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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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So my question is are the brother and sister apart of the Phtomon 8

Tiva

I liked the episode I felt bad for the little girls. I liked how Tony fear was kids Kay right hes real fear is dying alone. I glad she got home alive. felt bad for the marine that died. great episode looking forward for next week show with Tony's dad.

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annie921: I like what you had to say. Its nice to hear from someone who doesn't think every character on this show is a god or, as you aptly put it, a "superhero." I wrote a few weeks ago I would really like to see Gibbs and Co FAIL at something. In short, I would like to see these people portrayed as more "human." I know I'm going to get cyber-spanked for writing this, but I appreciated your input.

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I wasn't crazy about the episode, but I guess I liked the good old days of NCIS, when the stories and characters were more believable. Even though I liked the focus on marines, and generally liked the story. Two civilian state side agents would never be sent to a combat zone to retrieve a marine. Ziva grew up something like 2000 miles from Afghanistan - how is that her back yard? As one poster in another forum put it - they write Ziva as if she is Batman's utility belt - she pulls out whatever skill set is needed at that moment (and you always wondered how they could stuff so much miraculous stuff into one tiny belt). I don't want a cartoon caricature super heroine no matter how sexy she looks in her combat gear. I wish they would spread the skills around like in the good old days. It just blows the whole show's credibility. And as usual, Tony got to be the joke. Afraid of toddlers. Yes - I really miss the good old days of NCIS.

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Great episode start to finish

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This 2-part show was awesome, last week and last night. I am also a Marine mom, and an Army mom, and my son is going to Afghanistan next month. I love the respect that is shown to the military by the actors and writers. I'm glad we are learning more about Gibbs' past. He met Shannon before Matteson, but they were not married yet. I hope they show some of their early years. Sean does a good job of portraying his dad as a young man.

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I to have noticed a bit of change with Tim but it all goes back to the real actors troubles. He had a bit of alcohole abuse in the past and that is what caused him to be a bit chunky. For the past year or so he has been clean and has lost a lot weight.

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Josie...agreed. Gibbs does need a fling. I'm assuming that'll happen with Jamie Lee Curtis in the 2-parter in Feb?

Josie-leeds

AAgghh! Weds. morning quarterbacks....superb episode on all fronts: acting AND writing! I particularly enjoyed Ziva in warrior mode but I must agree with some other posters that McGee IS looking frail and his voice sounds stressed. Really wish SOMEONE would answer questions about him. Tony will always be a repressed adolescent-he IS afraid of growing up but I think he is even more afraid of becoming his father. Gibbs may love what he's doing but he DOES need a break, if only a flirtation with an interesting woman--that, so far, hasn't appeared.Writers are doing a better job this season.

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I always enjoy reading everyone's comments, although I have to admit that I wasn't as fond of this episode as others. I just have a lot of issues with Gary Glasburg's writing, and this ep was rather disjointed and the dialog often cliche, much like his other efforts. But rather than dwell on the negative, I will say that I enjoyed the B story with Tony very much. I know some Tony fans thought it made him look silly, but I think it was very DiNozzo, with the surface all funny , but a closer look always yields something deeper and speaks to Tony's many layers. And I agree with the review that Michael Weatherly brought his A game. I continue to enjoy watching this talented actor get better and better. Also like Ziva getting to be a ninja again, but with softer edges than the old Ziva. Her interaction with the children was great. And Mark Harmon was his usual wonderful self. Looking forward to the DiNozzo Sr. episode next week. I hope we get a bit of angst and some serious confrontation between Sr. and Tony.

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