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NCIS Round Table: "Nature of the Beast"

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Last week's NCIS season premiere evoked strong reactions, positive and negative.

Our official review of "Nature of the Beast" broke down the ninth season opener in great detail. Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Matt Richenthal and Eric Hochberger have gathered for a Round Table discussion.

Join the chat below, as we break down various aspects of the episode...

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What was your general take on the season premiere?

Steve: As I said in my review, I thought the episode overall was very well done. Certain aspects I would have changed, and the way in which it was told was unusual, but as a means of continuing last season's arc, it succeeded.

Matt: Not my favorite, but still solid. Despite a couple of points I wasn't crazy about, and which I'll elaborate on in a minute, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eric: Not great, not terrible. The mystery unraveled in intriguing fashion and certainly left us hanging a bit. The flashbacks went on a bit too long and I would have probably preferred to see more of the team and less of a focus on the guest stars, but this wrapped up the E.J. story in a sense, so that should change in the coming weeks.

NCIS Round Table Logo

What was your favorite scene from the episode?

Steve: The closing montage with Gibbs putting a face to the (fake) name of Agent Stratton and realizing what he's up against with the Phantom Eight. How many times have we seen Gibbs say it all by saying nothing at all? That was a compelling, eerie visual, and left me excited for the case to resurface.

Matt: The subtle Tony-Ziva flirting. I'm not even a big "Tiva" supporter necessarily but that scene was pure gold, and a welcome respite from the dark tone of the episode overall.

Eric: A tie between DiNozzo still cracking jokes and dropping movie lines while recovering from a concussion, and Ziva saying he and Ray (not Gibbs, as I initially said) are cut from the same quilt. So wrong, yet so right.

Was the plot too complex or not complex enough?

Steve: I always expect NCIS to raise more questions than it answers, especially early on, and I'm actually impressed at how many layers of this mission have been tied together. I had some issues with the storytelling and some of the characters, but if anything, I'd say the complexity of the plot was one of the episode's strengths.

Matt: It's not that it was too complex, but rather that it lacked for the team component that really makes the show pop. Portions of the episode were strong, but others felt just a bit amiss for that reason.

Eric: A little of both, but still a very good episode of NCIS overall and certainly one I would watch again. People who reacted negatively might want to wait to judge this story arc/season as a whole.

Hardest to believe: Tony's amnesia, E.J.'s escape, or that both of them, plus Cade, were played by the same guy?

Steve: Tony's amnesia. It's not that I don't believe something like short term memory loss could happen in the aftermath of trauma, but I didn't quite buy the way the details of his mission were eventually recounted (even though both actors were terrific) in pieces to Dr. Cranston. It just felt a little gimmicky to me.

Matt: All three of them being lured to the same place via text. They didn't text, or better yet, call each other and figure this out? I'd expect more from hard core, eternally suspicious federal agents.

Eric: E.J.'s escape, just because I can't believe they're bringing her back again. Enough already!

How much do you miss Mike Franks?

Steve: More than words can say. Watching Gibbs reminisce about him was bittersweet.

Matt: Greatly, although at least he went out in style.

Eric: So much that I'm actually hoping he appears as a vision again!

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

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How much do We Miss Mike ?? LOTS , & LOTS I CRYED SO MUCH THAT NIGHT I ALMOST QUITE THE SHOW , BUT ALL IN ALL IT IS A 5 STAR RATEN FOR US , WE LOVE THE TEAM , NOT THE HEAD BOSS , I CRYED WHEN SHE DIED AS WELL & MY HUSBAND SAID WELL WE'LL SEE , THE HIGH BOSS , HE IS A MISTORY , A BAD ONE , TIME WILL TELL .

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I thought MW was really terrific in this episode. MH and DM (although his scene was small) as well. I can't believe these reviewers mention Ziva's moments and all but one, pretty much ignore the lovely, subtle work done by MW. I swear all some people see when they look at NCIS is the possibility of Tiva. How sad. They're are missing the real depth of the show.

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Watched opening episode is season 9. Loved it. It's good to see another side of Tony for a change. Don't like the new satnav guy, he's such a self centered opinionated asshole.

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oh I really like this "round table" review...hope that continues for each episode...nothing better than point of views from people who really watch and enjoy NCIS...GREAT !!!!!

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OB RN - Your comment did make me laugh. I can't help but go back to a commentary that Michael Weatherly did for "Bounce". He said he didn't really understand the story, and he was mainly in that one, and he says they DID explained it to him. Finally, the writers said to him "Don't look too closely" So, I assume some things always remain a mystery and are never explained. It is best to just - don't look too closely. You sometimes need that "suspension of disbelief" I guess. But, I totally agree with you - it didn't add up - but now that Jenny and her dad are gone...doesn't make much difference. There are so many things that didn't add up in the Season Finale that they will never explain to my satisfaction either. I guess, it's just "The Nature of the Beast".........

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Jeannine - totally agreee with your post. You are not alone with your dislike for ej, but no worries, I believe she has died. No one looks forward to seeing her on screen again - well, perhaps a small percentage who don't want Tony and Ziva interacting, but as for Tony and ej, they will never be together again I am sure.
I love the whole Team dynamic and I know they will be going back to that in Season 9 because that is what has made this show so great !

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I love NCIS; I never miss an episode even when I was in the hospital! The writers are terrific; the dialog terrific; the Gibbs team terrific. BUT I do not like EJ; please get rid of her. AND I miss Franks; why did he have to go? He added a little zest to the mix.

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Never did figure out the reason on how the scotch bottle had Jennys dads fingerprints on it or how it all fit in with "the frog"? She went to see old man in hospital gen so& so
And he said her father stood where she stood 3 weeks earlier an she said her father died 12 years before. Then she gets back to states and finds the glass and bottle in her study so who put that there an why an to prove what an did her dad really commit suicide 12yrs before?

Tiva

I liked episode am looking forward this season

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I liked the episode. The new mission looks like it could be a big one! I also missed seeing more of the team though in this episode, but was glad they wrapped up the EJ team thing. I especially liked at the end when they were talking about Mike Franks - I couldn't believe they killed him off last season - he was such a fun character and brought a different dynamic to the show. I heard Gibbs say that Mike's family was now near him - so will they begin to write them into the story lines (what ever happened to the old woman)?? Hmmmm . . . . and Mark Harmon can be so expressive in his looks . . . at the end when he's reading the file and realizes what they have ahead of them. You could see his excitement, his fear, his disappointment, all of it in his eyes. I never miss an episode. Everyone knows that on Tuesday night you don't talk to me!