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.


Well agree with critic on one word 'pridietable". Broke down and watched to see what they would do for a Christmas show. They didn't do much. Didn't even make the nerd a true hero.


Loved that Jimmy Palmer had a real part and enjoyed the McGee and Tony scene. Sorry - Ziva was a cartoon character Yikes. I wish they'd allow others besides Ziva and Gibbs to know everything and to have some action and be the heros. I just had to roll my eyes in that fight scene. It was silly.


"Don't PUSH!!!!" was hysterical when about to burst with baby marine wants to help push the car. That was the line of the night along with Ziva's "I've got your ass, and the wires were 'sauteed' - No fried," says Gibbs and then she goes out to shoot gangsta style with 2 guns! NCIS rock&roll and fun for all. When a show is so sure of its charm and fans they can do cheesy/funny/touching all at once and be okay. Larry Miller has played some awful sarcastic dads and killer dads too on Law and Order, he's always wonderful to hate. But when Jimmy tells Ducky he's been offered a job at the family crypt -uh- funeral home, poor Ducky looked shell shocked. I was a bit impatient with the show, but the fun overrode the cheese and Tony being an idiot, yet coming to Gibbs was an amazing end. Oooooo-rah!


Earth Orbiter: Thanks!


It was cheesy yes but it was Christmasey(sp?) and in the end it was a great episode......


abcdebbie: I think it was Michael Buble.


Ziva kicked A! She was shooting in the dark and the whole firefight bought time for the baby to be delivered. Gibbs had his weapon nearby if Ziva failed. You can bet he was torn between helping Ziva and delivering the child, afterall, he could hear the shoot-out. Ziva is super and we can never have enough of her. I love super-Ziva. She isn't foolish like Kate was, which ultimately led to her death. Ziva trained to be savy. She is a lean, mean, killing machine. She gives 100% in every situation. She has surprised the viewers many times with her skills and tactics. Gibbs is all man and it is about time tv has a leading man be manley and awesome!


Does anyone know who was singing "Silent Night" during the gunfight/birth scene?


I so agree they are turning Ziva into a super hero at time. It 's like the other team members cant do the job or know what they are doing. So not true. Go Palmer stick up for your self and the team. If you didn't I was waiting for Tony or Abby to say something b/c they would. After all Abby put you and you father-in -law in a time out. I loved the end with Gibbs and Tony. He is so a father figure towards Tony. He wanted to make sure Tony didn't turn into him. He want's more for Tony than just this job. Tony needs to live his life and not look just on the past and what if's in his life. And Gibbs will make sure of it. (love Tony in the elevator dressed casual it make him look younger ans mor realxed wish he would dress lie it more often)


Shame on you, Steve for trying to take the Christmas season out of this episode!! I Love NCIS and would have been upset if it didn't show that these actors are human.

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