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.


And yet the show continues to increase in viewers. So whatever they are doing with the characters is working and they aren't changing anything nor should they.


I think they do a great job making Tony serious and fun at the same time. We all know people in our lives who are both so why can't a TV character. I thought the episode was good because of just seeing Ducky and Palmer get more time. It would get boring if it just about Tony and Ziva all the time.


Tony/MW is the main reason that I watch NCIS. I'm completely saddened by the increasingly diminished importance that his character suffered once DPB left as show runner. The ptb seem to habitually rely on Tony to provide each episodes humor which is unvaryingly humiliating. In the old days, Tony was funny, but it wasn't ALWAYS because he was the butt of the joke. I just don't know if the writers are capable or allowed to write anything that strays from this over used formula now. What a waste and a shame. I miss old NCIS, where Tony was allowed to be portrayed as truly competent, heroic, and brilliant, and Gibbs supported this. I haven't seen this Tony in years. MW's considerable and varied talents and his ability to create a multi dimensional character, IMO, being quite wasted now, so we can have yet another boring victim Ziva arc.


I love Tony but seems to me that over the years (and season 10 in particular) rather than evolving Tony has regressed into a less mature two dimensional character. People talk about not wanting a new Tony, I'd just like to see a lot more of the old one. For the most part Tony was previously written as a bright, thoughtful and highly competent investigator - to quote Gibbs "the finest young agent I've ever worked with" - offset by a smattering of smart, witty dialogue. Michael Weatherly is a hugely talented actor and deserves a great deal more to get his teeth into. I've seen it happen in long running series before where for some unknown reason the smart wise cracking guy turns into a silly irritating clown. And to be blunt, not necessarily a good look for a more 'mature' actor. Silly question - but is it a requirement for every new NCIS writer to watch every episode of every series before they are allowed to put pen to paper?!


I agree that Tony does bring the funny and MW is a very talented actor. He can do comedy and the serious scenes so well and he blends them perfectly into every scene.
Having said that, I really don't find the humiliation humor funny at all. In the last few seasons, we've learned that Tony is old, fat, homely, smells bad, is stupid, incompetent, everyone hates him and he can't be trusted.
So what's the punch line?
Maybe it's an age/generational thing. I'm in my late 30s and just don't get it.
If I had to compare that humor to any other show, it would have to be iCarly. Very young, like pre-teen young and easy.
I'm pretty sure the writers can do better. Tony is such complex, multi-faceted character, and many of the writers are super talented. It should be fun to write him without having to take the low road every week.


Hey,...everyone plays a part and has a different personality on NCIS,...the interaction of the parts is what makes the show the attraction that it has (ala 20+ million a week!). Tony is the ringleader of the humor side, but McGee, Ziva and even Gibbs get their zingers in once in awhile. Even with the serious side of investigation of killings, terrorism, etc., there is and needs to have a nice piece of 'alternate entertainment' once in awhile. Ever hear a speech (politician or otherwise) that had no interjections of humor here and there???....not very attentive after the first few minutes, were you....same goes here....I say hats off to the writing, production, direction, & cast...the whole thing just works....what series could say that they were still #1 after 10 full seasons??


I'm sure in the delusional world you live, everyone hate Tony...


I really liked that episode, but I agree with Eric, Tony doesn't need to change: for me, it's only because he brings that lighter element that I don't dislike him too much. In every episode he was serious, and un-Tony, I found him boring.


Man Eric you really hate Tony tha much don't you seem like everyone here hates Tony


I agree with you, Eric. I like Tony just fine the way he is.

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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.