NCIS, Season 10, Episode 19: “Squall”
Written by Bill Nuss
Directed by Tom Wright
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
When NCIS reaches family reunion milestones, they usually coincide with an investigation- each agent has suspected every member of their family of murder/espionage at one point or another- so it’s no surprise that the debut appearance of McGee’s estranged father would result in a trip to interrogation, pitting the Admiral against Gibbs.
Admiral John McGee (guest star Jamey Sheridan) has only recently been mentioned as an individual, his character being shaped through comments from McGee over the last two years. He’s known among his peers as an honorable and able naval officer and by his son as a harsh and overly-judgmental father whose absence has made the heart grow bitter. McGee’s reaction to seeing his father again shows a cold side of his character that’s usually reserved for Tony’s critiques that cross the line into bully territory. At one point, Gibbs likens the Admiral to a bully, or at least points out the parallel when McGee tries to encourage a boy who he’s been assigned to as part of a Big Brother program.
The case in question turns this way and that, eventually landing the Admiral opposite the MCRT when he ends up a possible suspect of a murder aboard a ship. Gibbs is only too eager to stand as a buffer between the father and son when it is clear that he has more interest in McGee’s emotional well-being than the Admiral does. The relationship between McGee and the Admiral appears even more strained than expected, especially after things seemed to be improving at the end of the season nine episode, “The Penelope Papers”; but instead, it is revealed that McGee’s parents are separated and that the Admiral spends most of his time abroad. McGee has never mentioned growing up in a broken home nor has it ever been hinted that he was dealing with his parents’ marital issues at any time throughout the show. The sudden overload of new information makes the episode feel rushed, packing in as much related material as possible before the show shifts gears and returns to Ziva’s hunt for Ilan Bodnar, which is sure to be the season finale’s endgame.
Thrown into the mix is the return of Joel Gretsch’s Agent Stan Burly, agent afloat and one of many supporter’s of the budding romance between Tony and Ziva. Initially introduced as a potential rival, Burly is quickly discounted as he confides in Tony about his own engagement and encourages Tony to settle down, immediately confirming his place in the Tiva fan club.
The show has had ten years to construct a life for Sean Murray’s character, developing him from his wide-eyed early days as a new addition to the team into a strong agent who has earned respect from everyone in the agency. With only a few episodes solely dedicated to each character’s personal life per season, it’s disheartening to see an anticipated event be handed off to a new writer whose unfamiliarity with the team and their history makes for an unflattering script that sticks out almost as a non-canon piece of fan fiction. Treated as a filler before the final episodes of the season, “Squall” does little to make-up for a lack of McGee stories over the season as he is once again dealt a bad hand with a less than satisfying installment of a series that is anxious to enter the final lap in the race to finish the year stronger than it started.