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NCIS Round Table: "The Good Son"

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Our NCIS review broke down the latest installment of television's #1 show in great detail.

Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Matt Richenthal and Eric Hochberger have assembled for their weekly Round Table Q&A discussion of events from last week's episode, "The Good Son."

Join in below, as we analyze Gibbs, Vance, and much more ...

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Describe this episode in one word (or two, or three).

Steve: Enlightening and surprising.

Matt: Very nicely done.

Eric: Complexly crafted.

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What was your favorite quote or one-liner from the episode?

Steve: Tony, while trying to stifle his wisecracking in the wake of Gibbs' performance review comment, letting the crabs joke slip out and regretting it two nanoseconds later.

Matt: "It's not your fault." - Gibbs

Eric: I think I'm going to starting substituting "yabba" for "talking" in everyday speech.

Best scene?

Steve: Vance fighting back the tears as Michael was escorted out, followed by the closing scene with Vance and his son playing video games. Rocky Carroll really nailed it this week. I wouldn't say this episode changed my opinion of Vance, since I'm more of a Vance apologist than many to begin with, but I definitely like him more now.

Matt: Anything with Gibbs and Vance together. Those two bring elements of distrust and tension to every scene, yet also share a degree of mutual respect, begrudgingly or not. Conveying those kind of nuances isn't a small feat in a serialized drama and I think the writers (and of course the actors) should be commended for it.

Eric: Abby waking up on the floor and being mesmerized by the shadows, then becoming alarmed at the realization that Gibbs hadn't had coffee yet. So funny.

Is Tony's character being marginalized for the sake of cheap humor?

Steve: Tony is hilarious. His humor can be genuinely witty, self-deprecating or funny in a slapstick sense. Sometimes all of the above. I wouldn't say that's ever changed. As I said in my review, however, there does seem to be a pattern of him trying to find himself and tamp down his class clown side ... which in turn leads to comedic moments all their own, but it's not quite the same. Sometimes he's used as more of a plot device than a character that way, but I wouldn't say he's marginalized overall.

Matt: Good question, and one readers have talked about a lot, I've noticed. He's always going to be the resident comic relief, but that comedy doesn't have to revolve around his own humiliation quite as much as it has. DiNozzo's such a good agent that making him the weak link for the sake of jokes becomes predictable and far-fetched (to be at least) unless it's done sparingly.

Eric: DiNozzo's swagger does seem to be off a bit, but he's been going through a lot and most of it's fairly believable. He still shows flashes of his old self and I've enjoyed the character evolution more or less. I don't mind when Tony is the butt of the jokes, as he deserves it much of the time, and let's face it, I laugh.

The NCIS Team

Did you guess that Michael was guilty?

Steve: I guess we should have, in hindsight, given just how invested Vance was in the guy. But I was fooled, in large part because 1) The prime suspect introduced at the onset is never guilty; 2) Family members are rarely, if ever, guilty, and 3) Michael would have been completely viable as a plot device for Gibbs and Vance to butt heads over, even if he were innocent.

Matt: I had a hunch, but only subtly, when Vance hedged at the very beginning when Michael asked if he believed him. There was more to it than we knew. I liked the twist, with him tied to the poker game, and that the director did the right thing in having him face the consequences of his actions this time.

Eric: The wrong-place-wrong-time story seemed believable enough, which in hindsight made sense, as it was partially true what Michael said about why he was there ... save for not knowing the guy and not stabbing him and all. He was also pretty likeable, so I wasn't sure where they were going to go with it. As Steve said, making him innocent would've worked too. On a side note, how cool is Jackie Vance? I'm loving that woman.

NCIS team MVP of the week?

Steve: Gotta go with Gibbs. He could've let Vance have it on more than one occasion and made things really difficult (you know being outranked wouldn't stop him, either), but he navigated a difficult situation perfectly out of respect for Vance the person, not Vance the Director. Gibbs showed restraint but still pursuing the case to the best of his ability. Mark Harmon and Rocky Carroll are terrific to watch together when they're both on their game like that.

Matt: Tony. He may be the resident laughingstock (for better or worse), but he's still a very special agent who rises to the occasion when it counts. He wins for that NFL-style tackle alone.

Eric: Can we rename this the Abby Award and give it to the second-most valuable player of the week?

Tony and Ziva are headed to Colombia on the next episode. Thoughts?

Steve: You have to imagine, given what we saw in Paris and from what Cote de Pablo teased earlier this week, that it's going to be a very good episode but will leave their relationship as ambiguous as ever.

Matt: I'm looking forward to it because Tony and Ziva are at their best when they're working cases together. If that sounds obvious, I'll elaborate ... sometimes when guest characters waltz in and point out the chemistry, it's like we're being told how great they are together, rather than seeing their genuinely entertaining interplay. Other characters teasing "Tiva" overtly in order to make us care. Letting them do their jobs is every bit as effective and more organic.

Eric: Bring it on! I'm excited for a Tiva episode and to meet Ziva's friend and mentor. I just hope, as Matt just said, it's not just another excuse to have someone point out how awesome Tiva is, rather than Tiva themselves showing us with their casework and banter. Man, I love those two. Maybe not quite as much as I love Abby and McGee, but close.

What's your take on these issues of the week on NCIS? Discuss below!

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

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Did it ever occur to anyone that MW isn't doing movies because that was his "choice"?He's said again and again that he loves his job and feels very protective of his character.The show films ten months out of the year, and he has a wife and soon-to-be two kids. Doesn't leave much time for other projects. And I agree with Erin; Tony is so much more than just humor.The comedy infuses this show with something the other procedurals don't have,but Tony has many layers,and MW is quite adept at revealing them all.I hope we continue to see both Tony's funny and serious sides. MW,like all this talented cast,is always a joy to watch.

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@nat yes hard to say but i agree with you lets hope season 10 will be one of the best seasons bye the way i always watch NCIS L.A.love it.

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@ Janet Yes! I'm looking fwd to it; I think this is going to be a BIG ep. My biggest complaint is that the current TPTB do not realize they can't save the "Big" eps for season's end & give us boring crap to watch the rest of the time (or throw in a "good one" randomly). Shane ALWAYS gave consistent, entertaining eps throughout his duration as show-runner (S7 & S6 had the highest consistently rated eps of the series). That's that of the reasons why "LA" is doing soooo well. More NCIS fans (yep, even the diehards) I know are tuning into that one because it's been more exciting/interesting on a consistent basis.

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I think that the whole mid life crisis thing is tptb way of trying to correct the mess that SB made of Tony when he decided that he would turn him into the clueless team screw up and spend his energies promoting super agents Ziva and Gibbs, at Tony's expense. But if they'd just given Tony back his intelligence and let him be the dangerous street smart hero he was originally created to be instead, they wouldn't have had to create this sometimes awkward mid life crisis to explain his loss of IQ points. It seems to me part of the problem is that the writers are still reluctant to let anyone but Ziva and Gibbs be dangerous, have extraordinary agent skills, or be a key player in the most suspenseful, exciting, and action packed stories. So in an effort to give Tony back at least a modicum of credibility as an agent - voila - enter mid life crisis Tony.

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I agree, Erin. The humor is what really sets it apart for me, and none of the other characters have the touch that MW does with it. That's why I don't like it when they take him into the gloomy "what is my life all about" mode. I mean I've tried like heck to like stuff like Criminal Minds, but it's just sooooo dark I just can't keep with it week after week like I do NCIS.

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Course George Clooney is from a show biz family. His grandmother Rosemary Clooney was a famous singer, his uncle (I think) Nick Clooney had a local show in Cincinnati. Don't get me wrong - I love George Clooney - but connections or lack thereof can make or break you. You're right though that the humor is no longer clever or subtle. MW pulled off subtle humor, along with the rest of the cast, especially in seasons 1 and 2. Now it's overly contrived, drawn out, and not really funny, unless you're into seeing the humor of humiliation in it's latest incarnation week after week. But, without MW's humor, IMO, NCIS would not be very unique. His energy and humor, as well as the characters of Abby and Ducky are what separates this show from more dull procedurals. Even though other NCIS team members are quite attractive, there are, as Aurora so delicately put it, some rather grim characters and some pretty tight sphincters among the others. Not just Gibbs and Vance either.

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You're onto something, Aurora. But the main difference is RC's character is a rule follower/politician while MH's...not so much.
I didn't say MW had a lack of talent. I said his talent is perfectly matched to the character he plays. Other tv personalities have been snapped up, for example, George Clooney/ER. If that were gonna happen with MW, it would have. If you take away the comedy from MW, his character doesn't have much left to offer...it's just another procedural. But even given that, the comedy is really fading. I agree with you. It used to be sharp, quick, and clever. Now it's just snarky.

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LOL Aurora B!

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Speaking of acting chops, does anyone else think that Harmon and Carroll are both playing the same character? The only difference is that the Vance character unclenches his sphincter when he's at home with the wife and kiddies.

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I agree with you that DM is indeed one of the truly gifted and certainly most consistent actors on the show. I disagree that MW wasn't snatched up by the movie industry due to lack of talent. That industry is incredibly competitive and so many things factor in - good connections, nepotism, right place right time, good agent, talent, the right look or type, etc.. There are many incredibly gifted actors who never break into TV, much less the movies. Why is it that in poll after poll, the episodes where MW is given some real drama, these episodes are remembered and over represented as the favorites? IMO, it's because MW can, when given good (or even mediocre) material, ground out an amazingly compelling and appealing performance. He just doesn't get many opportunities for that kind of display on NCIS since the writers focus on his ability to be funny and rarely give him scenes that highlight his versatility as an actor.