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NCIS Review: "Double Identity"

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Whether it's with their slowly unraveling mysteries or character development, NCIS understands subtlety better than just about any show. "Double Identity" was a prime example.

When a former Marine goes off the grid and assumes a new life, it's up to Gibbs and the team to find out why. Our episode recap has the plot details. Now, here's TVF's review ...

Lt. John Maine, or Christian Wells as he was later known, is found shot in a National Park. He survives long enough for us to meet his two wives, Leah Maine and Rachel Wells.

It turns out Maine vanished in Afghanistan back in 2004, only to resurface in the U.S. under a different name and with a substantial, eight-figure fortune no one could account for.

Maine/Wells dies before Gibbs can do his thing, but our man does learn that back in '04, the mysterious Marine vanished during a three-person undercover mission gone haywire.

Taking Him Down

McGee (Sean Murray) and DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) get their man.

He somehow skipped the country with five oil drums full of unmarked U.S. dollars - how he did that is a major stretch, but no matter - after the Marines took out an Afghan drug lord.

That still doesn't explain who killed him. Might it have been the wife (of the other wife, as DiNozzo naturally suspects), or one of his fellow Marines who Maine/Wells double-crossed?

Try neither.

One of his compatriots did try to track him down, but it was a P.I. who took matters into his own hands and tried to shake Maine down. A shootout followed, and you know the rest.

What was neat about this was watching the agents approach the case in their own way. DiNozzo was out to prove the wife (wives?) did it, which he always seems to think is the case.

McGee, meanwhile, did what McGee does and followed the electronic trail. Ziva put her hard core investigative skills to work, going undercover herself and one-upping the P.I.

As for Abby and Ducky?

Dr. Mallard's attire and attitude left Abby puzzled, which we loved because the men in the office barely noticed his transition to regular neckties or generally happier demeanor.

Abbs was all over it, though, speculating about Ducky's whereabouts and noticing something amiss, even if it's in a good way. Maybe it's her nose for forensics. Or female intuition.

Finally, Gibbs tracks him down in the morgue and gets him to open up about it. His mother passed away at age 98, and he already had the funeral. He's grieving by being relieved.

Maybe acting extra chipper helps mask the pain. Maybe his mother's passing was so inevitable, her suffering is finally over and a weight lifted off his shoulders. Maybe some of each.

Regardless, it was brilliantly done, with hints dropped all season long leading up to this, and his heart-to-heart with Gibbs in the morgue (and Abby at the grave) were both touching.

Terrific performance by David McCallum, who portrayed this difficult and complex subject very believably. We just hope we get to meet Sophie, the Realtor Duck's now smitten with.

Another solid NCIS installment all around. Some have commented that they aren't feeling this season, but it consistently delivers with its cases and characters virtually every week.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:

  • While we enjoy Tiva speculation as much as anyone, and are intrigued by Gibbs' relationship with Hart unfolding, it was nice to have a respite from each this week.
  • Mark Harmon always kills, but two scenes in particular caught our attention: Walking into the interrogation room in complete silence, and lying waiting for Ducky.
  • Here's hoping for more Mortimer cameos ...

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (26 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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Also telling someones Assistance dog, Hearing Dog or Guide Dog to be removed from somewhere is discrimination towards the person.

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I disagree with Dani Abby in NCIS is a experienced forensic scientist she would make sure evidence would not be contaminated As would any forensic scientists. If the forensic scientist was Deaf like me :) their Hearing Dog would be in the work place with them as it is the law and a Hearing Dog helps the Deaf person. The dog would be under the table or in a corner in his/her bed away from evidence. Im currently waiting to be matched with a hearing dog I do hope he/she will be like Mortimer

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I have absolutley had enough with couples, but the episode i think wasnt very good overall. Mcabby, tiva, and all the others should be kept with sexual tension no actuall relationships!

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what a frank, straightforward and honest review of not only this episode, but the entire season. I totally agree with everything you said, especially the less Tiva, less Hart, more everyone else!
Thanks for stating the obvious.

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While I enjoyed the Ducky story arc and the closure that it brought to his mother's passing, I had some serious problems with the writing in this episode. The private investigator who shot Mayne/Wells is only part of the reason he died. Tony ignores the doctor's order to stay away from Mayne/Wells because the man is in critical condition and could die from the overexcitment and stress of the interrogation, and Tony sneaks in and proceeds to send the victim into cardiac arrest with his badgering. That did quite a lot to finish the job Iger started, and I think far less of the writers and the character of Tony by the end of that scene. After the first wife's threats to sue the doctor if he let the other wife in, there's no way that Tony shouldn't be facing legal action from all directions after his contribution to the patient's death. Abby's puppy being allowed in the lab and autopsy raises potential for evidence contamination. I'm glad for the lack of Tiva and the showcasing of Ducky and Abby, but there were some serious problems in this episode.

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Loved this episode. Glad we finally had closure for Nina Foch (who is sadly missed). I loved the fact that Tony asked about Gibbs' gut; after all, that has been MIA for a while. A nice mix of the personal details and a decent case. This is what I watch NCIS for. Hope to see more like this.

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At the beginning I sort of uessed Ducky's mother died when everyone started bringing up what he was doing differently. I still want to know if Abby told Gibbs or if he found out himself about his mother. I think we will see Ducky's mystery woman by the end of this season though because he seemed serious about having a relationship with her last night.

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I totally agree with the above post! It was nice to see an episode without the usual ambiguous comments which usually sidetrack me and make me lose the plot. I not only followed the plot the whole way through - I was totally surprised who the bad guy was. Yay for No totally confusing Tiva pairing for once!

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Agreed, Katya. NCIS *used* to do subtle, but they lost it last season. Subtle episodes in S6 and S7 can be counted on one hand... but this was one of them. Lovely, lovely episode. In an earlier season, before NCIS lost its collective mind, this would have been an average ep, but these days, it stands out beautifully. And, glory be, they actually had a real case involving a Marine! And it was the central part of the episode! And he wasn't related to anyone at NCIS! No Tedious Tiva moments was icing on the cake. Tony was smart, McGee was geeky, Gibbs interacted with his team, Abby and Ducky were *there* and I was only mildly irritated with Ziva twice... she even managed to help solve the case and wasn't violent even once. That's a milestone in Ziva history. She still has no business being there, but at least she was useful without hospitalizing anyone this week.

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I thought this was an excellent example of NCIS being subtle - I'd disagree that the show is usually subtle - most weeks it hits us over the head with a sledgehammer but on this occasion it got it just right. This episode was one of the better ones this season. Still just standard fare if it had been in S 1 - S5 but in this season of overdone personal angst and boring Tiva scenes, it really shone for showing us how personal angst can be done WELL. And also, incidentally, how romances can work on this show. The deftly referred to Sophie was beautifully handled and there was no need for us to see it. It was so good to see Abby and Ducky having more to do - this show has been unbalanced since mid-season 6 when the sense of team and ensemble virtually disappeared. It was good to see it back here. Also good to see Tony and Ziva interacting with people other than each other and them ALL being competent agents. The scenes with Mortimer were adorable - I hope he returns! And the return of Abby having more to do just shows how much she's been missed of late. I hope, going forward, we see her interacting with more of the team and not just either Gibbs or Ducky. She hasn't had one scene alone with Tony all season and they had great chemistry. In fact, it was lovely to see the Tim/Tony, Tim/Ziva, Gibbs/Ducky and Ducky/Abby chemistry showcased in this episode - for a long time now all other chemistry between the characters has been sacrificed to make way for heavy handed and tedious "Tiva" scenes. I'm fast coming to the conclusion that the more they are showcased, the less chemistry Tony and Ziva prove to have and would rather watch almost any other "pairing" interact onscreen except them these days. And I speak as one who used to enjoy their interaction. This episode was a welcome respite from the rather awful, overblown Gibbs/Hart and Tony/Ziva we've had all season. It was the first episode since Flesh and Blood that actually made sense and was good watching. It even felt like an NCIS episode rather than the weird writing we've had since mid s6. We can only hope the trend continues.

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