Wow! What an amazing episode. So much to love about this. So many poignant, touching and moving moments, points and details. So honest and real and so relevant. And amazing acting in particular from Bob Newhart and David McCallum but also from Guy Wilson who played the seventeen year old Paul Simmons.
A real, truly real, very powerful case. It wasn't shoe-horned it, it wasn't just there and oh, look let's put a naval man in so we can bring NCIS in, it was naval from beginning to end. And the sub-plot with Dr. Magnus whilst really having nothing to do with the main story-line somehow fitted in so very very well and didn't seem jarring when we moved from one to the other. Probably because although the plots weren't directed related, as such, there were elements that fitted together so well. Secrets, life, beginning a new life, hard decisions, personalities, pain, anguish and others I can't actually put into words.
I don't know Bob Newhart as an actor I only know him as a comic monologist, in fact I have one of his CDs, so I didn't know quite what to expect. But I was bowled over by the acting. Very understated, but so well done, so emotional and gripping. I won't lie I had tears in my eyes more than once during this episode - and not just over Magnus, but also in the final scene with Paul and his father and again with Paul and the recruiting officer with Gibbs hovering in the background in a suit!
Something good will come out of the terrible thing. A father's love is as powerful as a mother's; Paul's father wanted to protect his son, believed something more was going on than what was, didn't, couldn't maybe, understand Paul and what he was - but he loved him. He loved him so much he killed for him. But the real tragedy there is he in effect orphaned his son who had already lost his mom.
But even through the loss, something good has come out of it. Paul can admit who he is, not just to family and friends but to those in the career he wishes to follow. He no longer has to lie. The repeal of DADT will help many, many Pauls and many Simon Craigs. Again, kudos to the NCIS PTB for tackling such an important issue and doing so in such a respectful, moving way.
Gibbs was determined the motivation for the murder of PO Craig was not going to be swept under the carpet and just buried because it might upset some people. Gibbs doesn't care if someone is gay or straight or whatever - we know that from the past - and he'd have fought in his corner had Vance not supported him. But Vance always will, because in truth Vance is a good man too.
The scene in the conference room when Gibbs was talking to Paul and his father was another moving one and set so many things up. And when he reminded the father that Paul still had one parent and he needed to act like it was a great foreshadowing for what happened at the end when he learnt the truth.
Gibbs was totally believable in the scene when they came to arrest Paul's dad when asked by Paul what he'd say if his gay son told him he wanted to join the navy; 'I'd wish him luck' and support him Gibbs said, and he would.
I did guess that Paul was gay and that that was another reason he was talking so much with PO Craig; who better to help him than someone who knows what it is like? I was intrigued by Paul from the beginning as he didn't seem to be just the brash, always in trouble boy he was. Again it was subtle, but it came over that he was more.
I felt for PO Craig's lover's wife; it must be an incredibly difficult thing to discover, but she wasn't a killer. Just a bitter, angry woman fighting for her self-respect and her marriage. Whether the latter will survive, I somehow doubt. But again that was a very well acted role and someone who did touch you.
As I said Bob Newhart was amazing, his scenes throughout were all superb, his character developed subtly and we had a few indications of what might be coming, but it could easily just be put down to his age. He provided some gentle humour to begin with, it was lovely to see how in awe he was of the new procedures and equipment, he and Abby were nice together, he and Ducky were superb. It must have been doubly hard for Ducky to hear what Magnus had to say, not just because clearly Ducky respected him immensely and he was the past 'Ducky' but also because of Ducky's mother - that was extra hard for him.
The scene when Magnus confessed to having Alzheimers had me with tears in my eyes. Again it was so underplayed, so unrushed, so painful, so powerful, so full of emotion and yet really so little was said and no one was racing around. Just two older men sitting and talking. And it revealled so much about of them. Magnus running away because he believed he hadn't got anything to offer his grandchildren and remembering the good times at NCIS, but also fearing because he could no longer remember the cases or indeed who he'd been and admitted how vitally important, the most important thing, NCIS was. And Ducky knowing how he felt about that - NCIS is the main thing in Ducky's life, which is a tad sad in itself. I loved how Ducky said he'd show Magnus who he'd been. It was 'the' scenes of the episode. But then in truth the episode was packed full of excellent scenes.
The team all worked well together, there was some nice banter. It was good to see Tim and Tony working together before Ziva came back. However, I suspect from the fact that Gibbs sent Ziva out with Tony once she'd returned plus Tony's comment about wanting Ziva back that we are going to see Tony and Ziva out and about as partners even more often. Poor Tim in the sawmill-type place with his allergy to sawdust and Tony's comment about wanting Ziva back. Although, one has to note a wee inconsistency here; Tim says he's allergic to sawdust. However, he has been in Gibbs's basement (Internal Affairs) and never gave any indication he had a problem. Wow, that guy was something in the way he attacked both Tony and Tim. I'm glad all worked out and no one was hurt. The humour was there this week but more understated than it often is. Not laugh out loud, no clowning around, no OTT behaviour, but it was there.
It was interesting to see that Magnus called Ducky 'Donald' as Ducky's mother used to, again in some ways a tie with the Alzheimers.
I thought Sean Murray looked a bit better this week; he didn't seem as gaunt and ashen. Maybe it was just better make-up, but he did look better than he has done of late.
And great to see so much Ducky in this episode.
As much as I love Jimmy and always miss seeing him, I really don't think there was a role for him in this week's episode - but it was nice at least that he was referred to.
Nice to have a 'shutting up now, boss' from Tony - we haven't had one of those for a while. I always like them as it follows one of Gibbs's looks, when he says so much without words.
I love how Gibbs and Vance's relationship has developed from how prickly it was and how clearly Gibbs did not trust him to how they are now. I liked how Vance confided to an extent in Gibbs. Being Director must be a lonely role and it makes sense that if he needs/wants to talk to someone it would be his Senior Agent. The scenes with them were really stellar. Relationships take a time to build, even ones whereby the people have known one another in the past and this has been very believable indeed.
The interaction between the three younger members of the field team was particularly good this week. Tim & Tony, Tim, Tony & Ziva and Tony & Ziva, they all worked on different levels. And it was good to see Ziva finally sharing something of her friend with Tim and Tony.
I loved the song that was playing at the end - and now know what it was called. Goes off to track it down. Duly tracked down and downloaded from good old Amazon. Not only did I really love it, but the lyrics were so very fitting indeed 'feel like I'm never going to heal'. That was pertinent to both Magnus and Paul. And maybe, possibly to Gibbs too as we see him back in his basement, maybe preparing a new boat? I'd love to think that was really the end of Shannon and Kelly and Gibbs's attitude, but I thought that after Requiem when he said goodbye to them and they've popped up again several times. So . . .
So much friendship in this episode, both old friends and new. With one teeny exception, everyone was spot on character-wise, there was not bitching, not nastiness, no overt silliness, just great team interaction, clear love for one another, devotion on many levels both within the team and the other characters. Just utterly well done. Ship-wise there wasn't a huge amount of interaction it was more deep, loving friendship. But we did have a little Gibbs/Ducky and Gibbs/McGee.
A superb case that gripped me all the way through and was powerful, poignant and intense. And a sub-plot that was equally gripping and moving. Great interaction. Moving scenes. Emotionally intense. Great acting all round from the regulars and the guest starts. Virtually nothing to fault. Just such a superb top notch episode. So very sad, but so very good. I don't believe we've had such a powerful, poignant episode since Call Of Silence.
- The opening squad room scene with Tim and Tony chatting and Tony being a really bad liar when telling Tim he wasn't interested in where Ziva was and finally admitting he was. So Tony; as we know he has to know everything about everybody. He and Abby are alike in many ways, they both regard the rest of the team as 'their' property and don't like it when they are involved with anyone else.
- Magnus at the crime scene with his exchange with Gibbs.
- The first scene with Ducky and Dr. Magnus in Autopsy, very moving.
- Gibbs and Vance. So much said in so few words. It's really good to see that Vance is still far, far from right and suffering both physically and emotionally. I knew he'd blame himself. And Gibbs was both supportive, concerned and caring in true Gibbs fashion: 'suck it up'. That's Gibbs, but his tone was a very gentle and caring one.
- Abby and Magnus and then Abby, Magnus, Ducky and Gibbs in Abby's lab. Magnus's surprise when Gibbs kisses Abby and Ducky's reply. Lovely.
- Tim and Tony in the saw-mill/carpentry place. We don't see them working together all that much these days, but when they do, they do it well.
- Ziva's arrival back at the office scene. Lovely banter between the three of them and we learnt her friend's name: Ray.
- Ducky, Gibbs and Magnus in Autopsy. So well done, well played and acted from all three men. Lovely to see Gibbs and Ducky in accord when they look at Magnus when he fails to answer. And it was really clear that something wasn't right. And of course the shipper in me has to point out how close they were, all the looks and smiles and lack of personal space.
- Ducky, Magnus and Abby after Abby has found Magnus. Magnus noticing Bert and the little story about hippos sweat being red, very moving. Even more so when Magnus thought he was at the zoo.
- Ducky and Magnus over the cup of tea when Magnus tells him the truth. Again that had me in tears. So brilliantly done, so quietly done, just utterly wonderful and moving.
- The scene in Paul's home when Gibbs is talking to him and then his dad comes home and confesses and Paul cries and hugs him. Again, that had me with tears in my eyes.
- The MTAC scene where Ducky had got Tim to set up the past of Magnus to show him who he was. I loved that the kids were there too and obviously touched by this man they'd never known.
- Paul back in the recruiting office, supported by Gibbs.
- The whole bit from MTAC to Gibbs's basement with song.
There were some nice little throw away touches too:
- Tony once more searching for his notebook and then having to borrow a pen from the recruiting officer. So underplayed and not remotely important but continuity from the previous episode when he did the same thing and Ziva had to lend him her pen.
- Tony starting to sing The Wheels On The Bus.
- Tony's 'shutting up now, boss'.
- Vance using his stick in the wrong hand. It should be used on the opposite side to the damaged leg; he was using it on the same side as the leg he'd damaged. It may have been that he hadn't damaged his leg and was just using the stick for support because of his internal injuries (very impressive scar). But it did look as if he was favouring one leg.
- Gibbs joining in singing The Wheels On The Buswith Tony. It seemed totally OOC to me.
- Tim saying he was allergic to sawdust when he's been in Gibbs's basement with no such comment or even hint.
Ship of the week:
Ducky and Dr. Magnus
Character of the week:
Actor/Actress of the week: