Ducky looks back on a choice he made 37 years ago when evidence in the murder of a Navy captain is linked to his dead mother.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Balthazar Kilmeany


The team investigates the death of a Navy Captain who's under investigation for selling secrets. They go through his things and find an address which turns out to be the house where Ducky and his mother lived before she died. They learn the man went there and was looking for Ducky's mother. Further investigation unearths a name, which Ducky says is the name of the man his mother nearly married 40 years ago. Ducky says when he met the man, he got a bad vibe off him and had him checked out and learned he was not a gentleman. Thye later learn the Captain hired a private investigator to find the man. They wonder what the Captain wants with the man. But Ducky wonders could it be him because he would be well over a 100 by now if he's still alive. Fornell's daughter tries to get him to leave Gibbs and come home. Written by

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Release Date:

13 December 2016 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Ducky's full name is Donald Horatio Mallard. See more »


Young Donald Mallard: You made the right decision.
Donald Mallard: Did I?
Young Donald Mallard: Yes! Mother's fiancee was bent as a two-headed penny - a con man, a thief.
Donald Mallard: Even thieves fall in love.
Young Donald Mallard: Rubbish. Making him leave was the right call. And might I add so is whatever you're doing with your skin. You look fantastic!
Donald Mallard: I'm not really complimenting myself, am I?
Young Donald Mallard: Just take it.
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User Reviews

A great episode about Duck
13 December 2016 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I'm not a huge fan of Duck's character but this episode had a fantastic story line about him. His mother is involved in Captain Green's murder and now the NCIS team needs to find out who killed him and what's the connection to Ducky. The strong point of this episode is Ducky's mystery. This was really awesome because we got to see Duck who wasn't sure if he had done the right thing. His uncertainty is of a decision he may have regretted his entire life. The case is extremely complex and great and it's nice to see it tie to Ducky. His flashbacks are always rather interesting. The end of this episode is rather heartwarming when the whole team celebrates Christmas and Ducky finds out the (positive) truth about all this. This is followed by another good scene with Gibbs and Fornell. Fornell is a really great character and he brought a lot of humour into this episode. The only problem I have with these scenes is that they are short lived. If the writers want to reinforce the theme of family they should've made the celebration scenes longer (they were still great though).

Another issue I had with this episode is that there were a little too many characters to work with. Too many characters isn't the problem here because we know NCIS can handle a lot of characters. The issue is that even though Duck is in the spotlight, it doesn't mean the other characters can't have funny, great lines. I keep saying this in my reviews and I'm sorry but here it is again: McGee and Abby have been drained of their personalities. Sure Abby did the Caf-Pow Eggnog thing but the charisma isn't there anymore. As for McGee he's obviously not the probie we once knew but he should show a little more emotion. Quinn is as uncharismatic and lame as usual. There's an awesome scene with Torres and Clay, not complaining there. Clay is awesome as always but Torres wasn't present enough in this episode, he's now the character that brings comic relief a great DiNozzo replacement. Gibbs was not bad in this episode, he solves the case but like I always say he has to have more great conversations with Torres and Clay (not Quinn she's lame) so we feel a continuity.

I know I said a lot of negative things about the characters but it's mostly nitpicking because Duck's story (the case) was fantastic and occupied most of the episode. 10/10 for that part. All in all "The tie that binds" is a great episode that shouldn't be missed. A few character issues don't change the awesome holiday cheer that this episode brought. I trust the NCIS writers will solve the MINOR character problems next year. 3 new characters aren't easy to handle all at once. This episode's personal case and family/Christmas spirit reminded me of why this show has been running for so long and is still my favourite show

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