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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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I love ncis ziva, sassy , toney who hasn't been around one like him love him Gibbs reminds me of my dad,if he told you he would do something it was done. without Gibbs there would be no show, i never miss it even reruns hope it is around for a long time and last weeks show was great.

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I assumed EJ was dead as they moved Cade's body I just thought they moved hers too and she hasn't been found yet. I did have a laugh when Gibbs went through Mike Frank's measly box of files, (and lo and behold the exact file on that obscure secret 8 man team was there, with pictures - who needs Abby and McGee when you have old file boxes)I thought that we might well see Gibbs refer to that box as if it were a never ending file cabinet in the future. It was a good episode for tying up last season and presenting a new foe for this season's long-term arc. I thought the "team" moments were great enough to offset the focus on Tony and the non-Kate shrink. Loved it when Gibbs said "wetting down means she pays" and she did not hesitate to say let's go somewhere fun. The new SECNAV is pugnacious and has no idea how stubborn Gibbs can be, fireworks are ahead, I'm sure. I just hope SECNAV doesn't overtake Vance's moments, I like Vance. Good episode and very very very happy the new season is finally here, it was a long summer of repeats.

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Doctor Cranston is HOT!

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@Mel.pretty much in concurrence with all you said. I needn't add to it.:-)

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While I agree the story was rather convoluted at times, and some of the plot points hard to explain/understand, I'm surpried at all the negativity you guys have. I agree that the "team" is one of the strong points of this show, but this was only one ep, there are 23 left in the season, and I'm sure we'll see a lot more of team-Gibbs. Personally, I thought the Tony amnesia storyline was great, and completely believable. Whether it was from a concussion or simply traumatic amnesia, it was played with such exquisite expertise by Michael Weatherly, that I was sucked in right from the opening moments. Surprised none of you even mentioned the acting, as Weatherly and Harmon hit this out of the park. And although some of the plot points have left me with questions(why make up the Cade/mole story instead of just having Stratton find Cade/EJ and get the chip;and why did Stratton leave Tony alive and possibly let EJ go, after luring them to the alley to kill?),I still enjoyed the ep, and loved the dark, twisty, non-linear narrative. I also thought the chemistry betwen Tony and Rachel and Gibbs and Rachel was great. Although the Tony/Gibbs interaction was my fav to watch. I loved the Tony/Ziva moments, and how the team supported Tony even behind the scenes. This is the team I love and have missed. And Eric, Ziva said that Tony and "Ray" were cut from the same quilt, not Gibbs. And really, ew, Tony is nothing like the slick, smarmy Ray! Anyway, not a perfect ep, but still loved it and give it a "B" overall, and an A+ for Michael and Mark's acting.

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loved it all. anything this cast creates...is super..keep it up..keep it comin'...and never mind the negative stuff...there's always that somewhere or other.. HANG IN THERE...I'M HANGIN ON..UNTIL THE NEXT WK'S VIEWING..THANKS FOR KEEPING ME COMPANY EVERY TUES.NITE.. ANNIE FROM FLA ~~

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See these is what happens when you let one character(Ziva) be the focus of the show for 4 years anything new people bitch and cry about

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really cant belive how anyone didnt like this episode apart from to much doctor cranston it was one of the best