NCIS Review: "Defiance"

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Following last week's introspective tribute to Kate, NCIS returned to its traditional roots last night with a high-profile, complex case that made up the entirety of the hour.

"Defiance" had the feel of a high-stakes episode from the get-go, with the opening sequence showing a suicide bombing in Belgravia from the perpetrators' perspective.

NCIS invented a fictitious nation in Belgravia, but featured a great Hillary Clinton doppelganger for the scene in which the U.S. Secretary of State signed a defense treaty.

The assassination attempt was not on faux Clinton, however. It was the Belgravian defense minister who was targeted, and whose daughter soon became NCIS' problem.

Defiance Pic

NCIS was being disrespected for reasons somewhat unknown, forced to guard the minister's daughter instead of investigating the death of the Marine killed by the suicide bombing.

This led to an interesting, unresolved subplot in which Gibbs and Vance butted heads. Every time Gibbs tried to get involved and assert himself in the broader case, Vance resisted.

Despite the Director's objections, Gibbs went rogue and pursued the Marine's death on top of protecting Adrianna, a 24-year-old student at the fictional John Hamilton University.

Vance has been even more guarded and protective of protocol since the bombing that almost took his own life, making the team's protection detail blunder an even bigger deal.

McGee, who Adrianna became smitten with (although her motives were far from clear at the end) and DiNozzo were straight up duped by the girl and Vance was beyond angry.

It was clever how she pulled the wool over both of them, but it seems like our agents are too smart for that. They're also human, of course, and this plot was an elaborate one.

In a political move, Adrianna staged her kidnapping to make her father back off the defense treaty signing. Her accomplices where her professor and boyfriend/study partner.

Things went awry when the latter got greedy and took matters into his own hands, killing the professor and holding her for ransom, which NCIS discovered in the nick of time.

Not a moment too soon for Adrianna, or Tim and Tony.

Scared of Needles

While the kidnapping plot took a complex, intriguing turn and made for a great case, what was even more interesting was how the agents' screw-up played out politically.

Gibbs had his guys' back even though they blew it. Vance was reluctant to give Jethro the same latitude. The closing scene indicated escalating tension between the two.

The animosity is building and you have to imagine this is part of a longer arc. It's just a question of when the tension boils to the surface, and the extent of the fallout.

For now, Tony and Tim's jobs are safe, despite the latter's offer to resign. Hopefully they learn from the experience, having narrowly escaped career disaster on this one.

This was a strong episode, although how many times is Tim going to be led astray? This guy gets his identity stolen like it's his job and can't meet a nice, genuine girl.

Actually, we know one who's available, in the forensics lab. But I don't think I'm alone in saying that whether it's Abby or someone else, he deserves a real relationship.

Speaking of Abbs, she was at her best last night, as was Ducky with his history lessons and Tony with his toilet sleuthing ... even if he helped create that mess to start.

Additional thoughts and observations from last night:

  • Ziva wondered aloud about how long the NCIS team will stick together, echoing the concerns of about 20 million fans. Looks like at least one more year.
  • Ziva opened up to Adrianna about her complicated relationship with her father, the second time in recent weeks she's done so. It's clearly on her mind.
  • Naturally, my wife already knew of Abby's solution for a phone submerged in water. She is not a forensic genius, just the mother of a one-year-old.
  • The fire hydrant collision was a classic "phoof" lead-up.
  • Gibbs naps in Ducky's lab? Somehow we can see it.
  • I'm scared of needles too, Tony. A little. It's okay.

What did you think of last night's NCIS? Discuss!


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (77 Votes)

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


I really liked this episode, and I think the tension between Vance and Gibbs will lead up to something bigger. Anyone notice that after hitting the hydrant that they only did a head shot of McGee? I think he's gotten far too thin, and showing a full body shot of him soaking wet would have emphasized how frighteningly skinny he's gotten. Sean Murray needs to put back on some weight!


Ugh. More Vance vs. Gibbs and Ziva's daddy issues. This was not their roots. Their roots are Gibbs, DiNozzo, Abby and Ducky and some quirky procedural crime solving.


Good episode. But poor Mcgee being lead on. I am worried about the conversation ziva and mcgee had. and McGee saying he would like his own team. If any of them leave the show it wont be the same or as good. The tension between gibbs and vance makes you he might break up the team.


I said last week that Vance is on the edge of a collapse and Gibbs is getting the brunt of his bad mood, however, Gibbs can take it. I saw more worry on Gibbs' part than anger or tension. The whole speculative conversation between Ziva and McGee sent shivers down my spine, there will be an end eventually and I hate the thought. There is no Abby/McGee future for those who think there might be. Abby has been very clear; she loves McGee but NOT THAT WAY, jeez just cause they had a short fling at the beginning is not a reason to continue to think they should be a couple. There is no TIVA either, they like to flirt, that's what they like. The bomber blowing himself up was shocking and the poor dead marine, full of fleshettes(spelling?) not shrapnel. The daughter was a pain and leading on McGee was not nice. LOL


To Harriet Miller, you said re: Vance "No one likes him & we love Gibbs." Please don't presume to speak for everyone. Many fans, including myself, like Vance. Gibbs needs reigning in once in awhile, and I think Vance does a pretty good job of it. He also has to worry about the political end of things - something that Gibbs sometimes doesn't consider nearly enough.
Overall, pretty decent ep. (And I think McGee looks great with the weight loss, don't think he looks sickly, we're just used to seeing more weight on his round face).


Who give a ratass about Mcgee weight get Ziva off the show you can tell by last night she doesn't care about the job anymore


I stopped watching this episode when I realized it was the beginning of a very unpleasant story arc-who needs to see another Gibbs/Vance confrontation? Love how Abby figures things out but how long is she going to wait on McGee to grow up? Can't believe the yo-yo season we are having-from the sublime episode of last week to the disappointing "Defiance". Hopefully next weeks episode is better then the preview-and can someone do an intervention with Sean Murray-he is way too thin!


Also think they need to lighten up Vance. Liked it better when he & Gibbs went back & forth but always made up in end. Now Vance always seems POd about something. Last night would have preferred to see Vance & Gibbs exchange those private little nods of understanding and acknowledgement of each other. Read somewhere back which suggested that Sean Murry had gone on a diet to loose some weight. Now it has gone too far. He really looks thin. Overall a good episode.

Harriet miller

Why is Mcgee so thin? Is he sick?? As far as Vance goes, I don't like him and I doubt many others do. We love Gibbs and the team. They break them up and we lose the great show that we have.


I'm in the minority, I guess. The only character I truly dislike is Tony. (He makes even Robert Wagner look bad, and Wagner is a favorite from my teens and earlier.) But there was a bit of dialogue last night about whether McGee would like his own team; he says he would. I think Ziva should be his partner. I could never give up Abby; as one of my old friends used to say, we should adopt her. Keep in mind that Gibbs would not be a good director, and no one knows that better than Gibbs.

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