It's safe to say that NCIS Season 12 Episode 7 was anything but filler.
There were two compelling stories in this episode, and a third which filled the requirement for a case of the week:
- The story of the recovery of the missing remains of long-dead Marine Sergeant Charles Kent.
- The evolution of the Gibbs-Bishop relationship.
- The investigation of the murder of retired Master Sergeant George Hawkins.
There was a lot to fit into this ambitious hour. As interesting as they were, the stories would have benefited from being spanned out over multiple weeks.
The fact that this episode fell on Veterans Day was an obvious factor in the arcs that were chosen. The image of Ky Van Tu grabbing Gibbs' hand so he could shake it while speaking of honoring the memory of Sergeant Kent was heartfelt and genuine.
The look on Gibbs' face reflected the pride and sadness of all who've ever lost family members to the service of their country. The scene was well done.
There's not much to say about the case of the week: again, we have a smooth operator who decides to kill a retired Navy man because of money issues. Giving him a girlfriend who happens to live in Vietnam was convenient, as it allowed Gibbs and Tony to kill two birds with one stone.
As cases go, it was middle of the road - nothing special, really.
In fact, the true criminal was identifiable almost immediately. Anyone who has ever seen Aaron Abrams (he played Todd Price) knew him to be typecast as a typical bad guy. Perhaps it's time for the casting department for these shows to stop choosing known bad guy actors. It almost ruins the story when we can see them from the get-go.
What was special was something that many have complained about since Bishop arrived on the scene. Gibbs has been treating her differently than the other probies who've come into the team.
She got away with far more than he would normally allow: she sits on the floor while working and doesn't get barked at - or even mildly - chastised for anything. And she finally confronted him about it.
I like that: it was gratifying to see them yelling at each other. She's strong enough to be treated like anyone else in the unit and she definitely doesn't want to be handled like a China doll; particularly in a male-dominated environment where everyone is expected to pull their own weight.
And bless Ducky for putting her on the path with his joking about her turning in her badge if she got a high score on the probie evaluation!
I still think there's nothing wrong with Bishop's methodology, or penchant for sitting on the floor to process her research. It doesn't matter what I think, though - Gibbs doesn't like it and he finally said so.
In bringing this issue out in the open, maybe Bishop has prevented Gibbs from getting an aneurysm: he plainly had a lot to say when she didn't follow instructions and as a result lost her suspect. He's obviously been holding a lot of stuff back since she started with the team.
I was certain he treated her that way because he saw her as a proxy for his daughter. Certainly his behavior toward her supported that idea. Turns out I was wrong.
The only thing I didn't appreciate was the dilution of the Veterans Day design with Bishop's story. This needed to be told, but perhaps on a different episode.
Still... maybe it's good that this will put things to rest on her account. We shouldn't hold our breath that we'll ever see a slap upside her head, though. In the real world, that would call for a court-martial.
- I don't believe we've heard the probie scores on Tony and McGee before (58 and 63 percent, respectively). Bishop's score of 82 doesn't count, as it wasn't real.
- Tony hates cats. Cat followed him home. Tony now loves the cat. Cat goes away. Zen cat philosophy? A little too deep for me. I just wish the cat had stayed.
- JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) is a real organization, dedicated to the search and recovery of missing military personnel. I'm glad they were highlighted in this episode - it's an organization to be proud of.
- Be sure to check out the NCIS quotes from this episode.
- The NCIS Round Table for this episode is now up!
What are you thoughts on this Veterans Day episode? Do you believe Bishop will be treated like a regular probie from now on? Be sure to watch NCIS online and then chime in, in the comments below.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.