Australian Foreign Minister Susan Quinn (played by Daniela Farinacci) delivers a speech in front of the USS Navajo, a US Navy nuclear submarine. A man ascends a nearby tower, appearing to aim a rifle at the location. However, he unfurls a protest banner instead. Simultaneously, a sailor aboard the submarine starts bleeding uncontrollably and falls lifeless into the water.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP), led by Sergeant Jim “JD” Dempsey (portrayed by Todd Lasance) and Constable Evie Cooper (played by Tuuli Narkle), launch an investigation. They consult with forensic pathologist Roy Penrose (William McInnes) and his new assistant Bluebird “Blue” Gleeson (Mavournee Hazel). Suddenly, two agents from the American NCIS arrive—Special Agent in Charge Michelle Mackey (Olivia Swann) and her partner DeShawn Jackson (Sean Sagar). According to a government agreement, NCIS assumes control of the inquiry into the sailor’s demise.
Dempsey is displeased with the arrangement, as he must handle the groundwork since NCIS agents cannot carry firearms on foreign soil. The joint team discovers that the deceased sailor was involved in a bar fight the previous night and was in the company of a blonde woman he met on a dating app. The profile was hacked, and the mystery woman was last seen with the sailor and a missing officer. Shockingly, it is revealed that the sailor died from radiation poisoning.
The possibility of a reactor leak on the Navajo, the focal point of ongoing protests, raises concerns. When the sailor’s body is taken from the AFP morgue by Department of Defense official Col. Richard Rankin (Lewis Fitz-Gerald), Mackey becomes suspicious. As she delves deeper, Rankin threatens her career, already under scrutiny due to a previous court martial where she was acquitted.
In true NCIS fashion, character backstories take a backseat to the weekly case. The show is unmistakably Australian, produced by Morgan O’Neill and featuring local writers and crews. Set in Sydney, it explores the dynamics between NCIS agents Mackey and Jackson and their AFP counterparts. The collaboration is established to expose an international cabal seeking classified American and Australian military intelligence.
Despite its Australian origins, the series may appear more tailored to American audiences. The inclusion of awkward explanations, such as defining “AFP” and equating the foreign minister to the US Secretary of State, might be absent in the Australian version on Paramount+. Such details seemed unnecessary, assuming that viewers, especially NCIS fans, are already familiar with these concepts.
Apart from these moments, the show follows the typical NCIS formula—wit, military terminology, acronyms, pursuits, and gunfire. With a relatively unknown cast, it might take a few episodes for the characters to find their rhythm. Notably, the AFP characters seem more intriguing than their NCIS counterparts in the initial episode. The true test will be how the characters develop as they tackle various cases.