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NCIS Review: Can Diane Be All Bad?

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"We pronounce it Gibbs." - Tony

After a number of installments centered around the NCIS team members, last night we were treated to an episode based entirely around the man himself, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Or Leroy, as some might call him.

Maybe that's just what the show needed, a Gibbs episode to right the ship. I've enjoyed this season for the most part, but Mark Harmon truly anchored this week, reminding us why he's TV's #1 leading man.

Watching him navigate the dysfunctional family reunion of sorts that the case - with FBI Agent Fornell (Joe Spano) and their mutual ex Diane (Melinda McGraw) along for the ride - was funny, tense and real.

Gibbs' Ex-Wife Diane

It was excellent from beginning to end, but the most moving, unexpected and emotionally loaded scene in "Devil's Triangle" was its very last. Gibbs was Diane's "Shannon," the one love she'll never replace.

He only "liked" her a lot, much like she really liked Tobias and Victor?

Of course no one could ever live up to Shannon in Leroy's mind, but hearing it in such terms - Diane saying she still loves him, even after he made her a human anti-depressant - left you taken aback.

We were predisposed not to like Diane from the way the fiery redhead was introduced, and a lot of people still probably won't welcome her back after all this, but we all have flaws and make mistakes.

It turns out that Gibbs' are the same as Diane's, searching for someone to fill an emotional void and leaving other people crushed in the process. It's never intentional, and a lot of us have been there.

Whether he was quipping that his ex's arrival was "worse" than a dead Marine, needling Fornell, giving Abby a "do-over" or finally opening up to Diane at the end, Harmon was at his best last night.

Fornell's relationship with Gibbs was brilliant as ever, proving once again that he's near-perfect character to recur periodically and mix it up with the team, very much like Diane Neal's Abigal Borin.

Diane has always bonded the two, if you can call it that, and while this week's circumstances didn't allow for quite the same rapport (see classic scene from last fall below), they're still a treat to watch.

One of the funniest scenes last night involved the two ex-husbands trying to get out of questioning Diane ... and sending Tony instead. Michael Weatherly was in the zone as Gibbs' hilarious sidekick.

DiNozzo's curiosity was to be expected, but the look on his face was often that of pure giddiness, like he had more questions and material for wise cracks than his adolescent brain could even process.

In a sense, he added a comedic wrinkle to the mix that Gibbs and Fornell could not, since they were involved in a serious case involving the kidnapping of Diane’s current husband Victor (Tom Gallop).

It was hard to see how Diane would marry this career bureaucrat after our hero and his FBI buddy cop (I loved that they even jokingly referred to themselves as such), but perhaps that was the point.

Clearly, her first two marriages didn't end well ... and now Victor gets abducted at the drive-thru by a faux employee with a tranquilizer. Late night sales at Beltway Burger will plummet if this gets out.

If there was any weak point in the episode, I'd say it was that Victor seemed almost nonchalant about a massive terror plot, and his hiding of the offshore accounts felt like it needed more exploration.

First off, two million isn't that much for a 50-ish married couple. Did he really think that would change Diane's opinion of him? Isn't hiding it all offshore as opposed to a local bank shady in general?

Maybe Gibbs and Fornell just wanted Diane gone so badly that they figured they'd let Homeland Security handle that. Hard to blame them in a sense ... for men of few words, they did a lot of talking.

Gibbs, DiNozzo, David

The investigation eventually uncovered a lethal, man-made virus that our killers planned to release at an Armed Forces football game - but not over the entire stadium. Their target was the top military brass.

Ziva was totally bad ass in taking down one of the perpetrators, while the other turned out to be Victor's supervisor, who in hindsight was a little too helpful and calm when his subordinate vanished earlier.

It all ended well for the team and Diane's husband(s), fortunately. Hopefully she and Victor will return to a relatively happy life, and maybe even stop by NCIS again ... just don't expect a hug from Leroy, Vic.

Overall, I really enjoyed this installment, which featured some solid guest appearances and peeled back a new layer of our team leader, portrayed by the always-terrific star of a perennially underrated cast.

A few thoughts and observations before turning it over to you ...

  • How old do we think Tobias' daughter is? Has that been stated clearly?
  • Poor Ducky is clearly still reeling from last week ... as you'd expect.
  • How funny, creepy and weird was the data storage manager guy?
  • Gibbs got Diane a waffle iron from her wedding registry? LOL.
  • Abby enlisted someone else's help pinpointing the virus?
  • Timothy McGee = Macaulay Culkin? Enough said.
  • Check out next week's NCIS promo.

What did you think of last night's NCIS? Comment below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (185 Votes)

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

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Like everyone has already said, great episode. The writing has been exceptional this season - the references, the way they keep bringing the past into the present, - really good stuff. Wish they had put a football into Gibbs' hand too. Really hard for a show to top itself, but his one does every week. Loved the, "You're my Shannon." line but the best was, "We pronounce it, Gibbs." was the line of the week. Don't know if you read these things, but keep it up!

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Such a good episode. I agree that this cast is so underated. They are a team and I wouldn't want to see any of them leave.
Loved the interaction of Diane and Fornell and hope to see them again in a future episode.
NCIS it TOPS in my book.

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This was a great episode. Seeing Gibbs and Fornell trying to pass the buck to each other was fun. Then Tony using his standing in for them to ask personal questions was classic DiNozzo. A fun episode all around. And Fornell hiding in the shadows of Gibbs' basement. The fact that Gibbs' team couldn't be businesslike and casual about the two exes situation made it more real. Just like real life. Gibbs has now made his peace with two exes. Is there another reunion on the horizon. I hope so. I also want to see Ralph Waite back again.
And Robert Wagner.

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2lolo: I agree. Do not mix NCIS and NCIS LA together--bad mistake. The two shows are very different and I don't think it will push up the ratings that much. I like NCIS exactly because it is different and funny with the cast of characters it has. You're on a role, don't ruin it...

Blu

The entire episode was amazing from beginning to end.
I loved the addition of Diane and I didn't see her as a troubled villianous type of woman. She's an ex wife and most of the interactions were great comedic relief. Her final scenes with Gibbs left me breathless when she admitted that he was her Shannon. Powerful poignant moment. Watching her engage with Gibbs and Fornell not to mention watching Fornell and Gibbs engage with one another was great. Watching the nosy kids especialy the ultimate scenestealer Michael Weatherly show pure glee in trying to learn more about the boss was hilarious! I also loved that they brought back the lab tech friend of Abby's. She was a lovely character before and so was her husband, may he rest in peace. He was the little person that dated Abby a couple of seasons back, and tragically the actor died, but it was lovely seeing his real life wife, the lab tech who was also on NCIS before back. Her hitting on Fornell was a riot. There is virtually nothing bad or negative to say about this episode. It was truly a fun episode to watch and so much better than last weeks.

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@Johnny she called Gibbs her Shannon

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What did Diane say to Gibbs when she handed him the pocket watch?

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Best episode of the season. Joe Spano stole the show as Tobias.It looks like they filmed the stadium scenes at the LA Coliseum where Mark Harmon starred for UCLA in the early 70's. It must have brought back some memories for him. Too bad they couldn't had a scene where Gibbs ends with a football in his hands as a little inside reference.

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I love NCIS. Everything about it, the actors, the story lines etc. I watch all the reruns on USA every night. They have like a marathon almost every night. Abby is fantastic and Gibbs is very handsome and plays the role fantastic. Last night's show was funny and also emotional at the same time. I would love to see more shows like that. It is a shame that we cannot see new shows every week all year long!!!.

Sue ann

In the (2006) season 4, episode 2 (Escaped), Hal Holbrook played the villain. In that episode, the daughter of Fornell and Diane was at a birthday party, and the "escapee" character came over and talked to her, scaring the bejeebers out of Fornell. The daughter appeared to be about five at that time. So that should make her just at the point of pre-teen now. Michael Gilden portrayed the little person in whom Abby was interested. He died in real life, but not on the show. On the show, his character broke up with her, telling her that she "was too much woman" for him. (They had to resolve it like that because he died.) I really liked that actor -- he played a leprechaun on Charmed, and he was a charmer himself. It is a shame. Meredith Eaton-Gilden, his widow, first appeared in the season 7, episode 10 (Faith) where McGee managed to get an M-TACH call through to a ship at sea so that a little boy could talk to his mother on Christmas. Seeing her just show up with no foofarah in this episode last night is one of the greatest things about NCIS -- they portray a "real" world, where peripheral characters return, just the way that casual acquaintances recur in our own lives. When I was working, I had a list of "go-to" people for various kinds of problems. Abby does, too. That is real. I had always been bothered that Diane had been vicious enough to keep Gibbs's grandfather's watch (that was mentioned in a previous episode, too). It was nice to see her give it back to him. Her character started out playing the same kind of termagant that his other ex-wife Stephanie portrayed when she appeared, but Stephanie also mellowed out at the very end of her episode. That makes it a little more reasonable that Gibbs would see enough in these women beyond the red hair to actually marry them. I look forward to eventually seeing his third ex-wife appear. The way the show is going, they probably have at least several more years to create her.