Last time on NCIS, Gibbs and CGIS Agent Abigail Borin (Diane Neal) reunited to stop some pirates in a case involving stolen money from the drug cartels. I love Borin and hope we see her more often. We also had a chance to see McGee take the reins and lead the investigation from NCIS headquarters.

In this week’s episode, “Parental Guidance Suggested,” the team investigates the murder of a Navy commander’s wife and discuss their Halloween costumes. The NCIS Halloween episodes are always awesome.

Scary Discovery

We start off when a young girl who is walked home by her friend and his father after a sleepover. Soon after she enters the house, they hear a scream. The neighbor, Nathan Curtis, goes in and finds Rachel sitting next to her mother’s body.

At NCIS headquarters, McGee and Bishop are having a heated discussion because Bishop doesn’t want to wear a costume to Abby’s Halloween party. Bishop, where is your Halloween spirit? Bishop admits that she and Jake cannot agree on a costume, which launches Tony into a discussion of how Halloween was once a single man’s dream that has now been morphed into a weird couples event. Tony doesn’t have anyone to bring to the party, but it’s not that his dating life is stagnant. In fact, just the opposite — Tony has dated six different women in one month. Bishop runs down a traditional list of couple’s costumes, and Tony urges her to indulge her wild side for one night.

Gibbs Gives Solace

The victim, Dr. Valerie Barnes, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the back, and the murder took place between midnight and 2am. Her husband is Navy Commander Ryan Barnes. The neighbor, Curtis, had been friends with Valerie for three years, but doesn’t know the commander well because he was seldom home.

Gibbs finds 10-year-old Rachel sitting in the backyard in a fort that she made with her dad. Rachel doesn’t want to leave the fort because she feels safe there and is worried about the people who are trying to kill her father.

A Terrorist Target?

At NCIS, Bishop reports that Valerie Barnes was a therapist, and her co-workers didn’t know of anyone she was having trouble with. Commander Barnes is a Navy SEAL who is at survival training, but Tony sent word of the situation and he is returning home. So why does Rachel think her dad is in danger? Barnes was part of Operation Lower Merion, which captured Benham Parsa. A month later, the identities of the Seal team members were leaked, and Barnes is listed on a Jihad hit list website. Dorian Hobart is the webmaster, and it just so happens he is in Maryland. Hobart was dishonorably discharged from the Army and has been involved in several anti-government groups.

Bishop, Abby and McGee post a message on the board to attract Hobart’s attention. McGee wants his cover to be a sniper. Bishop instead decides to stick closer to the truth, use the cover name Tim Walsh and post that he is a master at electronics, specializing in detonators.

Keeping Promises

Gibbs goes to check on Rachel in the conference room. He lures her out from under the table with hot chocolate and popcorn. Gibbs connects with the little girl because he was about her age when his mom passed away. Rachel is angry because she was on alert like her father taught her to be. Just as she asks to return to her safe fort, Gibbs pulls out the materials to make a new fort — together. He promises Rachel that she will be safe, but Rachel asks if he “keeps his promises.”

Ducky finds out that Valerie suffered from a fractured eye socket and cheek bone about 10 years earlier. Strangely, it was never mentioned in her medical records.

Undercover in the Park

Hobart takes the bait and sets up a meeting with McGee in Pinecrest Park. Tony is delighted since it means undercover work. Tony and Bishop do yoga in the park while McGee sits on a bench waiting for Hobart. When Hobart arrives, McGee pulls his gun, but he is tackled by a woman. It just so happens that Tony knows this lady from the Philadelphia Police Department. Her name is Special Agent Zoe Keates, and she is now an ATF agent. She asks Tony to put down the gun and give her a hug. Gibbs vetoes that plan until he gets some information.

It turns out that a decoy agent was impersonating Hobart and Keates was tracking the new explosives expert that Hobart was recruiting. Keates drops another bombshell: Hobart was captured two months ago, and they kept the site up to maintain its credibility. When Gibbs accuses her of not doing her job and protecting the Barnes family, she gets angry and calls him “John Wayne.” Keates tells him that the murder lacks the dramatic flair of a murder by a terrorist.

Blast from the Past

Keates and Tony are flirting heavily, prompting Bishop to ask how they know each other. Tony, also known as “Spider,” and Keates were rookies together in Philadelphia before Tony went on to Baltimore. Tony lingers after Gibbs tells everyone to head back to NCIS, and these two have some sizzling chemistry.

In Abby’s lab, she has set up dummies to simulate the body language between Keates and Tony. Bishop noted a definite chemistry between them, but McGee states that Tony never mentioned her. He does say that he hasn’t seen Tony act that way in a long time, and Abby knows that he means since Ziva. Abby and Bishop think a push in the right direction might not be a bad thing, and McGee reluctantly agrees to help.

Serial Killer Connection

Tony discovers that Valerie’s old facial injuries were due to an attack by serial killer George Burton. Valerie was attacked when Burton got loose during an evaluation in the psychiatric hospital. Valerie never had contact with Burton again until two weeks before her death, when she paid him a visit. Now that is very strange indeed. Gibbs and Tony go to speak with Burton. He says that he respected Valerie and wasn’t trying to kill her. He explains that Valerie came to see him about a patient who was also a sociopath, and he claims Valerie was terrified by this person. This guy is seriously creepy and disturbing.

McGee and Bishop are poring over Valerie’s patient files when Bishop decides to take a nap, sitting up and snoring. I take that back about the serial killer — this is sort of creepy, too. Keates arrives with coffee and also states that there has been no chatter in any terrorist groups regarding the victim. As Keates is getting on the elevator, Bishop catches up to her and asks for her thoughts regarding home-cooked Italian dinners and movie marathons. Keates tells Bishop that she is “barking up the wrong tree.” Hilarious!


Abby summons Tony to the lab, and she gives him a big hug before telling him they need to talk about the past year. Tony doesn’t want to go there, but Abby is determined. She even gives him a head slap and tells him that no one is buying his happy, dating act. She tells him to say one word: Ziva. He says it and admits that he knows that she decided not to come back, but knowing that fact doesn’t make it any easier. Abby confesses that she misses her, too, but again reminds Tony that it was Ziva’s choice to leave them.

Abby gets a match on the ballistics, and it comes back to a report of an accidentally discharged firearm at the home of Valerie’s neighbor, Nathan Curtis.

Bad Neighbor

Curtis says that he hasn’t seen the gun since a year ago when he tried to commit suicide, but the gun misfired. Valerie couldn’t treat Curtis, but she referred him to one of her colleagues, and Valerie locked up the gun in her husband’s safe. There was also an argument between Curtis and Valerie outside of Rachel’s school. Curtis claims that he saw bruises on Rachel whenever her father was home. Valerie says that Ryan would never hurt her daughter. Bishop also discovers that Ryan’s alibi left him with a window of opportunity to go home and commit the murder.

Bishop and Tony go to the hotel to bring in Ryan. The room is totally untouched, and Ryan and Rachel are gone. 

Something Doesn’t Fit

McGee traces Rachel’s cell phone to a rest stop, and the team heads out. The NCIS team surrounds Ryan and Rachel, and he admits to killing his wife. Gibbs’ gut is telling him that something isn’t adding up, and Ducky agrees. Rachel suffered severe abuse at times when the commander was away. If Ryan isn’t a sociopath, then who killed Valerie?

Gibbs sits down with a shocking suspect: Rachel. Gibbs found the gun buried under her fort. Rachel killed her mother because her mother wanted to send her to a special hospital for treatment. The child even injured herself to try and get her father to come home. This little girls is giving me chills.

Halloween Thrills

Tony is in a tux for the Halloween party, but McGee is angry that Tony was supposed to be Batman to his Robin. Bishop shows up, clad in her spandex best as sexy Sandy from Grease. Bishop and McGee head off to the party, while Tony stays behind to get his watch. He fingers Ziva’s Star of David necklace thoughtfully. Keates arrives and wants to catch up on old times. Tony asks why she never called him when she had been in DC for five years. Her response — that he just up and left without a call or a word — resonates with Tony. Keates tells Tony that she deserved better, and he agrees and apologizes. Tony asks her to go for a walk to talk.

I really liked this episode of NCIS. I liked how Ziva’s absence and its effect on Tony were finally addressed, and I also think that Tony and Keates have great chemistry. I was a bit thrown by Bishop’s costume, and seriously freaked out by the child who committed murder.

NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Kim Stempel

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Kim has been covering television entertainment since 2013. She is addicted to Real Housewives, Pump Rules, Dancing with the Stars, and many more shows.