If the goal of last night's episode of NCIS, "Child's Play," was to show the softer side of Gibbs, it only partially worked. If we were supposed to believe that the government really trains 12-year-olds to crack military codes, that was a bit of a stretch as well.
As usual, though, these gripes are secondary to thanks to the fast-paced action, funny and thought-provoking dialogue and terrific characters that always make NCIS click.
When the body of a dead Marine is found a cornfield, it's got all the makings of a gang retribution killing. But it turns out that was just the killer's front, to pin it on them.
The NCIS team's investigation quickly leads to a government think tank that felt a little hokey - having kids play video games to help craft and improve military strategy?
We're not buying it, but perhaps that's why we're writing this for a living and weren't embedding complex military codes into our artwork at age 12, like super-cute Angela.
Gibbs discerns that this young girl is the target of the killer of the Marine after Abby learns she codes messages in her paintings. Codes being sold for tens of thousands.
Gibbs and Ducky make a grisly discovery at the episode's onset.
Our only problem with the episode was Angela getting away from Ziva and Ducky while they were preparing Thanksgiving at his house. Ziva is way too bad ass to let that happen.
They had to let her get away somehow, but it seemed poorly executed, a rarity for this show. Ziva did make up for this unrealistic error, however, but more on that in a moment.
Turns out that Angela was, not shockingly, one step ahead of them, knowing she was being hunted but also leaving clues for the agents to find her and protect her own mother.She swiped Ducky's credit card as she escaped, and made a purchase (who approved it, we can't say) so that Gibbs could find her, just as the killer was going to kill her mom.
The climactic face-off was pretty awesome, especially Gibbs' face when he asked hostage Angela to break down the probabilities of Ziva taking out the killer just before she did.
Again, Ziva takes no prisoners and is just about the most kick-ass character on TV ... how is she going to let the kid out of her sight in the first place? Sorry, we're not over it.
All in all, a solid episode, though, and we did enjoy the Thanksgiving scene at Ducky's afterward. We would love to know why Gibbs skipped the last nine of them, however ...
Angela brought out the softer side of Gibbs. Kind of.