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?


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.


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (284 Votes)

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



Weak show I thought overall. Next week also does not look that good either with it's focus on Ducky and Jimmy. Man thing I was surprised about was that Abby did not show up for half a hour and then had only a couple minutes of time. This had to be the lightest Abby ep every I think.


Anyone who has watched all 225 episodes knows that Tony has not always been (and sorry because I love DiNozzo, particularly the old DiNozzo) something of a bumbling buffoon. Up until relatively recently Tony was a decidedly more mature and smart character, deserving of his own team (Season 4 "Singled Out"). I'm not saying he wasn't funny - he was still cracking jokes and quoting movie references even when all but dying from the plague, but he was smart and witty, not silly and irritating. Why was he acting like such an idiot when he first met Vance's children? In season 9 "Engaged part 2" he demonstrates a 'fear' of young children and babies, but he's never had a problem with older kids, in fact going out of his way to show Ziva how good he is with children, not that they necessarily liked him. (Season 3 "Honor Code" /Season 5 "Lost & Found") And whilst I'm having a general moan, can someone do something about Tony, and indeed McGee's wardrobe? What's happened to all the cool designer suits? I'm half expecting Tony to turn up in a pipe and slippers! I love the show, the cast is fantastic, just think the writers can do better.


That Pizza box Jaw like thing was so cool I want to learn how to make it, People change and grow its a part of life the writers and fans need to accpted that tonight was okay because it was Vance kids and you should always make kids laugh. As for the season so far it has had it up and down mostly down at the start of the season seem like the writer get better towards the end of the seasons


I love the funny Tony and would hate to take that away. We've seen several eps of serious Tony and sometimes it just doesn't feel right. After ten years the characters and actors begin to mesh. Have you ever seen Weatherly on talk shows. Good lord he is so funny and off the wall. The writers will never change Tony to a serious egghead and shouldn't.


Emotional transference is a real thing though. (Looked it up) Definition: A phenomenon characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another. Makes sense to me.


Well, other than Tony cheering up the kids (very creative), I thought it was a total yawner. BORING. The whole murder thing was just stupid.


There actually was a moment where we are shown Tony's more protective side regarding Ziva: right after she and Vance finish their little chat, Tony asks her if things are all right. When she confirms "as all right as it can be" and turns away, the camera moves to serious!Tony watching her for a moment, then to Ziva glancing back and smiling slightly at his concern, then back to serious!Tony for another beat. Plus the callback to Tony's previous encounter with his "worst fear" was entertaining (last season, he got dragged into a daycare by some chaplain), and this episode makes it fairly obvious that he only overcomes that fear because of Ziva's presence. In all, a well-executed little Tiva anvil in a Vance-centric episode. I'm pretty impressed at how the writers managed to shoehorn that in. That said, Rocky Carroll blew this one out of the park with his performance in every scene of this episode. The show's actually done a better job of developing Vance's backstory than Ducky's, Abby's, or McGee's, which is a little weird to think about.


Just because Tony is maturing, doesn't mean he should give up the lighthearted aspects of his character. Tony uses levity as a buffer. So far I love this season.



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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.