NCIS recap: Jessica Knight has a tough Turkey Day
A giant exploding turkey jump-starts the action in this year’s NCIS Thanksgiving offering, and it’s the strongest episode of the season so far thanks to its sharp balance of action, emotion, and bursts of humor.
The victim was a float at a turkey trot 5K, which exploded as the result of a gunshot to the gas-powered generator underneath it. Working under the assumption that the admiral serving as grand marshal was the intended target, the team scrambles to pull security footage.
Knight (Katrina Law) uses the incident to try to get out of having Thanksgiving lunch with her sister, Robin (Lilan Bowden), whom she’s never gotten along with. But Parker (Gary Cole) reminds her that family comes first, and Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), McGee (Sean Murray), and Palmer (Brian Dietzen) all back him up.
So with Kasie (Diona Reasonover) along as backup, Knight shows up at the apartment her sister’s rented for the month. The bickering starts immediately, and Kasie copes by reaching for the wine. Relatable!
Side note: this rental apartment is AMAZING. Sure, its oven doesn’t work, but it has a pool table, a pinball machine, Tardis-colored kitchen cabinets, neon signs… if you’re throwing Thanksgiving in a place like that, drop me an invite, yeah?
The sisters are opposites in pretty much every way, with free-spirited Robin snarking that uptight Jess is only wearing the watch she gave her as a clear pity gesture, although Kasie insists that Knight wears it all the time.
In Mandarin, Knight asks Robin not to embarrass her in front of her best friend, and when Robin blithely translates, Kasie’s surprised to hear that she holds such a lofty position. She’s then politely horrified when Robin informs her that Knight’s childhood nickname was “Wetsica” because of her tendency to wet the bed.
Jess retaliates by scoffing when Robin announces that she’s given up making $30 soaps and is now a spiritual EMT, cleaning auras and opening third eyes. Also, she’s got a new fiancé — her fifth one.
And that fiancé’s a villain, not that Knight knows it yet. At NCIS HQ, the team has just gotten their hands on footage of the shooter, who turns out to be the same handsome, dark-haired guy who strolls into Robin’s rental and introduces himself as Charlie (David Blue).
Knight and Kasie sit on the couch texting each other about the whole situation until Robin asks them to put their phones away. “I’m sure CSI will survive a couple hours without you.”
Charlie corrects her that it’s NCIS, and he collects everyone’s phones, sticking them in a bowl to save them from distractions. Knight’s the last one to reluctantly hand hers over but not before sending a shot of Robin’s new business card to Palmer.
Palmer, unaware that his squeeze is sitting down to turkey cold-cut sandwiches with their suspect, uses the TSA database to identify the shooter as Charles Samuels. He also tells McGee that his in-laws aren’t ready to meet Jess yet (interesting that he wanted to introduce them, though!) and thanks McGee as he heads out with the ID. When McGee asks him what that was for, Palmer replies, “I dunno. For everything?”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Jimmy Palmer is the BEST.
At Charlie’s place, the team finds a framed photo of two boys in baseball uniforms and a mass card for Marine Sgt. Joseph Samuels, presumably the kid in the picture with Charlie. Then another photo of the float explosion surfaces, and it shows Knight directly in the path of the bullet. So was she the intended target?
At the uncomfortable sister Thanksviging, Kasie recognizes Charlie’s name for sandwiches — wedges — as a Yonkers thing, which surprises Robin, who thought he was Texan. News of their engagement starts another sister fight that has Charlie screaming at them to knock it off.
Charlie tries to ask Knight about her REACT team, but she’s too intent on sniping at her sister to wonder why he knows so much about her work history. Over the din, Kasie tries to change the subject by asking Charlie, “So, who’d you vote for?” LOL.
Knight eventually asks why Charlie knows more about her job than Robin does. He flashes a smile so wide that the Joker would call it a bit much and asks what it’s like to be a hostage negotiator. Has Jess ever lost anyone in the line of duty?
The vibes take a turn for the worse, and that’s before Charlie pulls a gun.
“You know, this is my third at-gunpoint situation in three years,” Kasie complains, still a little wine-lubricated. But she recognizes Charlie’s weapon as matching the caliber of the one that blew up the float, and he admits he was aiming for Jess. Also, he filled the cell phone bowl with water, so their phones are all dead.
At this point, Robin realizes Charlie was only dating her to get to her sister. Oh, honey.
At NCIS, the team figures out that Charlie and Joseph were brothers, Joe died by suicide, and the person who tried to talk Joe off the bridge that night was Knight and her REACT team.
They scramble to reach her, but of course their phones aren’t picking up. They then try to track them through the information on the business card Jess texted Palmer.
In the apartment, Charlie says his brother’s tours of duty changed him, but Joe was happy until the night Jess let him jump. He’s fighting back tears, and so is Knight, who says she spent hours talking to him on that bridge about how unhappy he was and how he didn’t want his brother to worry.
Charlie doesn’t believe that she remembers Joe until she says, “He called you ‘Boots,'” which was an inside joke from their childhood.
When Charlie snaps that she shouldn’t pretend that she cares, Knight takes off her watch to reveal the engravings on the inside: initials for the dead members of her REACT team, as well as the three people she couldn’t save. JE is Jenny, who lost her son and her husband in the same week. RB is Robert, a grandfather whose cancer wasn’t responding to treatment. And JS? “Joe Samuels, your brother,” she says.
Tell her she failed. Tell her she’s bad at her job. That’s fine. But don’t ever say she doesn’t care. As she speaks, Kasie’s in tears. Robin’s in tears. I’m in tears.
Meanwhile, the team’s trying to access the account Robin used to book her rental so they can locate them. Palmer saves the day by suggesting they try the password “Wetsica.” Double interesting that he knows about the nickname!
They get the information and arrive in time to hear a gunshot go off. It’s Charlie threatening to kill Robin to make Knight understand what it’s like to lose a sibling.
This tense standoff is interrupted by Robin shouting that Jess doesn’t even like her, which has Knight exclaiming that she loves her, but she worries when Robin puts herself in dangerous situations. Robin wants to know when she’s ever done that, prompting Kasie to drop an incredulous, “Hello???” Kasie is the comedy MVP this week.
By now, Torres has slid onto the balcony, and Parker and McGee are creeping down the hall with instructions for an anxious Palmer to stay behind them.
Inside the apartment, Kasie points out that the person’s Charlie’s angry with is himself for not being able to save Joe. “If you could have, you would have,” she says.
Charlie then turns the gun on himself, but Knight begs him to fight to live, the way Joe did for as long as he could.
When Charlie notices Torres on the balcony, he fires — thankfully, he’s a terrible shot — and it lets Knight subdue him as the rest of the team bursts in.
Robin falls sobbing into Jess’s arms, and Palmer and Kasie rush to hug them both.
Afterward, the sisters have an honest conversation. Jess doesn’t like the way Robin moves from job to job and man to man, but she loves Robin’s generosity and humor. She may not always like her, but she always loves her.
The events of the day have Palmer’s in-laws extending a Thanksgiving invitation to the whole group, but Jess and Robin decide to spend the rest of the day together. Then they start arguing about where to get tacos, but at least they do it arm-in-arm.
- November 19 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a host of resources, including links to local support groups.
- In ongoing character news, I was sad to hear that Kasie broke up with Piper. But dang, Jimmy and Jess seem to be going STRONG. Good for them!
- Speaking of Knight, what a showcase for her character and backstory. We already knew she’s a hostage negotiator who lost her team, but understanding the grief she literally wears every day deepens her even more.
- Happy Thanksgiving to you all! May your ovens all work, your rentals all have pinball machines, and your giant turkeys remain un-exploded.