As we discussed in our review of "Faith," Tuesday night's NCIS worked in the traditional murder-mystery angle with more personal/family stories than we usually see.
Below, our staff members break down the latest episode of TV's #1 show in further detail in an NCIS Round Table discussion. Here's what our panel had to say ...
1. What was your favorite NCIS quote from the episode?
The Barnacle: Ziva may speak nine languages (10 including the language of love), but she kills me every week with slip-ups like "redthroats" and "bah-humbog."
Dr. Shepherd: A tie between any of Tony's uncomfortable Secret Santa ramblings and Ducky's rambling, philosophical conversation with the corpse (and Palmer).
M.L. House: In an episode called "Faith," I have to go with Gibbs on the Reverend's comment about his son's god vs. his own: "They're one and the same."
2. Which story did you enjoy more, Gibbs' dad visiting or the murder mystery?
M.L. House: They intertwined well (especially when elder Gibbs became a nuisance at work). It was neat to see a glimpse of Gibbs' personal life and how it consumed him even after our fearless, workaholic leader plunged head-on into the Marine's death as usual.
Dr. Shepherd: Jackson Gibbs was definitely the crux of this episode. Ducky's "diagnosis" of him was a great scene, as was when father and son finally broke through the communication barrier they spent the whole night trying to navigate around.
The Barnacle: Ralph Waite, who was also terrific as Booth's grandfather on Bones recently, really nailed the character of Gibbs' dad. It was sad watching him struggling internally and not knowing why - just as Jethro himself was experiencing. Great acting and interplay by Waite and Mark Harmon, who could pass for being related.3. The Tony, McGee and Abby Christmas subplots: Fun or filler?
The Barnacle: It's hard to criticize either, for they were well done, but I would have preferred more of the primary story, honestly. It seemed like the team wrapped up the investigation too easily, although that has to happen sometimes, I guess.
M.L. House: A little of both. It had the makings off too much fluff - starting with the unconvincing snow effects - but the NCIS cast still both made the subplots enjoyable.
Dr. Shepherd: Good old holiday fun. While I can't see Tony going out of his way to get the HR ice queen a gift that special, it was fun watching him squirm all night. As for Abby, only she could make blackmailing McGee seem so sweet and kind.
4. Did you like the episode's extrapolation on faith?
Dr. Shepherd: Yes. My favorite scene of the episode was the Colonel/Reverend saluting his son at the end. Despite how wronged he felt by his son's conversion to Islam, you could feel the genuine remorse and anguish for his role in the murder.
M.L. House: While the message was at times a tad overt (Ducky lamenting that we focus on our differences instead of learning from each other, and the chaplain drawing parallels between the Qur'an and the Marine code), it nevertheless rang true. We're all part of the one human family. Shouldn't we act like it, or at least make strides, despite all the obstacles?
The Barnacle: My first reaction was that this painted Christians and the military in a negative light, but after reflecting on it I don't think that's the case. Religion, especially within the context of the USMC, is an incredibly complex topic and one I thought NCIS broached in fair, nuanced fashion last night. A sympathetic view of Islam is rare in an age of extremism.