Here we are again at another themed episode. Taking whatever else has been happening in the season so far, NCIS themed episodes can either be really great or not so great. Given the situation with Bishop in the last episode, it wasn’t totally clear what direction the writers would take and what kind of Thanksgiving the characters would have this year. But thankfully, this episode leans more towards the really great category for NCIS themed episodes.
This season continues its occasional unconventional plot lines with this year’s Thanksgiving episode. Yes, death does occur so no worries there, but it’s not in typical NCIS fashion. The episode focuses on the Quinn family, who have children in the military (except one). There oldest son died a few months back in the line of duty, there other son, Alex, is battling leukemia, and the death of their daughter is announced to them at the beginning of the episode. So yes, it’s hard not to route for this family and hope that their son with cancer make it and that their other son, Sean, is found after disconnecting from his family months ago.
Obviously the writers didn’t want to have a typical plot in a Thanksgiving episode that would also be paired with Bishop’s storyline, which thankfully is addressed head on. It’s nice that the writers still have Bishop be important in this episode despite the whole reason for her returning home being the fact that Jake cheated on her (although there might be more to it…maybe).
We get to meet Bishop’s family in this episode. Well, at least two family members: her mother and one of her brothers. Bishop’s interactions with them mainly have to do with how she’s dealing with the whole Jake situation. But the main great part of the episode is when Gibbs shows up in all of his Papa Gibbs glory. While part of the reason he shows up is because a potential donor for Alex is in close proximity to where Bishop’s family home is, it’s clear that Gibbs is really there to make sure that she’s okay and that she’s coming back.
Bishop does get to prove that she’s more than just a woman who’s been cheated on by her jerk husband (and just more than a supporting character who has never really showcased her importance). She persuades a former officer who’s now in jail to be a bone marrow donor to Alex Quinn, which becomes Alex’s only chance of survival. So yes, good on the writers for finally having Bishop be actually vital to the show and to the NCIS team. But it’s still annoying that to get to that point they had to do all of that unnecessary stuff with Jake. It’s almost like Jake’s entire existence was just to cheat on Bishop, and he’s been a character on this show for about a year.
Gibbs continuing to be Papa Gibbs is one of the strongest parts of the episode. Papa Gibbs doesn’t totally replace a father of a certain character (even though Bishop’s dad was purposely not in this episode), instead he’s just there as a wise old friend who’s there when you need him. The best part about Papa Gibbs is that he doesn’t have to preach to his team to get through to them. He has to only use a few words to supply them with his wisdom. Plus we learn that Gibbs has indeed been talking to Taft since his last episode. The writers have definitely been stepping it up in the character development department. Hopefully this will continue to happen with other characters (mostly McGee and Tony).
Of course the episode itself ends on a good note and the Quinn family have their two living children reunite and be okay. And Bishop decides to head back to D.C. after Thanksgiving. Mostly just to go back to work, but also just to confront Jake, or at least not have his betrayal determine the course of her own life. It’s totally possible for the writers to mess up all of the progress they made in this episode, but here’s to hoping that they continue the good streak that they’ve kind of in this season but mostly in this past episode.