'NCIS': A Very Peter Coyote Christmas

Davidmccallum_navycis_240If you've ever had to work on the holidays, then you can sympathize with the NCIS crew. Gibbs and the gang work overtime to find out who killed a well-off couple, all while bringing good cheer to all they meet. Abby's festive attitude even got yours truly in a good mood... a nearly impossible task these days!

Spoilers, like mistletoe, can really get you in the holiday spirit.

'Tis the season for murder, as one flower delivery guy finds an older couple dead inside their million-dollar home. Even more surprising to the guy is finding a scraggly looking individual wandering by the front door.

I guess the holidays bring out the best in everyone, what with Vance and the biggest smile I've ever seen on the man. DiNozzo, on the other hand, seems upset about having to work with a detective Justin Kemp because he ultimately married and made a family with an old girlfriend of his. Before he can become too bitter, Kemp reveals prints from the scene are from one Ned Quinn, a Vietnam-era petty officer. No issue there, except Quinn is supposed to be dead from a 1991 fire.

Ducky and Abby are talking Christmas traditions when Gibbs makes a visit. Turns out it was the Duck that assisted on the identification of Ned Quinn when he originally "died." The man who would be Ned was a meth addict, which rendered a definitive dental ID impossible, so Ducky used circumstantial evidence to name the dead guy Ned.

Cotedepablo_ncis_240 Ziva and McGee make a visit to Ned's ex-wife and daughter. Like many vets of the day, he returned from Vietnam worse for the wear. His wife Connie was as supportive as she could be, but it became too much and they divorced. In the meantime, she kept daughter Melissa (Carla Gallo, who plays Daisy on Californication) from ever finding out anything on her previously deceased father.

Ned's psychologist from the VA, Dr. Pryor in full Santa getup, meets with Ducky to reveal all he remembers on Ned. The doc can't recall all that much, but Abby steals the scene with her childlike fascination with the good doctor's turn as Kris Kringle. McGee later notes not only did Ned have a soldier friend die just before his tour of duty was complete, the death came on Christmas Eve. Ducky surmises Ned might visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall... the perfect opportunity to pick him up for questioning.

McGee returns to NCIS with Melissa in tow. She tells those assembled that her mother doesn't speak for her; she wants to reconnect with her father. Ziva and DiNozzo are staking out the Wall, looking for anyone fitting Ned's description. In the meantime, Ziva tries to dig deeper into DiNozzo's once unrequited love for the woman who is now Detective Kemp's wife. To prevent revealing too much in the emotions department, he goes after what he presumes is Ned. Gibbs gets the call that man in question is indeed Ned Quinn.

In the interrogation room, Gibbs asks why Ned was at the house. As a drifter, he was picked up by the couple for holiday work. He claims his innocence, claiming he was in the garage when the attack happened, only going into the living room to save the woman. This is a claim Ducky will later verify from the autopsy results. While Gibbs interrogates, McGee and DiNozzo investigate Ned's hotel room. It's predictably sparse, save for sketches of his war buddies and other assorted things. Abby pleads her case to Ziva for a Christmas miracle: she begs for Melissa to finally meet her father, while Ziva wants nothing of the sort.

Rockycarroll_cbspresstour08_240 Vance is ready to put NCIS on a holiday break, except Gibbs kills his cheery mood by asking for overtime to wrap up the case. Detective Kemp arrives; angry his holiday is being disrupted as well. To show his contempt, he shows off pictures of the wife to the gang, much to DiNozzo's chagrin. He gets his revenge when Gibbs breaks the news to Kemp that Ned won't be released to Metro's custody.

With the Yule log on the big screen, Gibbs sends Ducky and Abby home, leaving the rest to babysit Ned. Doing background work, McGee discovers the dead man was suing a company run by Kemp's father-in-law. Meanwhile, Ned asks Ziva for paper to sketch, seeing as how it helps him to relax.

Christmas Day at the crime scene, and DiNozzo wins a bet against Ziva for having cracked the alarm code before Gibbs picked the lock. Inside, they look for evidence to support Ned's story. Somehow, the hidden wall safe inside the closet went overlooked by the police, but not by DiNozzo. At that moment, a security guard from the alarm company arrives, only because DiNozzo wasn't aware he needed to enter the code twice. The rent-a-cop wants nothing more than to become a legitimate law enforcement official, although taking a good look at him reveals why that'll never be the case.

Back from Christmas services, Abby once again insists (this time to McGee) for Melissa to see her father. After too much begging, McGee relents and tells Ned of his visitor, except he's not as receptive to the idea as Abby is. Back at the murder house, security guard Harvey is only too eager to help the gang. While DiNozzo finds the hammer in question, Vance calls Gibbs, incredulous that Leroy went as far as to breach a sealed crime scene. Analysis of the hammer reveals the prints belong to the husband and Ned.

When Gibbs shows pictures of the hammer to Ned, he admits to having handled the ultimate weapon. At the same time, Kemp can't believe he's being kept waiting. As he waits, the good detective wants to know why Gibbs and the gang went to the scene, all while Gibbs want to know why Kemp didn't recuse himself from the case. He says he never talks business with his father-in-law.

Pauleyperrette_cbspresstour08_240 In the lab, Abby takes care of her business, revealing hair recovered from the couch belongs to Mrs. Taylor while a button found at the scene can be traced to a police uniform. The only information in doubt is whose glove matches a fabric print found on the hammer. McGee discovers the alarm to the house was deactivated for nearly five minutes after Kemp sealed the house but before the gang arrived to investigate. Gibbs has Kemp meet up with the gang at the house to reveal the true killer: Harvey the rent-a-cop. He had the access and the motivation to steal and kill. Harvey pulls out a Taser, hoping the mere threat will let him get away. McGee points out he only has one shot, so Harvey decides to take his aggression out on our favorite techie, dropping McGee like a pile of bricks. Gibbs tackles Harvey before he can get away.

Back at NCIS, DiNozzo shares his Christmas tradition with everyone: caramel popcorn and It's A Wonderful Life. Meanwhile, Gibbs takes Ned to see Melissa. As a thank you gift, Ned hands Gibbs a sketch of the entire NCIS team. Touched by the holiday spirit, Leroy calls his father from the car, with a very happy elder Gibbs on the other side.

Have a happy holiday season, and we'll see you again in 2009!

How did this holiday themed episode work for you?