NCIS Review: Reclaiming the Good

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Harper Dearing may have been vanquished by Gibbs on last week's NCIS Season 10 premiere, but we learned tonight that the aftershocks of his campaign of terror continue to ripple through the agency.

The "Recovery" will not be short and sweet. Nor should we expect it to be.

With the emotional wounds of the bombing still omnipresent, most of this week's episode struck a somber tone. The team members each battled their issues in their individual ways, and it wasn't pretty.

At the same time, this installment was more about the characters than the case, which is when NCIS is at its best. It also revisited Abby's brother Kyle, a popular storyline introduced fleetingly last year.

Abby and Her Brother

The writers did a nice job of expounding upon Abby's relationship with Kyle, and of course with Gibbs, as a result of the traumatic blast. Sometimes, we learn the most about ourselves in the darkest of times.

This was certainly true for Abby, whose nightmares about the morgue lingered and were upsetting to say the least. With the counselor's help (okay, mostly Gibbs'), she found inner peace, and much-needed shut-eye.

There's no substitute for family, even if they don't know you exist. Yet. Kyle certainly seemed game for the reveal. As long-lost biological siblings walking into your life out of nowhere go, Abby would be pretty cool.

Daniel Louis Rivas was well cast in the role, as he and Pauley Perrette absolutely could pass for siblings. The scene at the end in Gibbs' house, where many of the show's top moments occur, was wonderful too.

Suffice it to say, she got some measure of good back.

There was a case this week, too, but it felt secondary in nature. The fact that it was related to the bombing (albeit indirectly) and intertwined with the agents' personal stories made it feel that way anyway.

Midge Watkins, an NCIS weapons expert, ended up being killed by the object of Tony's desire, oddly enough. That connection came out of nowhere, despite the clue of her relationship status being revealed.

Tony was off his game, and might want to thank Ziva and Tim for player hating, as behind the sport-flirting exterior, this woman was obviously bad news. A murderer, though? It's always the ones you least suspect.

He and Ziva were - for approximately the 275th time - mistaken for a couple this week.

The original murder suspect, a spurned NCIS job applicant, did the honors, likening the very special agents to Midge and her close co-worker (whose girlfriend ultimately pulled the trigger). Boyfriend? We won't even go there.

Tony and Palmer

The team was thrown off several times, given the unusual timeline and circumstances of the murder. Ducky had to make a special appearance, against his doctor's orders, to lend his expertise to a fledgling Palmer.

The good news is that his health is improving and his protege swallowed his pride long enough to make the call (or have Gibbs make it). The bad news is that Ducky's really struggling with being less than full strength.

He's reflected upon his own morality before, but probably never more than right now. Will he ever get back to where he once was? I hope so, but NCIS wouldn't be realistic if he weren't seriously questioning it.

Another character questioning himself? Vance. Leon Midge's disappearance hit closer to home for the director than anyone, given his status as head of the agency, but also as the man whose car Dearing compromised.

I'd expect nothing less than an irate and increasingly high-strung Vance after what happened on his watch. In fact, it would've been cool if they'd referenced this on NCIS: Los Angeles, even in passing.

He's a tough nut to crack, as is Gibbs, whose psych evaluation was similarly, and predictably, incomplete. Vance eventually bared his soul at the end, though, in what had to be a cathartic experience.

Hopefully McGee has some good storylines coming up, because it feels like he's been in the background of late. Obviously it's hard to everyone to shine each week, but Tim has been a little short-changed.

Very good episode overall, despite a few minor issues. It'll be interesting to see if next week's caper is back to being self-contained within that episode, and if the inter-office tone will be lighter at all.

A few stray observations and thoughts before turning it over to you:

  • The crisis counselor's greatest contribution was definitely the tribal names. Gothic wildflower. Brilliant chatterbox. Which ones am I missing? What ones would you suggest for the other characters?
  • Think the repeated references to the paint color were a nod to the fans? Quite a few have brought up that orange hue over the years, and speculated about its future in the wake of the attack.
  • "Rent a room." Awesome.

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


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (238 Votes)

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


I prefer to see Kate in Rizzoli and Isles. The duo just "clicks". I like the Ziva character in NCIS. She and Gibbs are the most mature, which is why they aren't the butt of jokes on the show. Tony is the immature one, although he tries to make McGee out as such.


I was disappointed with the scenes involving Abby's brother. I would've liked more development. As it was we didn't see Kyle's reaction to being told! So many questions. Kyle just accepted the news and moved on. Very shallow development and not what i'd hoped. Show some emotion for what could've been a highly charged emotional scene.


I eagerly look forward to every new episode on Tuesday. In the meantime, I watch USA and CLOO to catch every episode available. At one point, I even tried CRACK TV on computer, but if anyone knows about this, how do I use this connection without having difficulty with my computer. Crack TV has every episode for all the seasons in complete story line. Right now, I'm watching Tony DiNozzo videos only. Thanks!


I really liked this episode, it felt well balanced and kept me 'in' the story from beginning to end. Every character seemed to get equal attention, but what I liked most was that they were very often all together, either at the crime scene or in interrogation where we got the split points of view in the room with Tony and Ziva or on the other side of the glass with Vance and Gibbs. I feel TIVA and the like are only there if you're looking for it, I myself don't and that's why I love NCIS. I feel like nothing is being forced upon me, they tell a great story with great characters that I love. Like many people I bet, I feel 42 minutes is never enough! I want to see every moment these characters share, day in day out, but logistically I know that's not possible so thanks bunches to cast, crew, writers etc and cue the fanfic ;D


@Eutrophicated1 -- I don't recall all we've been told about this character, so I'm ONLY throwing my two cents worth in on a generality that I believe is how academics shortchanges businessmen. Business executives can often do just about every job in their company themselves; and if they started their company, they did at one time. If they have a college degree that they've used thereafter, they did the work on their own (or they wouldn't be able to use it). And, sure, schmoozing and all that "salesman" skills, are something many CEO's have in common -- but people who are successful (or know their subject as well as Dearing) are quite capable. I also think doing something on their own, without sycophants and without all the trappings of their success, which came after whatever got them interested, can be calming and cathartic, especially in revenge.


@ MCAL: Sorry if I seemed to impy that the Harper Dearing motivation for revenge was unrealistic. Not at all. My complaint is about the character's methods.
Harper Dearing was depicted as a successful captain of industry, someone who is used to accomplishing his goals through delegating policies and processes to willing and loyal groups of subordinates. This character would not have been comfortable transforming into a 'lone wolf', personally doing everything that he needed done. Please refer to my earlier rant from ep s10e01. so his not having a dedicated, loyal group to accomplish his ends was what was not realistic.


I agree with you for the most part, except for Dearing. I mean the reason for revenge is a tad off, but people have done far worse for no reason whatsoever. Hitler is a pretty good example. Just saying his name make misconceptions on Dearing seem moot.


Dale, you're right about Ducky & Palmer. Palmer pretended to not know what to do so Ducky would have to be called in to help the team - and feel needed again. Very nice team moment in this episode!


I totally agree with you, Steve, that McGee has been repeatedly left out of scripts going back into last season. What's going on NCIS? Sean Murray being punished for something? Whycome no more Abby/McGee moments? Either 'splain or write McGee back into the show! Geez.


I like Steve Valentine (Crossing Jordan) and miss him on TV, it would be great for him to find a good role! I'm glad Abbey found her brother and would like to see development there, what's he been doing all his was a little hard to believe that Gibbs let him hug him but okay. Lets move on from the bomb and solve some cases, glad the gang is back and in tact! Give McGee something to do for pete's sake! and please where ever Ryan went, leave her there ; )

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