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NCIS Round Table: "Damned If You Do"

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Our NCIS review broke down "Damned If You Do," this week's season finale, in detail.

Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Douglas Wolfe and Christine Orlando have assembled for our weekly Round Table Q&A discussion of various events and topics from this installment.

Join in as we analyze this season-ending, entertaining hour of TV's #1 show!

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1. How would you describe this week in one word (or two, or three, or four)?

Doug: Together in separation.

Christine: Walk away.

Steve: Unconventional.

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2. What was your favorite quote or scene from "Damned If You Do?"

Doug: I actually laughed out loud when Franks started shooting the fish. The grin on Gibbs' face was pretty cool to see too. 

Christine: Admiral AJ Chegwidden! As a fan of JAG, the show NCIS spun off from, I was positively giddy when he walked in as Gibbs attorney. These two are kindred spirits. Heck, "AJ" even stands for Albert Jethro! I really hope we get to see more of him next season.

Steve: The JAG callback was great. I also enjoyed the log cabin scenes (was that what he was building throughout NCIS Season 10?) and Gibbs torching Mike's files - another callback to years past. Oh, and Delilah?!

3. What was the most frustrating unanswered question?

Doug: How the heck does an irradiated severed head, the NCIS troubles with Parsons, and the death of Kazmi all relate to each other? When Tom Morrow gave his explanation to Vance, and Vance nodded as if he understood, all I could think was "the operation was a success; the patient died."

Christine: There were so many, some of which Doug covered but for me it was what happens to Tony, Ziva, and Tim. They said they admitted to their own actions. Will Parsons file charges against them even though they've quit? And even if he didn't, what's next and how do we get them back?

Steve: How does the severed head tie into the case? And how can Ziva, Tim and Tony admit responsibility and resign, then still get their jobs back down the line?

4. What should Jimmy and Breena name their baby?

Doug: Jimmy has so much love and respect for his mentor that I can see him wanting to name his child Donald. If it's a girl he might want to name her after his mother Eunice.

Christine: Doug took my only thought. I know they're adopting but can't you just picture a little Jimmy running around with glasses? He'll make a sweet father.

Steve: Donald does seem like the obvious choice. But Timothy or Abigail would also be cute ...

5. Tony and Ziva: Forever in the friend zone?

Doug: Certainly seems that way doesn't it? That horrific kiss on the forehead from Tony to Ziva would certainly seems to seal the deal. Expect a lot of hints and innuendo in this coming year. World's worst foreplay.

Christine: Seriously, if I never hear the word Tiva again I would be very happy. What a waste. As a fan of these two characters I feel completely jerked around. Once again the show teased a payoff for this couple and then never followed through. I wish they'd just give them both steady outside love interest and be done with it.

Steve: Maybe naively, I thought they were going to kiss for real there at the end. Then Tony got friend zoned, and I think that window closed. I don't know what lies ahead in NCIS Season 11, but this felt like a turning point to me, and maybe it's for the best.

6. The plot to thwart Parsons: Satisfying or underwhelming?

Doug: Underwhelming. Convenient. Almost lazy. But for all of that - its redemption lies in the fact that it's incomplete: Gibbs is not off of the hook. The investigation into his behavior is postponed, not cancelled. I think that's a good thing too: I want to see the irritating sleaze artist come back to gnaw at the team's underparts in the next season.

Christine: Eh. Kind of underwhelming considering all of the build up. It felt like there should have been more to the fight.

Steve: It was a little of both. Underwhelming for the reasons Doug and Christine said, but satisfying in that it wasn't an easy out. Parsons wasn't undone by a hidden skeleton, and lived to fight another day. He caused the resignation of three NCIS agents, and it took a major hierarchical effort to get Gibbs out of this one - and he isn't even out of it yet. No one can say there weren't consequences or that this scandal was swept under the rug.

7. Where is Gibbs and what is he up to?

Doug: Many have suggested that he didn't shoot Tobias. I'm open to the possibility that he did. My guess is that there's a rabid mole within the alphabet soup hierarchy of the various services, and maybe Tobias is one of them. When Tom Morrow ruled out Iran and North Korea, all we were left with was home-grown terrorists or (worse) internal spies. My guess is that someone from high up has recognized his unique black op skills and wanted him to clean up the mess. As for where - I think he's on home soil.

Christine: I'm assuming he shot whoever Tobias was protecting, whomever stepped out of that car. To what end is anyone's guess.

Steve: If the implication was that the CIA took out Kazmi to cause international hysteria and allow the U.S to focus on the real threat, so to speak, then that could well be a mole hunt. Something that would definitely qualify as a black ops mission for Gibbs. He did not look surprised to see Fornell in the crosshairs, yet he did hestitate before taking what would have been a clear shot. If Tobias isn't the target, is he working with Gibbs or in the dark about the fate that awaits whomever is in the car with him? And who is the injured man with Gibbs?! So many questions.

8. There have now been 10 NCIS season finales! Which was your favorite and why?

Doug: So far, I think the NCIS Season 9 finale was the best. Having someone bomb the NCIS building while Ducky had a heart attack on the beach certainly seems to trump any of the other seasons for me. Fans scrambled to see if David McCallum's contract was renewed. And we got to see Ziva and Tony trapped in an elevator - making the fans wonder once again just what activity they would have to do to keep themselves occupied until help arrived. The writers of NCIS are the absolute masters of The Big Tease.  

Christine: Nothing has ever beaten the Season 2 finale where Caitlin Todd was killed. It was so shocking and heartbreaking that it's always stood with me.

Steve: Hard to argue with Christine. That one still gives you the chills today if you catch it on USA! But after seeing Mike Franks again this week, I couldn't help but recall his funeral in the NCIS Season 8 finale, when Gibbs' woodworking was unveiled on his coffin. That was pretty awesome.

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.

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Since there was a ratings sub-conversation going on, I thought I would throw these numbers out.... According to the Nielsen ratings, for the week of April 29-May 5.....
-18.3 million households watched NCIS live...if you add in the DVR 3-day that number goes up to 20.8 million
-11.8 million households watched The Voice live (in direct competition to NCIS)...if you add in the DVR 3-day the number goes up to 13.2 million For the week of May 13-19....
-18.8 million households watched NCIS live...if you add in the DVR 3-day that number goes up to 21.4 million
-The Voice didn't even crack the top 10 So can we stop the talk that The Voice is giving NCIS a run for it's money? Nothing could be further from the truth.

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CAROL...I TOTALLY AGREE. TONY HAS COVERED EVERYONES SIX TO INCLUDE GIBBS AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER. YOU THINK THE GREAT GIBBS WOULD KEEP TONY ON HIS TEAM OR EVEN SFA IF HE WASN'T COMPETENT? SAVED GIBBS LIFE EVEN WITH WEAK LUNGS. BACKED ZIVA UP SEVERALS TIMES TO INCLUDE TAKEN OUT MICHAEL WHO WAS USING HER. HE WAS PREPARED TO DIE IN ORDER TO AVENGE ZIVA. CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MANY TIME HTAT HE HAD TIME BACK. DONT GET FOOLED BY HIS CLOWNS MASK. THE BALTIMORE PD LAUDED HIM AS A LEGEND.

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Yo si soy fanatico de TIVA, y si pienso que 10x24 es el principio del fin... 1) cuando el la cabaña Gibbs, le dice con la mirada a Tony que vaya tras ella despues de la rabieta, la mirada de Tonny asia Gibbs, es de desacuero, no es la misma que tenia cuando murio Francks, que era de suplica "por fvor jefe enviame tras ella" Yo pienso que sus sentientos empiezan a cambiar, . y 2)Ziva duda si lastimo a Tony cuando le dice en el bosque "SI, Y RECALCO EL SI...si,te lastime en todo esto, nunca fue mi intencion" osea, marca el hecho de que, si Tu tony no cres que te lastime, pues entonces olvidalo, por eso creo, que Tony responde solo con el beso en la frente, El por fin se da cuenta que ella, no es para El.

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If I needed an NCIS Agent to cover my back, it definitely would be TONY. As Senior Field Agent, he's always on everyone's six.

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Tony is (and has always been) a damn fine agent. And he is nowhere as immature as he was in the first two seasons. Tiva fans talk about how much Somalia changed Ziva, but we don't talk so much as to how post-Israel/Somalia changed Tony; we should do it more. It not only changed him, it changed his relationships; just look at his relationship to his father. Ziva seems to get so much attention because she's "exotic." In reality, she's just a little orphan Annie who happened to be connected to Mossad and was "burned" when she decided that she wanted to live her own life. She's also a kindred spirit to Gibbs. One last thing....Gibbs can't be more than 56 on the show. He went into the Corps in 1976 (at age 17 or 18); at least if we pay attention to what he said in "Heartland". If he was 18 in 1976, that would mean that he was born in 1958. Subtract 1958 from 2013 and that makes him 55.

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part 2
harsh than he needs to be, Tony is too much of the buffoon at times, McGee is too timid and unsure, Jimmy acts like a bumbling idiot, Abby is like a school girl on speed, Vance is the stoic one and Ziva is the tough skinned assassin who is way too bitchy at times. The only one who comes across as not being totally exaggerated is Ducky. I will agree with you that the writers are relying on these extremes too much. But you can hardly say that they are only doing it to Tony. They do it to all of them. Just like you do not like them making Tony a clown, I do not like how they always represent Ziva as the ice queen. But, the writers do this for the sake of the drama and I tolerate it because I like the show. I do not blame the actors or the characters, it is strictly the writers and the executive producer who are making all the characters act like they do.

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@Patricia, this was my response on another page, on how Ziva and Gibbs are being portrayed and why Ziva is so mean to Tony (as someone else stated) Well, I for one do not know what my personality would be like but I assume I would have a hard time being friendly and trusting people when everyone I loved had been taken from me in a violent manner. And then there is the fact that her father has used and manipulated her for years for his own agenda. I also have never been held prisoner in a terrorist camp but I am assuming that would do a number on you. It has been implied that bad things happened to Ziva in that camp. Do I think that her behavior at times is abrasive? Yes, absolutely. I often cringe sometimes at the way she talks to people, especially Tony. But just like Tony uses humor to buffer his feelings, I think that Ziva puts up that cold wall in order to protect herself. I also realize though that the writers exaggerate all of their flaws to the extreme. Gibbs is way more harsh than he needs to be, Tony is too much of the buffoon at times, McGee is too timid and unsure,

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@del-boy: I know what you mean. As much as I dig Mark Harmon, all of that "Gibbs angst and anger" does get to be tiresome after a while. It doesn't stop me from watching and enjoying the show, mind you, but I have to agree with you about that.

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@guest - I disagree that Tony has always been an inferior agent. His funny immaturity and ability to think on his feet and outside the box were what made him a brilliant agent - at least in the early seasons. Think of episodes like Chained, Bait, Missing, and yes Dead Man Talking - where Tony persevered and got the job done in his own quirky way. That Tony is gone now though and that kind of writing. Now Tony's "humor" consists of being humiliated and Tony fans are lucky if Tony can do just one small thing right in the episode. Now all the danger and smart agenting are bestowed upon Gibbs or Ziva. Tony's importance to the show has been diminished to push these two, not particularly interesting, somewhat one dimensional tragic super heroes to the front.

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Trouble is for me is that Gibbs is starting to really annoy me now, with his bad temper and really obnoxious look at me I'm a really bad ass attitude, even Parsons was afraid of Gibbs when he came to arrest him and he brought all those agents because he was afraid of his reputation, come one lets get real, Gibbs is a 63 year old ex marine not superman.

NCIS Season 10 Episode 24 Quotes

Morrow: There's a connection between the death of that Navy Seal and what's happening with your team.
Vance: What kind of connection?
Morrow: The murder of Eli David opened a political can of worms that was much bigger than anyone expected.
Vance: Eli and Arash Kazmi wanted to forget a peace. But Bodnar killing them opened the door.
Morrow: Homeland and the CIA wait for chances like this, to stir the pot. Distract governments so that all sorts of recon can happen. The CIA needed Iran to believe Mossad was responsible.
Vance: Are you telling me that Bodnar didn't kill Kazmi?
Morrow: I'm telling you we did it, Leon. The CIA took out Kazmi that night so that Bodnar would end up being the fall guy. Iran and Israel could duke it out while we focused on the real threat. We're all so damned worried about Iran and North Korea when the real threat is here, on home soil.
Vance: It's a shell game isn't it? Keep people distracted.
Morrow: Leon you see why I wanted you to keep your distance?

Vance: Tom Morrow may have a solve. We pull it off this could all go away.
Gibbs: For all of us?
Vance: Clean slate.
Gibbs: What's the catch?
Vance: It might kill you.
Gibbs: So could a bag of clams.
Vance: [laughs] We sure picked one hell of a career didn't we Gibbs?
Gibbs: Got to make a living Leon.

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