NCIS Episodes

2003, TV Show

NCIS Episode: "Short Fuse"

Season 8, Episode 3
Episode Synopsis: The team works with the FBI when a marine bomb tech is linked to a murder.
Original Air Date: Oct 5, 2010
Guest Cast Abby Brammell: Sgt. Heather Dempsey Joe Spano: T.C. Fornell
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Season 8, Episode 3
Paid | iTunes
Length: 04:37:52
Aired: 10/5/2010
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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NCIS Episode Recap: "Short Fuse" Season 8, Episode 3

The "Short Fuse" episode of NCIS presents a terrible quandary for series historians. For whoever is counting the all-time number of head slaps that Mark Harmon gives Michael Weatherly — and we know you're out there — does Gibbs slapping DiNozzo's cardboard standup count, or not? Debate.

The comic subplot of "Short Fuse" was Tony being trailed on the job by a public affairs agent who planned to use his image on a recruitment brochure. Or, as the lead player in the main murder plot put it, "You brought your publicist with you to a bomb threat?" Well, of course he did — it had to be a little lonely out there in the field without last week's interns around.

The morally ambiguous bomb tech was Sgt. Heather Dempsey (Abby Brammell), who shot and killed an apparent burglar in the opening scene. As the team eventually surmised, she'd been in the carnal company of a top FBI honcho at the time, although she was the target of what turned out to be a hit man, not her adulterous partner. But was Mr. FBI unrelated to the case? Of course not. She'd been sleeping with him to extract information about the whereabouts of the informant/gang member who shot and paralyzed her do-gooder brother. Tony correctly deduced — and McGee (Sean Murray) agreed, even though "I usually hate Tony's movie analogies" — that she was playing Kathleen Turner to the FBI fellow's William Hurt. Except that Heather was a good femme fatale, who, as Gibbs guessed in the closing minutes, was destined to be let off by a sympathetic jury of her peers. 

Summarizing this case, something dawns on us: This was one of the most comprehensible NCIS plots ever. Are the writers slipping up on their deeply confounding game?

Of course, we're deeply grateful for any plot that requires the inter-agency intervention of recurring guest star Joe Spano, with or without a beard. No one's in a hurry for NCIS to end, but when it does, please, please let Gibbs not retire but reteam with T.C. Fornell in a fantasy buddy series we'll simply refer to as The Divorces until someone comes up with a better name. Each hour will consist of 37 minutes of crime-solving and five minutes of bickering over "our ex-wife" coupons and table manners. It'll be great.

Only two questions linger. When she's dismantling bombs, how does Sgt. Dempsey manage to avoid slicing through her protective headgear and slicing the wrong wires with those sharp cheekbones of hers? And is this a privilege allowed only Abby (Pauley Perrette), or is it okay for everyone to refer to autopsy as "the duck pond" now?

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The "Short Fuse" episode of NCIS presents a terrible quandary for series historians. For whoever is counting the all-time number of head slaps that Mark Harmon gives Michael Weatherly — and we know you're out there — does Gibbs slapping DiNozzo's cardboard standup count, or not? Debate.

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Premiered: September 23, 2003, on CBS
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (12,789 ratings)
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Premise: A successful "JAG" spin-off about criminal cases involving Navy and Marine personnel, handled by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. For the second season, the series title was shortened from "Navy NCIS" to "NCIS."

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