Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


'NCIS' recap: 'Personal Day'

Posted on

Monty Brinton/CBS


TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Mark Harmon, David McCallum, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette
Action, Crime

Many things happened this week, but first: Gibbs’ new look. Do you love it? Hate it? Love to hate it? Hate to love it? Take a moment to discuss.

Now, when a man as set in his ways as Leroy Jethro Gibbs embraces a stylish new haircut and snazzy blazer, it has to herald more than mere physical alterations. So this week, we are all McGee and Bishop, staring at a side-by-side photo comparison of Gibbs to see what other changes are brewing.

DiNozzo, the team member with the most concern in his eyes when he looks at his boss, isn’t surprised by any of this.

“He got shot; he came back; he’s different. Who wouldn’t be?” he asks.  

It’s a question that dogs the team as they tackle the case of missing Marine Cole Gleason, a spanking new recruit in the drug-running operation of Benson Long. The team is pulled into the case by Mitch (John Gabriel), a DEA agent from San Diego.

Unfortunately, the missing Gleason turns up dead in an abandoned school that had been the site of a recent rave. (Did you know that raves are no longer parties with thumping music and glowing pacifiers but are now pop-up drug shops? Neat!)

However, there’s more to this story. Remember last week when dream-Kelly told Gibbs that he needed to turn away from the past and toward the future? That’s not so easy in this episode, as Tony catches Gibbs in the Elevator of Schemes and Secrets to tell him that he knows who Mitch is: Luis Mitchell, the son of Kurt Mitchell, the agent who died trying to protect Gibbs’ family. Worse, Long, the drug-runner Mitch has been chasing for two years, is the cartel member who ordered the murder of Gibbs’ wife and child and caused the death of Mitch’s father.

So, uh, good luck putting the past behind you this week, Gibbs.

WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.

But it seems the whole team is set on remembering times gone by. Mitch tells Gibbs that he and his mother have never been able to bring themselves to spread Kurt’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean, as he’d requested. Gibbs in turn tells Mitch that he doesn’t forget his debts, promising, “I owe you.”

Ducky gets in on the action, too, discussing how his heart attack forced him to view life differently and telling Gibbs that the fact that he’s doing the same thing isn’t the problem; it’s that he’s not giving his team (read: Tony) enough time to adjust.

Heck, even McGee gets caught up in the past, taking an immediate dislike to Mitch for being super cool and reminding McGee of his less-than-awesome high school years. (This is mostly because Mitch calls McGee “buddy” within seconds of meeting him. “It bugs me,” Tim complains. Clearly, Mitch is a monster.)

Actually, Gibbs does well rising about the temptation to wallow in the past this week. As his team struggles to find evidence connecting Long to the dead Gleason, Gibbs works to keep Mitch’s need for revenge in check.

DiNozzo’s concerned, too, and he approaches Gibbs with Terminator-style single-mindedness to be sure neither he nor Mitch is embarking on a personal vendetta against Long. Gibbs’ assurances that it’s all above-board crumble with DiNozzo tells him that the team just pinged Mitch’s phone at Long’s place.

NEXT: Gibbs goes back home[pagebreak]

Mitch is, of course, waiting in Long’s house to kill him. He tried to catch Long clean for two years but gave up hope after McGee killed a suspect in self-defense, which kept them from implicating Long in Gleason’s murder. 

Gibbs tries to tell Mitch that his father wouldn’t want him to throw away his life on a revenge mission. Mitch is unmoved and tells Gibbs to bounce.

And then Gibbs tells another story: The NCIS agent originally assigned to protect Shannon and Kelly asked to be removed because the detail was too dangerous. Mitch’s dad volunteered as the replacement, saying, “I’d want someone to do the same for my family.”

“So, no, Mitch, I’m not going anywhere,” Gibbs concludes.

When Long saunters into the house, Mitch turns his gun on him, intent on his revenge, but Gibbs plays the good angel: “Mitch, you know what I did. It didn’t fix a thing, It didn’t bring them back.”

Thankfully, Mitch lets those words sink in and lowers his gun. Even more thankfully, Long turns into one of those bad guys who can’t help but brag about all of his murders when cornered by the police (seriously, bad guys, why do you keep doing that?), and DiNozzo and McGee swoop in to arrest him after catching the confession on tape.

In the end, DiNozzo finds Gibbs at home, where he’s preparing to take a personal day to travel to California, and asks once more if they can talk about Iraq. Gibbs turns it around on him by asking Tony why he’s still there, particularly when he turned down the chance to lead his own team years ago. Gibbs says that while things may change, the reason he joined NIS never does.

“Either you’ve got a reason, or you don’t,” he says, leveling a look at DiNozzo. Ooooh, here’s hoping this season delves more into DiNozzo’s choices.

Finally, Gibbs joins Mitch in California to spread his father’s ashes at last. So a fatherless child and a childless father stand on a pier overlooking the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by guilt and grief. And the episode ends with Gibbs returning home to visit the house where he lived with Shannon and Kelly, set to a soundtrack about loss and letting go.

Things change, but the reasons stay the same.

Parting shots:

  • Can Mark Harmon rock a blazer, or what? The makeover of the century, indeed.
  • It’s shocking that there hasn’t been a skeleton-head disco ball injury prior to this on NCIS.
  • How did you interpret Gibbs’ expression as he placed his palm on his family’s bird feeder? Is this a man who’s laying his demons to rest or a man who’s refueling the fire that keeps him going?
  • No Jon Cryer this week. Let’s hope we’ll see his gregarious mug sometime in October.
  • You’re probably sitting on your couch right now, wishing you had your own marijuana-scented beer koozie keeping your beverage cold. Here you go; you only need to supply your own yarn and personal knitter. Oh, and ganja, of course.
  • Would you rather be the cool cobbler or the other guy?