NCIS season 14 episode 18 review: Wilmer Valderrama shines in ‘M.I.A.’

NCIS season 14 episode 18 review -In this NCIS season 14 episode 18 review, we come to pour out some praise for “M.I.A.,” an episode that kept things rather simple when it comes to its story. As a result of that, it delivered a strong, character-focused narrative that gave Wilmer Valderrama his best material since joining the show.

There is something about seeing the tough guy get vulnerable, and there was a good sense of that throughout the hour as Nick Torres unveiled a close-knit secret regarding his past: He lost someone to cancer. This someone was the woman he loved growing up in Sophia, who died at the age of 19 to cancer. He wanted to marry her someday, and this may have been a watershed moment in his entire life. Maybe he decided to take on deep-cover missions as a way to hide from his pain and shield himself from his life.

When Gibbs first assigned him to look after a cancer patient and veteran in this episode, someone who made a dying request that Gibbs wanted to fulfill, we saw Nick standoffish and not even in the slightest interested in communicating with her. She pushed him, and eventually the truth all came out. The more vulnerable Nick got, the better Valderrama’s performance. By the end of the episode she had given him a memento, and he encouraged her to never stop fighting. This is someone we hope to see again someday, even if she has stage 4 ovarian cancer and we’re well aware that the actual amount of time that she has is probably not all that long.

As for her dying wish, Gibbs was able to happen to one of her former shipmates from many years before, and with the help of the team, bring the person responsible to justice. While this was fairly by-the-book, having it connected to Torres’ story added to its strength this week. We’ll remember it as a result of the stakes.

In other news for Torres…

The subplot about the team trying to outrun each other was pretty ridiculous, mostly because Nick kept proclaiming himself to be a cheetah. While this was pure fluff, there were a few great moments as we saw them all in the midst of some marathon training. There were two great things about the “race” that we had tonight.

1. McGee drinking something from Abby that we feel may as well have been Michael’s Secret Stuff from Space Jam in order to improve his performance. Does McGee need to screen himself now for performance-enhancing drugs?

2. Alex Quinn taking a move out of one episode of The Office and taking an Uber rather than doing the whole race herself.

Our overall take

There were some great moments of humor in this episode, but also a very powerful and personal story that brought us into the world of one of the team’s newest members. This sort of stuff is what NCIS does best, and why so many people out there get attached to its characters. They’re relatable, even when they’re badasses and trying to save the world. Grade: A-.

What is your personal NCIS season 14 episode 18 review? Share some of your thoughts right now in the comments! (Photo: CBS.)

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