“NCIS” says Happy Halloween with the Tuesday, Oct. 28 episode, 12×06, “Parental Guidance Suggested,” even though the only real “Halloween” part of the episode comes with the team’s costumes for Abby’s party. Instead, it uses the case itself to bring the scares – and there ends up being more than one chilling moment.
The “NCIS” casting department had to have seen Millie Brown in “Intruders” and knew she could pull off creepy so well that it would just be wrong not to let her do so again (this time without playing two different characters), right? Seriously, Millie Brown. She is spectacular once again, just like she was on the BBC America series. Before it’s revealed that the victim’s daughter has something big in common with her patients, the case offers a chance to show why it’s always a good thing to see Gibbs interacting with children. There’s nothing like it, though it is a bit heartbreaking every time because it’s also a reminder of what he has lost.
When the wife of a Navy commander is found dead, they immediately suspect that it has to do with him being on a Jihadist hit list after the list of SEALs who were part of the operation that captured Parsa was leaked. Their investigation leads to McGee going undercover for a buy, with Tony leading Bishop in a yoga lesson nearby (“I reject your negative energy, McGee,” Tony informs him, and it’s impossible not to think that this entire team could do with a yoga session every once in a while, led by Tony, of course). That’s when they cross paths with ATF and Zoe Keates, who worked with Tony in Philly. The terrorist they suspect could be responsible has been in ATF’s custody, so he can’t be behind it. Plus, as she points out, it’s not dramatic enough, something Gibbs agrees with, but that doesn’t keep her from sticking around to talk to Tony, or “Spider,” as she calls him. Tony’s “and it’s a wonder I didn’t stay” comment serves as a really nice reminder of his moving around before settling in at NCIS. (Remember back in season 1 when they gave a rundown of where Tony had been before NCIS and how he had kept moving? Oh, how times have changed.)
Ducky discovers an old facial fracture on the victim, Valerie, one that leads them to George Burton, serial killer, cannibal, all around creepy person you never want to be in a room with ever. The victim had visited him two weeks ago. And so that means Gibbs and Tony have to pay him a visit, and wow, Bronson Pinchot takes this role and takes it as far as he needs to and more, with that laugh and his disrespectful “boss” alone. He tells them that Valerie had a patient whose behavior was like his. Yes, another sociopath. “Sociopaths, we do anything, lie, manipulate, anything, to get what we want, and anybody who gets in the way becomes an obstacle to be eliminated,” George explains to them and then ends up reminiscing about his sweet childhood memories eating his dog. Tony’s reaction is spot on. George can’t give them a name, but he does know that she was more scared of the person than she was of him, which has to be saying a lot. It’s easily the best scene of the episode and absolutely chilling in the best way. Why are the best scenes usually the creepiest?
When the victim’s husband, Ryan, returns from the field, he has a very genuine reaction upon seeing his wife’s body, a reaction that makes it impossible to even suspect him. However, after they send him and his daughter, Rachel, off to a hotel and question the neighbor since it was his gun that killed the victim (only to find out she was holding the gun for him because he had tried to kill himself with it), Ryan’s alibi turns out not to be so solid, but when they get to the hotel room (and Tony has to remind Bishop she has the keycard so she doesn’t have to try to kick down the door), it’s empty. When they track down Ryan and Rachel, thanks to her cell phone, he immediately confesses, tells Rachel he’s sorry and sets off Gibbs’ gut. It’s just too easy.
Ducky agrees with Gibbs’ assessment. Rachel’s medical records indicate severe abuse – when Ryan was deployed overseas. Gibbs remembers what George said about sociopaths going to extremes to get what they want and realizes that Valerie was protecting someone closer to home. That’s right, Rachel is a sociopath and their killer, and the switch is flipped as soon as Gibbs takes her into interrogation and tells her play time is over. Just like that, she takes that creepy turn just like happens on every procedural drama when they’re dealing with sociopaths. Her mother was going to send her to a hospital for treatment, but she thought it was better when her father was around, which is why she hurt herself. Oh, and can she have another juice? Well done, Millie Brown. Oh, and well done, “NCIS.” Nice delivery of a Halloween episode without focusing on the holiday during the case.
Finally, Abby forces Tony to confront and accept the fact that Ziva is not coming back, which means he needs to move on, in a very honest scene that has him admitting that he knows he can’t put his life on hold waiting for her. That doesn’t make it any easier, especially because he misses his friend. That may be the most important part of this. Yes, Tony and Ziva had something, but they were also friends, and maybe what he needs more than going on dates with women he finds something wrong with over and over again, he needs a friend. That seems to be where Zoe comes in at the end, as, after he leaves Ziva’s necklace in his desk drawer, he goes with the fellow “work in progress” for a walk to catch up and do the listening in a reversal from their days in Philly. That seems more like the right step for him to take than being so eager to find a plus one for the party.
“NCIS” season 12 airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 6 “Parental Guidance Suggested”?