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NCIS Review: A Slow Burner

by at . Comments

Now that was a first-rate episode of NCIS.

The show raised the emotional and criminal stakes again Tuesday with a case that shed light on a core character's background while setting the stage for a compelling season-ending run in May.

"Rekindled" was a fitting title for an installment in which Tony crossed paths with a boy who changed his life forever and vice versa, and we were reintroduced to the mysterious Phantom Eight.

All in the middle of a complex and wide-ranging arson case, no less.

This is how you do an "origin" episode and develop characters. Rather than simply having a guest star randomly tell us something about DiNozzo, he relived the past while working with Jason King in the present.

That night made both men who they are today - former and current members of the Baltimore P.D., respectively, as it turns out. Had Tony not saved Jason, he wouldn't have lived to serve others so bravely.

Just as significantly, it was a defining moment in DiNozzo's life.

Gaius Charles on NCIS

Rescuing Jason inspired Tony to pursue a career in law enforcement, which ultimately led him to Gibbs and NCIS. The event shaped both individuals immeasurably, though not without tragic, long-lasting repercussions.

You can't save them all. We're still here, she's not. Focus on the ones you can save. The elevator scene at the end was poignant and profound in its simplicity, sage advice from the veteran cop to his protege.

Tony's right, plain and simple. Had he gone back for Jason's sister, all three would have perished. Instead, the two survived and went on to save countless others, yet carry the weight of her loss to this day.

You can't save them all, but you can't forget those you don't. Jason was bitter to this day and after seeing the old photo, it was clear how much guilt Tony had repressed, even if he believes his own lesson.

Gaius Charles was terrific as Jason and Michael Weatherly was typically solid as Tony, who has been the brunt of jokes or (somewhat forced) introspective storylines this season but really shined this evening.

Charles wasn't just a one-note guest star vehicle for Tony flashbacks. As an arson investigator, King really knew his stuff, saving the day with the airlock and helping Abby arrive at the right chemical reaction.

Hopefully there will be an opportunity for him to return. This case certainly isn't over. Not unlike the thermite, this was a slow-burner of an episode, the beginning of an arc that could take weeks to play out.

The investigation featured multiple Gibbs interrogations, took us from an electronics warehouse to a cargo ship and a suburban driveway, and featured suspects ranging from a woman posing as an author to one of Baltimore's own fire investigators, whose death was the only predictable thing all night.

Rekindled Pic

Did anyone not voice "boom" out loud one second before he turned the key? The case came together too quickly for the team to nab the perpetrator(s) right then and there. This guy was merely the pawn.

The connection to the Navy was the missing piece that eluded Gibbs & Co. throughout the episode, as "Rekindled" weaved a tangled web of controlled burns and faulty wiring. Who knows where it may lead.

What we do know is that the Phantom Eight/Watcher Fleet was working to correct the wiring problems and that their AquaMarine (sp.?) mission has been heavily compromised. The question is by whom?

You had a feeling the Fleet and those shady microchips would resurface one of these days, even if they appear to be the victim(s) this time. Does this mean we'll see the return of Stratton? Or E.J.?

I wouldn't bet on either, but you never know, since NCIS arcs can be surprisingly elaborate for a show procedural in nature. With Gibbs' fears of terrorism clearly proven correct after the shocking explosion, international tie-ins with characters introduced on last week's open-ended episode are also a possibility.

As the first chapter of a saga guaranteed to continue in "Playing With Fire" (May 1, with NCIS off next Tuesday), it was an exemplary one. Hopefully I'll feel the same after watching the rest of the season.

A few stray observations before turning it over to your comments:

  • The NCAA Final Four has never been in Baltimore, nor has UCLA played Ohio State in it; I realize it's a fictional show but that was an oddly descriptive set-up for the story.
  • How terrifying was that locked-up arson "expert"?
  • Fire doesn't destroy evidence, it creates it.
  • McGee. So nerdy and so awesome.
  • Rule #8: Never assume.

What did you think of this week's NCIS? Discuss below!

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (245 Votes)

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

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OMG your so right AJA :( and from the picture I have seen you may be right

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LOVED this episode. It's gonna be a very long summer for us to wait for the season 10 premiere if this is anything we have to look forward to. The rest of season 9 is gonna be awesome.

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Careful not to get too excited Michael. Yes, Stan Burley is coming back for an episode. But given the history of writing on this show, since Tony was actually portrayed as competent last week, it may be time for some major humiliation for the guy. They never allow him to be heroic two episodes in a row. Stan may be back as the senior agent in Naples, but his real purpose may be to worship Ziva, while Tony is written as insecure and jealous. We could have Ziva cruelly snarking away that Stan is 20 times the agent Tony is, with Tony humiliating himself, trying to measure up. Hopefully, they won't go down this road, but frankly, I'm a bit anxious.

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@PAT The United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is the primary security, counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism, and law enforcement agency of the United States Department of the Navy. It is the successor organization to the former Naval Investigative Service (NIS). Now did anyone hear who from SEASON 1 is coming back!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Guess we'll have to disagree Mzlady. I think some team members are devoted to and depend on one another, and some do not. The difference between Tony and Ziva's snark is the when Tony delivers it - he smiles, when Ziva delivers it - she sneers. How easy it seems to be to forget that Ziva tried to get Tony kicked off the team because she felt she couldn't trust him. And just last week, she begged Gibbs not to let him accompany her to Colombia, calling him dead weight. These are hardly the actions or words of a "fiercely devoted" co worker.

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They actually are not a team of spies. They are a team of Crime Scene Investigators. They work on the MCRT (Major Case/Crimes Response Team).
Espionage is one of the crimes they deal with, but they are not spies. Cops, Federal Agents, Police Officers. Ziva used to be a spy, but as she said in Shalom, "I am an investigator".

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@Michael Lesson #27 for you: They are ALL Spies. This is a Naval series centered on a Federal Team of highly-trained SPIES. This IS, in fact, a SPY procedural. That is what they do for a LIVING. They spy on other spies. They spy on each OTHER. That is why they WORK there. Go back and study up on the series, and educate yourself.

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lol @ one-dimensional so-called "Team" fans. How ironic :-) Seeing that Tony is THE one and only reigning KING of Snarkdom on the show, any "exploding" ship Tim or Ziva would be on..HE as the captain would go down w/ it INSTANTLY. Any lurking "TeamNCIS" player should recognize that fact immediately. This team is fiercely devoted to one another and RELIES on each other. As Tony JUST said in the previous episode, he could NOT function without Ziva nor any of the others. Tony will ALWAYS be the Snarkiest and Sarcastic as ever because that is part of his established on the show, in case you forgot - but his mates are more than capable of dishing it right BACK to him as good as he gives it. THAT'S why it works, for this particular show.

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I totally agree with {guest} everything down to an awesome episode to not seeing the butchy JLC. {ugh}. Did I see that someone wrote that EJ might come back. If she does tony needs to stay away from her she is not for him has a love interest and that ex~fiancé she is ugly no sex appeal and EJ is just plain old not to be trusted.
No JLC is a great episode.
This is to the person :
Team NCIS fan leave ziva alone. When she replaced Kate that was the best decision she Is so cute her ways are awesome. she Is a great actress unlike Kate she is a prude thinks she is better than the team. Good riddens Kate.
If the show is so bad then why is :team NCIS fan always watching: STOP WATCHING.
Michael W {love of my life}
my favorite. Gibbs handsome.
Every time it runs on tbs or Cloo {re~runs}
I am glued to the tv. If Kate is on it I don't watch it.
Abby Tim Ducky Palmer my Tuesday family.

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Fabulous episode! My whole family screamed when it ended! We wanted more. Love the new info on Tony and loved that it was Ziva who was concerned about him and said "we have to talk to him about it." She picks on him alot - but she also clearly cares. Can't wait for the next episode.

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