NCIS Round Table: "Rock and a Hard Place"

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When a bomb planted in a guitar amp kills two men, the NCIS team is called in to investigate - only to discover it wasn't meant for the people who died. In fact, it wasn't meant to kill anyone at all.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Palmer gets the news that the adoption birth mother has gone into labor. Little does he realize that, after giving birth, she would decide to keep the baby, breaking Jimmy and Breena's heart in the process.

What did our panelists Christine Orlando, David Taylor and Doug Wolfe think about all of these developments on NCIS Season 11 Episode 17?  

Gather around below and find out in our TV Fanatic discussion below!

NCIS RT - depreciated -

How would you describe this episode, in one word or three (or more)?

David: Oh, what a tangled web....

Christine:  Family complications.

Doug: Dads, dads, dads.

What was your favorite scene or quote?

David: Bishop's "I got you babe!" upon disabling the dead-but-not-really-dead talent agent. PERFECT!!!!!!!

Christine:  "Mel Gibson wants his hair back from Lethal Weapon." Second was finding out that Tony has written House Rules that he makes his guests sign. If he does that with new girlfriends it could explain why he still single. 

Doug: It struck me when Tony had Manheim sign the House Rules that in this instance he was much like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. For a brief moment I wanted him to go over the Emergency Preparedness Drill.

My favorite moment though was the Gibbs-Palmer exchange at the end.  I was not prepared for Palmer's palpable pain. Brian Dietzen nailed this scene perfectly.  Also, this is the very first time Palmer and Gibbs have actually gone head to head on anything.  The actors played off of each other so well.

What, if anything, struck you as weak in this week's episode?

David: The sidebar about Manheim and his son just didn't hold my attention. I thought it was an unnecessary addition into an already complicated episode.

Christine: I have to agree that the Manheim/Denny angle was the weak link. It went nowhere except to have an additional excuse to throw a party at Tony's.

Doug: I think we're going three for three on this one: the Manheim (and son) story - while entertaining -  wasn't necessary. In fact, to do it well, that story should have had more meat on it.  The potential was there: father isn't all that enamored of his straight-arrow son.   How do they build a relationship?  It was left unfinished. 

How should Tony handle his father and the wedding plans?

David: I'm kind of kicking myself for liking Tony's father at the end of the last episode now that's trying to con Tony into planning, and perhaps paying for, the wedding. I hate to sound chauvinistic, but isn't it usually the bride's family who foots a large part of the bill?  Maybe Tony should consult with the bride's daughter and go "half-zees."

Christine: Who asks their son to plan their wedding? That's just weird but I loved how Tony and McGee were getting into the different types of napkin shapes and that Tony even knows that napkins can have a thread count. As silly as it is, I'm interested in seeing where they go with this.

Doug: I think he should adopt a passive-aggressive stance here. If Dad didn't come right out and say "Tony I need you to pay for the wedding", Tony should go right back to "innocently" assuming his dad's got the bill on this.  If I were Tony, the next phone call would go like this:

"Dad, I'm not good at planning, plus I'm really busy with work. So I'm going to collaborate with a wedding planner to handle the details. They can buy all the materials, and hire the band, etc  I'm just going to need your credit card, okay?"

If senior comes back with "well, I thought you could pay for this," I'd offer him his choice of McDonald's restaurants for the venue.  

What will happen between Manheim Gold and his son Denny?

David: As I said earlier, I wasn't feelin' this particular aspect of the episode.  Both men are so different it seems like they may never get along - kind of like Tony and HIS father (ooo...did I just spot an allegory of sorts?). That being said, I'm kind of a sucker for a happy ending, and since I didn't sense any animosity between the two of them, I'd like to think they'll reconcile.

Christine: I don't really care. They don't seem to have much in common but if they decide to get to know one another maybe Manheim could help Denny have a little more fun and Denny could help his father manage his finances.

Doug: I get the sense that since Denny has been stalking his dad for some time, he has an idea about what his lifestyle is like.  My guess is that he may have a hero worship thing going on.  If that's the case, then the best thing for Manheim to do is what he's already started doing: getting his son right in there with him in the rock party world. He should take him on the road with him, get him to help with the concerts, and maybe teach him a little guitar.

Should Breena and Jimmy Palmer jump right back into the adoption scene, or take a time-out?

David: I think they should take a time out. This strikes me as a form of grief (though fortunately, no one involved actually died) and they need time to work through it before trying again. Maybe adoption isn't for them and they should try having a child of their own (unless that's not an option--I don't recall if that was ever mentioned).

Christine: Perhaps they need a bit of a break but they are going to face the same risk of heartbreak every time they try. The two of them will have to consider if the possible joy outweighs the possible pain.

Doug: I agree with David. At first, I was kind of torn: this loss is like a death and Palmer at least needs some time to process it.  Yet the clock really is ticking, and the adoption process is lengthy. It's just that you don't get over something like this so quickly - and Palmer shouldn't try.  That was a lot of pent-up pain in his statements. He needs to sit with that for a while before moving on. I'd advise him to take his time.

Was Gibbs' tough love approach appropriate for Jimmy? Do you think it'll be effective?

David: HECK yes on both counts!!!  Jimmy usually takes things as they come; given the nature of his work, I suppose it's understandable. This may be the first time he will have to take some action on his own and having seemingly found a new surrogate father in Gibbs, I hope he'll continue to have Gibbs' support.  

On a side note, we don't usually see this kind of interaction between Palmer and Gibbs so it was great to see Gibbs be a surrogate father to another character, even one who wasn't a direct subordinate.

Christine: Gibbs has actually had his wife and child die. He's lost everything and he's still standing. I thought his advice was very appropriate. Gibbs wanted him to realize that despite the heartache, it will be worth it in the end but he'll have to fight to get there.

Doug: Christine's point is spot-on: maybe Gibbs is the only one who can truly empathize enough with Palmer to offer such tough advice. He's paid more than his dues and therefore has the right to speak to him while he's in the depths of his hollow darkness.  

It helps that Jimmy has so much respect for Gibbs too: the advice won't be immediately effective, but he'll have it there and will be thinking about it as he works his way out of his pain.  It was good advice.

Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter


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NCIS Season 11 Episode 17 Quotes

All right. Okay. Put your drinks down. On a coaster. And make your way in an orderly fashion to the front door, or I will shoot you. That means you, mullet.


Palmer: I take it you heard?
Gibbs: Mmm hmm.
Palmer: Yeah, she saw the baby and just....I guess she felt the same way we felt when we first saw him. Can't fault her for that, right?
Gibbs: You should go home.
Palmer: I will. Yeah Breena and I, we just wanted to get all this stuff out of the house. You know, we wanted to give it back as soon as possible.
Gibbs: We.
Palmer: Me. She's hurting too, but she is so much stronger. She's ready to try again. And me - I feel like I can't breathe. I never felt this bad in my life, Gibbs.
Gibbs: Well, just wait until it's 3:00 in the morning, and your kid's running 104. You're just getting started.
Palmer: That's the point. I'm not starting, you know? Maybe I never will.
Gibbs: Well then fight for it, Palmer! That's what you do. You fight for your family. And sometimes, you fight like hell just to have one.
Palmer: You want me to fight, I feel like I just went ten rounds with Joe Louis.
Gibbs: Do you want to be a dad, Palmer? Because right now, this is being a dad.
Palmer: Maybe I'm not ready.
Gibbs: You wouldn't feel the way you feel, right now, if you weren't ready.