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Rewind and Repeat: The Gibbs/Dinozzo Basement Scene, NCIS “Newborn King” 

OK, you guys know I had to write about this moment. One of my favorite parts of NCIS has become the Gibbs/Dinozzo scenes that have ended various episodes like “Flesh and Blood” and “Obsession.” Well, this show did it again. And I completely wasn’t prepared for it, even though my sister gave me a heads up before the episode aired. During this holiday episode that had Gibbs deliver a lieutenant’s baby, there was some talk about Tony’s ex-fiancée, Wendy. We only learned of her existence in last season’s “Baltimore.” Ever since then I have — of course — speculated that there was some tragic, depressing story behind their separation because, really, the show didn’t give us much to go on. The truth isn’t so much tragic but it is kind of sad.

At the beginning of “Newborn King,” Ziva and McGee ask Tony about the Christmas card he received from Wendy. Apparently, she and Tony haven’t talked in nine years. She’s no longer married, although, she does have a son. And she wants her former fiancé to come over for Christmas brunch.

Fast forward to the end of the hour and Gibbs is in his basement on Christmas day fixing up a tricycle for Mike Franks’ granddaughter ‘cause he’s good like that. He’s making sure Franks’ family is taken care of at all times. All of a sudden, Tony comes shuffling down the stairs to talk to his boss. What we get is some insight to Tony and Gibbs. It’s so wonderful and emotional, I needed to immediately rewind and repeat the scene a few times.

When Tony shows up in Gibbs’ basement, I’m immediately saddened because it’s Christmas and he clearly doesn’t have any place to go other than Wendy’s. We quickly find out he went over to her house and sat in the car for 20 minutes before driving away. Going into that house represents going back to the past. Is this something Tony’s ready to do? He’s been working on himself and maturing quite a bit, but that’s still a big step. Then we find out why Tony and Wendy didn’t work out. It’s a whopper of a conversation. Something I wasn’t expecting out of these two. Ever. Tony wants to know if he made a mistake by not brunching with Wendy:

Tony: “You think I made a mistake?”
Gibbs: “I think you made it twice now.”
Tony: “Well, when I joined NCIS, I knew what you expected of me. Everything. Doesn’t exactly leave a lot of room for the Wendys of the world.”
Gibbs: “Did you come here to blame me, Dinozzo?”
Tony: “No, boss.”
Gibbs: “Good.”
Tony: “Family and job. Two different cups.”
Gibbs: “That’s right.”
Tony: “And if I couldn’t fill both, that was my problem.”
Gibbs: “Hmm hmm..”
Tony: “What if I can now?”
Gibbs: “Then get out of my basement! Man up and move on.”
Tony: “Like you have?”
Gibbs: “Don’t be like me! Learn from it.”
Tony: “Good talk…Merry Christmas.”

So consider me completely floored. Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly are simply masters at making me feel for these characters. To see Tony finally start to figure out things for himself and work on various aspects of himself is just fascinating. To finally (FINALLY) hear Gibbs basically acknowledge he hasn’t been able to move on from losing Shannon and Kelly is huge. Maybe, just maybe, these two guys can figure out a way to move on from the baggage that’s been weighing them down for so long. It’s really an incredible scene when you think about it. There’s this tough love (with the emphasis on love) between these two characters who are more than boss and subordinate. They call each other out on their s–t. They have each other’s backs no matter what. They’re friends. And we see evidence of that in the very next portion of this amazing scene:

Gibbs: “Hey, are you coming or not? Leyla’s making lamb.”
Tony: “You sure it’s all right?”
Gibbs: “Yeah, I told her you were coming.”
Tony: “When?”
Gibbs: “I told her last week. You’re not going to find what you’re looking for down here, Dinozzo. Come on.”

At this point, I’m tearing up like nobody’s business. It’s embarrassing, really. And it happens with each subsequent re-watch too. Gibbs wasn’t going to let Tony be alone on Christmas but he does it in his own Gibbs way. He doesn’t even give Tony a heads up on the invite because he knew he’d show up in his basement that very day. It’s the perfect button to a good episode.

NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.

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