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An Analysis of NCIS Season 2, Episode 7

Promotional Poster of NCIS Season 2. Link.

The CBS show, NCIS, is an American crime drama series centered around Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a retired Sniper Marine who now works as the leader for a team of NCIS agents. We follow the cases they solve and the criminals they catch throughout the drama. However, the series has come under fire in recent years for its lack of diversity. From the cover poster of Season 2, all its main characters are White. Furthermore, it was revealed that its scriptwriters were all white and 80% were male. As such, one has to wonder how diversity might have changed the show and the characters portrayed.

For this blog post, I focused on Season 2, Episode 7: Call of Silence. Leroy is passing through metal detectors to get into his workplace. Behind him, Earnest Yost, an elderly white man and Medal of Honor recipient from his service in WWII, comes to Gibbs to announce that he needs to be arrested for murder and presents a pistol as evidence. While I'm sure there have been cases of people coming to admit their crimes to legal authorities, I'm not sure it occurs too often. Additionally, I believe they would usually be taken into custody, and an investigation would begin. However, Gibbs and his team remain skeptical, unwilling to start an investigation. Ultimately, they decide to look at his records and investigate the murder weapon under Yost's insistence. At the same time, the team begins to ask Yost what his motivation for killing someone was and Yost explains he doesn't know why. Soon, Yost begins to get aggravated, frustrated he can't remember what happened, and frantically looks for the gun as evidence of his crime. The team is somber, wondering if they will help him or not.

A picture of Ernest Yost and Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Link.

At this point of the episode, only one person of color (an extra) has spoken. They also mention that Yost was stationed at Iwo Jima and killed Japanese soldiers — the enemy. There is very little diversity in the cast and crew throughout this episode and the series. The pattern of this show lacking people of color and diversity is dangerously impactful. One could argue that NCIS contributes to the erasure of minorities in Hollywood and television. For example, it could be a sign that they are ignoring the discriminatory or racist tendencies of the criminal justice system.

To go back to the plot, the team decides to protect and find evidence for his innocence as a JAG agent attempts to arrest Yost. They take Yost away from the building to prevent his arrest and in doing so, directly interfere with the investigation. While it is true that agents and officers have discretion, I can't say it is realistic for authorities to hide away someone who has an arrest warrant out for them. Additionally, interference with investigations would normally result in consequences, yet the team was allowed to continue looking for Yost's innocence freely.

By bringing in a sushi chef who speaks Japanese, they could get Yost to recall what happened. Although he did kill his comrade, he did it accidentally. They had come under fire, and Japanese soldiers were advancing. His friend, Wade, had gotten his legs blown off from a mine and was unable to stop groaning in pain. Yost and the other soldiers were desperately trying to get Wade to quiet down, lest their location is promptly revealed to the enemy. Unfortunately, Wade could not do so, and Yost decided to use his pistol to try and knock Wade out but accidentally killed him. In the end, Yost is innocent and allowed to keep his Medal of Honor.

This is one of the more emotional episodes throughout the series and does a good job at portraying the humanity and pride of being a Marine. While the show brings the excitement of catching killers, preventing terrorist attacks, and solving mysteries, the most critical part is how humane it makes law enforcement.

Nonetheless, there are many problematic aspects of the show. I couldn't help but feel a bit annoyed that they used a stereotypical sushi chef (stoic, can't speak English) to speak Japanese to Yost. Additionally, I couldn't help but wonder whether the same amount of effort would have gone into proving the innocence of a black veteran. Would they have broken procedure or interfered with the investigation had Yost not been white?

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