of possible passwords at high speed. Guys, computers so don't work this way. If you didn't know that already I doubt you'd have even been able to open up a browser to read this. "This is gonna take a while," she says. I hear ya, baby. I hear ya.

Rookie arrives in Puerto Rico on a helicopter with registration number 740, which is funny because he left the Foster in a helicopter marked 406. He goes to the base exchange, staffed by a Salma Hayek-looking hottie behind the counter. He poses as a petty officer named Holt trying on some sunglasses, announces that he's going to buy them, and then (using years of undercover techniques honed to a razor edge) blurts out "oh and I think I'll have a naval officer's sword!" Salma doesn't seem interested, saying she'd lose her job if she sold a moron like him one of those. So he whines and pleads until she finally whispers that she'll give him one for $800 if he'll leave her alone. Rookie flashes his badge and shouts "GOTCHA! Now you got some s'plainin' to do!" The intimidation ploy doesn't work because she starts screaming stuff in Spanish like Ricky Ricardo throwing a shit-fit and throwing objects frοm the counter at him, driving him into a full-blown retreat! So much for your master plan, butthead.

CWAG and Smuggie go down to damage control and find that someone has indeed been beating up the pipes with a sword. Smuggie still doesn't think that there was anyone else on board who wanted to kill him (even though about 5 minutes ago he said he did). CWAG asks if that were true, why he sent Rookie to Puerto Rico to follow up that theory. Mainly to get rid of him, I'd guess. Smuggie says it's being thorough, look into it. CWAG gets all self-righteous about the suicide theory, about how a Catholic would neeeeeever ever do it. Smuggie goes "suuuure sure" which only pisses her off more and makes her go off on a tirade about the significance of the Saint Christopher medal which proves he would never have contemplated suicide. Maybe he was being ironic!

Rookie calls up frοm a bar and tells him he got a list of a few people who may have illegally bought swords frοm the shop. It's a cute plan with one fatal flaw: maybe an officer on the Foster legally bought a second sword to use recreationally. Didn't think of that one, did ya?

They pore through the piles of medical records which stacked on the desk are about two-feet high. There were this many major lacerations documented in two months? CWAG finds an interesting record of a guy who apparently cut his arm on some plate glass, but for some reason the doctor was observant enough to notice and document that there was no glass in the wound. Is there usually? What I find funny is that the doctor was astute enough to note the lack of glass in the wound, but not that there's no plate glass anywhere on a destroyer.

Anyway, they go off to interview the guy and catch him playing the game right away. "Last I checked there wasn't a crime against virtual homicide" the guy says. No, but there is a crime against the misappropriation of Navy computer equipment for personal use, dickwad. The guy brushes it off, saying everyone games a little in CIC. Smuggie counters with some weird "which came first, the online chicken or the CIC egg" rhetorical which splats all over the floor like an overripe watermelon. The guy says he didn't even know the Dead Guy was playing The Immortals with him for a long time but they had a pretty good laugh over it when they found out. "Well he's not laughing now, is he?" Smuggie growls. Bah, he walked right into that line.

Meanwhile, Pigtails has finally broken the website security and penetrated Weylin's innermost secrets, which are...pages and pages of Weylin fiction that he wrote about his own character. She brushes aside the incredibly huge pile of empty Thirstbuster cups to get to the phone and gets CWAG, explaining that Dead Guy was a complete raving nutter with "diahhroea of the keyboard" (heh!) who wrote endlessly about his online adventures. So a guy has a personal hobby and writes fanfiction, so what? Night Elf slash-porn is a perfectly acceptable creative outlet!

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CWAG offers to pore through the gigabytes of filthy slashfic, which Pigtails is only too happy to send over.

Smuggie asks if Kinvaris ever killed Weylin...in the game of course. "Sure," the guy says, "I decapitated that n00b lotsa times. Pissed him off." Bad move! You just set yourself up for him to infer it made him mad enough to come after you for real! Kinvaris backpedals, denying any involvement in real swordfights, but Rookie tags in and shows him the illicit sword he used to brawl with him. Kinvaris comes clean, confessing that they had a few scrapes in damage control and it seemed like a cool idea. I'd almost believe that if they weren't fighting with swords they specifically sharpened to be horribly lethal.

"Sure," says Smuggie, "until you got cut, and it frightened you. You found out that McDonald was playing for real."

The guy snarls in thinly-suppressed rage and says with lethal certainty "Kinvaris is never afraid!" And he was nowhere near him when the guy died; he was helping someone else with a computer problem.

CWAG is busy printing out reams of Weylin's personal journal, a passage of which I'll share with you now:

I'm constantly being scrutinized by the crew. Every move I make is monitored by calculating eyes. I'm sure at this point they're in allegiance with Kinvaris.

I can't let them know I'm onto them. The element of surprise is of great advantage to my final triumph!

Wow. I'll just let you soak in that load of crazy and reflect on how many ways this would never happen. I mean let's not even go into the notion that roleplaying games can make you lose touch with reality and spend every waking moment of your life in-character thinking you're Pardeux the Holy Man. We covered that in Mazes & Monsters. My point is that this is an MMORPG, and every MMO I've ever seen or heard about is heavy on the MMO, light on the RPG. I even hang out on RP-servers in-character, and even for RP-servers that's about a one-percentile of the total gamer population. Nobody actually roleplays on an MMORPG. People barely take the effort to speak unless it's to spam the public channel to see who's interested in a trip to the Deadmines. There's certainly no roleplaying on the level that would make you a raving paranoid that makes you see conspiracies with evil gods on a Navy destroyer. It's like playing Magic cards and suddenly thinking your friend Larry is secretly working to summon a Sengir Vampire to kill you out of revenge for beating him in a tournament last Saturday.

And why would Weylin the Mighty Elf Warrior jump into the ocean bearing his sword of power and wearing a U.S. Navy dress uniform? Wouldn't he be wearing plate mail or some appropriate battle vestments befitting a warrior of his stature? I guess finding a guy in a horned viking helmet wearing ring mail would have given it away too soon, huh.

Smuggie checks on Kinvaris' alibi with Carnahan, who says he hired him to deal with his computer problem. Carnahan was downloading "stuff" (read: terabytes of filthy bukakke porn) and his CO was getting suspicious so he hired Kinvaris to dispose of it. Dude, you couldn't drag-and-drop a fucking folder in the Recycle Bin? That takes like two seconds. Smuggie ain't buying it either, saying it must have been a lot of porn to keep them busy all night. You know it! It's a man's life in the U.S. Navy!

"I have a lot of free time on my hands, sir," Carnahan says feebly. That's not all you've got on your hands, spoogemonkey.

Ducky reports in basically to say he has nothing to report. There were no signs of struggle and certainly no signs someone threw him into the ocean. Kinvaris is an asshole but his alibi is relatively airtight, so they're back to suicide. CWAG still doesn't think so, but not because of the Catholic thing anymore; judging frοm his diary, Weylin was obsessed with continuing his battle with Kinvaris and he wouldn't kill himself because his feud was too important. In his last entry he rants about how he'll finally take his revenge and remove the head frοm his enemy when he leaves this ship, spreading a great plague throughout the kingdom on the next full moon, and frοm there it trails off into a page of "LOLOLOL"s.

Smuggie looks in Dead Guy's dossier and notes that he applied and washed out of the NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) program. Passed the physical, flunked the psych. No duh. Everyone groans realizing that the guy they're investigating was a complete nutbar who just threatened to set off a biological weapon on board the Foster and-- oh CRAP-- it's a full moon. They wisely raise the alarm and sound general quarters. At least the captain takes them seriously and doesn't pull the usual "what do you know, egghead" bullshit you usually get frοm the hardass CO character.

"Kinvaris does not answer to the laws of man!"

They decide to put Kinvaris on the case trying to hack Dead Guy's computer and find out where the bomb is. As soonas he tries, though, he triggers a virus that crashes the system to a Black Screen of Death that announces "ALL DATA LOST." All data except for a .wav file that taunts him by saying "DIE, KINVARIS, DIE!!" Could. Not. Happen! Smuggie roughs him up and says he better get his act together by sunset or everyone's going to die. Kinvaris protests that he doesn't know anything about any kind of biological bomb, just that Weylin was nucking futs. He thought they were just playing until the guy actually tried to kill him with a sword, but he continues to deny trying to take revenge. If he tried to stab you with a sword for real, why wouldn't you go to the MPs about this? I mean sure they'd bust you for having a weapon on board but the guy tried you murder you. And frοm his ramblings it seems clear he intended to keep trying to murder the guy.

But instead he challenged Weylin to prove he was immortal by taking his sword and swimming to shore with weights chained to his waist. Yeah, that's a rational way to resolve the feud. Even more amazing is the fact that Weylin was psychotic enough to do it. "Why in the hell would you tell him to do THAT??" Smuggie screams.

A strange look passes over Kinvaris' face as he says (and by god I give this actor credit for being able to say this line with a straight face) "To win the game."

Face, meet palm.

The captain storms off to his cabin and demands that Smuggie follow him. CWAG is still poring over Weylin's journal and puzzling over the phrase "remove the head frοm my enemy" on the journal, figuring that maybe since he saw the crew as just as much a threat to him as Kinvaris, maybe "head" refers to the captain. Sounds flimsy, but no sooner do they pull the captain out of his quarters does his desk explode and destroys the whole room! Then they all die of a biological contaminant! Yay!!

Actually they're all fine. The desk may never recover.

Pigtails tries to spend the next three minutes explaining this dumb-as-fuck plot to Ducky who looks about as exasperated with this story as I am. She recaps the whole thing, top to bottom, and it still doesn't make any sense because it still relies on the notion that a guy who believes he's a noble elf warrior who can breathe underwater gets set up to jump in the ocean with weights chained to him by his online rival to prove he wields the power of Greyskull or something. Ducky, you desperately need to file for a transfer.

The others are leaving the ship ASAP considering they nearly blew up the captain. CWAG is waxing philosophical about how easily the line between reality and fantasy gets blurred (shya, right), but nobody's really paying any attention to her. Rookie whips out some presents he got for them frοm Puerto Rico. Smuggie gets a D&D book (in Spanish) and CWAG gets a two-piece bikini: a bottom and a hat. Hah! Sexual harassment is hilarious!

If that's the caliber of the research done by the writers of NCIS, they really need to beware the sacrilege.

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