To say the inscrutable Leroy Gibbs is a romantic might be an understatement.
As would the observation that he rarely reveals much, preferring instead to keep his cards close to his chest, especially when it comes to resentment. So watching Hollis Mann pry him open so skillfully was fun to watch.
NCIS Season 11 Episode 12 opened with the death of Petty Officer Daniel Coyne, who was killed by a Navy drone attack.
It turns out the drone strike was a test run operational precursor to a larger target: a Conrad Institute dinner gala, where McGee's girlfriend Delilah was due to be honored.
The second drone strike was successful: four people were killed and a number were injured, including Delilah. The terrorist mastermind Benham Parsa escaped, although at least two of his underlings (three if we include the mercenary responsible for the first attack) were killed.
Tony fairly ruled the roost here. After a few weeks of rocking on his heels because of Bishop, he's come back to focus. Although Bishop is confident in her investigative process, it's not everyone's. And, as the newbie, she doesn't get to say otherwise.
Bishop: We still have a dead petty officer and a missing drone. Shouldn't we be, you know, investigating?
Tony: This is our process, Bishop. You have your earbuds and chess metaphors, we have this. Don't knock it.
I like Bishop a lot. She's still finding her way, though, and learning how to fit in. Tony's leadership will help with that.
Perhaps her short-lived panic over firing the shot that she thought caused the explosion and death of a suspect will provide her some much needed humility.
Overall, the episode had everything: troubled romance, action, excitement and danger. For that it gets high marks once again. The series is not nearly as formulaic as it once was and that just keeps everyone interested and engaged.
Take Tim, for example. We haven't seen Delilah in weeks; and finally she showed up, vibrant personality, high level clearance and loving devotion to McGee all in hand. And McGee didn't know what to do with her.
Abby's advice set him - and us - straight. Delilah is not at all clingy. In fact, she truly is the best thing to ever happen to him. Abby read him like a book. Or maybe she just stated a truth that's common to many guys: that men are adverse to messy emotions and the situations that can cause them.
It seemed a little weird that Delilah didn't read him the riot act a little more forcefully though: this was a dinner at which she, McGee's girlfriend, was being honored, and he clearly didn't want to go. I expected her to rise up in righteous fury. She merely seemed slightly perturbed, doing nothing more than draw his attention to it.
When Tim finally showed up - literally and figuratively - and he got that phone call, warning of the imminent drone strike, I was on the edge of my seat. Especially when Tim complained that he couldn't hear Tony very well and then sent Delilah into the dinner ahead of him. The only thought that came to mind was "oh no. Saved by a phone call."
At least Delilah wasn't killed outright. She's in the hospital being operated on after getting hit with shrapnel. Here's hoping she pulls through.
The ending was superb as well: Gibbs finally realized the value of Bishop's eccentricity and unique style of analysis, working her accordingly. Watching him put the laptop on the floor with her files and bluntly demanding that she get to work was satisfying. There's a tool for every job and Gibbs has finally keyed into her function, which he plans to exploit to full effect in their hunt for Parsa.
- We haven't seen Hollis Mann (played by Susanna Thompson) since season 4. Hers was a welcome and moderating presence for Gibbs. Hope we see more of her.
- There's just something a little warm and inviting about Gibbs emptying out a screw jar so that he can offer his guests a drink.
- Abby's investigative abilities extends to matters of the personality as well. Her ability to empathize allows her the means to speak to her friends and colleagues in a way that doesn't give room for offense. McGee even thanked her. You really can't help to love her.
- Erin Pace's statement about the ability to remotely cause destruction was passionate. Always good to see the bad guys' honest and heartfelt side of the story.
Now it's over to you. What did you think of the episode? Do you think Delilah will pull through? Was Gibbs secretly bothered by Hollis until her explanation and apology?
What did you think of Tony? Has he come into his own as the senior agent for the team?
Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter.