Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NCIS: "Heartland"

Unknown assailants ambush two Marines in an alley behind a bar leaving one Marine dead and the other badly hurt. The latter has ties to the Pennsylvania coal town of Stillwater, the as-yet unmentioned birthplace of one Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Reminiscent of last season's "Requiem", this episode features a kinder, gentler Gibbs at odds with but ultimately obedient to his father Jackson (Ralph Waite). Their relationship brings to mind Jim and Rocky Rockford or adult Clark Kent tending to the family farm in Smallville.

Gibbs's old nemesis in Stillwater is keeping a dark secret, and only when he's allowed to be his uncompromising "city" self does Gibbs uncover it. The episode expertly handles the fact that Gibbs previously said his father was "long passed." Father and son end up working well together, and I'd love to see Waite recur in an episode as good as this one.

UPDATE (02/09/09): Just caught the Season 2 episode "The Bone Yard," in which Gibbs mentioned his father was "long past." At the time, he was negotiating with mobster Jimmy Napolitano (Robert Costanzo), which means, of course, he might have been lying to protect his father.

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