NCIS Season 14 Episode 10 Review: The Tie That Binds

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Christmas is in the air, and it's time for the annual holiday episode!

Happily, NCIS did not disappoint with its latest entry, NCIS Season 14 Episode 10, which featured a notable guest cast, an entertaining story, and a very touching outcome for Ducky.

Truly, "The Tie That Binds" was an excellent episode with which to bid farewell to 2016, even if the Case of the Week was dreadfully predictable.

Ducky's Past - NCIS

Did anyone not suspect that son-in-law, Logan, with his dreadful facial topiary?

I don't know if that beard was real or not, but it certainly looked worse than some of the fake beards I saw in my high school musicals.

Really, though, it was entirely possible to ignore the obviousness of the Case of the Week for the fun and heartwarming of the two B-stories.

Let's start with Fornell, and Emily's understandable desire to get her dad off of Gibbs's couch and back home for the holidays.

Fornell: What on earth are you doing?!
Emily: Me? What are *you* doing, Dad?
Fornell: I *was* sleeping!
Emily: I noticed. Still on Uncle Gibbs's couch for some reason.
Fornell: You nearly scared me to death. And "Uncle Gibbs" is probably upstairs loading his bazooka as we speak!
Gibbs [calmly eating cereal]: Nope. I'm good.

That girl is an evil genius. Despite infesting Gibbs's house with termites (!), her plan also gave Gibbs the chance to get a little sweet revenge on Fornell by bedding down on his couch! The whole opening scene with Emily, Fornell, and Gibbs was a total riot.

I confess that I've always loved Gibbs and Fornell as a duo. Those two can be comedy gold together, and this episode was no exception.

But the best parts of this episode belong to the other story: Ducky, his mother, and a con-man named Balthazar.

That story had me gasping for breath multiple times, particularly the part when Ducky discovered his naked mother and her equally-naked boyfriend (who was wearing only Ducky's hat):

Balthazar Kilmeany: Your mother's got quite a set of lungs on her.
Young Ducky: I *will* throw up on you.

Adam Campbell made a very welcome return as Young Ducky, having previously appeared in two other episodes. I'd be totally tempted to watch a series about the adventures of Young Ducky.

It was a sweet treat for the two Duckys to actually interact with each other (twice, in fact).

Thinking Back - NCIS Season 14 Episode 10

(A truly cynical person might show concern about Ducky's mental health, but I choose to view it in the Christmas spirit and enjoy their moments together.) And the revelation that Victoria died happy, rather than sad and lonely, was truly a heartwarming one.

Suffice to say, knowing that my mother spent the last years of her life head over heels in love is the best Christmas present I could possibly have!

Ducky

When Mr. Rin finally confessed to being Victoria's lover, David McCallum gave a picture-perfect expression of bafflement, complete with a priceless, "Bubbles?" The look on his face! Beautiful.

Adam Croasdell also returned as Ducky's friend Angus (who we know eventually met an unfortunate end in NCIS Season 12 Episode 3).

In fact, there were plenty of continuity references to be had in this episode, but perhaps the most wrenching was that Ducky was planning to go to a refugee camp before his move to America. Dedicated viewers will remember that refugee camp from NCIS Season 6 Episode 13, "Broken Bird"...

I was amused that Torres and Reeves were continuing their bromancing, this time with arm wrestling. Though I do wonder how many more ways the writers can continue to justify involving Reeves in NCIS cases. Contrivance can only go so far, after all.

The Decision - NCIS Season 14 Episode 10

Bishop, meanwhile, got barely anything to do at all during this episode, though Vance made a welcome, if brief, appearance. And then there was this exchange:

Quinn: I mean, maybe it's a coincidence. [McGee and Gibbs give her a look.] Oh, oh, no. Nope. Rule 69. "No coincidences."
McGee: No, actually Number 69 is "Never trust a woman who doesn't trust her man."
Quinn: Huh? Wait, what?! Really? That... sounds a little misogynistic, don't you think? Huh? I mean, do you have a rule that says "Never trust a man who doesn't trust his woman"? Think about it! Huh? No? Think about it! Rule 51!
McGee [to Gibbs]: "Sometimes you're wrong"! [Gibbs smacks the back of McGee's head.]

No doubt this one elicited... shall we say mixed reactions? I'm rather conflicted about it, myself. What about you? Did you think Quinn's comments were out of line or justified? There are arguments to be made on both sides.

A few final notes before I turn the discussion over to you:

  • This is the second time this season that a guy looking for a rideshare ended up dead. A petty officer met a similar fate in NCIS Season 14 Episode 5, "Philly," though that unfortunate fellow's death was more incidental than anything else.
  • For some of the many great quotes to be found in this episode, check out our NCIS quotes page.
  • Clyde Kusatsu (Takumi Rin) previously guest starred as another character in NCIS Season 7 Episode 3, "The Inside Man."
  • Ducky's middle name is Horatio. Also, he wore a bow tie in a couple of the flashbacks.
  • More a curiosity than anything else, but the flashback scenes with Young Ducky, Victoria, and Balthazar were coincidentally also set during the Christmas season.

If you missed this episode, or simply want to relive the nostalgia, be sure to watch NCIS online!

NCIS will return with new episodes in January, starting with NCIS Season 14 Episode 11, "Willoughby" on January 3, 2017 at 8/7c on CBS.

What did you think of "The Tie That Binds"? Did Ducky make the right choice to send Balthazar packing? Were you impressed with Emily Fornell's ingenuity at forcing her dad to move back home? Were you at all surprised that the victim's son-in-law turned out to be a bad guy?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Finally, I would like to reiterate the closing card featured in this episode and wish a most happy holidays to the men and women who protect and serve our country at home and abroad.

And a very Merry Christmas to all of you!

The Tie That Binds Review

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Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (92 Votes)
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NCIS Season 14 Episode 10 Quotes

Fornell: Hey, Gibbs! You gotta come over here and push down on my pelvis!
Gibbs: I'm gonna pass on that.

Fornell: What on earth are you doing?!
Emily: Me? What are *you* doing, Dad?
Fornell: I *was* sleeping!
Emily: I noticed. Still on Uncle Gibbs's couch for some reason.
Fornell: You nearly scared me to death. And "Uncle Gibbs" is probably upstairs loading his bazooka as we speak!
Gibbs [calmly eating cereal]: Nope. I'm good.