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NCIS - Spinning Wheel - Review: "A heartwarming episode"

NCIS aired its annual Christmas episode last Tuesday, and the episode put the spotlight on Ducky searching for a long-lost relative. Meanwhile, Bishop made a decision about her marriage.

The episode opens with Ducky receiving a phone call and immediately heading out. Later, the team goes to a crime scene in an alley and while Jimmy tries to avoid Gibbs' questions about Ducky's whereabouts, he eventually tells Gibbs he doesn't know where the good old doctor is. Jimmy calls Ducky's phone again and the sound comes from a nearby van. In that van, the team finds Ducky, who is tied up. Ducky says that he got a call from a man claiming to have information on a relative of his, but it soon became clear that the man was just fishing for information. Ducky left, but the man followed him and tied him up. Gibbs asks Ducky about this relative, and Ducky reveals it's about his half-brother. Yes, Ducky had a half-brother. In flashbacks throughout the episode, we learn that Ducky's father Joseph remarried after the divorce from Ducky's mother and that he had a son named Nicholas with his second wife Lorraine. Ducky and Nicholas were very close, and Ducky was more of a caregiver to Nicholas than his parents were. At a certain point, Joseph announces Lorraine wants to divorce him (which is actually a good thing since she is quite a bitch), but she is also taking Nicholas with her. Nicholas is afraid he will never see his big brother again, but Ducky reassures him he will always look for him. Ducky then turns to his old friend Angus Clarke for legal advice since Lorraine is willing to reconsider Nicholas' custody for £10,000. The young Ducky is even prepared to resign his commission at the military hospital, because Nicholas is his life. Angus also offers to pay the money. However, Lorraine is already packing up and leaving with Nicholas, and she has no interest in the money anymore. As Nicholas and Ducky are separated, the latter promises to look for his brother everywhere. And he does, until he hears from a family member of Lorraine that Nicholas and his mother died in a car crash in Prague.

Meanwhile, the motive for the murder is quickly discovered as the deceased heard Ducky's screams when the murderer attempted to kidnap Ducky. The dead guy wanted to help Ducky, but got killed himself. Ducky has a sketch drawn of the guy who tried to kidnap him, while the team goes to the owner of the van. That owner actually rented out the van and his house to a guy named Rufus. The van owner says he saw Rufus with the murderer. However, Rufus is hanging inside the house. Ducky discovers the suicide has been staged and that he was instead drowned in the swimming pool. Rufus worked at a post office, and Bishop found a letter from Nicholas to his brother. Ducky has never seen the letter before and Abby discovers it was only written three weeks ago. That means Nicholas might still be alive. Abby deduces that Rufus was looking for a pawn shop. The man in the pawn shop tells them Rufus was there to pawn a valuable stamp and he was there with the man from Ducky's sketch. The team manages to get an ID from the shop's cameras: the murderer is Viggo Trellis, a Private Investigator from Philadelphia. It turns out Nicholas' letter had an old stamp that was very valuable and Rufus hired Viggo to track down Nicholas since he would have the matching sister stamp. However, Viggo got greedy, killed Rufus and went after Nicholas himself. The team tracks down his location and Ducky goes along. When he hears a gunshot, he runs inside but it was Viggo who was shot dead. There is also a Nicholas Mallard, but it is not Ducky's half-brother. Gibbs, Tony, McGee and Bishop later give Ducky the best Christmas gift ever: the location of his brother. Nicholas is sadly in a nursing home due to early-onset Alzheimer's disease and has no memory of his past life, but Ducky gives his brother his train that he lost half a lifetime ago when his mother took him away. When Nicholas also tweaks Ducky's nose like he used to do in the past, Nicholas is elated to learn that 'Donnie' found him. The two then hug.

Also, Jake sweeps by the NCIS office to finally get a chance to talk to Bishop. Bishop takes him to the evidence garage, where McGee is processing the van and subsequently hides to overhear their conversation. Jake wants to apologize and says he made a mistake by putting national security above his marriage. He is willing to repair their marriage. However, Bishop has decided that, in fact, she does not want to give it another try. She realized that they just weren't working and that Jake wanted her to find out about the affair. Bishop says they are over, and they have been for a long time.

Wow, what an incredibly heartwarming Christmas episode! The relationship between Ducky and Nicholas was amazing, and the way Ducky cared for his younger brother is just so touching. The episode's flashbacks were used brilliantly as they slowly build up to the inevitable separation between Ducky and Nicholas. Ducky really was more of a parent than Nicholas real parents were. I had no problem hating Lorraine the minute she showed up and while Ducky's father might have been a good man, he was not exactly the best father. My heart was touched when Ducky said he wanted to give it all up for Nicholas. And now Ducky has to deal with yet another relative suffering from Alzheimer. I am glad the two found each other and that end scene was so emotional (I wrote a bit more about that ending in the Scene of the Week article), but it's awful that Ducky's brother has this terrible disease. Fortunately, Nicholas did recognize Ducky in the end and their hug was just so moving. The acting was top-notch. David McCallum showed us a Ducky that was so determined to find his younger brother after all these years, while Adam Campbell portrayed a young Ducky whose heart broke when he was separated from Nicholas. Campbell had great chemistry with Andy Walken, who played the young Nicholas. Besides Ducky, there was also the side story of Bishop choosing to end her marriage. This doesn't come as a surprise as the show had strongly hinted at that, but now it seems official. All she has to do now, is sign these divorce papers. I must say I'm a bit sad that she ended her marriage, mostly because it means yet another team member's private life is on shaky ground, but I am also glad that she didn't just run back to her cheating husband. Let's see what's next for her.

What did you think of "Spinning Wheel"? Do you agree that it was a heartwarming episode? How awesome would it be to have Ducky as a big brother? Did that final scene touch you? And lastly, do you think Bishop made the right decision to end her marriage? I would love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.

The next episode airs January 5 and this will be a crossover episode with NCIS: New Orleans. The two hours air the same night, starting with NCIS at 8/7c and then continuing in New Orleans. Watch a promo for the crossover below.

About the Author - Daniel van der Veer
Daniel van der Veer is a Dutch university student studying Psychology. On SpoilerTV he is a reviewer of NCIS, The 100, Madam Secretary and Quantico. He also enjoys LOST, Arrow, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, Nikita, The Blacklist, Scorpion and How To Get Away With Murder.
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