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NCIS Review: Always Faithful

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For a show so procedural in nature, NCIS is rarely about the investigation itself, instead drawing strength from the team members, their interactions and their lives. Once in awhile, though, there's a case so powerful that it leaves a lasting impression on viewers and the special agents alike.

Needless to say, the disappearance of Marine Lt. Gabriela Flores was one such case.

Leave no man or woman behind.

Marines uphold this code at any cost, and from the moment Gibbs and Ziva arrived in Afghanistan, the question wasn't whether Flores would be returned to her father, but whether she would be brought back in a casket or alive.

Gibbs in Afghanistan

The action-packed Part II of "Engaged" was every bit as outstanding as the first, a wonderful tribute to the men and women (particularly the latter) of the U.S. Marine Corps - strong, equal, able and loyal.

Picking up 48 hours from when we left off last week, we began with a bit of misdirection in Gibbs aboard the military plane with a lone casket. It was easy to assume the worst for Flores. Not the case.

In a dramatic mission, she was found captive and alive, reunited with her loving father after an unspeakable ordeal. But not before her commanding officer tragically fell in his attempt to rescue her.

I know it's only a TV show, which can't possibly do justice to the sights and sounds of war (although the firefight Gibbs and Ziva were caught in came pretty close). Still, the episode was vivid and real.

NCIS displays a sense of compassionate adoration for those who serve and protect this country, and who pay the ultimate price for things we take for granted, such as being educated without fear.

Should they be glorified? No. Are they perfect? No. But they are still heroes.

Seeing the captain's body carried off the plane at Dover AFB was a moving sight. Not one we'd ever want to see, but a tragically familiar one in this day and age, and an honorable one by any measure.

There's also no such thing as an ex-Marine, which is why Gibbs connected almost as much to Gabriela Flores in 2011 as he did to Joan Matteson, a female counterpart during his own service, in 1977.

The Marines share a familial bond that civilians rarely experience. Sean Harmon conveyed this nicely, even in few words, in his flashback scenes, as did his father Mark did through most of the episode.

Gibbs' visit to Arlington Cemetery closed the night on a poignant note, and his treatment of Flores and the girls she saved showed him at his best. Still, you wonder if Jethro is headed for a breakdown.

Gibbs and Ziva in Afghanistan

His behavior during the second half of the episode - I did not expect a separate, but related domestic terrorist plot to be woven into this story - concerned Vance, and probably more than a few viewers.

His cleverly deceptive "enhanced interrogation" of the suspect with the director saved lives, whether you agree with it or not. This is what Gibbs does, he's the best at it and he loves it like nothing else.

That's why he scoffs at the idea of a vacation, and why Vance is probably kidding himself. An extra few hours in the basement over the weekend wouldn't hurt, though. He does look pretty worn down.

Also looking worse for the wear tonight was DiNozzo, who spent a lot of time pondering his life, even his place in the universe. It seemed silly at times, in typical Tony fashion, but he was quite serious.

With the help of Chaplain Burke, he reflected on the state of existence and even faced his greatest fears. The kids made for a funny twist, but isn't Tony more afraid of dying? Alone, more specifically?

In any case, Michael Weatherly brought his A-game, particularly in the chapel when he walked in, looked around and bared his soul in a way that was both profoundly human and hilariously awkward.

Pretty good acting considering he was talking to no one. No one human, anyway ...

A few closing thoughts and observations before turning it over to you:

  • I knew McGee had some technical wizardry up his sleeve at the end. Had he not, given Gibbs' frame of mind, the guy would have been dead, rather than being treated for a broken nose.
  • Abby's right. We all do complain about pretty mundane things.
  • Gibbs zinged SecNav Jarvis pretty good, didn't he?
  • Two words for Ziva: Bad. Ass. And multilingual!
  • "Therein lies the scratch." Awesome.

What did you think of tonight's NCIS? Comment on it below!

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (199 Votes)

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

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we get it. you love tony to death. but its not ziva's fault. its the writers'. so leave the girl alone. she's perfect (yes i love her to death too and i'm a guy and i want to marry her). but it doesnt mean i have to discredit or hate tony. i like tony, everything about him is just the right balance with the team. sure he can be a jerk sometimes, they all have one time or another. and sure he doesn't have the best fighting skills but he gets to shine once in a while, save his teammates once in while, like the rest of the team. so stop hatin' and just enjoy the show like the rest of us. please? :)

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Well Zia, of course we understand that liberties are taken because this is entertainment. FIne. I guess the thing that irritates me about Ziva's unbelievably amazing list of skills, is that first - at least under SB's leadership, they took away many flattering attributes, formerly possessed by Tony, and enhanced them in Ziva. Suddenly Tony couldn't fight, think, or win one itty bitty bullpen argument. The other thing is that having such a Mary Sue character really changed the humor and tone of the show. It went from subtly funny, driven by quirky but pretty believable characters, to mean spirited, predictable, middle school humor, and plopped an overly tragic/perfect/wonder/righteous, character into every story. This created more of a soap opera. In response to the Mary Sue character, all other characters had to change too, and suddenly the show lost some of its clever edge in lieu of accommodating a caricature of near perfection. JMO

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People, really, this is entertainment. It's Hollywoods take on real life.
They try to be as factual as possible, but its hard to tell a story in 60 minutes. This is an escape from our own day, but ITS NOT REAL. Just enjoy the great stories and wonderful acting.

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Still backing annie921 here: Ziva's multiple "talents" are a little over-the-top at times. Five years ago, she spoke five languages; now she speaks a dozen or so? And, yeah, a search such as the one Gibbs and she engaged in would probably be done by military authority already stationed there: they know the people, the terrain, etc. I really did not see how the two of them being physically present in Afghanistan resulted in Flores being found. For a show that ordinarily portrays the military in a positive light, this particular episode almost managed to do the opposite. I like the show and I like Ziva and everyone else, but the dramatic tension is kind of lost if you know from the outset that there will be a happy ending at the episode's conclusion. Like I stated previously, I would really like to see them fail once is a while, just to keep them human. And I'm sorry; I'm really sick to death of Gibbs' unhealthy obsession with his dead wife. I understand life-long grief over the loss of a child, but not a spouse. His "pain," such as it is, would be better understood if it were grounded in "guilt," not "loss." This whole idea about a (long) dead wife and child came at us out of nowhere in the third or fourth season, probably a result of Bellasario wanting to make Gibbs' look less like an SOB, but it's time to put that particular story line to rest (in peace). Okay, ladies: let me have it.

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I never stated that there are not active military personnel in CID or NCIS. What I said was that it is highly implausible that they would send two state side civilian agents (Gibbs is retired Gunnery Sargent and ZIva never served in the US military, and they both reside in the US). I still contend that once it was discovered that Flores remains were missing and therefore her death, not a certainty, it is far more likely for actively serving marines in the area, along with their translators who would be familiar with the area, current combat protocal, and local dialects, to be assigned the task of re-investigating her disappearance. Just seems logical. That said, I realize that in TV shows, details such as these are often over looked because of course, they want the stars to handle the action. I stand by my assertion that Ziva has way too many skills to be believable as well. 10 - 12 languages, bomb expert, martial arts master, lock picking expertise, combat expertise, sharp shooting assassin, weapons expert, prior undercover ops in the Middle East and Europe, lounge singer, and college degree, all achieved before she came to work at NCIS at the age of 22. Just sayin'

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Annie921, you are incorrect to assume that NCIS is full of state-side civilians. Most agents have military backgrounds, like Gibbs, Ziva (manatory in Israel), Sam is a seal and Macy was a Marine officer. There are also active duty marines and sailors who go though an extensive selection process to become active duty military agents. So yes, an op like that is very possible. And being assigned to an office in the states doesn't make them state side, its their assignment. EJ worked the Spain office, Paula worked the GTMO office, Dunham bounced around Iraq. NCIS has offices where there are Navy and Marine bases all over the world. Ziva saying that she grew up in the region wasn't that far off. The middle east has been marred in war for decades, just because there are miles in the middle doesn't discount that Ziva grew up in a war torn region, one where her sister got caught in the crossfire. Kate is dead, she's not coming back, don't discount an amazing episode because you want it to go back to the beginning, NCIS is more realistic now then it was back then.

Jtbwriter

I'm afraid Annie921 is wrong-NCIS agents are by and large NOT civilians. SO Gibbs and Ziva would be allowed to do a special mission such as "Engaged" featured. As for Ziva-I'm sorry you don't get her, she was trained to have more abilities then most agents, Mosaud or NCIS. So of course compared to others she's more valuable in situations like this one. If you only want the "good old days", why don't you just stick with the reruns on USA? I miss Kate too, but she's gone-get used to real characters that change and grow.

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This is a great episode, as always, but I really think they dropped the ball with the rescue Flores part. Her rescue was easily the most anticlimatic thing to ever happen on NCIS. The tension of the first part just wasn't there, it felt more like they originally intended for it to be a single episode, but for whatever reason it ran long so they turned it into a two parter but they couldn't come up with a satisfying and tension filled way to rescue Flores that would last a whole episode so they just when with the standard talk down the hostage taker scene. Surprisingly though, the stuff around the rescue was easily much better than the rescue itself, the interrogation scenes, the stop the insane bomber from killing a bunch of kids for no reason, Tony's greatest fear being kids, etc. If it weren't for those scenes I would have written this episode off as the first mediocre NCIS episode, but thankfully they did.

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I really enjoyed both parts 1 and II of Engaged. It was a very well written and as usual very well played by the regular members of the show, and all the quest stars as well. I am so looking forward to watching the 200th episode when it airs early next year.

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I very much liked this episode. Let us remember its a TV show, and is here to entertain us. Don't expect everything to be factual. The acting is exceptional in this series. I hope they have Gibbs find someone, even though his first wife is the only one he will truly love. This show, had shown that he had feelings for a female marine, before he actually married Shannon. Maybe there is hope for him. Ziva was her usual self. I was getting worried about the Tony character, they showed him becoming more mature in previous episodes and then the last year and a half, he regressed to the first few seasons. This episode revealed some of his fears, and hopefully with the next episode more will be revealed, and Tony will become more mature, although I do like his joking nature. I love this show.

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