‘NCIS’ Season 14, Episode 13 Recap: ‘Keep Going’


Think you know all you need to about the loveable members of NCIS? What about Palmer? He’s often overlooked and just comes in with a few one-liners that make you question his sanity, but this week NCIS focused on him.

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Yes, we got a Jimmy Palmer flashback episode that we just didn’t know we needed. And it was excellent. For years I’ve wanted to know more about him and I wasn’t disappointed in the way that it all played out. What’s even better is that I was pleasantly surprised because I’d completely missed the episode guide or this upcoming episode. I’m just disappointed that we’re on NCIS Season 14 and only just getting it!

Let’s start with the case for the night though. After arguing with his son, Paul Smith drives through a stop sign and then stops at an ATM to make sure his son has enough money until he finds another job. That’s when Paul is run over by someone who was clearly out to get him. Was the stop sign incident to blame or is there something else going on?

Palmer is currently suffering from the mid-winter blues and is questioning everything that’s happening in his life. It’s a great set up for what is to come. But this questioning does put himself in some danger. While at the crime scene, Palmer notices somebody on a ledge and runs off without telling anyone. When Ducky realizes that Palmer is gone, Bishop sees the person on the ledge and Palmer therewith him.

It turns out the person is Ryan, Paul’s son. He wants to jump and Palmer threatens to jump with him by grabbing onto his belt. When Gibbs walks over, Ryan threatens to take Palmer with him. It’s up to Palmer to talk the kid down from the ledge, getting a memory of Ducky telling Palmer that being an ME is a different type of hero compared to NCIS agents.

Sure enough, the team on the ground realize that with no skid marks the death had to have been premeditated. We already knew that—that’s why it’s an NCIS episodebut they’re just doing their job, right?

Well, now we have helicopters and sirens, so the team on the ground can’t hear the conversation between Palmer and Ryan. They need to get a mic to Palmer somehow and we know that Torres can do that somehow after last week’s episode. Well, they suggest they send the mic by sending up food to them.

Ryan admits that suicide has been on his mind for a while. His dad was the only person stopping him and a few unhappy moments in Ryan’s life leads to another Palmer flashback when he was just three days into his current job.

We do have Ryan discussing everything that is currently wrong with the world. Ryan shares that his friends are boasting about new jobs and celebrating weddings through social media. Ah, but Palmer comes out with everything we need to remember about social media: people only share the positives. Palmer needs to remember that at times, and we get Abby’s pep talk as a flashback and the reminder that even the MEs are part of the NCIS family.

Unfortunately, Ryan lashes out and Palmer falls off the ledge. Hanging on by his finger tips, I had to wonder if the flashbacks were because they were going to do something dastardly to cut the NCIS cast down by one. Thankfully, Ryan decides to life Palmer back onto the ledge and it’s a sign that he doesn’t really want to die, either.

Now with a mic in a hamburger box, Ryan shares how his mother’s death meant his dad was never the same. Palmer, who has no idea about the mic, tells Gibbs’ story and shares how worried he is about Gibbs. Yes, we all are Palmer, because he does bury himself in his work.

We’re reminded that Gibbs’ heartbreak has helped others push through with their pain, such as when Palmer and his wife lost their baby and he had to move all the unopened baby gifts out of the house.

Ryan admits that he knew his dad loved him, and this finally brings up the fact that Paul ran a stop sign. So, Ryan seems to think that may be connected and it certainly gets the attention of the NCIS team on the ground. Sure enough, traffic cams pick up a black SUV slam on its breaks at the intersection and then follow Paul’s car.

After a while, Palmer has enough of Ryan’s self-pity and even admits that it took three attempts to pass the ME exam. And he only did it because Ducky’s praise made him believe in himself. Nobody else knows that he’s a “real doctor,” but he’s proud of his accomplishment deep down. And yes, one day he will leave NCIS but that isn’t in his plans just yet. It’s a touching moment as we find that Palmer is a true member of the NCIS family—well, we already knew that but we find out Palmer believes he is.

So, it turns out that Paul’s hit and run was all over running the stop sign. I’m not going to lie and say that I expected that. I thought it was going to be some beef at work and it just happened to coincide with running the stop sign. But as Gibbs says, there’s no such thing as a coincidence. Maybe I should take a leaf out of his book.

Meanwhile, Ryan shares something that many of us have thought, especially recently. The world isn’t exactly a positive one. Turn on the news and there’s always something bad going on (why do you think I cover entertainment and TV news and recap! There’s something happy that happens at some point…)

Palmer admits that there is sadness but you can kill meanness with kindness and you can be a good friend to get a good friend. I get this feeling that Palmer believes in karma.

Ryan decides that he’s going to live—yay!—and he and Palmer head back inside. Ducky is there waiting for him, much to Palmer’s surprise. Well, where else would he be, “Doctor Palmer?” Now Palmer realizes that the whole team was listening in and he tries to bumble an apology to Gibbs for sharing his life story. Gibbs isn’t angry with that, but just wants to give Palmer something he’s never given him: a hug.

Next: 'NCIS' Recap: Season 14 Episode 12 'Off the Grid'

It’s such a touching story and I’m so glad the NCIS writers decided to focus on Palmer. This episode wasn’t all about the case but about one member of the team and how the rest of the team is like a family to him. We may have already known that, but it’s excellent to see the characters realize and believe it, too.

NCIS Season 14 continues on Tuesdays at 8pm on CBS.