"Honoring a Band of Brothers"
What You Need To Know:
“The Arizona” is one of the most moving NCIS episodes in its 17-year history. The script is well written and directed. Christopher Lloyd gives a wonderful performance as the elderly Navy veteran. His talent and the script’s depth energizes the main cast. Best of all, “The Arizona” honors the sacrifices that American servicemen made during World War II on the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941. The episode has a strong moral, patriotic worldview with strong Christian, redemptive content and values. It extols family, parenthood, being a grandfather, and sacrifice. “The Arizona” has brief foul language and a harrowing description about what the sailors on the Arizona experienced. So, caution is advised.
NCIS: The Arizona is an emotionally powerful, patriotic episode of the popular CBS drama about a dying World War II veteran who claims he was one of the few survivors when the USS Arizona exploded and capsized during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Christopher Lloyd gives a magnificent performance as the 95-year-old retired sailor in this NCIS episode, where Gibbs and his team of Navy investigators must confirm the sailor’s story so he can be buried at the Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.
The episode opens with an admiral coming home from being 45 days at sea. He finds his front door window glass broken, some furniture strewn about, blood on the floor, and the back door open. He calls out for his wife, but there’s no answer.
Leroy Gibbs and his team of investigators at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are called to the scene. They discover that the unknown intruder stole a purple heart honoring the Admiral’s daughter, who died serving in Afghanistan. The purple heart isn’t just a normal medal and can’t just be replaced. It has an engraving from the Admiral’s father, also an admiral, who died two months after the Admiral’s daughter. In place of the medal is a note from the burglar saying that he took the medal, and they can find him at a nearby motel.
With guns drawn, Agents Gibbs, McGee, Torres, and Baker enter the motel room, and a 95-year-old man exits the bathroom and says his name is Joseph Smith. He admits to having stolen the medal, but tells them he won’t say anything until they get him a root beer.
At NCIS headquarters, Joe won’t talk to the younger agents because they’re too young to know anything about World War II. He asks to see Gibbs. “It’s about getting someone with perspective to sit down and listen,” he explains to Gibbs.
Joe tells Gibbs he joined the Navy in February 1941 but, at 16, was too young to serve, so he joined under his older, estranged brother, Henry’s, name. Joe claims he was serving on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 when it was struck by a bomb from a Japanese airplane that ignited about a million pounds of explosions on the ship. That and the other attacks on the Arizona left 1,177 men dead, with Joe being one of 300 or so survivors. Joe wants the Admiral to pull some strings so he can be buried at the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, an honor awarded to all Arizona survivors. He tells Gibbs he wrote three letters to the Admiral, but the Admiral never replied to them. So, he refuses to tell where he hid the Purple Heart medal until the Admiral promises to pull some strings for his burial. “I tried to do it the right way,” Joe says. “Now, I’m doing it my way.”
Joe’s story is hard to confirm, however, because his brother died in a drunken car wreck at age 30, and their family didn’t make many photos. Also, Joe refuses to discuss the day of the attack to give Gibbs any information to back up his story. “The things I saw that day shouldn’t come out of anyone’s mouth,” Joe tells Gibbs. “Do your DNA thing!” he orders.
Can Gibbs get Joe to talk? Will they ever find the Purple Heart medal?
“The Arizona” is one of the most moving NCIS episodes in its 17-year history. The script is well written and directed. Christopher Lloyd, often known for his comic roles in thinks like NBC’s 1980s TAXI series and the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy, gives a wonderful performance as the elderly Navy veteran. His talent and the script’s depth energizes the main cast, although this particular episode’s dramatic energy belongs to Lloyd and Mark Harmon, who plays Gibbs.
Best of all, “The Arizona” honors the sacrifices that American servicemen made during World War II on the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941. The episode has a strong moral, patriotic worldview with strong Christian, redemptive content and values. It extols family, parenthood, being a grandfather, and sacrifice. A cross is shown on a military plaque at the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Inspired by his experience with Joe, Special Agent Gibbs talks to Agent McGee about his own war experiences. “Even with the bullets and the blood and the chaos, you knew what mattered,” Gibbs says. “You knew that the guy next to you was willing to die for you, and you for him. And, you look around and think it shouldn’t take a war to make the world that simple.”
“The Arizona” has some brief foul language and contains a harrowing description about what happened to the men when the Japanese bombs struck the USS Arizona. So, caution is advised for older children. Nevertheless, parents are encouraged to watch this episode with their children so they can discuss the episode’s historical background as well as the sacrifices previous generations have made for American liberty.