Better Angels (NCIS)

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"Better Angels"
NCIS episode
Episode no. Season 11
Episode 7
Directed by Tony Wharmby
Written by Gina Monreal
Original air date November 5, 2013 (2013-11-05)
Guest appearance(s)
  • Ralph Waite as Jackson Gibbs
  • Josh Gordon Emerson as Aaron Connolly
  • Rocky McMurray as Howard County P.D. Officer Ray Mitchell
  • Kelvin Yu as Sebastian Kim
  • Caryn West as DCS Department Head Karen Fox
  • Connie Jackson as Elaine
  • Tom Fitzpatrick as Walter Beck
  • Jocelyn Ayanna as Asabe Dawson
  • Andrew Lander as Young Jackson Gibbs
  • Austin Bowerman as Young Walter Beck
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Oil & Water"
Next →
NCIS (season 11)
List of NCIS episodes

"Better Angels" is the seventh episode of the eleventh season of the American police procedural drama NCIS, and the 241st episode overall. It originally aired on CBS in the United States on November 5, 2013. The episode is written by Gina Monreal and directed by Tony Wharmby, and was seen by 19.18 million viewers.[1]


The team comes to investigate the death of Marine Sergeant Michael Dawson, who was apparently killed trying to stop a robbery attempt. As the team tries to track down the robber, Gibbs receives a call from the police that his father, Jackson, had just had his driver's license revoked and needs to be picked up from the station. Gibbs picks up Jackson, who informs him that they need to go see Walter Beck, an old acquaintance who saved his life during World War II. Beck is dying, and Jackson has never thanked him for his help. Gibbs reluctantly leaves the case to McGee and DiNozzo while he assists his father. However, their search leads to an apparent dead end, with Abby not being able to find any record of a Walter Beck in Jackson's squadron. Thinking his father is either lying to him or showing signs of dementia, Gibbs returns to Washington to take charge of the case again.

Eventually, the team discovers that the robbery was a setup, as Dawson was the real target. They track down one of Dawson's old friends, who admits that Dawson was trying to help him overcome his drug addiction and went to confront his dealer, which resulted in Dawson's death. The friend identifies the store owner as the drug dealer, and a quick search of his store gives them all the evidence they need to convict him.

Afterwards, Gibbs confronts Jackson about making up the story about Beck, pointing out there was nobody in his squadron with that name. Jackson explains that Beck was a German pilot who saved his life despite officially being his enemy at the time. With this new information, Gibbs is able to track down where Beck is staying, and Jackson and Beck have an emotional reunion, with Jackson introducing his son to Beck.


Ralph Waite reprised his role as Gibbs' father.

"Better Angels" is written by Gina Monreal and directed by Tony Wharmby. On the day the episode aired, executive producer Gary Glasberg revealed some insight, and said it was an emotional story "based on some real historical storytelling". The episode also featured "some terrific flashbacks to young Jackson Gibbs".[2]

Ralph Waite's return as Jackson Gibbs, the father of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, was announced by Glasberg on September 30, 2013.[3] This episode marks Waite's final appearance as Jackson Gibbs, as the actor died on February 13, 2014.


"Better Angels" was seen by 19.18 million live viewers at its November 5, 2013 broadcast, with a 2.9/8 share among adults aged 18 to 49.[1] A rating point represents one percent of the total number of television sets in American households, and a share means the percentage of television sets in use tuned to the program. In total viewers, "Better Angels" was the highest rated show on the night it aired.

Douglas Wolfe from TV Fanatic gave the episode 4.8/5 and stated that "the dynamic between Gibbs and his father proved to be the more compelling story [in the episode]. [...] I can't think of another such complicated - and therefore real - father-son relationship on TV right now. Gina Monreal - who wrote this episode - deserves high praise for getting it right."[4]


  1. ^ a b Kondolojy, Amanda (November 6, 2013). "Tuesday Final Ratings: 'The Voice' Adjusted Up; 'Trophy Wife' Adjusted Down + No Adjustment for 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 7, 2013. 
  2. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (November 5, 2013). "NCIS Boss Previews Tony vs. Tim, an 'Emotional' Gibbs, Bishop's Debut, Three Returns and More". TV Line. Retrieved November 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ Keveney, Bill (September 30, 2013). "'NCIS' says farewell to Ziva". USA Today. Retrieved November 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ Wolfe, Douglas (November 5, 2013). "NCIS Review: Turned Around". TV Fanatic. Retrieved November 7, 2013.