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Gibbs secured his spot atop every list of TV’s Greatest Badasses on Tuesday night’s NCIS by confronting an angry mob of men with nothing more than his fists.

But what made his bravery even more exceptional was that there was much more to it, and that he saw it not as bravery but penance.

You see, the episode started when the team was investigating the case of a dead woman who’d stolen the identity of a naval sergeant who’d been killed in Afghanistan. Eventually they put together that she was one of many women who’d come to the U.S. illegally to escape persecution. (Their “crimes”? Kissing boys, things like that.) And that somebody had been hired by the women’s families for bringing shame upon the family. Awful.

This case especially hit home for Gibbs because, as we learned via flashbacks, Mike Franks (Muse Watson!) had once reached out to him for help with some refugees, who he worked with through a group that aimed to help the girls start over in the U.S. At the time, Gibbs made the tough decision to decline helping Franks smuggle some women into the country, citing “the rules.” Franks obviously hated this and laid into Gibbs for not helping the women in need. And Gibbs felt even worse after learning later the shelter had been attacked and all the women killed.

Remembering his less-than-noble actions of the past, Gibbs was determined to help the women being killed off. So he and McGee traveled to a shelter near Kabul where all the women had stayed at one point. They figured someone there had to be the one leaking the names to the killers. While there, however, things quickly took a turn for the unsafe when they learned of a pending threat to the shelter. Apparently, it was not uncommon for them to be attacked be villagers.

McGee and Gibbs were ordered to evacuate but following instructions isn’t really Gibbs’ style so he stayed. So did McGee. Instead, they helped the shelter board up the windows and wait for an attack. Eventually, five men showed up with Molotov cocktails and guns.

The U.N. had already been called for backup but in the meantime, Gibbs knew he had to stall. But instead of trying to negotiate with the men (which would have been a lost cause), he decided to take a different approach. “These guys are bullies. You stand up to bullies,” he said. With that, he walked outside, folded his arms, and stood silently by the door to the shelter.

One of the men tried to start something with Gibbs but was quickly knocked to the ground. Gibbs was defending himself but the move quickly put the other men on edge and ready for attack. But instead of engaging, Gibbs went right back to standing with his arms folded. Over the phone, Tony asked, “What’s going on?” “You’ve been on the other side of that look, Tony. Take a guess.”

Gibbs froze them out long enough for backup to arrive and save the women in the shelter from an attack. When congratulated for his bravery, Gibbs deflected. “What about tomorrow?” he said. So Gibbs did the only thing he could think of — he brought all the women back with him to the U.S. As the women’s shelter head told Gibbs, “Mike Franks would have been proud.”

Burning questions:

+ What do you make of Tony’s speech about letting people into his life? And of the notes? I’m excited to see that unfold.

+ What did you think of Polygraph tech Susan’s guest spot on the NCIS team?

Best quotes:

Gibbs: Motive?

McGee: I don’t know maybe you think we need the help. Three’s a magic number. Who knows? But we don’t need anyone else, boss. And we don’t want anyone either.

Gibbs: I was talking about the murder.

Tavier: He’s going to get himself killed.

McGee: I’ll die of a heart attack first.

Episode Recaps

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