Season 1 Episode 1

Yankee White

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Sep 23, 2003 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
509 votes

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Episode Summary

While on Air Force One, a Navy Commander dies. Agents from NCIS decide to take the investigation into their own hands and also force Secret Service Agent Kate Todd to help. Now the NCIS team has to figure out if the Navy Officer's death was of natural causes or not.moreless

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  • Best introduction

    Kate is a contrast to Dinozzo which I like and the case is intriguing. Except that later on, Fornell and Gibbs are freinds.

    Imagine if Bishop was here...
  • Promising start

    Time to make some enemies! :D - Although I still like this episode, and also some others of the first two seasons, I never was a fan of Kate. I didn't dislike, or even hate her, but I never was a huge fan of this character. Sasha Alexander is a great actress, and she made the best from what the writers gave her to work with - and that wasn't much. 1) It wasn't a believable character. (Yes, I know Ziva wasn't neither, and Bishop is the worst ever). She was quite believable as an agent of the Secret Service, and everything was fine when it came to stuff like protection, terrorism, and espionage. But that she could be able to turn into a criminal investigator that easily was bad writing. Criminal investigation is a broad field for that you need a lot of knowledge, training, and experience. If it was so easy to become a criminal investigator as it was indicated in Kate's case (and also later in Ziva's, and even worse in Bishop's) everyone of us could be one. Gibbs had been working as a criminal investigator for some years, Tony was a cop before, had worked as a detective in several departments, and then had been working as an agent for two years. These are quite realistic backgrounds - but not Kate's. Besides, she was supposed to be a profiler, but her knowledge of the human nature was so lousy I couldn't buy she would have ever been able to profile someone. 2) It's a very one-dimensional character. While Gibbs and Tony were written as multifaceted characters, Kate was straight, grown-up, catholic, duteous, diligent, neat, decent. So, she was nice - but there wasn't much room for story lines, or a development.

    In the beginning, in the first episodes of season 1 I liked her much more than in the later episodes, especially in season 2. I liked that she and Tony didn't like each other that much because it added some tension. But that she got him wrong from the very first moment they met - he just wanted to be nice when he tried to explain the necessity of measurements, and if he had explained the same with a magazine with a boat on the cover, it would have been the same example but a different result - underlined her disability of reading people, and it was a bad move for Tony's character. In the JAG-episodes and the first few episodes of season 1 Tony showed his real character - much calmer, friendly, good at his job, reliable. (People who were complaining lately that Tony is still childish, or has become so serious now should have a look at these early episodes)! Because of the storyline with Kate he became more and more immature, silly, and clownesque. Unfortunately, THAT stick on him, and not his basic character. It got worse when the writers tried to create something like a love interest between these two characters, although there had never been any sexual tension between them. She was never interested in him, and he would have never chosen her as his partner because she always tried to mother and to educate him, something a man clearly doesn't like. The more she tried to "bring him up", the more he reacted defiant.

    I would have preferred they would have kept the storyline of not liking each other that much without Kate's bitching and Tony's silly reaction to it, and the slight sexual tension between Gibbs and Kate - because they had one in the beginning of season 1 - and it was promising! However, these two things worked fine in this episode, and apart from some other mistakes in the storyline (have a look at the trivia), it was a great beginning, and it's still fun to watch sometimes.moreless
  • A navy commander dies on air force one seconds after having dinner with the president.

    The first NCIS episode and a navy commander dies on air force one and Gibbs believes it was an attempt on the presidents life.In this episode we meet the characters I think there is some good funny characters there and shows that the show can go far.We also see many funny moments in the episode.When more bodies keep coming in the same way as the beginning when Gibbs and Kate get back on the plane Gibbs finds the man responsible and shoots him when he attempts to shoot Gibbs.Agent Todd who is protecting the president resigns at the end but is offered a job from Gibbs.moreless
  • 101-"yankee white"

    While on Air Force One, a Navy Commander tasked with carrying the "football" dies under mysterious circumstances, forcing an emergency landing in Wichita, Kansas but while his death is originally thought be to a tragic accident, NCIS eventually uncovers evidence suggesting the Commander was murdered and that it might be connected to a possible assassination attempt on the President.

     My thoughts: Well it was a good pilot but it had a few flaws(as most pilots do) they were: the case wasnt that interesting but i did like the character interaction and dialoge. overall not bad but not perfect.

    written by: Donald Bellisario and Don McGill

    Directed by: Donald Bellisariomoreless
  • The NCIS team investigate a murder aboard a presidential aircraft and then uncover a terroist plot.

    This was a great episode. I did not watch the pilot so when i watched this episode i was suprised how the episode plot unfolded. It was clever in a way, how a crew member aboard an presidental aircraft dies and then at the end the terroist shooting. Also it was clever how the characters were introduced. Unlike all the other crime drama pilot's Kate was not a member of NCIS, she joins later on in S1 EP02. Even though this was a great episode it did lack character development and structure. All in all this was the best pilot of CSI,CSI NY and law and order!moreless
Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs

Sasha Alexander

Sasha Alexander

Special Agent Kate Todd

Michael Weatherly

Michael Weatherly

Special Agent Tony DiNozzo

Pauley Perrette

Pauley Perrette

Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto

David McCallum

David McCallum

Chief M.E. Donald "Ducky" Mallard

Asante Jones

Asante Jones

Detective Andy Kochifis

Guest Star

Jeremy Overstreet

Jeremy Overstreet

Agent Bowman

Guest Star

Gary Grubbs

Gary Grubbs

Coroner Elmo Poke

Guest Star

Joe Spano

Joe Spano

FBI Agent T.C. Fornell

Recurring Role

Pancho Demmings

Pancho Demmings

Asst. M.E. Gerald Jackson

Recurring Role

Vivienne Bellisario

Vivienne Bellisario

Mysterious Redhead

Recurring Role

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (19)

    • TRIVIA: The final shot of the title sequence in this and every episode (a car driving toward the Washington Capitol Building) is taken from the pilot episode for NCIS, JAG's "Ice Queen".

    • GOOF: When the medical team is working on Cmdr. Trapp, they say that he's not breathing, and has no pulse, but the spittle over his lips noticeably bubbles from the actor's breathing during the close-up.

    • TRIVIA: Gibbs keeps referring to the movie Air Force One, which starred Harrison Ford and Glenn Close. In the movie, the secret service agent who betrayed the President had the last name "Gibbs".

    • TRIVIA: When the terrorist plot is finally confirmed and Kate hears about the medical emergency, Gibbs tells her to stay with the president. Yet, when the shooting starts, she comes out to the plane corridor, gun drawn. She had no way of knowing at that point that the battle was over, so in effect had just left the president unattended and unprotected.

    • GOOF: When Kate is talking to the killer after Gibbs is called away her jacket is closed but in the next shot the jacket is open. There was not enough time between shots for her to open her jacket.

    • TRIVIA: The timing is off in this episode. When Gibbs asks Kate if he can come with her on Air Force One around two thirds into the episode, she says he can, but his gun can't. He puts his gun away and follows her. Yet in the next scene, she is seen with her colleague-lover, breaking up with him and it is clear from when she and Gibbs are finally aboard Air Force One that that had happened the day before. There was no reason for Gibbs to leave his gun and follow her if it was going to be a whole day before they actually boarded, especially as we learn later that protocol is weapons go from portal to portal.

    • TRIVIA: Towards the end of the episode as the killer is revealed, he turns around and sprays a large number of rounds into the airplane floor, towards Gibbs and upwards into the roof, before Gibbs shoots him several times. I know that since 9/11 air marshals use bullets that enter a body and don't exit in order to avoid damaging the plane, but the number of bullets fired from the machine gun should have done some serious damage to the plane structure, yet not only does major shooting do nothing to the plane, there is also no evidence in the next few shots that any bullets have actually been fired.

    • TRIVIA: When Commander Trapp keels over and the medics come to try to help, they decide to cut his undershirt and the scene shows scissors about to do this. Yet later when Ducky is examining the body, his uniform is open revealing his bare chest, but there is no sign of a cut undershirt and since they didn't take the uniform off, the remains of the shirt should be visible.

    • TRIVIA: When passing through the airport, Gibbs and DiNozzo identify themselves as NCIS, which Dennis, the security guard claims never to have heard of. Yet he's obviously very familiar with Ducky, who also works for NCIS.

    • TRIVIA: Gibbs keeps referring to Air Force One with Harrison Ford, however in later episodes he appears to be almost totally in the dark with regards to most 'modern' pop culture references and the like.

    • TRIVIA: Ironically, Mid-Continent Airport of Wichita, Kansas can not handle a 747, even though assembly and production of the plane is done in Wichita. It has to land at McConnell AFB which shares the runways with Boeing. When the Air Force bought The Wichita Municipal Airport, the new airport wasn't long enough or far enough from the AFB to be a hub or handle a 747. Wichita was known as "The Air Capital of The World" in the late 1920's.

    • TRIVIA: When Gibbs and Tony first try to get through security at the airport, Dennis indicates that they have guns and are permitted to take them on board. However, in the next scene, you see them walk through the metal detectors without the detectors going off even though they're carrying all their gear.

    • TRIVIA: At one point during the episode, Gibbs scours the plane commenting on its similarity to the aircraft in the movie Air Force One. He, in particular, notes the storage locker where weapons and protective vests are kept. In the film, this locker is opened by the traitorous Secret Service Agent Gibbs.

    • TRIVIA: Tony's NCIS identification card is number 0588 and issued on 7/10/2003. It is not signed.

    • TRIVIA: In the episode, Gibbs pretends to be Ducky's assistant ME, with FBI Agent T.C. Fornell on the spot. Later on in the series, we learn that Fornell married one of Gibb's ex-wives, so they obviously had had previous contact with one another.

    • Gibbs Rules:
      Rule #1: Never let suspects stay together.
      Rule #2: Always wear gloves at a crime scene.
      Rule #3: Don't believe what you're told. Double check.

    • TRIVIA: Kate's code name as a Secret Service Agent was "Rosefern."

    • TRIVIA: .37 per mile driven is equavilant to what truckers make for hauling.

    • TRIVIA: Wichita, Kansas is located in Sedgwick County in SouthCentral Kansas. During the episode, it was said that the coroner that helped Ducky, Gibbs, and Dinozzo was from Wichita County, which is a largely agricultural county in Western Kansas.

  • QUOTES (33)

    • Kate: Sir, I'm surprised that you didn't object to Agent Gibbs riding with us.
      Bauer: He's here because his gut is still churning, isn't he?
      Kate: Yes sir, I suppose you could put it that way.
      Bauer: Well, so is mine.

    • Fornell: Where's your ME taking the body?
      Elmo: I never said he was my ME.
      Fornell: Then who the hell's ME is he?
      Elmo: Ducky? He works for NCIS.

    • Gibbs: (to Ducky after he hears Tony being thrown out of the van) I guess they found him!

    • Kate: (after Ducky takes her temperature) Do you use that thermometer on cadavers?
      Ducky: Would you rather I use the liver probe?

    • Fornell: (to Bauer about NCIS) With us joined at the hip.. all they can do is watch... and bitch.

    • Gibbs: You enjoyed playing my boss?
      Ducky: I did rather.

    • Ducky: Did he gradually become ill or was it sudden?
      Kate: Sudden, he started to convulse and collapsed, the president's physician believed that the commander had a stroke.
      Tony: A bit young for a brain fart.

    • Fornell: How's your butt?
      Tony: Still bouncing on the beltway.

    • Ducky: I thought your photo analysis was brilliant Tony. (pause) Isn't 36D wishful thinking?
      Tony: Ya think?

    • Abby: There's a futon under my desk.
      Tony: Bless you.
      Abby: What are you my priest?
      Tony: Curse you?

    • Tony: Can't take off until the Secret Service chick... (sees Kate) ... says it's okay.

    • Gibbs: We're in the clear. You can get out of the bodybag now.
      (FBI Van screeches to a stop.)
      Tony: I never thought I'd say this, but I'm not sure I want to.

    • Abby: Do you dudes in the Secret Service ever think about throwing yourselves in front of the President's diet?

    • Kate: Where is the body?
      Gibbs: I don't know.
      (both of them laughing)

    • Tony: FBI, CIA, DEA, ATF, even NYPD have private jets.
      Gibbs: It's thirty-six cents a mile, you wanna drive?
      Tony: It's humiliating.

    • Gibbs: This is where the terrorists got their weapons in the movie.
      Kate: Oh, that is as ridiculous as the President's escape capsule.

    • Kate: I can't give him Air Force One floor plans. They're top secret.
      Gibbs: Come on. I saw this in a Harrison Ford movie.
      Kate: Well, that's Hollywood speculation. You're asking for the real thing.
      Gibbs: Isn't the President's head down here someplace?
      Kate: No.
      Gibbs: This is in the movie. Yeah, Harrison was sitting right here.

    • Bauer: I'm going to be doing paperwork for a week.
      Gibbs: Oh, yeah, me too.
      Bauer: Agent Todd told me about her and Major Kerry when she tendered her resignation.
      Gibbs: Are you accepting it?
      Bauer: Of course. She broke the rules.
      (Gibbs catches up with Kate in the parking lot)
      Gibbs: I heard you quit, Agent Todd.
      Kate: Happy news gets around fast. Yes, I resigned. It was the right thing to do.
      Gibbs: Yep. Pull that crap at NCIS, I won't give you a chance to resign.
      Kate: Is that a job offer?

    • Gibbs: You ever worked a crime scene, Agent Todd?
      Kate: I am a Secret Service agent.
      Gibbs: I thought not.
      Kate: Look, don't dismiss me, okay? I earned my jockstrap.
      Gibbs: Yeah, does it ever give that empty feeling?
      Kate: What?
      Gibbs: Your jockstrap.
      Kate: No. Like some species of frogs, I grow what I need.

    • Abby: Ducky, I have tested everything. Mineral acids, organic acid, alkaloids, bacterial poisons...
      Ducky: You know, Abby, nature always proves to be a far more elusive and powerful killer than man.

    • Kate: You know, when you're on the job, 24/7, how else do you get to know someone?
      Gibbs: Church.

    • Gibbs: Kate? When's the President returning?
      Kate: Ah, tomorrow, noon. I'm flying back tonight to rejoin the detail.
      Gibbs: Mind if I tag along? Please?
      Kate: You can. Your Sig Sauer can't. We have a rule. No weapons on Air Force One unless you're Secret Service.
      Gibbs: (to his team) Keep looking.
      Abby: Wow. Gibbs said please.

    • Elmo: Hello, Ducky! How'd you like those steaks I air-expressed you?
      Ducky: Ah! De-licious.
      Fornell: He air-expressed him steaks?
      Kate: It's a big state. Look how long it took him to get here.

    • Gibbs: Why are you so sure it was the flu?
      Kate: It's the same symptoms Major Kerry had.
      Ducky: Did you work together recently?
      Kate: No.
      Ducky: Well, if you didn't work with him, then how - ah.
      Kate: Did you think I was a virgin?
      Ducky: I'd hoped not.
      Kate: You gonna lecture me about sleeping with people you work with?
      Gibbs: Nope.
      Pilot: Agent Todd, Agent Bauer's on a secure line for you.
      Gibbs: Want me to take that call for you?
      Kate: I'd have to be dead.

    • Gibbs: All right, if you're finished taking pictures, start bagging and tagging.
      Tony: Just waiting for you, boss.
      Kate: Bagging and tagging what?
      Gibbs: Well, to start with - everything.

    • Gibbs: Rule Number Three: Don't believe what you're told. Always double check.
      Kate: Should I write these rules on my Palm Pilot, or crochet them on pillows?

    • Kate: The press was put on a separate plane. Everybody else boarded the backup except the three stewards who I put in the press cabin.
      Gibbs: What'd you keep them for? Make coffee?
      Kate: I may not know the finer points of investigating, like sticking needles in liver and measuring swimsuit models, but I do know enough to hold the stewards who prepared and served the President's lunch.
      Gibbs: Hum. Okay.
      Kate: You want to question them?
      Gibbs: No, they're not going anywhere, and we've got a crime scene to investigate. Rule Number One. Never let suspects stay together.
      Kate: Well, I didn't consider them suspects.
      Gibbs: Then why'd you hold them?

    • Kate: Are you expecting a problem, sir?
      Bauer: Expect problems, Agent Todd, and with a little luck, you'll never lose a President.

    • Kate: I can't risk those plans getting out on the Internet.
      Gibbs: NCIS does not leak. These plans get can shoot DiNozzo.
      Kate: No, I think I'm destined to shoot you.

    • Tony: Tell me her measurements.
      Kate: You're pathetic.
      Tony: No, I'm serious. Can you tell if she's five foot four and a thirty-four C, or five foot seven and a thirty-six D? You can't. Not from a photo. That's why we do sketches and take measurements. Thank you.

    • Gibbs: Hey - We're LEOs.
      Dennis: And I'm a Capricorn.
      Tony: LEO - short for Law Enforcement Officer.
      Gibbs: You new at this - Dennis?
      Dennis: Ah, first week. NCIS. Never heard of it.
      Gibbs: That's embarrassing.
      Dennis: NCIS anything like CSI?
      Tony: Only if you're dyslexic.

    • Gibbs: Tony - escort Agent Todd off the aircraft and close the hatch.
      Kate: You're not serious. Wait - okay, okay! Your team. But only because I don't want to delay us further by having to shoot you.

    • Kate: I'm sorry, Gibbs.
      Gibbs: Never say you're sorry. Ehr, don't have to crochet that one.

  • NOTES (8)

    • Guest star Lawrence Pressman also appears in the season 4 episode Driven, but in a different role.

    • This episode was nominated for a VES Award for Outstanding Matte Painting in a Televised Program, Music Video or Commercial.

    • The street where Kate and Major Kerry part ways, as well as where Tony investigates Major Kerry's death was filmed on Town Center Drive in Valencia, CA. The main entrance to the Valencia Town Center Mall can be seen behind Tony.

    • Original International Airdates:
      Croatia: August 01, 2005 on NOVA TV
      Finland: September 02, 2006 on Nelonen
      France: March 03, 2004 on M6
      Germany: March 17, 2005 on SAT.1
      Hungary: October 17, 2005 on TV 2
      Iceland: August 10, 2005 on Stöð2
      Sweden: June 20, 2004 on TV3
      UK: January 16, 2004 on FX
      Denmark: October 7, 2003 on TV3

    • This episode features the first appearance of three recurring characters played by Joe Spano (FBI Agent T.C. Fornell), Pancho Demmings (Gerald Jackson) and Alan Dale (NCIS Director Tom Morrow).

    • This episode is also known under the title Air Force One.

    • Sasha Alexander (Special Agent Kate Todd) is the only original NCIS cast member that did not appear in the original pilot of the show, shown as a part of JAG.

    • As most of you know, this is not the "original pilot" of the series. The pilot episodes are "Ice Queen (1)" and "Meltdown (2)" from the series JAG.


    • President Bush: Have we met, Commander?
      Commander Trapp: Yes sir, on the Abraham Lincoln, Mr. President.
      President Bush: Ahh the Lincoln, you know the trip to the Lincoln was the best day I've had on this job.

      This is an allusion to May 1st 2003, when President Bush landed on the Abraham Lincoln (Nimitz class aircraft carrier) to announce that major combat operation in Iraq had ended. It is also when the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner was seen over the President during his speech.

    • Gibbs keeps saying that the aircraft is just like the one in the Harrison Ford movie. The set was in fact the same one as used in Air Force One.

    • Dennis: NCIS anything like CSI?

      CSI is an acronym that stands for Crime Scene Investigation. It was made widely popular due to CBS's tv-shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spin-offs, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY.

    • Gibbs also states that Tom Clancy wrote about terrorists hijacking airplanes and flying them into buildings. This could refer to either "Debt of Honor" from 1994, or "Executive Order" from 1996), both of which had that subplot.

    • Gibbs: Never apologize. It's sign of weakness.

      This line is actually from the John Wayne film: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

    • The Football
      The concept of the football came about in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. After the crisis, President Kennedy ordered a review of the U.S. Nuclear Command and Control system. The result was the highly fied National Security Action Memorandum that created "the football". It follows the President wherever he goes and is never more that a few steps from his side. It is carried by a military officer with the "Yankee White" clearance. It contains a secure SATCOM radio and handset, the nuclear launch codes known as the "Gold Codes" and the President's Decision Book - the nuclear playbook that the President would rely on if he would ever have to decide to use nuclear weapons. Its real name is unknown but it is popularly known as "the football".

    • Kate: He just received his Yankee White clearance.

      "Yankee White" is a special security investigation considered the nation's most rigorous security background check in which candidates must pass in order to work for the Defense Communications Agency. The criteria include U.S. citizenship, unquestionable loyalty, and an absolute absence of any foreign influence over the individual, his family, or "persons to whom the individual is closely linked."

    • Gibbs: Come on. I saw this in a Harrison Ford movie.

      Air Force One, from 1997, is a movie about the terrorists hijacking the plane carrying the President of the United States (Ford) and his family. while an ex-soldier works from hiding to defeat them. It is basically the same plot of this episode with the difference that the hero this time is an NCIS Special Agent (also an ex-soldier) and the President is played by a Bush impersonator.