NCIS Round Table: "Detour"

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Our NCIS review broke down "Detour," 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 installment.

Join in as we analyze this unusual Ducky and Jimmy-centric hour below!


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

Steve: Unusual, unexpected, utterly enjoyable.

Doug: Ducky and Palmer take a wild road trip.

Eric: You've been played!

NCIS RT - depreciated -

2. Favorite quotes or scenes from "Detour"?

Steve: Plot holes aside, I loved Ducky and Palmer's jailbreak and the aftermath. They may not be adept when it comes to firearms, but no one knows their way around bodily fluids like they do. Because they're not agents, the events in the woods played out much like you'd expect. Glad they both got quality screen time, and for the sake of Palmer's psyche, that he didn't kill that guy.

Doug: I enjoyed the entire tense scene in the woods, where we got to see the depths of Palmer's affection for his boss. Palmer's stubborn determination to keep him safe, with "Doctor, I respect you more than anyone in the world, so please forgive me when I say - go to hell. I'm not leaving you" was offset by his horror at having so severely (he thought) destroying their enemy. I always enjoy conflicting scenes like this, where intent struggles against reality. In this case, his relief at the guy's survival warred with the imminent danger they once again faced.  

Eric: Ducky and Jimmy arguing over the music, and the mentor schooling the student at crosswords.

3. What was your biggest problem, if any, with the episode?

Steve: I had no real problems with it. Wasn't my favorite episode, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Doug: I thought the mole's frantic suicide was way too convenient for the plot. He'd been, as Gibbs said, under deep cover for years - surely he could have figured out a way to keep his mouth shut while the police investigated him. It wasn't as if he had a big sign on his forehead saying "navy spy at work." His only visibility to them was that he got into a fight with a man who had been cuckolded - it doesn't get any more banal and boring than that.

Eric: Along the lines of what Doug said, the drain cleaner ingestion was confusing to me. He was probably going to bleed out anyway, no? And how would he have known he'd be exposed for what he was?

4. Did you enjoy the rare Ducky-Jimmy focus of the episode?

Steve: For sure. I've always viewed Tony, Ziva, Tim and Abby as Gibbs' "kids" in a sense, while the Palmer-Ducky relationship has similar elements. It was fun to watch those as the focal point this week.

Doug: I really did. Jimmy in particular has been missing from the scene for a while, which was worrisome, as he is actually a pretty strong character. With Ducky you could almost see the Illya Kuryakin coming out (Man from U.N.C.L.E.).

Eric: Was nice to see Palmer back after being MIA. Brian Dietzen is deserving of his promotion to series regular and I love his interplay with David McCallum, especially out of the morgue for a change.

Vintage McCallum

5. Bigger surprise: Ducky hoofing it in the woods, the bad guys leaving them unsupervised that long, or Palmer actually unloading on that dude?

Steve: The bad guys allowing for that MacGyver-style plan to be enacted. I know the place reeked and our favorite M.E. tandem isn't much to be threatened by on the surface, but if you're the type of person who takes hostages, you'd probably check on them every few minutes, right? Worst spies ever.

Doug: Definitely watching Palmer emptying his gun at the guy was a surprise, especially after previously displaying the gun to Ducky in a way that suggested he never held one before and didn't know which way to point it. The writing here was believable too, as it tapped into a real life truism: despite our vaunted and intense emotion at "what I'd do if someone tried to hurt me" (an emotion Palmer showed so well), the reality of a situation like that tends to prove differently. Some people don't follow through, whereas others - like Palmer - do exactly what they thought they'd do, only to be horrified afterward. 

Eric: Ducky outrunning Palmer in the woods. That must be some cardio rehab!

6. Tim McGee: MIT Mascot. Lord of the Tickets. What other surprises are up this guy's sleeve?

Steve: That he's secretly dating the girl from "Kill Screen." Wishful thinking, I know.

Doug: Great question! I'm guessing that the next secret to be revealed will be that the quiet and reserved Tim has been living with his polar opposite for quite some time: A wild and beautiful woman he met at a rave. And he hasn't told his colleagues about her because he knows how they'll react. Can you imagine Tim at a rave? I think that'd be pretty entertaining.

Eric: I don't know, but hopefully something else that would make Tony jealous, confused and a little uncomfortable knowing McGee is more multi-layered than we think. Maybe, given Tony's aversion to kids, McGee mentors at-risk teens and they actually think he's really cool (which he is, but you know what I mean).

7. Do the writers make Tony too much of a clown?

Steve: It's part of what makes Tony so beloved, so I'd hate to see him change who he is; however, sometimes I think the writers do lean on this a little too heavily, making him the butt of jokes almost by default.

Doug:I think so. It seems to have become a staple of the series that there always needs to be a "Tony as big goof" moment, but does there? He's proven his mettle in "Shiva" and in earlier seasons as well. I think this popular series won't suffer a bit if they allow him to evolve to an almost Gibbs-like demeanor. We definitely see that every time he's in the interrogation room, so why not when he's outside as well? Maybe he could interact more with Abby with his seriousness too. He's bigger than a clown and needs to be seen that way.

Eric: This is hard to say. I thoroughly enjoy Michael Weatherly's delivery and think Tony adds a lighter element that really makes the show click. People say he needs to "evolve" more but I think we all know he steps up when it matters most ... the clown-ish side never impedes him from being a Very Special Agent. I say don't fix what ain't broke.

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.


@Michael. MW never said that he wanted a change in his character. How was Abby being selfish last week? And you showed me that most people like Ziva already. Almost (Emphasis on ALMOST) no one wants to see Ziva die.


YESSSS!! It would be GREAT to see Ziva tripped up in a humiliating way by her own arrogance for a change!


I guess part of the reason the discussion turned to Tony was because of the last question brought up in the round table discussion - "Do the writers make Tony too much of a clown?" which is something many Tony fans have complained about for years. He's funny and great at comedy - yes - but for the last few years they've used this so much that the result has been to turn Tony from Gibbs brilliant, brave, and funny SFA, to a guy who is generally clueless, often cowardly, and the butt of every joke. I don' think anyone wants Tony to be serious all the time. I would just like to see Tony be funny because of cleverness, or let someone else who is now portrayed as perfect and immune to any unflattering character moments - Ziva and Gibbs come to mind - be the clueless butt of the joke. Wouldn't that be an amazing and unpredictable surprise?


I don't get why the comments always end up being about Tony. It was a really good episode. Great performances by Brian Dietzen and David McCullough. I loved the little ticket story. Wished there was some resolution where McGee got tix for DiNozzo, but it was fine. Looking forward to the Admiral McGee ep.


You can tell that its really bothering Michael Weatherly too, I mean he has gone on many records saying how he wish he could be taken more seriouly now that he a father I think that why he does other cop show beside NCIS now because he does not want to be Typecast. They really need to change these character and let them grow, its kinda of sad that Abby a woman in her late 40 is acting like a 16 year old how selfish was she tuesday with gibbs. I agree with Julia64 and I would like to add for all we know the reason NCIS got those high rating is because we all though Ziva was going to be killed off.


@S Well put. You totally echo my thoughts re Tony. I particularly liked your point about previously possessed abilities - the old Tony was a crack marksman and a decent fighter, who could look after himself and watch Gibbs' six. Notice how Ziva enters crime site rooms ahead of Tony now. MW has great comic timing, but he's fabulous at the serious stuff, when you combine the two the result is some amazing moments. Now if only the writers/producers/directors would take note.


@Timothy - I was just commenting on the Tony humiliation moment of the week and how this formula which now passes as the show's "humor" moment, never varies. Tony is ALWAYS the butt monkey in the obligatory comic moment. I know that MW has considerable comedic talent, but why does it always have to be humiliation humor? The writers seem so desperate to write that moment, that they've essentially transformed Tony from the clever and hot street smart, "work smarter not harder" investigator, to a guy who ALWAYS loses in the bullpen, embarrassingly strikes out with the ladies, and has lost formerly possessed abilities, just so we can see other characters shine or have our comic moment. But you are right about one thing - at least after we had the everyone at NCIS knows about Tim's tikt connection but Tony scene, we actually did have some competent Tony, and Ducky and Palmer were a refreshing change of pace.


Oops ran out of room again. .... Off to enjoy an early season episode!


On the subject of viewing figs it should be noted that the new series started with 20.48m with the IMO (following last season's truly exciting cliff hanger) slightly disappointing opening episode (for an example of a tense post bomb ep, the writers might want to reference 'Diagnosis Murder - Resurrection') after which the figures dropped across several weeks to a low of 16.47m. It took the emotionally charged Shabbat Shalom and Shiva featuring a decidedly more mature Tony, to bring the figures back to an all time high of 22.86 m. The series is loved for its fantastic cast and characters and I fail to see why giving Tony some of his mojo back and perhaps a glimpse of some of the old Gibbs/DiNozzo relationship would be in any way detrimental to the audience figs and IMO would likely gladden the hearts of those loyal fans who have watched the series from the start and are saddened to see the slow demise of one of their favourite characters. Apologies for the tirade. Right I'm off to enjoy an early season episode!


Excuse me, but was I watching the wrong episode? Comical dispute with McGee over concert tickets aside, at no time in this episode was DiNozzo depicted as incompetent (wasn't he the one who came up with the evidence proving that "Gordon Roth" was an impostor?) Over all, I thought this was a pretty good episode spotlighting Mr. Peabody and his boy, Sherman AKA Ducky and Jimmy, so why did this have to turn into yet another "DiBozo the Clown" debate?

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NCIS Season 10 Episode 16 Quotes

Palmer: Oh my God.
Ducky: What?
Palmer: I just realized that I missed my nine-month wedding anniversary. Breena's going to kill me.
Ducky: You do know I have a heart condition.

Doctor, I respect you more than anyone in the world, so please forgive me when I say - go to hell. I'm not leaving you.