Our NCIS review broke down "Hit and Run," this week's episode of TV's #1 show, in detail.
Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Douglas Wolfe and Eric Hochberger have assembled for our weekly Round Table Q&A discussion of various events and topics from this powerful hour.
Join in as we analyze the much-anticipated Abby origins episode and more ...
1. Describe this episode in one word (or two, or three, or four).
Steve: A little unexpected.
Eric: Mixed emotions.
2. Favorite quotes or scenes from "Hit and Run"?
Steve: It wasn't one scene in particular, but I was most moved by Abby's fear that she isn't good enough, her desire to help people - from her childhood to the present day where she spends time with senior citizens outside of work - and struggling to come to grips with the fact that you can't always win.
Doug: The final scene with Abby and Gibbs did it for me. Maybe it's because I have a daughter of my own: I've kept all of her notes and drawings since she was in grade school. When Gibbs sat on the floor beside her and pulled out the fortune that Abby had given him on the day they met, that sort of hit home.
Eric: Agree with Doug. That was emblematic of why I love the Gibbs-Abby relationship.
3. What was your biggest problem, if any, with the episode?
Steve: The link between the present case and the flashbacks felt a bit weak to me. I mean that beyond just the windshield crack; I kept waiting for a stronger link between the two that never came.
Doug: Many have said that they couldn't buy the idea that Abby flashed back to her childhood when she saw the cracked windshield, which was similar to the one she saw in the junkyard. I don't find that hard to believe: If you think about how the drone of a distant lawnmower on a summer evening can bring back a memory of playing with friends in your backyard at twilight in summer as a kid; or about how the whiff of a perfume today can provoke strong memories of your first girlfriend, it seems entirely possible for Abby to see that cracked windshield with the green air freshener and flash back to the same scene when she was a child. I honestly had no problems with the episode - it seemed entirely plausible.
Eric: I liked the episode, however, some elements felt a tad predictable to me. Abby longing for the good in life, Tony hamming it up, McGee unable to fill her shoes in the lab ... maybe it was the heightened expectations, but it fell just a little bit flat. I don't mean to take away from Pauley's performance, she was great, but it didn't quite live up to the hype overall.
4. Abby flashbacks: Did they make for good storytelling?
Steve: Echoing my previous answer, the link wasn't as strong as I would've liked. That said, Pauley Perrette showed what a terrific actress she is and Brighton Sharpino was perfectly cast and coached as her adolescent counterpart. Talk about convincing, from her appearance down to her speech and behaviorism. She had me sold that she was Abby from the start and I was caught up in her "case" as well as the 2013 one. Even if the payoff may have fallen short for some viewers, I doubt many will argue that.
Doug: Absolutely! I was remiss in not mentioning the excellent job Brighton Sharpino did in playing young Abby. Her performance and mannerisms closely mirrored that of adult Abby, making the plot informative and believable: the irrepressible optimism especially shone through. Most adults know when to back off a situation or a person, or when to stop fighting a losing battle. Kids don't have any idea of when to stop sometimes, and that was the case with young Abby. Her failure here informed adult Abby: though the older Abby logically should have known that not everyone gets along, she revisited the failure of her youth and couldn't get it all connected. This is often the case with adult behavior in real life, where early experiences produce adult expectations which just aren't realistic. It's because of this backstory and its effect on Abby that I thought the writers did a great job with this episode, and gave them kudos for it.
Eric: Yes and no. I'll say again (and any regular reader of our Round Tables knows this) how much I love Abby and Pauley's portrayal of her. Sometimes it feels like present Abby acted a bit too much like her childhood self. Linking past and present is one thing, and of course, some things are going to really strike a chord. But I felt like she should have progressed more, if that makes any sense.
5. Should Abby and Tim get together?
Steve: I love both characters and one gets the sense that Tim has feelings for her, but I don't picture them together on quite the same level as I can envision Tony and Ziva romantically.
Doug: No. They really shouldn't. Tim is out of her league, I think, and there's clearly little chemistry there (much as Tim might otherwise want it). I would find their pairing very hard to believe.
Eric: I'm the world's biggest McAbby fan but not necessarily in the romantic sense. I think their relationship is one of the show's best, and if they got together as a couple, I'd be okay with it if it happened organically, but I don't think that's in the cards for whatever reason, and I'm okay with it as is - awesome!
6. Who would you like to see an "origins" episode about next?
Steve: They're all fun, even if some are better than others. I think we're overdue for some Tim back story, if only because we've seen Gibbs, Tony and now Abby extrapolated in the recent past.
Doug: I would like to see how Vance became such a hard-ass. Most children start out as happy playful people: I'd like to know how he hardened over the years and became secretive, a little judgmental and difficult to get along with.
Eric: I wouldn't mind flashing back to McGee as the school mascot ...
7. Vance is not back yet and the Deputy Director got a mention. What do you think we can expect from those two going forward?
Steve: You know characters like this aren't introduced by accident, and you know there's more than meets the eye. The question, obviously, is what! Is Craig just a straw man for somebody more powerful? Did he play a greater role in past events than we realize? Or did he arrive in the Director's chair truly by chance, only to wreak havoc from his new position of power? I always enjoy the political angle to the show, so I can't wait to find out.
Doug: I don't trust the Deputy Director at all. No one who is as meek and unsure of himself as he is rises to his position, without some help along the way at least. So what is it about him? What's his goal? Did he have anything to do with the death of Director David? I'm hoping the writers have a huge story to tell us about him. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar however, and if it turns out he really is just a very lucky meek man, I'll be disappointed. I doubt it though. There's something up with him. I'm hoping Vance gets to figure it out.
Eric: It'll be interesting to say. Maybe he's just risen to the near-top of the chain due to serendipty, nepotism and avoiding controversy, and is now over his head. Regardless of whether that's true, is he an opportunist or a bystander? Clearly they're setting up some sort of conflict with Vance.
What's your take on these issues of the week on NCIS? Discuss below!