Few television programs and boast of increased ratings over several seasons. NCIS [CBS, Tuesdays, 8/7C] recently hit a series high – in its eighth season! This week’s episode, Recruited, displays the balance of procedural and character that has enabled the series to flourish for so long.
When a Navy recruitment officer, Navy Petty Officer first Class Simon Craig [Chad Michael Collins], is murdered in the stairwell of a high school, Agent Gibbs [Mark Harmon] and his team are called in to investigate. Their investigation encompasses several students who were discussing joining the navy; an extra-marital relationship [the victim was never married] and a family recently disrupted by the death of the mother.
Meanwhile, Dr. Walter Magnus [Bob Newhart], Ducky’s [David McCallum] predecessor has shown up unexpectedly to visit his former workplace, where he is wowed by the technological advances – and Abby [Pauley Perrette]. Director Vance [Rocky Carroll] also makes his first appearance since nearly dying a while back – and Carroll is up to his character’s emotional beats, as well.
While the bulk of the episode is concerned with solving the murder, Newhart steals the show with both humor and poignancy.
Recruited is an unusual episode for NCIS only in that the B-arc has more emotional impact than the A-arc. While the reason for Craig’s death is unusual, it is not particularly difficult to figure out. On the other hand, Magnus’ visit to NCIS has a reason that is deeply resonant – and Newhart’s performance is extremely good. Every so often, he decides to take on a dramatic role and it always seems like a surprise when he nails it, though given his resume, it really shouldn’t.
Gary Glasberg’s script plays to the emotional heart of the show rather than the mystery/procedural element, and he captures that aspect of the show beautifully. Director Arvin Brown keeps the ep moving in typical NCIS fashion, but also brings home the requisite performances from his cast.
Recruited is a perfect example of the balance between heart and technology that keeps NCIS the unique entity that it is.
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Photo by Sonja Flemming/Courtesy of CBS