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Hollywood Hacks: Remembering that time NCIS gave us the greatest hacking scene ever

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ncis hacker scene
Image: NCIS

Hollywood Hacks is a weekly column that examines how accurately (or inaccurately) the entertainment industry has treated the world of technology.

It is written by me, a guy who knows a lot about movies and next to nothing about tech. I know it doesn’t make sense, shut up.

The Scene

I’m afraid I must start this column with a confession: I have never seen an episode of NCIS. I know that probably damages my credibility as a “movie/TV expert,” but there it is. As such, I’m not sure how prominent a character the Hot Topic hacker lady is in the show, how often NCIS tackles hacking as a concept, or whether this scene is being intentionally insane or playing it straight?

That said, holy shiiiittt. This might be the most beautifully incompetent 50 seconds I’ve seen since I tried to take off Stacey Mnuchin’s bra in the 8th grade (If you’re reading this, Stacey, I’m much better at bras now so…*makes “call me” gesture*). The clip comes from season 2’s “The Bone Yard”, and if you’re wondering what level of commitment to the craft NCIS was making at that point, look no further than the episode’s IMDB description:

A civilian dies on a Marine bombing range; while investigating, Gibbs finds a second body; other bodies also later appear. The NCIS and the FBI strangely work well together, and the NCIS team work well together, so they produce results.

The NCIS team works so well together, turns out, that they’re able to fend off a hacker attack (or at least, try to) via TWO PEOPLE TYPING ON THE SAME KEYBOARD SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Techno-jargon used

As a screenwriter myself, I know that there are times when you simply lack the knowledge needed to make the small but crucial details of a scene work. A temporary fix is to throw in placeholder dialogue/scene direction to keep your flow going, do your research afterward, and then go back in and make the necessary changes.

This is not what the writer of this episode does. What I can only assume the writer (which IMDB tells me is John C. Kelley) did was Google “hacker lingo”, grab a bunch of words at random, and then maybe huff some duster before throwing them all in there like he was Emeril Lagasse making a gumbo. Notable phrases include:

  • “He’s burned through the firewall”, which makes me think Kelley overheard the word “firewall” at one point and assumed it meant actual fire was involved.
  • “Isolate the node.”
  • “He’s using our connection to the {indeciferable} database. Sever it!”
  • “It’s a point attack!”
  • “This is DOD level 9 encryption.”

Just a potpourri of absolute nonsense. A chef’s kiss to you, Mr. Kelley.

“It’s a Unix System” Eureka Award

I’d like to give this award to Bologne Sandwich Guy for his absolute lack of concern in the face of a major data breach, I really would. But I just cannot look past the guy who thinks that unplugging a monitor would stop a hacker attack.

Did you notice how smugly he looks at everyone afterward? Because I did. Smug sonofabitch, Gil Grissom Lite lookin’ ass.

If what I’ve gathered from the NCIS Wikipedia page is true, this man is not only some kind of special agent, but leads a team of forensic investigators. And when faced with a major data breach at a high tech, super secret military facility, the best solution he can come up with is “Ron Swanson, but dumber.”

I guess what I’m saying is that every last boomer should be rounded up and fired into the sun.

FINAL TALLY

  • Entertainment Value: 9/10
  • Technical Knowhow: negative eleventeen/30

What do you think? What’s the most ridiculous hacking scene you’ve ever watched? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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