After making fans have a heart attack after the ending of last season, NCIS is back in its regular Tuesday night time slot. But with its return comes some good and some bad. Good because inevitably the team is back together, and it looks like the writers are deciding to keep some dark elements of the show around for this season. And bad because there’s still a good chance that, judging by this first episode, that the show is going to repeat itself. But I’ll let this introduction come to a close so we can get into the nitty gritty.
Luckily this season’s premiere episode starts right after the events of the last episode of season 12 (they could have tried to do something a little more fancy but they knew that fans would not be cool with that). Gibbs is being rushed to medical care on a navy ship with Tony and Dorneget’s mother, CIA agent Joanne Teague, in tow, with Jon Cryer making a surprise guest starring appearance as Gibbs’ doctor. In true NCIS form, Gibbs continues to hallucinate his dead friends, most notably Mike Franks, as he struggles to not die. The team is reeling from the news of him being shot, and especially from the fact that Luke, the kid Gibbs was helping last season, is the one who shot Gibbs.
While last season’s finale was shocking, the events of this episode pretty much go down like most seasoned viewers would expect. While Gibbs is being operated on, he dreams about his dead daughter, Kelly, who takes him to a certain memory in his life that revolves around her and her mom. This is something we’ve seen before; the ghosts of Gibbs’ past giving him life lessons. There’s an emphasis on the fact that he dwells too much on the past, mostly on his own mistakes. There’s hope that it’s something that is just set up for the rest of the season, that Gibbs will actually focus on the present and future, which means that maybe he won’t dwell on his guilty conscious as much, since it’s something that is seen a little too often.
What is surprising is that they don’t dwell on Gibbs’ initial surgery and recovery. In just one sequence the doctor manages to perform a successful surgery on Gibbs (after talking his way through most of it), and then the next scene is Gibbs coming back to NCIS (and that’s not even the halfway point of the episode). While it’s somewhat relieving that the whole episode isn’t about whether or not Gibbs is going to make it, it still makes the ending of last season’s finale feel like a cop out, or at least like a totally unfair and unnecessary cliffhanger. But at least the writers decided to keep the plot going and have him get right back to work…mostly. Vance is determined to have Gibbs do desk work, but knowing good ol’ Gibbs, that probably won’t last long.
It also looks like the individual members of the team are going to keep occupying the same roles they have been for every season, which is fine to a certain extent. But there’s a chance that it could get a bit monotonous over time. It’s already gotten monotonous with certain characters, especially Bishop. They don’t need to change their personalities, just do something or be put in a situation that we haven’t seen yet, or at least in a while. It looks like that might happen with DiNozzo, especially with his tension filled interaction with Gibbs at the end of the episode. We haven’t seen the two of them truly butt heads in a while so that might be a nice element they might be explored in the rest of the season.
The most interesting part of the episode is bringing new character Dr. Cyril Taft (Jon Cryer) into the mix. While he’s not a perfect character, he brings an interesting campion-like quality to Gibbs’ fortress of solitude-like personality. Yes, he may ramble on a tad too much at times, but Jon Cryer makes most of the dialogue work. It was nice for them to share a final moment at the end of the episode (because for some reason Gibbs needs to be constantly reminded that he has a great and supportive team), which hopefully means that Dr. Taft will be a recurring character in this season.
For the most part, this episode is a decent start to the season. Annoyingly, there a good amount of cliched lines thrown about throughout the episode, a quality that the show really should rise above. Luckily it still feels like there’s a dark element creeping back into the show, which has been one of its strongest elements. All in all, I have decently high hopes for this season to bring the show back to a consistently good pace. Yes, Gibbs survives, but it’s clear that he’s still not fully recovered (physically and mentally). He still has some issues to work out, which will probably involve his team to a crucial extent, hopefully making for a worthwhile season.