After a brief hiatus, everyone's favorite series about Navy cops returned with NCIS Season 15 Episode 10, just in time for Christmas! And in the spirit of Christmas, they gave us a super-heartwarming reunion between an estranged father and son!
I guess it was just bad luck to be that poor, unfortunate corporal blown up in the Humvee. Maybe he was wearing a red shirt under his uniform. At least he wasn't entirely forgotten afterward.
Attentive viewers may have guessed that the truth behind Chandler's tumble had something to do with gambling, courtesy of the episode title, "Double Down."
Sometimes, NCIS doesn't exactly go subtle. Like with the comic with dad issues versus the senator with son issues! Not only did the comic's heart grow three sizes in that Afghani cave, so did the senator's!
And, as it turned out, the senator's son already experienced a similar turnaround...which precipitated the main plot of the episode.
Bishop: I see you, McGee. Everything okay?
McGee: No. No, it’s not, because *you* decided to take over a Metro case on December 22! That is, let’s see, one, two, *three* days before Christmas!
Bishop: I had plans, too.
McGee: With twin newborn cherubs?!
NCIS viewers who aren't fond of Bishop probably didn't appreciate the manner in which she ninjaed the case from Metro, though she was quickly proven right about foul play.
I confess I'm not exactly satisfied with the explanation given for Chandler's abrupt change of heart. He got caught by the casino security guy, and then out of the blue, instantly decided to give back all the ill-gotten gains, turn over a new leaf, and join the Marines?
It can't have been as abrupt as it was portrayed. But neither of Chandler's partners in crime seemed to indicate any idea about some sort of brewing dissatisfaction in Chandler.
Obviously, it's possible that the whole thing came about in an instant of revelation for Chandler. Good heavens, though, going from a life of dissipation to enlisting in the Marines is a big step!
In terms of storytelling, the episode certainly played with our expectations, too, starting with Chandler on the brink of death before flipping the situation on its head, putting his father in more mortal danger.
This being a Christmas story and not an utterly depressing show, it didn't come as a huge surprise that both of them made it through and were eventually reunited in Gibbs' living room.
I'm a sucker for a happy ending, I have to admit, and it would have just been too grim for the senator to have died before making up with his son. As Gibbs stated not once but twice :
Parents always love their kids. No matter what happens.Gibbs
The dialogue throughout "Double Down" actually kept me chuckling, particularly the byplay between Senator Phillips and the comic, Chet Goodman. To be honest, I found the senator's zingers at Chet's expense more entertaining than Chet's routine!
Chet Goodman: Generals. Always sending someone else to fight your battles.
Senator Phillips: When I’m fighting, you’ll know!
Chet Goodman: All due respect, this is a goodwill tour! You take your security detail and go back to shaking hands. Let me handle the jokes.
Senator Phillips: Well, I would, except the Geneva Conventions make torture illegal!
Oof, that burns, Senator.
The episode's writer, Christopher J. Waild, authored one of this season's weaker entries, NCIS Season 15 Episode 3, "Exit Strategy." Fortunately, this episode felt rather superior.
The plot did, as in "Exit Strategy," depend on exceptionally poor decision-making by certain characters. In this case, for neither the unfortunate humvee driver nor the senator to inform anyone of the change in their travel route.
And Chet decided to loudly and aggressively provoke the senator in the middle of hostile territory, resulting in Phillips getting seriously wounded. Nice work.
More enjoyable was how Sloane and Torres stepped up to take control of the situation, setting up a defensive position in the cave, taking out the two scouts, and then Torres sensibly going for help.
Don't forget that you can watch NCIS online as you enjoy the holiday hiatus! NCIS is scheduled to return in the new year with NCIS Season 15 Episode 11, "High Tide," on January 2, 2018, at 8/7c on CBS.
Some final thoughts on this episode before I turn the discussion over to you, my fellow fans:
- The time-delay IED that destroyed the Humvee is, unfortunately, a real thing, intended (as stated in the episode) to inflict damage in the middle of a convoy.
- Another bit of realism: casinos do hire criminals to help them catch other would-be crooks, similar to how software companies would hire computer hackers to help close security holes in their technology.
- We learned a bit more about Sloane's classified past in psy-ops, particularly that she had a very rough experience in Afghanistan.
- Poor Jimmy mentioned Breena's difficult father, who appeared in an earlier Christmas episode, NCIS Season 9 Episode 11, "Newborn King."
- Do stop by our NCIS quotes page, because there were some real zingers in this episode.
What did you think of "Double Down"? Was this holiday episode too cheesy for you, or did you enjoy the (mostly) happy ending? Were you expecting a grimmer conclusion? Let us know in the comments below!
Meanwhile, I'd like to wish everyone a safe and wonderful holiday season, wherever you may be! And special thanks and well wishes to the men and women in our nation's armed forces, protecting us abroad.