Season 8 Episode 16

Kill Screen

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Feb 22, 2011 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
285 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The NCIS team has to find a ruthless murderer after the dismembered fingertips and teeth of a murdered Marine are found in a pickpocketer's stolen purse.

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  • 816

    It's Gibbs vs. computer on this episode of NCIS, and it led to some enjoyable moments. One thing that this show has working on its side is that it skews very old, so most of its viewers can actually relate to Jethro's hate for technology. They had some special effects in this episode, and it was a little different, but that's not really why I liked. Why I usually enjoy NCIS is that it is easy viewing. You can turn it on, get a few laughs, see a little action and be on with your night. This episode followed the show's usual formula, and ergo it produced a strong enough episode.moreless
  • Bravo, you can do special effects.

    Am I the only one who finds it sickening to view all the dead bodies, body parts, all the time?

    How much more of this do we have to have served (on a daily basis, from a variety of sources) & why, really? It's just nasty and unneeded.. There are so many other ways to present a story, some might think that suspense could go with a show of this profile and genre for example. ;)

    ps. Think we all know what mmorpg is, thanks. Btw., whoa they really need to hire a better/different game/computer consultant next time they wanna film something like this. Episode was really, really weak. Had to give it a 6, don't hate, it was really difficult to pick a number (I have the entire show rated as a 9).moreless
  • Another excellent addition to the already brilliant Season 8.

    With the latest batch of emotional, character-driven episodes now in the past, NCIS seems to be getting back to the more thrilling, more action-packed storylines we all know and love. And I would say "Kill Screen" is definately one of those.

    Although a fairly well-used story, the computer hacking plot in this instance was well-written and played out nicely. I liked the moments Gibbs had throughout the episode, from the beginning with his baseball bat, when he shot the mainframe to pieces, and at the end when McGee is rushing to help him in his computer troubles. They all inject small moments of humor into the story, with Gibbs taking on the role of those of us who might not have a computer degree from MIT like McGee.

    I was slightly suprised when Martin turned up to investigate the hacking attempts from within NCIS, though that's not to say I didn't welcome it. There's been far to many instances when McGee has hacked into some government network with no repercussions so it was fitting that someone had finally been called to look into it. However, from the second time we saw Martin, when he spoke about his time in Marine ForceRecon, I knew instantly that he was the villain, the guy who was behind it all, which kind of ruined it because I was preparing myself to see something happen to McGee, especially when the main characters (mostly Abby) spent a lot of the episode building up to it. With regards to the ending, I'm glad they added Snyder's "kill switch" as it really gave the episode some much needed action and supsense, something that has been lacking in the previous few episodes.

    Finally, I thought the introduction of Maxine was a great thing for McGee. He has finally found someone who shares his interests and abilities. The two of them look like they could become something over the next few episodes and I really hope she becomes a recurring character. I'd hate her to be just a throw-away character created solely for this episode; that would definately take something away from the plot and, in retrospect, would make her appearance in "Kill Screen" feel very much contrived.

    The only negative point I can possibly say is that there are a lot of plot threads concerning computers that run throughout the episode, perhaps too many to justify. There's the main story of the hacking program, McGee's investigation (which evidently turns out to be connected), Maxine's online gaming, the side coversation between Ducky and Palmer, and then there's Gibbs' unrelated computer troubles. If the theme of the episode wasn't apparent by the first two, it certainly was after all five.

    All in all, the writers did a good job of making a potentially confusing story interesting and enjoyable to watch. "Kill Screen" is a great episode that continues the trend of (hopefully!) setting up future episodes and the season finale. My score, 9.5/10.moreless
  • Navy?

    Where has the Navy gone in the last few episodes of NCIS? Sure we have a marine killed here but that is a marginal tie to what this show used to be about. The story here seems a little late as MMORPG's have been huge for the last ten years but McGee meeting his match in Maxine and then even having Tony nudge him in the right direction was an interesting twist.

    I give our villain low marks. He reminded me of Joe Piscopo. I did not think his character was very well written with the veiled fake investigation. Here's a thought--if McGee has hacked into the Pentagon computers in the past, why does it take a network of 15 million computers driven by the video game to get through the five firewalls in this episode?moreless
  • Another interesting one! That is three good episodes in a row, and I am hoping NCIS is going to maintain this standard!

    I was highly satisfied with thiws week's NCIS episode. The case was interesting and quite good, but the episode was made by the Gibbs and his incompatability with technology segment.

    The case had a lot of great elements. We went from a pickpocketer, to a video game addict, to an arms dealer to a software creator. The different elements combined well to create a very unique and enjoyable episode.

    The end of the episode was undeniably my favorite part! Gibbs shooting down the mainframe computers was hilarious, and I really enjoyed it! Additionally, the end with McGee was good, and it will be interesting to see whether that storyline will develop further.

    All up, an inmpressive NCIS instalment! I am pleased, adn I hope and pray that NCIS will continue this standard, and we will not go back to the boring episodes like 'Freedom'. I'd defiinitely recommend this one!moreless
Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs

Michael Weatherly

Michael Weatherly

Special Agent Tony DiNozzo

Rocky Carroll

Rocky Carroll

Director Leon Vance

Cote de Pablo

Cote de Pablo

Special Agent Ziva David

Pauley Perrette

Pauley Perrette

Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto

Sean Murray (I)

Sean Murray (I)

Special Agent Tim McGee

Beth Riesgraf

Beth Riesgraf

Maxine Edwards

Guest Star

Jason Beghe

Jason Beghe

Blake Martin

Guest Star

Tamer Hassan

Tamer Hassan

Agah Bayar

Guest Star

Brian Dietzen

Brian Dietzen

Asst. M.E. Jimmy Palmer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • NITPICK: After Gibbs shoots the mainframe, one of the monitors flares up and continues the countdown so he shoots that one as well. Computer monitors simply visualize what's happening in the computer, they have nothing to do with the function of the computer itself, so the countdown should not have resumed once he had destroyed the main components.

    • NITPICK: Abby is extremely adamant that they cannot stop the program from hacking into the Pentagon because there are millions of computers they would have to take down in order to do it. She almost sounds hopeless, however, a second later, after McGee mentions there may be a mainframe, she says she knows exactly where it is.

    • GOOF: When McGee is attempting to fix Gibbs' computer, he uses the command "netconfig." On a Windows computer, which Gibbs has, the proper command is "ipconfig." We can see that Gibbs' IP address is This address is the standard "loopback" address and anyone trying to connect to will connect to themselves. Therefore, if Gibbs actually had been assigned this IP address, much more than his email wouldn't work. Additionally, McGee had little reason to calibrate Gibbs' monitor since Gibbs is not a graphic designer.

    • GOOF: In this episode, when McGee mentions the game Pong, Gibbs answers like he's never heard of it, yet in Season 1 episode "The Immortals." Gibbs mentions this game to DiNozzo, who asks Gibbs what that is.

  • QUOTES (17)

    • Pickpocket: Come on, man. This is harassment. That's my purse.
      Cop: (opens purse) What the hell? (drops purse and fingers fall out) Hands up where I can see them.
      Pickpocket: Whoa, whoa, whoa. (looks down and sees fingers) Whoa, that's not my purse.

    • Abby: (holding a jar labeled "Agent McGee Legal Defense Fund") Pony up! McGee is not going to jail if I can help it.
      Gibbs: Oh, McGee's not going to go to jail, Abbs.
      Abby: Can you say that with 100% certainty?
      (Gibbs tosses a coin in the jar)

    • (McGee bumps into Maxine in the squad room)
      McGee: Hi.
      Maxine: Tony said you weren't going to be at my debriefing.
      McGee: He did?
      Maxine: Yeah. But he passed along your message. Eight o'clock works great. See ya then? And thank you. (Maxine kisses McGee on the cheek, then leaves. He is left with a confused look on his face)
      Tony: Laser tag! You have a date.
      McGee: You didn't?
      Tony: Yes I did.
      McGee: Thanks, Tony.
      Tony: Don't mention it.
      (Gibbs smacks his computer)
      Gibbs: McGee! I hate this thing, McGee!
      McGee: Don't shoot!

    • (McGee and Ziva exit the elevator and walk to their desks in the squad room)
      Ziva: I would have liked to have seen Gibbs shoot that computer.
      McGee: Well, if I don't get his email working, you may get a second chance.
      Ziva: I almost shot Tony last night. We were stuck for almost three hours before the firemen were able to open up the fire doors.
      Tony: And you loved every second of it!

    • (After Gibbs reaches the mainframe and cuts the power)
      Gibbs: I cut all the power, it's still going.
      McGee: It must have an internal battery backup.
      Gibbs: A what?!
      McGee: That could also be booby trapped. Boss, we're gonna have to shut down the computer using the unit's command line. (Gibbs looks like he doesn't understand anything McGee is saying) Now listen to me very carefully- (Several gunshots can be heard over the radio) Boss, what's happening?! Boss, come in! Boss! Boss, what's happening?! Are you OK? Can you hear me?
      Gibbs: Game over.

    • (After Gibbs breaks down a wall)
      McGee: Boss, I think you just tripped a security system.
      Gibbs: Well untrip it!
      Tony: McGee, is there a reset button you can hit?
      McGee: Tony, this is not a video game, OK?

    • (Gibbs, Tony and Ziva are looking for the mainframe while McGee directs them from MTAC)
      McGee: Now there should be a corridor in front of you and move fast, we've only got three minutes and forty seconds left and I'm not having any luck shutting his mainframe down from here.
      (The three of them reach a dead end)
      Ziva: There's nothing.
      McGee: Not according to Snyder's map.
      Tony: (Tapping the wall) Hey, this is hollow. Find something to wedge it, Ziva, we can- (Gibbs kicks the wall down) Or we could do that.

    • (Ducky and Palmer are in Autopsy)
      Ducky: I'm not sure I follow. You kill the zombie...
      Palmer: And then, you kill their brains.
      Ducky: Wouldn't hypovolemic shock render the second step unnecessary?
      Palmer: No, no, no, because when you shoot a zombie in the head, sometimes the brains sneak out through the hole. And then, you have to kill that separately.
      Ducky: I see. I think.

    • Ziva: I spoke to the CEO at L9 Games, the company that makes Fear Tower 3. They have quite a facility. I mean, like, pool tables and saunas and, er... (Gibbs stares at her) ...and employees who are very focused on their work.

    • (Tony and Ziva arrive at Lisa Bock's yoga class)
      Lisa: (To her class) One more deep breath. All the way down to your route Chakra. Welcome to your body.
      Tony: And, er, also welcome to your friendly neighborhood NCIS agents. Don't worry everybody, we're here to talk to Lisa. We have a few questions, Lisa.
      Lisa: NOW?! I
      Tony: Uh-huh. I thought you were a martial arts instructor?
      Lisa: I was, but in light of some recent, er, legal troubles-
      Ziva: You slashed a student's tires?
      Lisa: My therapist suggested I find a new line of work.
      Tony: I approve.

    • (Abby shows Gibbs some evidence Ducky found)
      Abby: Pogostemon cablin. Smell.
      Gibbs: Hmm... smells like-
      Abby: Patchouli. It was used for centuries as an insecticide until it burst on the scene in the sixties as a perfume.
      Gibbs: Why are you having me smell that, Abbs?
       Abby: Because, Ducky found traces of this in the scratch that was on Armstrong's face. So, whoever he was with when he was killed was wearing it. Unfortunately, that narrows our suspect pool down to pretty much everyone that was at Woodstock.

    • (McGee and Ziva have just introduced themselves to Maxine Edwards, who then walks off to get changed.)
      Ziva: Why don't you go? I'll stay and, erm, finish the interview with the manager.
      McGee: How about I stay? Look, I'm supposed to be avoiding relationships and she's...
      Ziva: She's...?
      McGee: She's pretty and...
      Ziva: She's pretty.
      McGee: Fine, I'll go with her.

    • (McGee and Ziva are waiting for "Max Destructor" to come out of the LaserTag place)
      Ziva: Seems like an interesting way to spend money. (Looks at McGee who remains silent) Do you do this?
      McGee: No, no, no. It's too geeky. Even for me.
      Passing Player: Hey McGeeminator! You ready for a rematch?
      McGee:, actually, I'm here working, so...sorry.
      (The player walks away)
      Ziva: (Laughing) "McGeeminator?"
      McGee: Maybe I played once... or twice...

    • Palmer: That's one cold-blooded killer. He stops for a hot dog while getting rid of the evidence.
      Ducky: Well it's not uncommon for killers to find themselves unusually hungry after the act. It is uncommon, however, to find them disposing of the evidence in such a stylish bag.
      Palmer: Actually, it's a knock-off. You can tell by the stitching here and how steep the curves are in the 'C's...(Palmer looks up to see Gibbs, Tony and Ziva looking at him strangely)'s a long story...
      Tony: And quite a good catch, gremlin. Might help us trace it back to the killer.

    • (Gibbs walks back into the squad room as McGee is attempting to fix his computer)
      McGee: Thought you were going for coffee?
      Gibbs: Yeah, well, I was. Grab your gear. We got a dead marine, or at least some of him.
      McGee: Just gimme one second here, Boss. I almost have this fixed.
      (Gibbs pulls the computer cables)
      Gibbs: Fixed. Let's go.

    • (Tony and Ziva walk into the squad room as McGee cleans up the mess he made by spilling Gibbs' coffee on his desk)
      Tony: I hope you didn't break his computer. He doesn't like that thing even when it's working.
      McGee: I should'a listened to my horoscope. It said I should stay home today.
      Ziva: (Laughing) Your horoscope?
      Tony: What else did it say?
      McGee: Avoid new relationships, which after last week is probably not a bad idea either. (Tony laughs) What's so funny?
      Tony: Oh, just that you think you have a choice.
      Ziva: And that you read your horoscope.
      McGee: Just for fun. But it is interesting. I have been thinking about taking a break from dating for a while. (Both Tony and Ziva laugh) OK, now what's so funny?
      Tony: Same thing!

    • (Gibbs hits his computer monitor when the computer stops working properly)
      McGee: Er, Boss, I wouldn't do that. I just finished calibrating your... (Hits it again) ...monitors.
      Gibbs: It was working fine until you touched it.
      (McGee gets up to help him)
      McGee: Hmm... all I did was tweak the color gamma. Mind if I...? Thanks. I just need to restart your e-mail client... no... alright, let me try this...
      (Gibbs takes a baseball bat from underneath his desk and hits the computer with it.)
      McGee: Boss, that's, that's really not going to help.
      Gibbs: Well, it helps me.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Rocky Carroll (Director Leon Vance) does not appear in this episode though he is listed in the opening credits.

    • Original International Air Dates:
      : February 23, 2011 on Global
      : March 22, 2011 on Channel Ten
      United Kingdom
      : April 15, 2011 on FX/FX HD
      Sweden: April 26, 2011 on TV3
      The Netherlands
      : April 26, 2011 on SBS 6
      : July 1, 2011 on LaSexta
      Finland: September 6, 2011 on Nelonen
      Germany: September 18, 2011 on SAT 1
      Slovakia: November 10, 2011 on Markiza
      Czech Republic: April 23, 2012 on TV Nova


    • Maxine: You know I lied, you actually are my type.
      McGee: Danger Will Robinson.
      Maxine: I love that show.

      Maxine and McGee are referring to the TV show Lost in Space. It ran for 3 seasons with the robot often using this catchphrase to warn the young Will Robinson of imminent threats.

    • Abby: This could make WikiLeaks look like a tiny, dripping faucet!

      WikiLeaks is a non-profit organization that publishes secret documents and media submitted to it by anonymous sources. WikiLeaks has been criticized by the US and other governments over its release of classified material, one of the most controversial being the release of US State Department diplomatic cables in November, 2010.

    • Games for Windows

      The cover format of Fear Tower 3 closely resembles the format used on Microsoft's Games for Windows PC games, specifically the white bar across the top of the front cover with the small round icon in the upper left corner.

    • McGee: Not exactly Pong, huh?

      Pong, released in 1972, is one of the earliest arcade video games and is based on the game of tennis. Upon its release, the game became an immediate success and has spawned numerous sequels and remakes over the years. Pong is generally considered to be the game that launched the video game industry.

    • Tony: And, er, also welcome to your friendly neighborhood NCIS agents.

      Tony parodies the popular phrase as said by the 1969 Marvel comic book character, Spider-Man, which originally goes, "Just another service provided by your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!"

    • Abby: Unfortunately, that narrows our suspect pool down to pretty much everyone who was at Woodstock.

      The Woodstock Festivals were a series of music concerts, the first (and most well-known) of which was held in 1969 at White Lake, New York. It is still renowned for being the most peaceful festival ever, with very few recorded incidents considering the number of attendees.

    • Passing Player: Hey McGeeminator! You ready for a rematch?

      The player is referring the "Terminator" character, first seen in the 1984 film of the same name, directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role. Its success spawned the release of three further films and a television series.

    • McGee: Avoid new relationships, which after last week is probably not a bad idea.

      McGee is referring to the events of the previous episode, "Defiance", in which the girl he liked, Adriana, was revealed to be involved in her own kidnapping.

    • Title: Kill Screen

      A "kill screen" is a glitch in a computer game which causes the game to crash at a certain point and prevent the player from completing it.