NCIS Review: Gibbs Delivers!

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In the spirit of Christmas, we'll forgive NCIS this one.

It's not that "Newborn King" was a bad episode, but it felt like an entirely different show. The holiday theme was almost overblown at times, and there was a high level of (often predictable) cheesiness throughout, a far cry from some of the uber-serious, superbly well-written episodes this and every season.

But, what can I say, it's the holiday season, and it still worked for me. Why?

Dressed For the Occasion

Marine Lt. Emma Reynolds (guest star Erin Cottrell) for one. Aside from initially locating her, there wasn't much mystery to her case - she was being stalked (hunted, really) because, after becoming pregnant by an Afghan soldier, she carried the potential heir to a key tract of land in Afghanistan that the DOD needed for a highway.

This was pretty much spelled out for us right away, and needless to say, a little far-fetched. But Emma's interactions with Gibbs, beginning with their fitting room standoff, made up for it and then some.

Everything about her was endearing, even as she tried to maintain the rough, Marine mentality she personified, the code that provided her a set of expectations that, with certain things, no longer apply.

It's always hard hearing Gibbs refer to Shannon or Kelly, but it seemed like he drew upon his own daughter's memory to form a bond with Emma that went beyond their mutual Leatherneck status.

If you saw the promo, you basically knew Gibbs' car was going to break down, and that he'd be the one delivering her child - a daughter, as it turned out, luckily for her - with the snow coming down.

Because Emma was so likable, and Gibbs is the man, it was easy to get wrapped up in the moment and overlook some of the lines ("my water just broke") and plot points (car breaking down) that felt formulaic.

While Gibbs delivered the greatest Christmas miracle of all, we were treated to a brazenly violent shootout between Ziva and Emma's would-be abductors, set to "Silent Night." Ironic, to say the least.

Obviously, Ziva got the job done (albeit after a much longer ordeal than you might expect from Ziva, to drive home the circle-of-life element) and everything was tied up in a pretty bow. As a holiday one-off I'll buy it.

A couple of character-driven side plots played key roles Tuesday as well.

Jimmy With Breena's Father

Palmer's future father-in-law, Ed Slater (guest star Larry Miller) got a tour of the office as part of Jimmy and Breena's Christmas present to him. Needless to say, he thinks James is an unworthy government stiff.

This guy does not mince words, whether he was making not-good-natured jokes at federal agents or offering Palmer a job working in his funeral home. Poor James even thought about that for a moment.

Once Ed made a comment about the team failing, though, that lit a fire under Palmer. Say what you will about NCIS, they succeed much more often than not and always risk their lives in their casework.

Again, the overbearing father-in-law-to-be trampling all over quiet Palmer was a bit over the top, but at least he stepped up - for himself and his team - and showed us a new, emboldened side of himself.

Now if we could just get him to lose the sweater ...

Perhaps the night's most powerful moment was reserved for last. After receiving an invitation to Christmas brunch from his ex-fiancee Wendy earlier, Tony decided to go, but never made it out of the car.

He ends up not at Wendy's but at Chez Gibbs, where he was obviously expected, but not welcomed. Not that Gibbs doesn't love his very special agent protege like a son, but he fears Tony turning into him.

Before they leave for Layla's (while we know Gibbs is always going to be close to them, it's wonderful to see it depicted on screen and hear bits and pieces about them), Gibbs made it clear that Junior's inability to focus on both his work and his personal life is on him, no one else ... and to figure it out.

"Don't be like me. Learn from it." Hopefully he listens.

Anthony DiNozzo Jr. Pic

If Gibbs, who embodies so many good qualities and passes them on to those under his wing, can help Tony avoid what he considers his biggest pratfalls, he would be the ultimate role model and father figure.

A few random thoughts and observations before turning it over to your comments:

  • The Christmas cookie interrogation? Eye-rolling but kind of awesome.
  • Palmer did surprising well for himself with Breena. Just saying.
  • CBS Television Studios has got to work on their fake snow.
  • How great is Abby's Christmas techno music?
  • She put them in a time out? Amazing.
  • Gibbs + pink tricycle = Precious.

What did you think of this week's Christmas-themed NCIS? Discuss below!


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (244 Votes)

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


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that was amazing! i dont like it when peolpe want gibbs and abby to hook up, its just sick, i love their relationship just the way it is. its kinda lke she replaced kelly great vid!


LAY OFF ZIVA you critics. She saw the need of Gibbs delivering the baby which, had she done it, would really be out of place. Again she came to Gibbs' aid and my having known a Mossad agent, will testify that they are really trained hard. Lets see, shot her brother, woke him out of a coma, and basically having Gibbs' back, can't he at least show some compassion.


well yo guys did it no tony and ziva no watch. not just our 1800 members but
every body we talk to. you had somthing good going for you but you screw it
up just like every other net work.


The show still has some great moments and the producers should pull in some new writers at this point. I think the writing team or somebody likes Tony's character best, from the way the dialogue goes down. Lots of near misses in communication between characters---not unlike real life---but maybe too many, if you pay close attention. So, I'm ready for more depth for Ziva and McGee and relationship depth for Gibbs. Bring back Colonel Mann perhaps. And more frequent shows---too many breaks weeks on end. Ok, I'm tired of watching the reruns and await some new shows, ok? Gettin' cranky!


This show is still the best and as for Jimmy's sweater, well it's him.
I think the writers do such an excellent job with the Christmas NCIS shows.
They're supposed to be warm and fuzzy, it's Christmas. They have all year to get back to the regular scripts and I agree with most commenters that E.J. and Ray can go away.


Tony in jeans ....................... Oooooo rah !!!


Other then Tony First True Love contacting him again It was horrible and Ziva funfire was a Joke and any smart person would see how unbelievable it is


I only just watched this -- saved it for Christmas and then was too busy. I guess I like cheesy holiday fair (I mean I've seen "It's a Wonderful Life" several more times than I care too, so can get sick of them, but like shows/movies/books that give that warm Christmas feeling) -- and this Christmas NCIS wasn't any cheesier than previous holiday fair. Breena was stunningly pretty in this episode (previous episodes she appeared in were "Moonlighting" which involved the polygraph expert, and "Mother's Day" which was about Gibbs' former mother-in-law) -- and I don't recall anyone as pretty as she looked in this one in those. Actress is Michelle Pierce, 5'5" graduate of UCLA. I liked the shootout with Ziva just fine. I don't think she's become a super heroine, but it follows her role all the way from the beginning. From all I've read of gunfights, both wild west and modern police, is that there is a lot of shooting and few, if any, hits. Partly because someone is shooting back and partly because short barrels, such as on hand guns, are not anywhere near as accurate as rifle length barrels. That is, I could both believe that nobody was hit and believe, since hand-to-hand is more about skill and leverage than strictly size, that the fight could end with Ziva having a choke-death hold on her adversary and literally be stuck in absolute immobility while he was dying to keep him from killing her. That was even better than when that psycho monster beat her and everyone else up. My favorite character was the pregnant Marine. I not only liked her wanting to be a Marine, but trying to live by corp values -- and even asking for special treatment, "This time only, sir!" Very heartwarming. Very enjoyable holiday fare!


I really love the show.
Each episode is full of humor, funny interactions,clever comments,wonderful acting.
All the actors are doing an excellent job.

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