NCIS Season 17 Episode 9 Review: IRL

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You have to like any episode that features killer teddy bears.

It was clever how solving the murder of a petty officer/livesteaming gamer and Gibbs' effort at taking care of his young neighbor dovetailed on NCIS Season 17 Episode 9.

Granted, much of the CBS viewership were scratching their heads along with Gibbs as the team dove into the world of online gaming.

Gibbs Babysits -- Tall - NCIS Season 17 Episode 9

But that was part of the fun of this lighthearted episode. Well, as lighthearted as any episode that starts with a live-streamed murder can be, I suppose.

Even McGee, the Elf Lord turned dad, wasn't aware of Killing With Kindness 3 (that's where the killer teddy bears came in).

Unfamiliar Turf - NCIS Season 17 Episode 9

Still, playing video games is sedentary enough. How can watching someone play video games be at all stimulating?

Then again, viewers have been paying to watch sports (an even more sedentary activity) for decades, so I guess we can't be too judgy.

And if sports channels can show poker and fishing tournaments, well, electronic sports are just as legitimate (although that's a low bar).

Anyway, so NCIS got plunged into a brave new world.

When the murder victim was found covered in gold glitter and wearing a teddy-bear mask, it was clear that this wasn't a normal murder.

Happy Thoughts - NCIS Season 17 Episode 9

Of course, the murder being live-streamed, with many instantly deciding it was fake, already signaled that.

It was hilarious watching Gibbs' mind being blown when he was told that Rojas made more money as a live streaming gamer than he did from his Navy job.

It was equally surprising for Gibbs when he discovered that Rojas's best friend online was an old Navy man in a gated retirement community.

So it's not just the young playing these games but the old as well.

McGee was right when he spoke of being caught in gamer purgatory. Those of us in the middle don't have the time or energy required for online gaming.

Nice if You Can Afford It - NCIS Season 17 Episode 9

Should we have been suspicious of Elmer, who seemed like the stereotypical clueless old fart when it came to electronics (you know, like Gibbs)?

Yeah, probably. But he appeared so innocuous.

Especially when they came up with a much more likely suspect in the obnoxious troll DirtyBird. 

He had a beef with Rojas, blaming him for a sponsorship which he lost.

He probably lost that sponsorship for being a misogynistic pig. Or is that considered a bad thing online?

Seeking an Alibi - NCIS Season 17 Episode 9

McGee and Kasie came up with the brilliant plan of becoming a member of DirtyBird's clan. But that would require a moderately talented gamer.

It was shocking that Bishop, the former NSA analyst, hadn't become a gamer. And McGee has too much rust from being a parent.

Fortunately, Gibbs had a solution in the form of Phineas.

As always, Gibbs tried to keep his work life and his private life separate.

His private life now consisted of watching his 9-year-old neighbor Phineas for a couple of days so his mother Sarah can fight a custody battle in New York with her ex-husband.

Hooked Online - NCIS Season 17 Episode 9

And Gibbs really tried to follow Sarah's instructions (orders) for Phin.

"No screen time" meant that Phineas lost all his electronics immediately. He tried to con Gibbs into doing his homework for him, but Gibbs made him do research ... in a book.

Those early scenes with Phin showed how much Gibbs missed being a dad. It's one thing to be a mentor to his younger agents; it's another to be a father figure to a young boy.

It had been a long time since Gibbs had been in that role. Even when Shannon and Kelly were still alive, it was likely that Shannon handled the bulk of the parenting while Jethro was deployed.

So when Phin intuitively was aware of the custody battle, Gibbs was out of his element and went to Jack for guidance.

Brilliant Plan - NCIS Season 17 Episode 9

Fortunately, Jack confirmed that he was instinctively doing the right thing by just being there for Phin, providing that male role model which Phin had been lacking.

Jack and Gibbs are drawing closer but who knows in they will ever get out of the friend zone?

Remember Rule #12: "Never date a co-worker." But then Gibbs has been known to break his own rules before.

But Jack may have even more baggage than Gibbs. We've just had 17 seasons to learn about his.

So, when Gibbs needed an expert gamer, he just yanked Phin out of his after-school program and put him to work.

Reassuring Friend - NCIS Season 17 Episode 9

Phin was an asset, although Gibbs would be hard-pressed to get Sarah to see it that way.

More than anyone else there, Phin was comfortable in the world on online gaming.

And wasn't MTAC a great place to play video games on the big screen? I would have loved to have seen Vance walk in on this unauthorized operation.

Gibbs knew he was taking a chance involving a civilian that young in a murder case.

But Phin delivered, trash-talking DirtyBird and sparking a death match which allowed McGee to track his location.

Back in a Parental Role - NCIS Season 17 Episode 9

And while DirtyBird was innocent of the murder, justice was served somewhat when Bishop got him kicked out of coaching girls' basketball.

Capturing the geriatric murderer was nothing when compared to Gibbs facing the wrath of Sarah.

Still, Gibbs did the wrong things for the right reasons. And in the end, Sarah realized that Gibbs and Phin were good for each other.

She could do a lot worse when selecting a man in her life. And who knows if something more might develop there instead?

To follow Phineas and Sarah, watch NCIS online.

Was Gibbs right to involve Phineas?

Who should Gibbs be with: Jack, Sarah, or neither?

How is video-game addiction going to affect NCIS?

Comment below.

IRL Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (31 Votes)

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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NCIS Season 17 Episode 9 Quotes

If you're not early, you're late.

Gibbs [to Phineas]

Here I am talking about being maternal and I'm leaving my son with a strange man who lives across the street.

Sarah [to Gibbs]