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Warning: SPOILERS for the NCIS episode “Prime Cut” are ahead!

The penultimate episode of NCIS Season 21, “Prime Cut,” aired tonight, delivering a captivating blend of investigation and personal subplots. Wilmer Valderrama’s Nick Torres and Katrina Law’s Jessica Knight head to Texas for their latest case, while Sean Murray’s Timothy McGee and Margo Harshman’s Delilah Fielding-McGee navigate a kitchen remodel in Washington D.C. The Texas setting added a fresh twist to the episode, making fans wish for more travel episodes in the series.

The Case in Texas
This week’s victim was Marine Captain Tom Riley, who was presumed dead two years ago in a San Diego ship crash. In reality, he survived, assumed a new identity as Tom Wade, and moved to Farnsworth, Texas. There, he worked at the Firecreek cattle ranch, owned by the influential Bannon family, and secretly dated Jackson Bannon, the son of patriarch Carl Bannon. Despite his troubled past, Tom was trying to make amends by helping out at a local church.

Trouble arose when Tom discovered that the Bannon ranch was smuggling meth in cattle carcasses. When he went to Washington D.C. to investigate a Bannon-owned meatpacking plant, he was murdered and dismembered. Initially, Torres and Knight suspected Carl Bannon, but it was actually another ranch employee running the drug operation without Carl’s knowledge. The episode concluded with a thrilling chase on horseback, with Torres capturing the culprit.

A Change of Scenery
Most of the Texas scenes took place on the ranch, providing a refreshing change from the usual Washington D.C. backdrop. While it’s unlikely for NCIS to become a globe-trotting show due to the characters’ D.C. base and production costs, this episode demonstrated the appeal of on-location shoots. The Texas trip was the most engaging since Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs, McGee, and Alden Parker went to Alaska. Imagine episodes set in New York City, the Pacific Northwest, or the Midwest!

Potential for More Travel Episodes
Travel episodes could also help keep other parts of the NCIS franchise alive. CBS recently canceled NCIS: Hawai’i after three seasons, a decision that shocked lead actress Vanessa Lachey and her co-stars. To keep these characters in the mix, why not send the NCIS team to Hawaii for an episode? This could also apply to characters from the Los Angeles and New Orleans spinoffs, and I’d love to see a crossover with NCIS: Sydney, which has been renewed for Season 2.

Looking Ahead
With NCIS renewed for Season 22, and no writers’ or actors’ strikes to delay production, there’s hope for more travel episodes in the next batch. If I ever want to revisit past travel adventures, I can always stream NCIS on Paramount+.

In conclusion, “Prime Cut” was a solid episode that benefited from a change of scenery. Here’s hoping NCIS continues to explore new locations in future seasons, adding fresh excitement to the long-running series.

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