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NCIS Round Table: "Phoenix"

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Our NCIS review broke down "Phoenix," Tuesday night's episode of TV's #1 show, in detail.

Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Matt Richenthal and Eric Hochberger have assembled for our weekly Round Table Q&A discussion of events from this week's Ducky-centric installment.

Join in as we analyze the medical examiner's surprising role in the case and much more:

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

Steve: Lighter, lots of laughs.

Matt: Good, but not the best.

Eric: Different, and terrific.

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2. Best quotes or scenes from "Phoenix"?

Steve: A few stand out: 1. David McCallum's face lighting up when Ducky got the green light to take the lead. 2. Tony and Tim being partnered together (and the latter getting his chops busted over the Life Recorder). 3. The "kids" ganging up on Palmer at the crime scene. 4. The eccentric, somewhat unexpected perpetrator.

Matt: It was Ducky's week for sure. McCallum was terrific in lighter scenes as well as the serious ones. It was great when no one could pronounce the guy's name and Ducky just rattled it off like it were second nature.

Eric: Three words: Rock n' roll!! Also, McGee's reference to the Star Trek convention, because of course he was there, and because this week's guest star Rene Auberjonois of Deep Space Nine fame may have been too!

3. Biggest gripe with the episode?

Steve: Michael Des Barres' cameo. I loved it, of course, but that guy could've had a much bigger role and been even more of a hoot. They need to bring him back for a jam session with Michael Weatherly.

Matt: None really. Even if it wasn't the best episode nothing negative stands out.

Eric: My man Tim needs a big storyline coming up. Other than that, it was great.

4. Discuss Ducky's performance in his new capacity.

Steve: It wouldn't work the same way again, but given what he just went through and the unique circumstances of this particular investigation and the tie-in with his cold case, I'll accept the one-time #Rule 38 use.

Matt: He did well, and I thought he looked conflicted to go back downstairs. Perhaps he didn't want to give Palmer a de facto demotion? In any case, he is needed most down there, which I think he soon realized.

Eric: I wasn't a fan at first, but Gibbs rules are Gibbs rules, so I gave the man the benefit of the doubt on this one. By the end of the night I was glad I did, even if he's clearly more in his element talking to the dead.

5. Is the team really whole again?

Steve: They're getting closer, one week at a time.

Matt: They're trending that way, but Ziva may have jumped the gun a little bit. There's a big two-part PTSD-themed arc coming up, so my guess is the after-effects of the bombing will resurface soon enough.

Eric: There are still issues there I think. Hopefully as we work through them we'll get to see how Tim and Tony are coping. I don't say Gibbs and Ziva because they've seen so much, they're probably not even fazed.

6. NCIS team MVP of the week?

Steve: Is this even a question? (Yes, I'm aware I ask it every week.) Gotta go with the obvious, under the circumstances: Ducky, with an assist to Gibbs for the way he handled the situation with the Doc on leave.

Matt: Tony, for that sharp new suit! Yeah, yeah, and Ducky too.

Eric: Besides Duck? Abby, for getting past the big kaboom.

7. What the heck is Gibbs building in his basement?

Steve: My initial thought during the premiere was that Ducky was going to move in there, and that he'd be fixing the place up to be more accommodating. With the spring back in Ducky's step now I'm not so sure.

Matt: Some sort of special memorial to the bombing victims? The timing of Gibbs' first reference to whatever he's building leads me to believe it's connected to that event in some way. I welcome readers' theories!

Eric: I noticed one of our readers suggested a pavilion of sorts for Palmer to get married under, since the team missed out on the big event this spring. I like the idea of that so I'm stealing that for my answer. Side Note: Did Palmer and Breena elope or not? Has that been established or was it lost in the shuffle amid the Dearing case?

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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Is it just me who wants it to be a boat? I miss the boats. Drinks bourbon, grills steak in the fireplace and builds boats in the basement. These are things I love about Gibbs. As to the episode - it was Binder penned and therefore better than most but not his best. I loved Ducky getting point. Loved the kids ganging up on Palmer, loved Ziva scaring Tony and Tim but NOT Gibbs, love McGee getting to 'impress' at the shooting range. I too wished for a larger role for Des Barres(could've been fun). My complaints are few - I didn't like the 'old coot' comment - it felt flat. I also didn't like the Palmer running into Gibbs basement - drive-by insult - running out again. It just seemed awkward, like an addition. Surely someone could have come up with a better transition than that. Oh, well. All tolled this is my favourite episode so far this year. I'm still waiting for the awesome. Patiently... Sort of...

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I think it may have something to do with his father.

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I think gibb is building a room for all the fallen NCIS agents

Tiva

I think Gibbs is makin a memorial for the victiims from the bombing. The episode was OK but I love how Ducky was in charge of the case.

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My post was cut short. Palmer and Breena didn't elope. Breena agreed to change the time of the wedding because Palmer knew (pre-explosion) that Ducky and he needed to be in Washington. What is Gibbs building? A memorial plaque was shown outside the NCIS building in the first or second episode. Maybe Gibbs is getting an early start on a crib for the newlyweds. By the way, NCIS has a way of slipping references to the actors' prior gigs and personal life into the episodes. There were two nods to McCallum roles. In the exhumation scene, the comment about grave-robbing was a link to "Frankenstein, The True Story" in which McCallum, as Dr. Henry Clerval, waited while protege, Viktor Frankenstein, did the grave-robbing. At the end, Ducky said to the agents, "La fin de l'affaire," a subtle reference to McCallum's UNCLE days when each episode was called an "affair".

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Some good points were made, but a few were missed. The episode was different and terrific; in performance terms, second to Ducky was McGee’s firing range scene. After adjusting to working an investigation outside the autopsy realm, Ducky did fit in and enjoyed working with the team. There is no need to keep Ducky locked in autopsy, and he can profile suspects as Kate Todd did. Tony’s "old coot" remark didn't help Ducky, who questioned if he still belonged at NCIS; and, going into interrogation, Tony had no faith in Ducky. Ducky could connect with Finney through his music; the younger agents could not. To his credit, Tony went back to the bullpen singing Ducky's praises. Since Brian Dietzen is a regular, Palmer will have more to do. This episode could be a foreshadowing of things to come. Ducky is "a natural" with interrogations; allowing Ducky to work outside of autopsy occasionally might be possible. Palmer and Breena didn't elope. Because of the Dearing case, Breena agreed to change the time of the wedding as Palmer knew (pre-explosion) that Ducky and he needed to be in Washington. What is Gibbs building now? A memorial plaque was shown outside the NCIS building in the first or second episode. Ducky’s moving in with Gibbs would be odd since Ducky has money and can buy another house to suit his needs. Maybe Gibbs is getting an early start on making a crib for the newlyweds. NCIS has a way of slipping references to the actors' prior gigs and personal life into the episodes. There were two nods to McCallum roles. In the exhumation scene, the comment about grave-robbing was a link to "Frankenstein, The True Story" in which McCallum, as Dr. Henry Clerval, waited while protege, Viktor Frankenstein, did the grave-robbing. At the end, Ducky said to the agents, "La fin de l'affaire," a subtle reference to McCallum's UNCLE days when each episode was called an "affair".

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Yup, Palmer's married. He was wearing a wedding ring in this episode.

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I'm guessing that Gibbs' project will be some sort of memorial to the victims of the bombing.

Sue ann

I'd say that the mostly overlooked man in this episode was Palmer. He was clearly in his element, running the autopsy room alone, if a bit over-worked, and he'd been very kind to have Gibbs call Duckie in for consultation, when he did not really need him, last week. This time, when Duckie said that he had been cleared for duty, Palmer said "Oh" with a surprised air, "Oh", with a sad air, and then "Oh" with relief and a huge, enveloping hug, when he realized how he had sounded (very fast realization, for him.) He's previously said that Duckie is his best friend, and clearly, he loves him dearly, but Duckie being there puts him in the subordinate role again, and he willingly accepted it. But the second "Oh" showed that it was not without a slight mental struggle. Brilliant acting, mostly in the face, for Brian Dietzen. I watched it several times, just to analyze that moment. Brilliant.

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Matt is now too focused on what happen to Tony, and Eric to Abby. The only one with some measure is Steve, how does that critic website even come close of what is the show now? I mean really? I used to love coming here. Now? I think I'll pass.

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