After months of anticipation, the news about Jimmy Palmer's adopted baby was a huge letdown.
An almost unrecognizable Keith Carradine played an old long-haired 80's rocker named Manheim Gold on NCIS Season 11 Episode 17.
What the NCIS team couldn't figure out was whether he was the intended target for a bomb that went off in his dressing room, one which killed a Navy petty officer and the auditorium's head janitor.
This episode gave us everything: mullets, a party at Tony's place, two sleazy agents, more mullets, a long lost son, buried treasure (of sorts), an attempt at installing a child car suit (with Ducky swearing), Tony senior tricking his son into planning his wedding... and possibly the saddest possible news of the season so far.
Lately, it seems to take quite a while to get to the guts of the crime, what with all the misdirection going on.
Was the bomb meant for the petty officer? (No.)Was it meant for Manheim Gold? (Again, no.). Who was it for??!? (It wasn't intended for anyone. It was meant to get the concert moved to a new location.)
Was there an attempt on Manheim's life at all? (Yes.) Was it the person who set up the bomb? (No.)
We finally found out that there were three crimes committed, one of which - the sabotaged brake lining - wasn't related to the other two at all.
I think the only truly predictable moment was when the head janitor convinced the petty officer to try out the vintage guitar and said what's the worst that could happen?
That's always an ominous question, isn't it? I expected the petty officer to get electrocuted right then and there. Seeing him get blown up was only marginally surprising.
I don't think I've ever seen an NCIS character have so much obvious fun as Carradine playing the part of Manheim Gold. The man simply rocked it: his mannerisms, his manner of speech, even his saunter all combined to create a gem of a character. Kudos to the makeup artist too: there wasn't a misstep in sight with that killer mustache and long hair.
If you're a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you may remember Carradine as Penny's dad. That character and Gold are miles apart - and this speaks to the his amazing acting chops.
And now we get to the true highlight of the episode: Jimmy Palmer and the baby.
Man, that final scene was tough to watch. I think any dad would identify so strongly with Palmer: his pain was so stark and raw.
Throughout the NCIS Season 11, we got to see him vacillate from worried to excited about the adoption. The baby has been on his mind - we can only imagine how Breena has been faring through all of this.
And then to see him walk into Abby's lab, crestfallen and almost in shock. Abby's hug was welcome, but it didn't change anything.
Gibbs, as usual, was perceptive to a fault. He knew, while watching Jimmy gather up the presents, that he was struggling alone. You could tell he felt the man's pain. He waited him out and he allowed Palmer to express himself as best he could before laying into him.
Gibb's tough love was hard to watch too. I don't know if you can really expect a man like Palmer to change his mind, through all of the grief of his loss, just like that. It seemed too much.
Gibb's words at the end were true however: Palmer's grief proved him to be a dad, at least in spirit.
- My disdain for Tony senior is well-founded. The man is a con artist through and through: that phone call to junior wasn't just about wanting his son to plan the wedding, but to pay for it too.
- Tony junior on the other hand is an easily-relatable guy: you have to respect his need for boundaries to keep his sanctuary free of the kind of parade that went through it in this episode.
- We also learned something new about Tony: he assisted in the formation of the noise policy for his building.
- What a treat to see him read Agent Holgate the riot act!
- I almost hate the idea of the Palmers trying right away to go for another adoption. Granted, time is of the essence, and any delay in going for it doesn't work in their interest. Still, this news comes as a kind of death, and they need to deal with it.
- Be sure to check out our NCIS quotes for this episode: included is the exchange between Palmer and Gibbs at the end.
UPDATE: Our NCIS Round Table is up. Come check it out and voice your opinion!
Should Breena and Palmer try again right away to adopt a baby?
Here is your first look at Scott Bakula on NCIS Season 11 Episode 18:
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.