Phoenix (NCIS)

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NCIS episode
Episode no. Season 10
Episode 3
Directed by Terrence O'Hara
Written by Steven D. Binder
Original air date October 9, 2012 (2012-10-09)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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NCIS (season 10)
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"Phoenix" is the third episode of the tenth season of the American police procedural drama NCIS, and the 213th episode overall. It originally aired on CBS in the United States on October 9, 2012. The episode is written by Steven D. Binder and directed by Terrence O'Hara, and was seen by 18.51 million viewers.[1][2]


Realizing that he may have made a mistake in one of his autopsies, Ducky decides to exhume the remains of a deceased Marine to find out the true cause of his death. However, since he is still not cleared for active duty due to his heart attack, Ducky recovers the body without authorization. However, he discovers that the Marine did not die from alcohol poisoning like he had initially thought, but was actually poisoned in a way to make it look like it was alcohol. Meanwhile, the team investigates the death of a Marine sergeant and discovers he is connected to the cold case, as he has a copy of Ducky's exhumation request. Gibbs decides to put Ducky in charge of the case. Under Ducky's leadership, the team discovers that the poisoned Marine had been running a con by selling counterfeit moon rocks to rich buyers. Realizing that some of the buyers had their counterfeit rocks sent to NASA to be examined, the team deduces that one of the NASA scientists was also in on the plot. After closing the case, Ducky feels more confident in his ability to be a lead investigator. Later, Gibbs informs Ducky that he has finally been cleared to resume his duties as chief medical examiner, much to an overworked Palmer's relief.


"Phoenix" is written by Steven D. Binder and directed by Terrence O'Hara. Binder compared Ducky's last months to a Phoenix, who after some time eventually returns. "The phoenix has become a universal symbol of rebirth and renewal - which made it the perfect title for this Ducky-centric episode. The heart attack was Act I. Act II was Ducky struggling to get his footing. And this episode is Act III… Ducky gets his mojo back."[3] About the crime in the episode, Binder based it on the real life theft of Mona Lisa in 1911. "I had read years ago that the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911. But not because someone wanted the painting itself. It was stolen so the bad guys could sell knock-offs to millionaires and pass them off as the real thing. I thought that was clever."[3]

Michael Des Barres guest stars as ex-rock star Del Finney. "I have worked on over 100 hours of television, and I have never been on a set where everyone involved made me feel that I could fly with the material, and feel safe enough, respected enough to do good work", Des Barres says.[4] Some of the music used in the episode is from Des Barres new album "Carnaby Street".[4]

Gibbs' rules[edit]

Rule number 38 is mentioned in this episode; "Your case, your lead", told by Gibbs to Ducky.[5]


"Phoenix" was seen by 18.51 million live viewers following its broadcast on October 9, 2012, with an 11.5/18 share among all households, and 3.4/10 share among adults aged 18 to 49.[1][6] A rating point represents one percent of the total number of television sets in American households, and a share means the percentage of television sets in use tuned to the program. In total viewers, "Phoenix" easily won NCIS and CBS the night. The spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles drew second and was seen by 15.18 million viewers.[1] Compared to last week's episode "Recovery", "Phoenix" was down in both viewers and adults 18-49.[7]

Steve Marsi from TV Fanatic gave the episode 4 (out of 5) and stated that "NCIS was a rocking good time tonight, and not just because of an eccentric '80s one-hit wonder or a faux lunar sample. "Phoenix" featured an unorthodox case with an unexpected team member running point. None other than Dr. Mallard got to run the show this week after Gibbs evoked Rule #38: Your case, your lead."[5]


  1. ^ a b c Kondolojy, Amanda (October 10, 2012). "Tuesday Final Ratings: 'NCIS', 'The Voice', 'Hart of Dixie', 'NCIS:LA' & 'DWTS' Adjusted Up; 'Go On' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ "(#1003) "Phoenix"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Binder, Steven D. (October 9, 2012). "Insider's Blog: "Phoenix"". CBS. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Michael on NCIS, October 9th". October 3, 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Marsi, Steve (October 9, 2012). "NCIS Review: Are You Ready to Rock!?". TV Fanatic. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  6. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (October 10, 2012). "CBS Wins Tuesday in Viewers and Adults 25-54 for the Third Consecutive Week". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Bibel, Sara (October 3, 2012). "Tuesday Final Ratings: 'NCIS', 'The Voice', & 'Dancing With the Stars' Special Adjusted Up; 'Go On', 'Vegas' & 'Parenthood' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 11, 2012.