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? 


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (299 Votes)

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



Wow, people. Writers have to develop scenes with tension and drama to keep people interested--they don't always get the characters just right--but the NCIS writers have managed to deliver to a huge fan base year after year. I can tell you TIVA would NOT ruin the show if it's done right! This episode is an example, it's definitely 'in character' for Ziva to ask McGee for help tracking Bodnar. It has nothing to do with not trusting Tony, it has everything to do with tracking Bodnar as quickly and efficiently as possible. Ziva and Tim were going to figure out a way to tell Tony, then probably enlist his help to tell Gibbs--also 'in character.' If Ziva had gone straight to Tony we wouldn't have any McGee in the episode . . . hellooooo? When an episode is done right, we get to see all of our favorite people in action, strengths and weaknesses. Look at the scene between Ducky and Palmer over the Psych Profile. Tension well done. That's good writing, and gives a little insight into those characters. Now definitely they need to tame Tony's clowning down, but they're working on it, and they definitely need to tame Ziva's 'snarky' dialogue at Tony. But there is no doubt in my mind that they care for one another, and they're scared and trapped, not knowing what to do with all that chemistry. The writers are in the same boat!


Please be specific about what it says about TIVA happening on April 23. Yes, it says that there will be a TIVA moment with the two of them dancing, but that is all that is implied. It does not say anywhere that I could find that this will bring them together as a couple. Will it be a nice moment? Hopefully. But we have had several nice TIVA moments this year that have not brought them together as a couple. When asked if they are going to kiss it says that GG is coy in his response. When you say TIVA is going to happen that implies that they are going to kiss and become a couple. Those words are not used-only that they dance and she will melt into his arms. If there is more info, please let me know. Thanks!


I was convinced the neighbor did it as the perp in so many episodes is usually someone introduced early in the show. Love the fact that the story line will now turn towards getting revenge against Bodnar with Tony and Ziva leading the way. Can't wait for the final episodes. Love this show.


Frankly, I was a bit offended for Tony when we discovered that Ziva had included McGee in the hunt for Bodnar and not him. I get that she needed McGee's technical skills but to exclude Tony was kind of cold. I did know about the ring finger and the vein to the heart.


This was an intriguing end to this episode. Tony and Ziva going to Rome together. Hmm. Nice. Anyway, I don't think Bodnar is still there. But, when they do find him, Ithink Ziva will want to kill him, and I see Tony talking her out of it. He wouldn't want her to ruin her life and career over that jack-ass. Now, he might chance ruining his own, but not hers. I don't know. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Great show.


Off main subject but major wardrobe frak up this ep: day one, Tony with coral tie, Ziva gray with shoulder stripes and Tim with white jacket; day two Tony with black tie, Ziva black top, Tim dark coat and blue shirt; then night time with day one clothes and Tony confronts Ziva and Tim; then right back to the squadroom at night with day two clothes. It's like day one and final scene shot the same day and they forgot to change their clothes.Sloppy! Hard to tell time line in this ep but I thought it spanned at least three days, giving Vance time to speak with Gibbs, and I'm sure Tony told Gibbs about finding Ziva and Tim.


the episode was ok until the end then it got good am lookig forward to what Tony and Ziva when NCIS returns


Is there ANY way for this page to give us the option of reading comments "oldest first"? I have to go all the way to the end and read "up" the page, then move to the "previous" page. Many other sites give you the choice of how you want to view comments [newest first or oldest first]. Would that be so impossible here?


@AnneM - I hear what you're saying about Tony and secrets but the whole Jeanne/La Grenuoille mission proves that's not true.


@BlueRick. Sorry but have to disagree. Tony does not owe Ziva for killing the rogue Rivkin Ziva was blindly sleeping with. His aim was to protect her. Ziva's response of knocking him to the ground and shoving a gun in his chest and requesting Gibbs kick him off the team for her vindictiveness? Tony doesn't owe her anything. And let's not forget who rescued her from Saleem. Ziva owes Tony far more than her superiority complex will admit. And let's also not forget in Semper Fidelis, Gibbs told Tony to "You stay on it, DiNozzo" regarding Rivkin. It was also an order.

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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.