You know it’s a very special episode when Gibbs has to emote.
That was certainly the case on NCIS Season 18 Episode 7.
In this the first real episode of NCIS Season 18, the Covid-19 pandemic had largely come and gone.
But the NCIS team didn’t emerge unscathed as Palmer lost his wife, Breena, to the coronavirus.
Having Jimmy be the one to address the pandemic was the right choice as he’s always the one to wear his heart on his sleeve.
That’s why his behavior was so out of character. Jimmy was acting like nothing had happened as he was his usual upbeat self around the office, which concerned everybody.
Not enough to say anything to him, at least directly.
Instead, Palmer refused to reach out, and everyone else talked among themselves about what to do.
I take that back. Jimmy did call Ducky but couldn’t bring himself to talk about what was actually on his mind. He settled for just hearing his mentor’s voice.
Kasie appealed to Gibbs to do something for Palmer, but he fell back on what’s worked so well for him for so many years — ignoring his feelings.
Only that wasn’t an effective approach this time around.
Jimmy was heading for a crash, trying to ignore his grief, and everyone knew it.
It took Jack to make Gibbs realize that he was the only one who knew what Palmer was going through and that he had to be the one to confront him.
Having been there, Gibbs knew how to reach Jimmy and got him to admit, mostly to himself, that he was stuck in denial and couldn’t move on.
Gibbs, on the other hand, has been stuck at the anger stage all these years.
The episode did an admirable job of addressing the helplessness that those who lost loved ones to Covid feel, especially being unable to say goodbye properly.
The memorial service for Breena was a much-needed catharsis for Palmer, as he was able to say goodbye to her supported by those who love him.
It will be intriguing to see if this continues to affect Jimmy down the road or if this will be the series’ lone nod to Covid.
The pandemic is always being used to start Jack down the road to her departure from the series.
So Jack has reflected on her situation and now wants a better work/life balance.
I could see her as a wise bartender in Costa Rica. That’s got to beat being an occasional profiler with an indifferent back story.
We’ll be waiting until March for her leaving to start since it’s reruns for the remainder of February. Jack is featured on NCIS Season 18 Episode 8, so maybe that’s the beginning of the end.
With Jimmy’s emotional storyline taking up a good portion of the hour, the case of the week did feel something like an afterthought.
Something like “This is a procedural. Let’s find something topical and build a case around it, to weave around Jimmy’s story.”
The best part of the case was Torres actual bonding with somebody.
It was like Nick had a “the-road-not-taken” feeling about Luis, seeing a Latino locked up for a couple of decades because of mistakes made during his youth.
It’s likely that when Torres was growing up, he knew people such as Luis who made the wrong choices and paid for them.
Sure, there was a couple of cheap laughs when Luis reacted to technology developed while he was in prison.
And what does it say about Torres and Bishop’s relationship when Ellie hasn’t been to his new apartment yet? Talk about being stuck in the friend zone.
Luis, who Nick just met, got there first.
It was nice that Torres is stepping out of his lone-wolf vibe, if only for a short time.
And he picked up the slack after Luis lost his first connection to outside life after Avila was killed.
Nick got Luis over the hump, taking him to visit the daughter he hadn’t seen in 20 years.
Luis was the obvious suspect when Avila was found shot to death. It certainly didn’t help that he was picked up covered in Avila’s blood.
Nor did his continuing to lie and omit work in his favor. But then he hasn’t been able to trust anybody for quite a while.
Fortunately, first Gibbs, then Torres, were able to get through and force the truth out of him.
His former gang coming after Luis made some sense at first. But as the gang informant said, Luis had been out of the game for years, so what did the current leadership have to fear from him?
Avila’s former gang membership was another red herring that didn’t hold up.
In the end, Avila’s being a nice guy trying to help out ex-cons ending up inadvertently causing his death, simply because he had seen the ghost guns Marcus was manufacturing and tried to get him to stop.
Luis was able to help bring Avila’s murderer to justice when he conveniently remembered seeing gun parts at Marcus’s shop.
That case wrapped up neatly just in time to deal with Jimmy’s pain.
To revisit Palmer’s career, watch NCIS online.
Did you think the transition between seasons was handled smoothly?
Was the Covid storyline well done?
How soon did you realize Luis was innocent?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.