Who didn’t get a little misty-eyed during tonight’s NCIS?
If you raised your hand, you have no soul. Kidding. (I think.) But everyone had to have been at least moved by the episode that found Gibbs worrying about his aging father while the team worked the case of a murdered marine sergeant named Michael Dawson, who appeared to have been killed during a robbery at a men’s suit shop.
Starting with Gibbs, we welcomed back Ralph Waite in this episode, who reprised his role as Jackson Gibbs, father to Our Gibbs. (For the purposes of this recap, I’ll refer to Our Gibbs as Gibbs and his dad as Jackson. Hope that’s okay.) In the episode, Gibbs was worried deeply about his father, who was struggling with failing eyesight and, Gibbs feared, a possibly failing memory. The latter concern stemmed from the elder Gibbs’s insistence that Gibbs accompany him to North Carolina to visit a dying war buddy, who at one pointed seemed not to exist.
Gibbs recognized the name — Walter — because his dad had told Gibbs the story of Walter’s heroism as a child. But as they attempted to track down Walter, who had vacated his home and left only an unclear note for Gibbs Sr., Gibbs found himself confronting the possibility that his father’s troubles were worse than he anticipated. The most alarming sign was that McGee couldn’t track down any evidence that Walter was in Jackson’s squadron.
When Gibbs asked his dad about it, his dad stunned Gibbs with one untold aspect of the story: Walter was not in his squadron; he was a German fighter. Walter, despite being on the other side of the war, saved Jackson’s life and in the process made a longtime friend. “We were brothers up there,” he explained to Gibbs of the bond between pilots. “We were the same.” Despite Walter’s heroic move, he never quite recovered from the guilt of fighting for Nazi Germany, though. Walter told me that he saved me that day because he wanted to remind himself of who he was. All he can see are the people he killed over ideas that weren’t his. He can’t forgive himself,” Jackson explained.
Gibbs was still curious, however, why his dad was so insistent on him meeting Walter in person. And we learned later, after the two finally found themselves at Walter’s bedside at a hospice, that Jackson knew what would help Walter find peace before he passed away — he introduced Walter to his son. “You made my boy possible, Walter, and he helps people,” Jackson told him of Gibbs. “He’s a good man. He’s the best person I know.”
Honestly, I love these episodes — the ones that speak to human emotions, like fear. The NCIS is full of some of the strongest minds and bodies on TV, but to be reminded that they get scared like the rest of us is somehow comforting.
Less comforting? The thought that a seemingly nice men’s store owner was a drug dealer! It turns out that the man who’d been killed in the supposed robbery was actually just a man trying to help a fellow Narcotics Anonymous member. He had gone to the men’s store to confront his friend’s drug dealer, who also owned the store, after his friend fell off the wagon. The dealer ended up shooting the man. Nuts!
The highlight of this episode’s COTW (case of the week) was watching Tony and McGee learn how to get on without Gibbs. My favorite moment? When they agreed to be “co-point” on the case. Other highlights:
Quote of the night: “You in here listening to Yanni again?” –Tony to McGee
Tear-inducing quote: “The pain of watching a parent age is unlike any other. I vividly remember the first time my mother needed help brushing her hair.” –Ducky
Best minor moment: Abby’s “Gibbs Box”