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NCIS Round Table: “Honor Thy Father”

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This exciting NCIS season finale provided a fitting tribute to Ralph Waite.

NCIS Season 11 Episode 24 also pitted the jailed Mexican cartel boss Alejandro River and the remnants of the Brotherhood of Doubt terrorist group against Gibbs as they conspired to kill him.

Join TV Fanatic panelists David Taylor, Christine Orlando and Douglas Wolfe as they discuss this last episode of NCIS Season 11...

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How would describe the episode in three words or a sentence?

David:  I think the title said it all. "Honor Thy Father."

Christine: In the immortal words of Jackson Gibbs, "The World Is Bad Enough as it is. You've got no right to make it any worse."

Doug: Work/Life Balance According to Gibbs

What was your favorite scene or quote?

David: I had two: Tony's "feeling" Gibbs after ignoring his call; and Gibbs "serving it" to Rivera.

Christine: The team remembering Jackson and sharing stories with Bishop. Specifically McGee's, "He was the only one who could do the Gibbs stare at Gibbs."

Doug: I had two as well The first was the Gibbs/Vance confrontation. They used to fight like that before, each unwilling to bend to the other. Two alpha dogs mixing it up - and for all the right reasons.

Gibbs Heads Home
Gibbs heads home when his father passes away on the season finale of NCIS. "Honor Thy Father" is the 24th episode of the show's 11th season.

What, if any, were the problems that you saw in this episode?

David: I didn't like Tony bailing during the briefing to inform Gibbs. It seemed rude and unprofessional to me, despite Tony's good intentions.

Christine:  'd really hoped for more flashbacks of Ralph Waite as Jackson Gibbs. For an episode meant to honor both the character and actor's passing, it felt a little light on actual footage of him.

Doug: I'm with David. Tony abruptly leaving during the middle of an MTAC briefing was the only real speed bump to an otherwise great episode.

Tony took the lead for much of the Brotherhood of Doubt/Rivera investigation. Does this foreshadow a desire by Vance to consider elevating Tony? Or was that just a one-off?  Why?

David: I hadn't considered that, though Tony's certainly proved himself capable in the past. I think this might indeed be a litmus test though I wonder though if his "running" to Gibbs is gonna be a strike against him now.

Christine: Tony has run his own investigations in the past. I simply think that as second in line it is expected that he can step in and run things in Gibbs absence. I don't think there's any foreshadowing, or at least I hope there isn't.

Doug: It's a great opportunity for Vance to see how well Tony can do with his own team. Despite that, I think it will only serve as a one-off, for two reasons:

  1. Tony ultimately blew it by going against orders and calling Gibbs. Even though his intentions were righteous, because Gibbs' life was in danger, it negates his leadership. (I hasten to add: that would be according to Vance, not me.) I think Vance would have expected Tony to go to Vance first, and explain why he wanted to contact Gibbs.
  2. Gibbs said it himself: his job is his life, and vice versa. It's the only thing he has. So if Tony is to lead his own team, it would have to be somewhere else. And we all know that's not likely to happen.

What do you think of Gibbs' coping style? Healthy? Unhealthy?

David: This is going to sound awful, but I'm going to say "unhealthy." He takes refuge in a dark basement (though he does build a nice boat), sleeps on his couch, barely cooks for himself, and now he can't separate from his job even after the death of a parent and his (presumably) last close relative. I know plenty of workaholics, but even they take a break when someone in their family dies.

Christine:  Everyone deals with grief differently and for Gibbs, work is his safe zone. That's where he feels in control when everything else falls apart. I don't know if it's healthy or unhealthy but it didn't seem abnormal to me.

Doug: I agree with David on this one. What we saw in Vance's office seemed entirely unhealthy to me. Vance couldn't understand it, for good reason. That type of coping style is alien to him, as it is to many of us. We would never expect Gibbs to fall apart, but still, everyone has that point where they need to go away and deal with important harsh issues. The death of a beloved parent certainly would qualify. I'm sure many of us have seen strong people who thought they could handle unbelievable stress, only to fall ill later.

We can see that Gibbs wasn't exactly handling it well too: he got distracted time and again.

Isn't it funny that he could so clearly see the need for Vance to take a break, and for McGee to handle the stress of the bombing, yet not see any need for him to take some time off? Why not go away; go into the woods; or start up a woodworking project for a while?

Was Vance off-base in wanting the team not to contact Gibbs?

David: No, but in retrospect, Vance assumed Gibbs was like himself, and he discovered otherwise.

Christine: I agreed with Vance to a point. Gibbs definitely needed the time away to deal with things but when the case turned personal I think Vance went too far in trying to put Gibbs on administrative leave. Vance was personalizing Gibbs' loss and although similar, losing an elderly parent and losing a wife are different.

Doug: While I don't think Vance was off-base, I do think he unintentionally disrespected Gibbs. The better approach would have been for Vance to lay the law down prior to Gibbs going home.  He could have told Gibbs not to come back for a month or whatever, and let him know that his team was not to contact him about work-related stuff either.  He should have argued that Tony was perfectly able to run the ship until he got back. I doubt Gibbs would have objected to that.

What are your thoughts on how the writers handled Waite's passing?

David: Well... I'd have liked to see more of Waite in the flashbacks since I don't recall seeing many episodes where he was featured. However, I think they more than made up for it with that last photo.

Christine: I found it odd that they used the younger version of the character in flashbacks when the episode was about honoring Ralph Waite's passing. It was a good episode, I just think they could have focused more on the Jackson Gibbs we knew.

Doug:  I too would have loved to have seen more of the elder Jackson - because that involved Ralph Waite, instead of the actor who played the younger Jackson. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the producers scoured the archives to try and figure out what Waite footage they had, and tried to determine how they could re-engineer it to fit the narrative for the finale. Even the one they had - about the gun - was fairly bare bones.

I was glad to see that last picture of them too.

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter

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I honestly think you got it wrong thinking that Gibbs needed the time away. Vance needed to cope with the loss of Jackie, but he also had children that had just lost their mum so he needed to be with them. In other words, he needed to be with his family. Who's Gibbs' family? The team. Vance forcing him away actually removed Gibbs from his support network - possibly one of the worst things you can do to someone in their time of need. And barring Gibbs' team/family from contacting him was even worse.

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@ Alihan

That's a good point. I hadn't thought of that.

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I also found it strange that Tony wanted to call Gibbs. This was before we knew it was connected to Rivera. I also found it strange that Vance compaired him loosing his wife tomGibbs loosing his dad. Two very different losses. But I really loved this season finale and I loved there was no cliffhanger.

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I, too, would have like to seen more flash backs with Waite. After all it was a tribute to him. Definitely was lacking for a tribute. Even though the military funeral was nice, I think they should have had something about him being buried next to his wife.

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I disagree with Doug that Tony "blew it" by calling Gibbs. If he hadn't called then Gibbs would not have known to be wary of Rivera's hit order and he would have been vulnerable. I think the reason that Tony is always written as 1 step forward, 2 steps back is because they just aren't as serious about "evolving" Tony as they are about making sure that Gibbs is the undisputed leader. For every leader Tony moment we get, there are usually two or three scenes that make him seem clueless to offset the notion that he has a brain. Sadly, I doubt that this will change. Ever since Gary Glasburg took over as show runner the show has just became an often shameless plug for the super Gibbs agenda. Tptb haven't cared about growing Tony since Don P. Bellasario was ousted by Harmon.

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@ Pat

When Tony contacted Gibbs, they didn't know he was the target. They only learned that when they questioned Rivera's girlfriend.

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@ PatrickC

But I think that once Tony knew Rivera was involved, he knew that Gibbs would not only want to know, but might need to be wary as well. I still think that it's a double standard that Tony is taken to task for not running to Vance with his decision when it would have been considered just fine for Gibbs to do so.

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@ Pat

Tony blew it by not contacting Vance first so he could be read in. I doubt Vance would have objected.

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@ Douglas Wolfe

And yet Gibbs would never be expected to answer to Vance and Gibbs is touted as the great leader. I think that Tony is not supposed to get away with the same things Gibbs does because of the super Gibbs double standard.

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I agree with Christine about how Gibbs handles emotions , i don't know that you could say "Healthy or Unhealthy" It's just his way. But it's also not just about the work, it's about his Team and being needed by them. That's how Gibbs has connections by them leaning on him but he also knows should he fall, they will be there to pick him up and never show anyone else that they did that. If you remember Ducky didn't tell anyone about his Mum , Abby followed him cause she knew he was overly quiet. And that was just Ducky's private way , he needed time alone before he could reach out and i wasn't worried about Ducky or his mental health. But i do think Vance got it wrong with Gibbs big time. And while not out of any malice but it made it seem like Vance really doesn't know Gibbs at all. Gibbs for all his lone wolf ways needs to be needed by his Team.

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@ guest

The only times I remember watching Gibbs show any form of sadness happened the following ttimes: 1: While he was in a coma, and starting wanting Shannon and Kelly (Hiatus)
2: The Death of Jenny
3: The Death of Mike Franks

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@ PatrickC

Guest, I totally agree with you. Those were the ones on the top of my head.

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@ PatrickC

Sorry i have been away so just replying now, but you don't think Gibbs was sad when Kate was killed ?

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@ PatrickC

The other time was when Ziva called him to say goodbye at the end of "Past, Present, Future".

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@ guest

Or maybe Vance was fallowing the rules some business and depart if they think your emotions will affect your work they send you home

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@ Michael

Could be Michael but it seem more personal to me like Vance was trying to do right by his friend , like Gibbs did for him. But Vance got it wrong to me and i also think the rest of the characters acted that way. They know Gibbs and he needs to be needed. Even though he isolates himself quite often. Gibbs always expects his Team to come to him. It's like in Monsters and Men when Bishop didn't tell Gibbs about her past association with the Parsa case and Bishop and Tony chatted in the Men's Room as Bishop was trying to understand Gibbs full anger at her. It's because he felt she didn't trust him. And Tony told her that Gibbs doesn't need to know everything but he needs to know that she would go to him. And Vance isolating Gibbs from the Team took that away from Gibbs. While he might not have needed to know what was happening professionally, personally Gibbs needs to know that Tony will answer that phone and tell him whatever.

NCIS Season 11 Episode 24 Quotes

Rivera: I have freed the devil's men. And they hate you as much as I do. Sooner or later, they will strike.
Gibbs: The only one who escaped was Lateef Mir. That's him. They let you watch TV in here? You should turn on the news tonight. You'll see his picture. Your picture. It'll be great.

Gibbs: Cal, do something for me?
Cal: Sure. Anything. You want me to lock the back up?
Gibbs: I want you to take the store. Cheers. It's what dad would have wanted.
Cal: But I... I'm not... I mean, I don't even know how...
Gibbs: Just do the work.
Cal: I will.

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