NCIS recap: Jack faces her PTSD

Photo credit: NCIS/CBS by Michael Yarish, Acquired via CBS Press Express
Photo credit: NCIS/CBS by Michael Yarish, Acquired via CBS Press Express /

Drew Carey guest-starred as a veteran with PTSD on NCIS and it brought up a lot of thoughts for Jack Sloane.

It’s not often we see much about Jack on NCIS. She pops in, offers her opinion, sees which type of lolly her team members like (guessing the ones they’ll choose before they do) and then disappears for the episode. That wasn’t the case for this week. Jack’s PTSD came up, as she found members of the team to open up to—sometimes indirectly.

Oh, and Ducky returned! While I knew he would show up in the next episode, I was pleasantly surprised to see him back this week. Boy, has he been missed! The good news is he’s still just teaching at the university. The bad news is he’s back because it’s spring break at the university, so he’ll disappear again soon; hopefully not for too long!

A petty office is killed by a care package

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But first, let’s start with the case of the week. When a soldier on deployment turns up dead, Abby quickly figures out that the poisoning (that’s what Ducky and Palmer figured out) is from cookies. They were laced with cyanide. The cookies came from a charitable company that sends care packages to soldiers on deployment. It’s actually quite sweet, especially since they all have a homemade item that they send.

The cookies were John Ross’ recipe, so he’s instantly viewed as the suspect. It doesn’t take long for Gibbs to realize that, while this man has a history of violence, he didn’t kill the petty officer on duty. The answer is actually staring him in the face. Tony would have been screaming the answer to us throughout the episode—it was the wife and the brother of the soldier. They were having an affair and wanted to kill the petty officer so they could be together.

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John Ross shows his side of PTSD

Most of the episode was actually focused on Ross and Jack’s shared prisoner of war stories. They both suffer from it, but for different reasons. Ross admitted that his issue was losing five years of his life. His girlfriend was pregnant with his daughter and by the time he returned the girlfriend had moved on with another man. Ross didn’t want his daughter’s life thrown off course, so he stepped back.

Photo credit: NCIS/CBS by Sonja Flemming, Acquired via CBS Press Express
Photo credit: NCIS/CBS by Sonja Flemming, Acquired via CBS Press Express /

The daughter? McGee realizes that it’s the woman at the post office. Ross never had the hots for her but wanted to spend time with her without her knowing he was her real father. In the end, Jack convinces him to tell her the truth. It’s time she had the chance to know him.

A deeper insight into Jack Sloane

As for Jack, she thinks about her PTSD. Fortunately, she was able to get help, as the military actually admitted that PTSD was a thing after her capture, but it didn’t make things easier. After getting some advice from Ducky, without telling him that she’s also gaining advice for herself (but he likely knew the truth, because it’s Ducky), she tells Vance the whole truth.

She feels guilty because her unwillingness to break in torture led to the deaths of other men. Vance tells her she can’t feel guilty for that; that it wasn’t her fault. Of course, the mind doesn’t work like that. The body doesn’t work like that. We can irrationally feel guilty for something that we didn’t do.

Photo credit: NCIS/CBS by Sonja Flemming, Acquired via CBS Press Express
Photo credit: NCIS/CBS by Sonja Flemming, Acquired via CBS Press Express /

Maria Bello was encapsulating throughout this episode, as we saw her thoughts and feelings on her face. She didn’t need to say a word to know the gravity of her character’s decisions in the past and the guilt felt now. It was heartbreaking to watch for her, but so beautifully done. The NCIS writers handled this with care, just as the title suggested.

Next: NCIS recap: A deal with a demon to catch the devil

In the end, it was another case solved and the team got back on with their lives. Jack finished the episode opening the tin she gained from Afghanistan the last time she was over there, continually the shame and guilt she feels for the loss of what looks like three soldiers.

NCIS Season 15 continues on Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.

What did you think about the PTSD storyline? Did you feel for Jack throughout? How do you think it handled the difficult subject? Share your thoughts in the comments below.