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.


Hate to say it but NCIS needs some new scriptwriters. The scripts do better with espionage in general, but this last Christmas episode...The last couple of years there have been a handful of great episodes and the rest...not. The outsiders coming in for romances with Ziva or Tony don't work. That whole season with wrong for the show. And EJ? Also a wrong choice. And Ziva's boyfriend she met in Miami and is returning this season? No no no....Keep the sparks in there for Tony and Ziva until the series ends. Let Gibbs go on special assignment in the "stans" (Afghanistan, Usbekistan, etc) and have him in some episodes of NCIS when he calls in the team for this or that special project. See if that flies and if it does, do a spin off of Gibbs the Marine/special forces/spy guy. Ducky: a fine Shakespearian actor! David McCallum's politics aside, as an actor he's a great asset to the show. Peace out and Merry whatever you celebrate!


Ncis Christmas
While i don't consider it one of their best christmas shows . It does open new areas to develope. You got to love Palmers sweater, and Jimmy standing up for the gang to his "A" would be father=law. Only Abby would be able to put thos two on a time out. Tim and Tony cookie scene wsa the best for humour. Finally Ziva fight scene brought out the badass she is suppose to be , while Gibbs delivers a baby {girl). Admit Zivas fight a lttle over kill.NCIS still the best on tv.


No one has mentioned one of my favorite bits of humor: in the clothing store when Gibbs and Ziva catch up with Emma, she questions Jethro about being a marine and he gives her the "how do you think I got this haircut?"...if you don't remember it, check the replay,...classic Gibbs!!


I loved the cookie interrogation. that was the best part. I lmao. I still remember on e from way back when. He was sitting playing tetris on his phone and the guys was getting so frustrated he just started talking. Got to love Tony and his interrogations. freaking hilarious.


More Larry! I wanna see Larry Miller again, but utilized better. He has much more to offer than we saw in this ep. I really enjoyed the Agent Lee/Palmer side story from a couple years past and was glad to see Palmer get some more attention this ep. Tough to pull off the sweater-vest. As Demetri Martin once said, "Life vests save you from drowning, bullet-proof vests save you from being shot, and sweater-vests save you from pretty girls". Breena certainly blows up that quote.


Love the show. It was NCIS at it's best! Really wish we could "like" the comments made here. Please?


Sorry-but I found this episode amazingly good-Gibbs connected not only with the pregnant Marine but reminded us of the young Jethro that knew his way around a car-which made the gas station scene work for me. As for Ziva and the fight scene-I thought it worked. So did Jimmy in standing up to his jerk almost father-in-law, love the time out! Other shows should take note as to how to do a holiday episode from NCIS-still the best!


AJA: Oh, boy, you said it! Ziva and the bad guy are 12 feet apart, she's firing TWO guns to his one, and all 3 clips are emptied, and still THEY BOTH MISS? WTF? Then she hurls her five-foot-four-inch, 100 pound frame onto his six-foot, buck-eighty-plus, and kicks HIS ass? Ole! I like this show; actually, I'm a huge fan. And I can deal with the schmaltz, especially since its Christmas. But this "superhero" stuff is a little over the top. Maybe things will settle down when they come back in January. Gotta love Jimmy P, though. He's a peach, isn't he?


I found Ziva's kick a$$ scene embarrassingly bad. It reminded me of some fakey heroine scene from a show geared to attract adolescents. Sorry. It ruined the episode for me.


I didnt expected much from this episode but I really love Ziva been such a badass. Who is best for that job that a mossad assasin :)

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