What an engaging, provocative and excellent hour of NCIS.
NCIS Season 12 Episode 6 not only featured one of the very best case-of-the-week mysteries, but it also addressed the Ziva-shaped elephant in the room... hopefully for the final time.
Throughout the season, many of us have been disgruntled about Tony playing the immature frat boy, and for good reason. That complaint has shown up not only in our reviews but in our NCIS Round Tables and comment sections as well.
We all know him to be a seasoned and mature agent, deserving of authority and dignity. That "dating dog" stuff was irritating and dissonant with the investigator we know him to be.
I was surprised when Abby forced the issue out into the open for Tony to see and understand. It never occurred to me that he was acting out, that his "dating shtick" (as Abby called it) was a cover up for his loneliness and inability to let go of Ziva.
Well, okay then. I hope this means he'll give up the facade and get down to serious business. And it looks as though the woman who might help him do that has just re-entered his life.
Frankly, I like Special Agent Zoe Keates. She's feisty, yet warm and understanding. Look how easily she forgave Tony for quitting the Philly PD and taking off without saying anything to her. She understood what was going on with him, cutting him a lot of slack; probably more slack than Ziva would have.
The pre-Halloween party late night stroll that she and Tony decided to take looked promising, especially when we saw them ribbing each other and when it all culminated in a friendly back kick to the pants delivered by Tony.
Yet Keates is her own person, too, taking no guff from anyone, least of all from Leroy Jethro "John Wayne" Gibbs. That confrontation between her and Gibbs provided the second major (and welcome) surprise of the episode.
We met George Burton - who was played to perfection by Bronson Pinchot. He ate up that whole scene and didn't leave any bones behind. Kind of fitting, really, since he played a cannibal and serial killer.
He must have thoroughly enjoyed himself too, especially with lines like this:
Burton: Isn't this a pleasant surprise. And who might you be?
Tony: I'm very special Agent Tony DiNozzo.
Burton: I do love Italian.
When a dog turns on its owner, there's only one possible course of action - you put the dog down. I ate mine. Childhood memories are the sweetest, aren't they?Burton
The delicious horror of the man was over-the-top amazing. I was sure that was the highlight of the episode and didn't think it could get any better.
I was wrong.
The big reveal at the end came as not just a surprise but a shock. You kind of forget that adult sociopaths start off as little sociopaths.
Until the end, it was hard to tell if all the nervousness being displayed around the daughter was because of some kind of abuse: at first, you think it's the father who gave her the bruises and injuries. Then, when it's learned that he was away when she was injured, maybe the mom had beat her up.
The thought that she'd done it to herself, for calculated and very cold reasons, just would never cross anyone's mind.
Millie Bobby Brown played the part of the 10-year old sociopath Rachel Barnes every bit as effectively and chillingly as Pinchot played his. Mind you, the writing was stellar too.
I just can't get over how great this episode was: the casting, the writing, the directing, the acting, everything.
Be sure to check out the amazing NCIS quotes for this episode.
What did you think of the episode? Did you see any clues as to how it would end? What are your thoughts on Ziva finally being put to rest? If you haven't already done so, be sure to watch NCIS online. Then let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.