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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!

Review

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.

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More TIVA scenes. Their love has been put to a test since season 3. Seven long years of yearning and sex-eyed to each other with such longing in spite of other relationships with other people somehow felled apart and faded compare to their love for each other which had standed out all these years. It is time for them to declare their love and see where it will go from there.

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TIVA needs to b a couple during season 10. They have danced around their feelings long enough. Since season 3 the attraction has been there but after season 9 they should realize that their true love and soul mates are right there across from their desks. No need to look further. Give some fun scenes of them trying to hide their love from the others. They deserve to be happy with each other after the relationships they both had with other people and none worked out because they love each other but too afraid to act on it. Even Tony's father thought Ziva was what his son needed and should act on it.

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I agree with Dale. Steve got it wrong about Ducky.

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Moreover, I would have expected a Ziva-like character to have a more than healthy paranoia exhibited the first time the Harper Dearing character breached the headquarters of NCIS. I would have expected her to already have a false identity set up, and to have gone completely off the grid to catch and kill the madman, simply out of a self-preservation motive, if not to protect her team mates. This character inconsistency is disturbingly ongoing. But then again, the whole Harper Dearing characterization was bizarrely unrealistic anyway.

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@ eye4golf
I've liked the Abby character best when she's played dress up, as in S04e06-Witch Hunt, when she wore the Marylin Monroe dress and wig. She was also fun when she first wore the 'southern Louisiana Goth Dress with Parisol', the ep with Abby and McGee gone to South America. More realistically, though, an NCIS director and SecNav would be expected to have procedures in place to protect domestic offices and personnel from insanely effective terrorists like Harper Dearing. I would expect them to be summarily dismissed should those properties be breached and personnel harmed in light of such lax security. Never mind about the PTSD aftermath.

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Steve i think you got the wrong end of the stick. Palmer didn't swallow his pride to call Ducky asking for help, in reality he didn't need help. Ducky even said that they worked a similar case before and so Jimmy new exactly what to do. Palmer was just trying to make Ducky feel better after overhearing his conversation with Gibbs earlier.

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How about Vance's loud blow-up in the squad room!? I thought that that scene and the office scene (with Gibbs talking about his car being wired to blow) really set up the potential for some upcoming PTSD sub-plots involving Rocky's character,...now that 'sleeping beauty' Abby has been 'cured'!! :)

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@immortalfrieza
To answer your question about her nightmares. Way back in season 1. And now, that's a pretty heartless thing to say. It is a proven fact that old trauma can arise from PTSD. Not only that if you knew someone with PTSD and yelled at them to get over that, that would make you the biggesst jerk ever. You might get away with it since this is telvision of course, but I would definitely chose my words carefully. I agree with you on the conselor though, but the reason he didn't talk to Ducky is because Ducky is technically not at work.

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NCIS is best when it's case and it's character development go hand and that wasn't the case this episode. The Abby storyline was mindnumbingly boring, like all Abby centered storyline are, because they always give her some emotional problem the entire episode out of nowhere (worse, she solved this recurring nightmare crap I don't know how many episodes ago) that Abby spends the whole episode whining about that makes you want to scream "GET OVER IT ALREADY!!!" rather than as the caffeine fueled, incredibly happy squirrel that everybody loves her as. The rest of the story was good enough, but I felt like they could have stretched the crisis conselor's part to at least a couple of episodes and used him to get deeper insight into the psyche of the team members we otherwise couldn't have got instead of him just being there to set up a few jokes but ultimately mean nothing, I'm surprised there's no mention of him talking to Ducky though, considering he almost died.

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@Enoughalready You are so right and its has very been shoved in our face these season

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