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NCIS Review: Hunters and The Hunted

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Get ready: this episode was the launching point for the major story that will take us to the end of NCIS season 10.

To that end, this was one of those installments where the last 10 minutes were the most compelling, particularly that slow approving nod from Vance to Ziva.

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

The title - "Chasing Ghosts" - was a play on words, as the "ghosts" here were twofold: the first was the missing Navy reservist's husband, Noah Daniels, who was later presumed dead.  The second was Bodnar, who's been in the wind since the death of Ziva's father and Vance's wife. Both the Navy reservist - Callie Daniels - and Ziva were looking for closure. 

Tony, Abby, Gibbs and Ziva

In the case of Daniels, it turns out he had staged his own kidnapping at his home - and then later staged his own death by killing Darryl Orton, a man he had previously met in a restaurant. And then left a fake suicide note, directing the investigators to (supposedly) Daniels' dead body. 

The degree of Daniels' commitment to the ruse was found in his willingness to have his girlfriend lop off his ring finger, as well as his willingness to kill the stooge.   Daniels' marriage was going through rough times and he didn't want his wife being able to access his trust fund or come after him for it in the event of a split. He had hoped that the staged kidnapping and death - complete with the fake confession from Orton - would allow him to be free to flee with the money and his girlfriend. 

The discovery of Daniel's finger in the garbage can sort of creeped everyone out, especially Tony who tried to make light of it:

Tony: Hope this doesn't turn into one of those whacked-out games of tic-tac-toe. You know, a finger here, an arm there, you find a head and you've got a meat puzzle... | permalink

There were two other subplots, which I found much more interesting. The first involved Palmer's career evolution. We're so used to seeing him make lame jokes that go nowhere and being considered a clown who is slightly lower in status than Tony. 

Consequently, it appeared that Ducky didn't take him seriously, trying to shoo him out of the picture when it came time to do a psychological profile of the man who they thought had kidnapped Daniels. Palmer's heartfelt rejection of Ducky's dismissal is recounted in the NCIS quotes from this episode. And it was beautiful. 

The final subplot was mostly about Ziva and, to a lesser degree, Vance. Finally we saw most of the NCIS gang find a way to support Ziva's hunt for Bodnar - whether it will end in his apprehension or (more likely) Ziva's vengeance on him. Throughout the episode Tony was in full investigative mode when it came to Ziva, even to the point where he took note of her five minute tardiness in getting to work. 

This bugged McGee to no end, a fact I found a little strange until near the end, when we discovered that McGee had been helping Ziva all along. 

Interesting that Tony didn't try that hard to hide his misgivings from Gibbs, choosing instead to ask for his permission to find out where she was and what she was doing. Equally surprising was Gibbs' agreement and encouragement to do so "now!" Tony - and likely all of the viewers - were surprised to find McGee in that room with Ziva.  None of us saw that coming. Not so surprising was the fact that Ziva had been active in her search for Bodnar all along, employing the help of contacts from all over the world. 

Even Abby was on board, despite her misgivings, in helping Tony track Ziva down. 

The next surprise was Gibbs' knowledge of this activity and his active agreement with it. I had a hard time trying to figure out whether I was amused at Gibbs' fake innocent expression as Ziva and Tony shared their apprehension prior to Ziva's confession to Gibbs... or Ziva's shock at learning that Gibbs' not only knew all along, but was more than willing to allow her to do some traveling to find Bodnar, even to the point of sharing with her the latest intel: that Bodnar was in Rome.

And then there was Vance. A man who had his own closure to deal with. He too approved of Ziva's hunt for Bodnar and indicated so by his slow nod at the end.

This is going to be good.

Final notes:

  • I was positive at the start that Daniels' neighbor had kidnapped or killed him, out of a misplaced attraction to Daniels' wife. Did anyone else suspect him?
  • Even though McGee had been helping Ziva all along, Gibbs told Ziva to go to Rome and to "take DiNozzo." Not McGee.
  • Tony got one of Gibbs' "slap upside the head" in this episode, something we haven't seen in quite some time.
  • We learned something from Ducky about the custom of having the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the right hand. Certainly this was news to me anyway.  "Vena amoris" - literally, the vein of love.

What do you think will happen next? Does Ziva intend to bring Bodnar in or kill him? When Tony first spoke to Ziva after getting Abby's help in finding her, he said that he wanted to help. Do you think his help will extend to helping her kill him if that's her goal? How do you think Vance will fend off Homeland Security in order to allow Ziva to continue her manhunt? 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (298 Votes)

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

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How can you not meantions TOM MORROW the dude was a former NCIS director and the best one beside vance. I think we are going to see somehing like we saw on CM last year where the team was put on trail for terrisom I can see NCIS doing the same for their show. I like how Tony rip mcgee and Ziva for breaking the law again funny how these two always get on Tony case for stuff he does but it okay for them to do it.

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Tony being left out by Ziva makes sense in that Tony is really and truly one of the bosses and does act like it. He is in charge when Gibbs isn't around (not just because he's senior, but because he tells the rest of them what to do). Even when he showed up, McGee and Ziva went to explanation mode almost like little kids caught by a parent trying to do something they weren't sure they weren't going to be yelled at for. And Tony did essentially order her to tell Gibbs what she was doing -- and she did!

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1) Tony cannot keep a secret. This has been commented on a number of times in the run of the show. 2) McGee is more focused. Ziva and Tim could work for long hours and be focused on the work at hand and not joking around. [(2A) McGee's skill set goes beyond computers. He is, and Tony said this seasons ago, able to find things where no one else thinks to look.] 4) Vance has his own personal reasons for being involved. And Vance has tremendous trust in McGee. Vance may have told McGee that he was working on this with Ziva. 5) "Off-book" - when Tony said that they would get in trouble for using NCIS equipment, McGee replied that it was off-book, meaning that Vance found funds somewhere for the matching computers and lovely apartment. 6) Why was Vance meeting with the old director Tom Morrow, who left NCIS to take a post as Deputy Director of Homeland Security? Could Morrow be in on this with Vance? Why McGee and not Tony?> 7) Shock Value!!! McGee is the last person I would have suspected to be in there working with Ziva. And in terms NCIS/Season 10, it definitely did shock us, didn't it?

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SPOILER ALERT....to "GuestAbby" and others...NCIS/CBS put on facebook yesterday that "TIVA" will happen on the April 23rd episode! Will it be in Rome? (Where did Berlin come into play?) Anyway, back to this episode....I, too, thought the house looked staged and the neighbor was involved ("fightclub"), but was shocked it was Noah's girlfriend, the restaurant owner. The bitchy way the wife was acting, I don't blame him! And all along I was thinking SHE was hoping they wouldn't find him so the trust fund was hers! I also agree that Rule #4 was being used by Ziva for her 'buddy' McGee to be the one in on the secret. When has Tony ever done anything to win her trust, snooping as he does? Ok episode, but from past weeks, you know Bodin was the main arc they were building up to.

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@Diana...I never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense that Vance would use Ziva "as his weapon" of choice. He is kind of using her like Eli did. Whatever gets him the goal of revenge for his wife. He doesn't care Eli is dead (only that it gets Ziva in revenge mode as well), it only matters that his wifes killer is brought to justice....as in his words....dead. To heck with how it happens or to who ever does it, just that it gets done. I really like your insights Diana on the thought of Vance. Very interesting.

Soapjunk

I think I can safely say that Gibbs is one of the biggest Tiva fans! Sending them to the city of love together

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Maybe Ziva never asked McGee -- perhaps he offered to help her first. And I won’t put it past Vance to put a bug in McGee’s ear to help her. Vance trusts him and his tech capabilities. And for me, this is more about Vance’s vengeance than Ziva’s – Vance is using Ziva as his weapon of choice. Remember Eli’s words to Vance about “Ziva being the sharp end of the sword.� For me, Vance’s end look to Ziva said kill the bastard. Vance can’t go after Bodnar personally .. he has his children to think about. As for Tony – he understands why McGee would be helpful initially. But I think Tony knows when push comes to shove, Ziva would come to him. And I bet we get a conversation to that effect in later episodes.

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Rule #4: The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself.Second best? Tell one other person - if you must.There is no third best. 4x11 'Blowback' She had to tell McGee as she needed his knowledge and skills. Once they had somewhat slimed down where Bodner was, they were going to bring Tony in. I agree....there were no "bad trust" issues here.

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Off topic, Anyone ever notice that Tony can't or won't make any decision without Gibb's approval or acceptance? I understand why, but it also makes him seem weak and afraid to stand on his own two feet. I guess he really isn't "able" to be the team leader yet. In order for that, he needs to stand up to Gibbs and do what he wants and thinks is best. I say, give Tony a backbone when it comes to Gibbs. A lot of people want the "clowning" to stop, I want him to stand up to Gibbs with convection and strength.

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Anyone remember Gibbs's rule about secrets? Something about don't tell anyone, or just one person? I can't remember the whole rule, but it was something about only telling one person. She needed McGee's computer help at first and now that they had tracked Bodner to a specific area, was planning on bringing Tony in. I don't see why everyone is so upset. It doesn't have anything to do with trust.

NCIS Season 10 Episode 20 Quotes

Ziva: It's not about a choice it's about survival. She will not stop until she gets her closure.
Tony: We still talking about the lieutenant?
Ziva: Please do not go there. I'm fine.

Ziva : I would like your permission to travel to Europe to find Bodnar. I have been trying to locate him with the help of McGee and various contacts.
Gibbs: I know.
Ziva: You have known all this time? Then why did...
Gibbs: You needed to be ready to tell me. He's in Rome.
Ziva: That's what I thought too.
Gibbs: What are you waiting for? Take DiNozzo. Go.