And so the season continues, with Gibbs back from Iraq and the team fully assembled just like the good old days (well, for the most part). While season premieres are always important, it’s really the next few episodes that determine if the season is going to be headed in a good direction. Despite there being a lot of focus on Gibbs’ new look (different hair, pretty much), this episode does offer a little something interesting in terms of how he’s changed after the events of the first episode.
This week’s episode brings in a new character named Mitch, a DEA agent from California who needs NCIS’ help to bring in a wayward marine who’s become involved with some drug smugglers. No surprise that slightly later in the episode that marine shows up dead. A little more of a surprise is that Gibbs and Mitch know each other: Mitch is the son of the NIS agent who died trying to protect Gibbs’ wife and daughter years ago. This fact is not revealed right away, and it creates more tension between Tony and Gibbs since it makes Tony believe that this new case is all about revenge.
It’s not clear if Mitch will become a recurring character or if he is just a one time thing, but there is a sense that he’s competing with DiNozzo. They’re both charming personalities, except Mitch is much friendlier (mainly in the sense that he calls everyone buddy which of course makes McGee very uncomfortable). They clash a bit, obviously, and it doesn’t help that Gibbs and Tony are going through their own thing.
While it’s interesting to see Gibbs be tougher on Tony than usual, the tension between the two of them seems a little forced. It’s clear that the writers are in need of little elements outside of the main plot of each episode to keep viewers interested, but it’s coming off as a little pointless, especially since it has only seemed to last for these past two episodes. It might be continued depending on the rest of the events that occur in the season, but it’s going to have to deeply escalate for it to truly amount to anything.
Luckily there’s still focus on the other team members in this episode, despite it being not of too great importance, except to serve as small character development. We see a little more from McGee, who clashes with Mitch because he’s bothered by how cool Mitch is. But it really comes to a head when McGee shoots a vital source to their case who pulls a gun after Gibbs, McGee, and Mitch confront him. Obviously McGee did the right thing as Gibbs confirms, but Mitch isn’t too happy about it. This scene proves if anything that McGee has come very far in his time with NCIS, no longer afraid to take necessary risks. For some reason it seems to foreshadow McGee playing a larger part in this season, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part.
There’s no doubt that the primary focus of this season will be Gibbs coming to terms with certain parts of his past in an effort to fully move on, which is where his change is coming from. With last week’s episode having Gibbs dream about his dead daughter, it slightly makes sense that this week’s episode has to do with her and her mother’s death (though they could have waited at least till the third episode to do that but oh well). There’s also an emphasis on Gibbs’ team and that his guilt from his past may prevent him from being able to lead them effectively, or maybe even help them when they’re in dire need. This aspect could play a vital part in whatever the writers plan on being the main storyline of this season.
While the episode comes to a bit of an anticlimactic conclusion, it did introduce some possibilities of where this season is going to go in terms of Gibbs confronting his past and his relationship with his team. Unfortunately Dr. Cyril Taft doesn’t make an appearance in this episode, which may mean he was also a one time thing. But hopefully he’ll come back mid season since he provided an interesting dynamic and it would be fun to see him interact more with Gibbs. In terms of story, there’s no clear idea where the season will go, but let’s hope that the writers stay away from what they did in season 12 and go in a fresher direction.