NCIS Review: Gibbs Does Ask. He Does Tell.

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Last night's terrific NCIS, "Recruited," proved again why the show is TV's most watched and why Leroy Jethro Gibbs is easily one of TV's most beloved characters.

Perceptive, steadfast and compassionate, our man pegged last night's mystery for the hate crime it was and wasn't about to let politics stand in the way of justice.

The scene at the recruitment office, set to the music of Lady Antebellum's "Hello World," was powerful and profound in its simplicity as the episode's denouement.

Standing in solidarity with Paul, but without overstepping his bounds, Gibbs accompanied the teenager so that his dreams of serving America could be realized.

Whereas Vance is subject to backlash from the military bureaucracy, Gibbs' job is simply to be Gibbs, and the way he conducted himself here was vintage Jethro.

Gibbs is the Man

The recent repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell gave NCIS an opening to discuss the topic, but the way it played out exceeded even the show's own lofty writing standards.

As Vance pragmatically said, just because new regulations are in place doesn't mean minds have changed across the board. These things take time. Generations, even.

The dovetailing struggles of Paul and Navy Petty Officer Simon Craig certainly proved as much. These were young men whose sexuality subjected them to great strife.

That Craig, who devoted his life to his country, was routinely attacked and ultimately died simply because of who he was struck a somber note, but an important one.

The death of this officer did not lead to the boilerplate crime scene investigation, but more to a broader discussion, one I thought my favorite show handled brilliantly.

Meanwhile, a guest appearance by Bob Newhart looked at first like it would be your standard, light-hearted "drop-in," subjecting team members to a new, comedic foil.

It turned out to be anything but.

Newhart's Dr. Walter Magnus was Ducky's predecessor, a technological dinosaur now. Ducky treated him with great respect, but clearly saw that something was amiss.

Magnus wasn't estranged from his daughter, as he claimed. He ran away from home and to NCIS HQ because he has early-onset Alzheimer's and needed to feel alive.

Or more appropriately, like himself.

Bob Newhart on NCIS

Two scenes were particularly moving. First, when Magnus sat in Abby's office, lost in his own mind. Things are only going to get worse for him, too, and everyone there knew it.

The closing montage Ducky put together was wonderful, though. By reminding the old man of his purpose, and all the lives he touched, Donald gave him one heck of a sendoff.

Newhart was outstanding, as were the writers for integrating him into the episode so seamlessly, crafting a touching, unexpected story that didn't overshadow the main cast.

Finally, Vance is back, as we touched on earlier. But he's not Vance. It's interesting that the show brought him back so soon in a bit of a ravaged state, physically and mentally.

Rocky Carroll's appearances are somewhat sporadic, meaning Vance could have remained on the shelf. His readiness (or lack thereof) could become a bigger, lasting plot.

Some closing thoughts and observations on another terrific episode:

  • It was a more serious episode than many, but there were still some good laughs to be had. Gibbs joining Tony briefly on "The Wheels on the Bus" was a classic.
  • DiNozzo's jealousy becomes more and more apparent each week. Think we'll get to meet Ray or will he remain a mystery? Who should play this character if so?
  • While their characters were in very different places mentally, Bob Newhart is "only" 81 in real life, while David McCallum isn't far behind him at 77.
  • Is there anything McGee isn't allergic to?

What did you think of last night's NCIS? Discuss!


Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (118 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


just woundering if gibbs ever going leave been watching and the new girl have something hiding in her draw and wounder if its about gibbs hope he don't leave love that show?


I am also hoping that this isn't the beginning of the end for Vance. He was calling the Sec-Nav--I assumed it was to tell him of the resolution of the case but, I also thought about it being a call to say he wanted out of NCIS or needed a longer leave. Ziva said her man, Ray, was a '...good man.' Made me think of A Few Good Men--maybe Ray is in one of the services, likely the Navy. Anyway, terrific episode, as always.


I like Ziva shes a big part of the show However I want more Tony episode Abby and McGee too last year was more Ziva episode`s. I`m starting to feel bad for Vance


I do not understand the anti-Ziva remarks! I like her a lot and her chemistry with Tony is great!
I like all the characters and I did miss Palmer, but was glad for his absence which gave the way for Dr. Magnus to be involved a bit with Ducky's duties.
Newhart is awesome. Many comedic actors turn out to be excellent dramatic ones. Carol Burnette is another example...would love to see her on NCIS! :))


it was very good esp the ending dont know why so many dont like ziva it wouldnt be NCIS without her it wasnt the same when tony was with tim just doesnt have fireworks if you know what i mean.ive a feelong vance will leave and gibbs will become the director and tony the team leader.also dont think there is a new episode next week.


Having Bob Newhart on the phone to order chinese food was a brilliant homage to one of Newhart's classic comedic bits. Really, just brilliant writing. BUT I AM WORRIED. I have enjoyed Vance and the evolution of the "Rick and Louis" relationship between Vance and Gibbs. I sure hope this is not the beginning of the dismount arc for Vance.


The way the writers wove the 2 topics into one episode was very interesting and riveting. Having experienced the alzheimers portions with my dad who served in the Navy in WWII, plus my mom and my wifes mom, it can be heart wrenching. But the way "Ducky" pulled off the ending, with the help of probie and everyone else, showed there is compassion in the world. The other thread of DADT was handled with what I would expect. I look forward to seeing this episode again.


just got done watchin it drom my DVR. wow it was really good I felt bad for that teenage Paul wanted to join the miltary and the Navy officer Chrig showed him he can be ture to himself and still can be in military like Chrig was and still can be in the navy it was sad that Paul`s father killed to protect him but he didn`t need to be protecting. I liked when Tony started singing the wheels on the bus. also Liked the partnership with just McGee and Tony. Bob Newhart did a great job at 1st you think he wants to just visit an old friend however when Abby found him and called Ducky you knew something was wrong how Walter thoget he was at zoo was sad and later how Ducky talked to him and Walter said he thoget he can remember b4 the Alzheimers. the end of the show was the sadest when Paul joined the miltary. the best part when they showed Waliter pichers and Ducky showed how many ppl who Walter helped


I like it, when a show is popular for the right reason... It was good to see Bob Newhart again. For some reason, the best scene for me (there was a lot!) was when Gibbs kiss Abby and the reaction from Dr. Magnus.


I absolutely loved this episode, but you're right - there were a lot of somber tones involved. Be it the horrible death of Simon, the early-onset alzheimers of Magnus, or even Paul joining the Navy. And I'm sorry but I actually like Ziva, and with the rest of you all love NCIS. And the quality of the picture on my DISH Network service is amazing. As a customer and employee of DISH I can safely say that DISH has more HD channels than any other provider. Definitely check it out if you want the best HD available!

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NCIS Season 8 Episode 12 Quotes

(Ziva, Tony and McGee are discussing Ziva's vacation with her elusive boyfriend)
McGee: So when do we get to meet him? And please tell us his name!
Tony: Oh no! Please, let me guess. Zeus? Er...Thor?
Ziva: His name is Ray.
Tony: Ray! What a nice little name! Ray, like Ray Crocker, Ray Charles, Sugar Ray...
Ziva: Erm...I promise you, Ray is a good man.
(Tony smiles at her jokingly before he realises she is being serious)

(Paul Simmons is sitting in the Navy recruitment office)
Recruiter: Well, Paul, why don't we discuss your options?
Paul: I really think the Navy can offer me the opportunities that I'm looking for. I'm ready to serve my country and I wanna be a part of something special.
(Paul smiles as he looks towards Gibbs who is stood in the background listening in)