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 ...


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

Steve: Enlightening and surprising.

Matt: Very nicely done.

Eric: Complexly crafted.

NCIS RT - depreciated -

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.


MW is a competent, journeyman actor with some "B" movies behind him who happened into a role that fits him perfectly. Spencer Tracy he's not. Believe me, if the big screen guys thought he was a great acting talent, they would've snapped him up years ago and he woulda gone. David McCallum is the best actor in the bunch. MW is utilized just like he should be. He's the comic foil and gives the show energy.


I agree that MW is definitely great at being humorous. Being comical takes a special talent and is actually quite difficult to pull off. There are certainly some cast members who can't do much more than deliver snark for their "comic" moments. But the problem is, is that Tony's humor has pretty much become the weekly humiliation moment instead of pulling from the wide variety of possible humor genres - clever, smartelic, physical comedy, or irony for instance. But every week now it's the big - in your face - humiliate Tony scene, and then on to the rest of the show. And again, it wouldn't be so bad if they would also let the character be written as the key player in danger, heroic, or emotional scenes because this actor can knock the ball out of the park when given something juicy to work with. MW is a truly gifted actor and IMO, probably the most innately talented member of the cast. He is under utilized.


hi Nat hows everything with you its a bit sad when there is only a few episodes left before the finale but i guess everyone needs a holiday and a break from work but its still a bit sad.


ITA with the last few comments. Tony's always been great at making snarky, nasty comments and pulling practical jokes, but when someone gives it back to him it's "poor poor Tony". Puleeze...if he's gonna dish it out, he'd better learn to take it. That said, he's the comic center of the show and that's what makes it different from all the other procedurals. Without Tony's energy, it'd just be boring.


Team Gibbs wouldn't be Team Gibbs without the class clown known as Tony Dinozzo. I love that he has the sense of humor that is the perfect icebreaker for the team. I'm just glad he doesn't act as arrogant as he did in season two. I could handle it then but seeing him grow up, I wanna go back to season two and smack him sometimes. McGee can hold his own with him now bc he has more confidence in himself now and Ziva has always held her own with him. It would be CSI if the humor was gone. One of the reasons I don't watch it. Janet, love a lot of your comments myself.


Hi Gents - always enjoy your RT reviews. Some "Colombia" thoughts: I agree - let T & Z find their own way - no more tropes that point out the Official Couple via guest stars. I especially HATED Tony needing EJ (Ugh!!) to tell him truths he should've already known about Ziva for himself. And ZIVA is the one that deserves A GOOD MAN. She's been through hell with men in her life. If Tony's going to be her Man, then he should PROVE it & get RID of that stupid "Black e-book" he brags about, say Adios to the Wendy's of the world for GOOD, and get SERIOUS about focusing 100% on Ziva ONLY, because yes, as deep as she is...that woman is the REAL DEAL, and she actually already loves Tony anyways. But she deserves his UNDIVIDED attention.


Hi Janet! How ya been? Eric's right (thank ya Eric!) As I've already said, Tony IS the Comic Relief on NCIS & has the best wit; NOBODY does it better. But the Tony complainers forget: He is the CHIEF INSTIGATOR of the very jokes he becomes the so-called "butt" of! I'm GLAD Tim/Ziva/Ducky/Gibbs have learned HOW to give it back as good as he gives it. If he can't TAKE jokes, he shouldn't dish them out. Tony is truly the best Sr. Agent there, and the closest thing to Team Leader after Gibbs. But if he wants to be taken SERIOUSLY as future Team Leader, he'll have to forfeit the juvenile behavior and maybe cut the "Yabba" down a notch or two. THAT was Gibbs' point in the Evaluation.


yes tony is the class clown and thats why most people love him and when it comes down to it hes not the senior agent for would be the same if tony wasnt tony.kat love your comment you are so right.

Sue ann

I agree that Tony is too often humiliated and made to appear childish and foolish. The talented actor is under-utilized. I really would dislike seeing Tony and Ziva get together. He deserves better. It would be nice to see him find a woman who does not treat him like a recalcitrant child. Also, I really did not like the way she nearly killed him in her apartment, and again in Israel. I hope they are good co-workers in Colombia, nothing more. Rocky Carroll is a terrific actor, but I dislike his character as much as ever. I have worked for politicians like him; they will sacrifice a subordinate so fast that the blood scarcely stains the pavement before the body is gone. Bosses who do not back up their employees -- it never turns out well. Vance should have recused himself. Unprofessional.


Interesting reviews and points brought up. I don't agree with a lot of it, but the topics are interesting. Is Tony used too much as the butt of the joke? IMO - YESSSS! The seemingly formulaic "humiliation moment" is utterly predictable. At least 3 out of 4 episodes seem to include one. It wouldn't be so bad if the writers hadn't simultaneously taken away his skills and rarely cast him in the most exciting danger scenes. It's a shame because MW is more than just funny - he's a very versatile actor and can convey a vast array of emotions in a most compelling manner. I'm guessing that most fans whose favorite is Tony, would disagree that it's fun to see him one upped and humiliated on a weekly basis, while other characters - mostly Gibbs and Ziva, are written as the oh so predictably perfect action figures. I definitely thought that Vance was the MVP last week though and genuinely enjoyed this team centric episode. As for Tiva? IMO - No, just no.

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