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NCIS Review: Baltimore's Finest

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Last night on NCIS, the death of DiNozzo's ex-partner served a dual purpose, triggering both flashbacks to his old gig and a potential new lead in the P2P Killer case.

The flashbacks to "Baltimore" weren't exactly as real or gritty as The Wire, but did provide an effective contrast between NCIS and Tony's job in city homicide.

For the second time this season, we were presented with an "origin" episode focused on one of the core characters looking and acting around a decade younger.

Just as Rocky Carroll did in "Enemies Domestic," Michael Weatherly shined while Mark Harmon played the key supporting role in what became a terrific installment.

Old School Tony

The hair was a bit much, but Tony circa 2001-03 (he walked into HR at the end, but it's unclear how long before the NCIS pilot this supposedly took place) was a treat to watch.

Weatherly clearly had a field day as a younger version of his hot shot, wiseguy alter ego, dressing down in casual attire and dressing down Harmon for the first and only time.

We were also treated to a pair of entries from Gibbs' Rule Book (#5: You Don't Waste Good; #35: Always Watch the Watchers) and the first-ever DiNozzo Head Slap.

It was a great nod to the fans, but still relevant to the present.

This show does flashbacks right, because for all the moments that made us smile, the present and past were believably enmeshed thanks to Tony's ex-partner, Danny.

The plot was intriguing for both past Tony and present Tony, with Danny involved in a pair of mysteries, albeit deceased in 2011. So who killed him and why did it matter?

After Danny was killed, all signs pointed to the Port-to-Port Killer, but Ducky figured out that the real assailant was a copycat - and not the first copycat they brought in.

That twist was a bit hard to believe. A copycat killer who hadn't struck yet? In any case, it was a voicemail Danny left Tony before he died that eventually tipped him off.

Before Tony left the Baltimore P.D., he and Danny busted a money laundering ring - one Danny was in on. Tony let his partner off the hook, but someone else knew, too.

Flash forward to the present. After he realized the copycat killer had to have been someone in law enforcement, DiNozzo connected the dots and the perp became clear:

His ex-boss in Baltimore.

Episodes like this walk a fine line, but what could have been a head-slapping (and not in that affectionate Gibbs way) resolution was sold by the strong writing and acting.

Despite getting off on the wrong foot with Gibbs' Donnie Brasco-esque arrest, he impressed Tony from the start, and vice versa. Their relationship came full circle Tuesday.

Tony Meets Jethro

When Gibbs arrived at Danny's door with an armed Tony inside the second time, the parallels were obvious. Look closer. Don't let good get away. Take care of your own.

We've watched the dynamic between the two men form for many years, but it was great to see how it began, all tied into a compelling plot with a lot of fun moments.

Regarding the real P2P Killer, we're back at square one ... for the most part.

Abby and Ducky are certain that the only person who tipped NCIS off that they were chasing a copycat had to be the killer - who also had to have access to NCIS files.

The identity of the eyeball's owner is marked classified and still a mystery. Who do you think the team is chasing and who, if anyone, will be felled by the P2P next week?

A few random thoughts before turning this over to your comments ...

  • E.J. and her team are just gone for the week? Suspicious.
  • How long until the stapler resurfaces next time?
  • How much do you want to hug Abby?
  • WENDY?!

Discuss last night's episode of NCIS and share your predictions below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (121 Votes)

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

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i dont think ziva means to treat tony bad if anything she protects him remember the episode dead air when she jumped on him to shield him from the bomb i think she would risk her life for him anytime remember the email to ray in the begining of season 8 she wrote there are people i care about i think meaning tony so people dont be to hard on her.

Tiva

I disagree that Ziva treats Tony bad yeah she does but he treats McGee bad but if anyone else hurts Tony McGee or Ziva they are the frist ones to defend each other I know Ziva hurts Tony but she has respect for him and Ziva cares for Tony very much. EJ is annoying and she gets on my nerves and Gibbs doesn't trust her for a reason. As for Tony and Ziva getting together I don't want it to happen YET I will like for the series final witch hope its NOT anytime SOON. I respect all your guys opinion even know I disagree with some of you.

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I've never wanted any romantic relationship between Ziva and Tony. On the other hand, I've always easily accepted that they are partners in "brother Marine" or "band of brothers" or "we few" kind of way. I'm sure there are exceptions, but my impression has been that Ziva, the muscle, does what Tony, the senior field agent, tells her to do when they're in it because she trusts him and if she comes into the room with weapons out and tells him to take the person they're guarding into the bathroom, he does, because he trusts her. That doesn't mean she doesn't put him down (especially since he's usually the comic relief and everyday is get Tony day) -- but McGee will argue with the senior field agent at some very wrong times (and yet go over and fix his TV or antenna or DVR or whatever ... and even accompany him to the desert when Tony goes to rescue Ziva ... more like a friend than a combat partner). And to me a lot of the rest is Tony being Tony and Ziva being Ziva.

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@Kendra Jackson Thank you I though I was the only one here who saw how bad she treated Tony Ever since we first saw her she made Tony look bad

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Not that I'm particularly keen on the idea of *any* romances on the show, but E.J. is a far far far better partner - romantic or otherwise - for Tony than Ziva ever could be. E.J. doesn't put down Tony on a regular basis. She hasn't physically assaulted him or accused him of murder. She actually seems to like him as a person. Ziva on the other hand frequently seems to treat Tony like something she's scraped off her shoe. Just this season we've heard her practically gush over McGee's and Gibbs's competence as agents when asked by an outsider, but when asked about Tony, she's barely able to say that he's 'competent'. While it's unfortunate that TPTB seem keen to keep Ziva on the scene, I only hope that they have the good sense to keep E.J. around as well.

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To you Allie...ignore this last comment by "you know who" who is off subject again and bashing again because it will only make you annoyed. No sense trying to ask your question of him for the 4TH TIME !! He only knows to ask and say one thing I think.

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You all Hate EJ but she has made Tony a better agent Ziva Still put him down by calling him a Horrible agent and a fool just like she did in season 3 So how can Ziva be better for him if all she does is bring him down

Tiva

exactly right the murders happened when EJ came in the pitcher and her dumb *** sends info out that should be keep secret until they caught the killer. and the murders just flower her sounds very fishy to me.

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I would much rather have M.Alison Hart. In fact, I'd rather have Jeanne Benoit...oh wait, no I would not ! Don't you find it interesting Tiva that they have never shown us any "intimate" scenes or any "kissing" scenes with Tony/ej? I think the writers and producers know she is not well liked and it would not go over very well and they left those on the cutting room floor. Yippee!! I agree with you too she is totally gone by finale. But - the thought of her will still be there for me until Tony gets back in the groove. Also, don't you find it funny that McGee said that she issued a bulletin to Law Enforcement about the P2P killer stuff ? Seems odd to me - they never did that before on this big of a case - and actually, by her doing that Danny got killed by cop who got the notice... Sooooo, she is really responsible for his death. Had Tony had his phone with him - ummmm - I'm just sayin' ??? I think her little blunders are starting to show - with more mistakes to come before this murderous season finale. I just hope Ziva and McSmarty Pants are the ones to point this out to know-it-all agent who is not half as smart as she thinks she is - and I hope that Tony remembers who his family is and who he can trust...just like Ziva had to do when Gibbs left her in Tel Aviv. My only regret is I am going to be very sad that Mike Franks is going down 'cause me and Gibbs, we really liked Mike. Hey, and lets not forget Ziva still has to deal with CIRay before the season finale too. Ahhh so much angst!!!

Tiva

editor all I think it is is to throw all the fans off. like when MW said Tony had a ring and everyone thought it was EJ and it wasn't her. but I Tony will be done with EJ at the end season. and hopefully are team will stay put as they are. and Tony and Gibbs relationship can go back to normal. And I hope EJ goes far far away I can't stand her shes worst then Alison Hart from last season.