“Home of the Brave” may just be the funniest poignant episode of NCIS ever (or the most poignant funny one?), as the team deals with the deportation of a former Marine, Quinn’s racy dream about Gibbs, and the return of DiNozzo.
Okay, fine, not that DiNozzo. Senior shows up to announce Tony asked him to find a tenant for his apartment since he has no immediate plans to return. (You remember Tony’s apartment, right? Bachelor pad? Reasonable mortgage? Scene of a bloody murder?)
McGee, Abby, Bishop, and Torres are all extremely interested — no surprise, given the number of real-estate conversations this show has indulged in over the last two seasons. They immediately turn on each other over who’s the most deserving. The only thing they can agree on is they won’t be sharing it, and they won’t be voluntarily giving it up to someone else.
Before things get ugly, though, they’re called about a murder in which a Navy Yard security officer was killed during a convenience-store robbery. They’ve got bloody shoeprints and a missing night-shift employee who called 911 before bolting from the store with blood on his hands. In the locked owner’s office, they find a gun under a bloody towel.
Quinn spends all her time at the scene giving Gibbs strange looks, and back at HQ, she tells the team she had a dream about Gibbs the night before. Naturally, they’ve all had Gibbs dreams. (Bishop: no gear to grab. McGee: eating a raw steak because Gibbs served it to him.)
But no, this is different. Quinn had a sexy Gibbs dream. The team immediately demands details and Quinn obliges. It happened right there in the big orange room when dream Gibbs walked up, knocked on her desk, and asked what wood it’s made of.
…which picks back up again when Quinn visits the morgue, where Ducky quotes Shakespeare’s “to sleep, perchance to dream” to her and Quinn realizes he and Palmer know about her dream.
“Is it the one where he knocks on your desk and asks what kind of wood it is?” Palmer asks. Quinn is staggered, and Palmer continues, “Oh, come on. Look at the man! If you haven’t had the wood dream about Gibbs, you haven’t lived.” Confession: This is the hardest I have ever laughed at NCIS in my life.
NEXT: Never verbalize the ellipsis
Okay, back to the case. A BOLO turns up the missing convenience-store employee, Victor Medina, in Pennsylvania, and Bishop and Torres are sent to retrieve him. Under questioning, he says he basically threw himself on the hood of the robber’s car to try to stop him, then attempted to resuscitate the victim. He also found the gun and locked it in the office so no one else could get hurt.
Since an eyewitness saw the robber arrive and leave, Medina’s off the hook for the murder — but somehow, the compass he carries with him, which belonged to his late father, was demagnetized in the altercation.
Abby calls Senior the shoe connoisseur to consult on the bloody shoeprint and to butter him up on the apartment front. (To be fair, McGee makes Senior look at a propaganda scrapbook of his and Delilah’s engagement, while Bishop writes an essay on why she deserves the apartment, because of course she did.) When Senior asks Gibbs for an assist on choosing a tenant, Gibbs refuses to play.
But hey, Senior’s able to ID the shoe as a rare luxury brand, and between that and the white sports car reported on the scene, they’re able to narrow the list of suspects.
Suspect no. 1 is a rich man with an extensive gun collection and a cocky teenage son who calls Quinn “Agent Mrs. Robinson.” But when Gibbs knocks on a gun case and asks Quinn if she knows what kind of wood it is, she flees to help McGee track down his own suspect, leaving a baffled Gibbs behind.
Suspect no. 2 is an identity thief with a badly written memoir on his laptop. Gibbs and Quinn take turns mocking it, which is just cruel, and Gibbs reads a passage out loud, including the ellipsis: “Dot dot dot.”
“You’re not supposed to verbalize it!” Quinn hisses in the middle of interrogation, and they make incredibly funny faces at each other: disgusted, confused, horrified. I tell ya, Jennifer Esposito is a comic gem.
Anyway, Medina’s broken compass? Abby realizes it was depolarized when he leaned over an electric car with rare earth magnets inside. The only suspect with one of those is the rich gun collector. Bing bang boom, the team realizes the dad was covering for his bored son, whose string of petty crimes got out of hand when the naval officer tried to stop his robbery attempt.
As McGee and Quinn make the arrest, she tells him she’s moved past her Gibbs weirdness. “I’m over it. He read an ellipsis out loud.” I love everything about this subplot, you guys. Ev-uh-ree-thing.
Speaking of fantastic subplots, Senior presses Palmer into service as his impartial name-drawer to pick a tenant. Palmer’s nervous about using Ducky’s hat to draw from. “Dr. Mallard has rules about not using his hat for nonsense, and I feel like this might be on the cusp.” Palmer is killing it tonight. He pulls Torres’ name, leading Senior to ask, “Who the heck is Torres?” Ha!
So there’s Torres in his new apartment, paging through McGee’s scrapbook of love, when Timmy himself shows up to offer help in setting up surround sound, which makes McGee a true and loyal friend. Then Torres says that by virtue of being on the team, he’s learned he actually likes doing what’s right, so he gives the apartment to his newly affianced coworker.
“Home is a privilege, and I’m not ready for it yet. But you are.” Aww!
NEXT: Grab your tissues
Now, where did Torres get this idea about home? Ah, let’s circle back to the quietly devastating portion of the episode.
So. Victor Medina, the on-the-run convenience-store employee, is an honorably discharged Marine who later served time for assault after a bar fight. Although he’s cleared of the murder, Medina’s still wanted by Immigration Custom Enforcement for deportation.
See, he was born in Mexico, and his parents moved to the United States legally when he was 1. But his citizenship wasn’t automatic when he enlisted in the Marines, and when he committed that assault, he became deportable.
Although everyone on the NCIS team is horrified by this, Torres and Bishop are ordered to deliver him to ICE. When they learn he was on his way to say goodbye to his mother in Ohio, Bishop convinces a reluctant Torres to make a detour. After all, Gibbs told them to take their time.
In Ohio, Medina hugs his mother, who’s delighted to see him. But before he can break the news to her, Torres jumps in and says he’s redeploying in an advisory position. “My son, the brave Marine,” says his proud mother. “Let me feed you before you go.”
Despite his initial reluctance to make the trip, Torres agrees to let them all stay. After the meal, Medina explains the details of his assault conviction: He intervened when a drunk guy got aggressive with his girlfriend, but the couple lied and testified Medina attacked them.
He’s resigned to his deportation, but he says, “I haven’t been to Mexico since I was a baby. Hell, I don’t even speak Spanish. What am I gonna do?”
Before they leave, Medina comes clean with his mother, and Bishop asks why Torres is suddenly on Medina’s side.
“This is exactly why I didn’t want to turn the car around,” he says. “I got to know him. I looked at his mother’s face. I have friends like him, family like him. I could’ve been him.”
Back at NCIS HQ, Medina says his mother always told him the United States — his home — is a privilege, and he took it for granted. Gibbs promises to introduce Medina to a lawyer who might help, and as ICE takes him away, Gibbs says, “Hey, Marine. Semper fi.”
And Medina leaves with his father’s compass, which Abby fixed so it once again points north. To his mother. To home.
Look, I don’t want to get too political, but this episode was supposed to air on Nov. 1 and was bumped for the World Series. (Cubs!!!) It’s now airing a week after the presidential election, and by virtue of that two-week delay, the simple tragedy of this episode plays a little differently. The threat of deportation is real. It’s here.
- Hey, improbably long-lived goldfish Kate and improbably long-lived goldfish Ziva!
- Seriously, someone on the NCIS writing staff is working out some real-estate grievances with this running C-plot.
- How sweet is it that Senior’s going to join a blissfully happy Tony and Tali in Paris for Christmas?
- How age-inappropriate is it that Senior goes all hubba hubba over Quinn?
- Tonight, Abby filled us in on The Bunker, a Tijuana support house for deported veterans whose crimes were so minor, they didn’t get an immigration attorney and were forced to leave their families, jobs, and lives behind in America. It’s a real organization you can read about here, should you be so inclined.