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NCIS Review: Misdirection and Wrong Assumptions

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Once again, we were treated to a couple of fascinating parallel plots in tonight's episode of NCIS, "Hereafter."

In the crime story, the team was called to investigate the mysterious death of a marine who perished during training at Quantico. Turns out he died as a result of cerebral hemorrhaging, due to repeated blows to the head. 

The team was provided some misdirection as a result of the discovery that the dead marine had participated in a fight club. Later it was learned that their commanding officer had been attempting to toughen his team up by wounding them repeatedly - basically, torturing them - in the same manner as his brother, who had died from his injuries.

At the Crime Scene (NCIS)

The more personal story involved Leon Vance, who discovered that his wife had kept a separate bank account and a legal "separation of property" letter; he found them inside a safety deposit box that he didn't know about.

Of course, the immediate conclusion he came to - and by extension, the viewer - was that she was getting ready to separate from him prior to her death. The agony of that assumption was plain to see, as he tried to ensure his kids continued with their lives. He even went back to work while harboring that painful secret.

The writers did a great job with Vance's character, portraying him as a brittle and proud man who felt the need to shield his kids and everyone else from his anguish. It seemed sad to me when his daughter offered to help him sort papers and he declined, telling her that they needed to get into the kitchen and eat some breakfast. Or when his son asked him when he was going back to work, only to be told to get ready, because the car was leaving in 20 minutes. 

It would have been better for him to have let them in, allow them to grieve along with him - but that wouldn't have been Vance, would it? It would have been someone else entirely. The truly bright spot occurred when Vance returned home after solving the crime, only to find his kids shrieking with laughter as Tony and Ziva chased them around the house. They needed that, he said. And he was right about that, just as he needed to smile at their laughter.

And how about that exchange between Tony and Ziva just as they got to Vance's house to babysit?  The excruciating grimace on Tony's face was hilarious: he was truly horrified at the thought of being around them. Then this happened:

Ziva: DiNozzo, pull it together.
Tony: Kids. This is way above my pay grade. I spent the afternoon in a child care clinic when I almost lost my life.
Ziva: Stop stop stop stop. We're doing the director a favor, okay? We just need to be here, we need to be normal. Can you just please do that for a few hours?
Tony: Sure. Fine.
Ziva: Fine.
Tony: Only because you asked nicely. | permalink

Did you catch the laugh and smile they gave each other after that? Interesting to say the least, as was the fact that they both got into playing with the kids.

I liked the fact that Ziva finally had a brief heart to heart with Vance about the death of his wife. The beautiful/tender tension between them was portrayed so well by Cote de Pablo and Rocky Carroll. There was some great acting there.

The compelling conclusion tied up Vance's story nicely, with Gibbs making him realize that Jackie was merely preparing her kids and herself for a time when Vance wouldn't be around. The key point involved the fact that she started preparing around the time the NCIS building was bombed (end of NCIS Season 9 and the beginning of NCIS Season 10.)

I have to say: the writing, the directing and the acting on the show are stellar. Hardly a wrong note anywhere. If there is to be any criticism, it would be the idea of Tony continuing to be the clown and not evolving more and more into the strong watchful Tony we saw in "Shiva." Maybe it's time for someone else to play the clown for a while.  Deputy Directory Craig might fit that role, or Palmer.

Some final thoughts:

  • It was good to see Abby, even if only for a little bit, as she had at least one great line from the NCIS quotes of the evening: You could totally rock an eye patch Gibbs. And that's not important. | permalink
  • Missing from the picture entirely was Jimmy Palmer  He wasn't in either of the autopsy scenes. What's up with that?

So, what did you think of this episode? Did you see any plots holes? How do you think Deputy Director Craig will leave? Or will he?

UPDATE:

Steve Marsi has set up this week's round table to discuss this episode.  We're stumped about whatever it is Gibbs is building in his basement.  Come on over and check it out.  It's here:  NCIS round table.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (284 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter

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I really don't see why everyone has a problem with Tony playing the part of class clown. When the time calls to be serious, he is serious and his goofy side never interferes with his ability to stop crime. If you can name at least two episodes like that, I'll give you all a cookie. I mean come on. Are you saying you people are all completely serious 24/7? I think not.

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Also MW can go off script quite a lot,so some things he does aren't even part of what his character was supposed to do. He's given leeway for that and the others have to stay alert so he doesn't throw them off

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No sense in worrying about if I show is going to lose viewers because of not liking an episode. It doesn't spell the end of a show. When NCIS ends I doubt ratings will be the reason. Season 9 had 4 eps w/20+ rating. The last date for 20+rating ep was 2/7/2012. So far this season there have been 6 eps w/20+rating . The last 4 eps have all been 20+ratings. If I don't have goofy moments or really silly moments my kids would put their hands to my forehead to make sure I was okay.

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Anyone who thinks DiNozzo has always just been the class clown, appearing in episodes for comic relief, should go back and look at some of the earlier episodes - the writers used to offset his boyish humour and movie references with more serious moments - you only have to take a look at most of series 1-6, and later episodes such as series 7 Truth Or Consequences, or the series 8 episode, A Man Walks Into A Bar. And don't forget that at the beginning of series 4, Jenny offered Tony his own team. An old TV comedy producer boss of mine used to talk about the law of diminishing returns - if something is funny all the time it ceases to be really funny, if you offset humour with a hint of pathos when the joke comes it's all the funnier. I don't want to see a new Tony, just a little more of the old one....

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First off -Nice variety of comments w/o attacking anyone for their viewpoint. Tony most of the time does serious one on one mostly with Gibbs and Ziva. I'm glad they had that Vance/Ziva moment because it needed to be addressed. I was surprised and not surprised that Ziva was even able to go in Vance's house without having a nervous breakdown I like Vance because after all this time the man is still an enigma

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I didn't feel that Tony was playing the clown in this ep because he was playing with CHILDREN. When you play and entertain kids, you do act a little childish. To me, his actions last night fit well into the show. He acted like a friend or how a father would be like when playing with their children. When he spoke to Ziva after her chat with Vance, you could see the serious and concerned Tony. NO....last night he was written well and his character was right in line as to where it should be when dealing with children.

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First of all that was the worst show of the season. Hopefully we don't lose viewers. As far as DiNozzo, he is a clown and a funny one at that. That is his part. We can not make DiNozzo into something that he is not. He is not James Bond, he is not Gibbs, he is crazy class clown Michael Weatherly (life of the party) DiNozzo. Every character has there part and that is what makes this show great except for the filler episodes like last night. Vance should be guilt ridden for his poor decision making surrounding his wives death. I'ts nice that Gibbs is being supporting but does Gibbs really want Vance being responsible for the lives of his team? Time for a new director with a more interesting back story. I thought that show was poorly written.

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Forgive me for what I am about to type but "Are you people kidding me?" A so-so episode, Tony acting like a clown, yawn...what episode did you see?
1. Vance is complex and I love it.
2. Tony can be serious when he needs to be and provides the humor.
3. Gibbs holds steadfast for the most part. lol
4. I loved this scene between Ziva and Tony and the look on Ziva's face was priceless it goes something like this: Zive to Tony
Come on get in hear, you're scaring them, come on.... Priceless. I laughed so hard and replayed this scene. It was Ziva's look at the end of this scene that made me laugh.
5. I still don't trust Vance temporary replacement...there is something not right with this guy.
6. The scene between Vance and Ziva Perfect. It almost seem like Vance and Ziva were about to shed a tear.
7. McGee is getting sexier and holding his own.
I'll stop here. Yes I know everyone is allowed to have their own opinion on this epsiode good or bad but it was an EXCELLENT episode for me!

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I agree with a couple of other commenters that Tony should be done playing the clown. He goes from being a mature, caring friend in the Shiva episode to his usual goofball self in the very next episode. The writers need to decide what he is. It would be nice if they would let him evolve into a more mature Tony permanently. His character is in his 40's and he has a thing for a co-worker - a guy in that position would not act as goofy as he does around Ziva as often as he does. I know Anthony DiNozzo, Sr. is still a bit of a clown in his old age but that doesn't mean his son has to follow in his dad's footsteps. Tony, Jr. has the potential to be the focal point of the show, not just its comic relief.

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Can't wait til Ducky and Palmer episode. Hopefully the last Vance whiny episode.

NCIS Season 10 Episode 15 Quotes

Ziva: DiNozzo, pull it together.
Tony: Kids. This is way above my pay grade. I spent the afternoon in a child care clinic when I almost lost my life.
Ziva: Stop stop stop stop. We're doing the director a favor, okay? We just need to be here, we need to be normal. Can you just please do that for a few hours?
Tony: Sure. Fine.
Ziva: Fine.
Tony: Only because you asked nicely.

Vance: Do you have a suitcase packed, Jerome?
Craig: Always Leon. You know that.
Vance: Good. I'll be in touch.

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