NCIS Season 10 Report Card: A-

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Gibbs is about to kill someone; and the rest of his team has resigned. Perhaps this wasn't as dramatic a cliffhanger as the end of NCIS Season 9, but it still rates as fascinating. And at least Ducky isn't out on a beach somewhere dying, so there's that. 

DOD Investigator Parsons isn't through with Gibbs yet either. And we have to wait until the fall to see how it all goes down. Looks like the writers have done a brilliant job at keeping us on the hook.

That said, it's time to take a look back at NCIS Season 10. Read on for more in this TV Fanatic Report Card...

Ducky Takes the Lead

Best episode: "Shiva" set the bar for the rest of the season.  In it, we got to see a heartbroken and vengeful Ziva, and a strong and very silent and wise Tony. His serious behavior was such a departure from the norm that it stood out as exceptional. 

I feel like the joker is a front that he always displays, possibly in an effort to ensure people don't get too close to him. Maybe the writers intended that for him, especially given what we learned about his apartment, how he keeps it, and the fact that he rarely lets anyone into it.  With the death of Eli David, Tony seemed to drop all pretense and clownish behaviour and came to Ziva's side like the dependable and strong friend he always was. I think there's a genuine love there - not sure yet how romantic it is, but it seems to have started as a strong friendship that is now something north of "friend."

This, despite the episode Damned If You Do," where he found himself in a sort of friend zone with Ziva. 

Anyway, the episode wasn't about romance: it was about him being the stand-up guy who would fight at her side, if need be, and support her in whatever way she needed.  His line What can I do? What do you need? said it all.  

Even bringing her back to his place, with no overtones of romance, was an excellent move. He instinctively knew she should talk with someone, and that it should be someone she could trust, someone she's known for a long time. And so he surprised her by bringing her friend Shmeil to his apartment as well. 

Finally, his parting words to her at the airport completed the episode, when he said, in Hebrew You are not alone.

That was an excellent and moving episode.

Worst episode: This one was difficult to determine. The writing for NCIS all season has been consistently good, so it's hard to pick out one that was bad, never mind "worst".  That said, I think maybe the weakest one would be "You Better Watch Out," featuring Tony's father. 

We've seen their family dynamic before, so the story was somewhat of a repetition of that, as Tony Senior invaded Tony's space and then made out with the woman across the hall - in Tony's bed. Not only that, he did so while knowing full well his son doesn't bring any dates home, ever. Tony Junior explained to him that he considered his home a sanctuary and Senior just ignored that. I felt Tony's frustration, but as mentioned - it was a repetition of earlier father-son friction. Maybe with this episode over, NCIS can retire the "my dad was the worst guy" meme.

The other thing about this episode was that we were introduced to a fascinating character in the person of Special Agent Ashley Hunter, played so well by Danielle Bisutti.  Her character was so curious and provocative - my one complaint was that we didn't see more of her, or learn more about her. I hope the writers bring her back, maybe even as a regular - her mystery would add to the series. 

Best character: The team works so well together as an ensemble that it's hard to pick just one.  Gibbs has always been Gibbs: silent, powerful, the alpha. Tony is the butt of jokes, but he too is strong, even though he isn't yet seen to be the leader that he is, except by Gibbs, who recognized and acknowledged it in a much earlier episode. Completing the alpha group would be Vance, who has always been somewhat abrasive, but is now more understanding and a heck of a lot more supportive than he ever has been.

Ziva has a strength to her as well, and even McGee has managed to stand up to bullies like Bodnar when needed. Palmer is a great guy who, like Tony, has been somewhat of a lovable clown. And Ducky is consistently dependable: there are very few surprises with him.

This leaves us with Abby. 

She lights up every room into which she walks, and manages to coax a smile out of Gibbs on occasion - along with a loving peck on the cheek. The team relies on her high intelligence, curiosity and expertise for every case they take on; she knows this, yet it doesn't go to her head. You would expect such a person to be aloof but instead she is very approachable.  I like the fact that she has a hard time even saying rough words of vengeance, even against such loathsome characters as DOD Investigator Richard Parsons.  The peek we got into her childhood this season showed us that she was always like this: curious, caring and extremely intelligent. What's not to like? She gets my vote as the best character of the season.

Worst character: This one (unlike "worst episode') was a no-brainer. Richard Parsons is the villain we love to hate. Arrogant, self-important, and an outright hypocrite. He's the one guy that every person on the team had no problem despising. This speaks to the writing and to Colin Hanks' great acting abilities, as he played the guy to perfection:  affable and funny at first, yet calculating, intelligent, manipulative and ultimately ruthless - the very characteristics of a successful sociopath.  

The way in which he handled Ziva and Tony blew me away:  his calculated move to interview her in the interrogation room, knowing full well Tony would watch from the observation room - and even planning it all out so that he'd "run into them" while they were near the rooms, was brilliant. He played Ziva so well too, raising the rhetoric and accusation level until Tony had no choice but to intervene. 

And then doing it all as a ruse to distract from his real target - Gibbs. Masterful and repulsive. Watching him was like watching a disaster movie - it was almost impossible to look away.  He was the best "worst character" ever, I think, precisely because he was such a snake. I doubt this is the last we'll see of him.

Biggest surprise: I think that would be the shooting of Eli David and Jackie Vance during Shabbat dinner at the Vance household in "Shabbat Shalom."  Ziva was so angry at her father for killing a reporter that she was ready to bar him from her life.  And that was just about to happen as she phoned Gibbs to let him know that her dad was the murderer, when the shooting went down.  The episode was as stark as it was riveting.

Most predictable show feature: The clown brothers: Tony and Palmer. 

In earlier seasons, Tony wasn't quite such an easy target yet lately that's all he's been. We know he has a quiet strength and that he would go to the wall for his friends. Yet week after week we rarely see any of it.  I doubt the writers will ever have him give up that part of his personality but...maybe they could use the jokes a little less? It's truly enjoyable watching the silent sentinel do his thing.

Palmer's awkward comedic moments are a bit of a drag too. I think the writers need to flesh him out more. We saw more of his caring side in "Detour," as he refused to leave Ducky's side, even when ordered to do so. 

The awkward clown moments have seen their day. Time for a new narrative.

Best line for the season:  Tony has a lot of great lines. The man is a walking joke book - and I mean that in a good way.  However, given the fact that it's so unusual for him to say anything that is acidly hilarious, the honor this time has to go to Ducky.  When he received a snide question from Bodnar: And whose grandfather would you be?, he replied with a straight face Well that depends. Who's your grandmother? I literally laughed out loud at that one.

Hopes for Season 11:  I really liked the notion of Gibbs being the sniper again. I don't know if it would mess up the show's formula too much but it would great to see him and the team engaging in more black ops scenarios. 

The second thing that comes to mind is our need to resolve the Tony and Ziva thing once and for all.  This season has resulted in what has to be the world's longest foreplay between them. Word is that the "friend zone" thing at the last episode wasn't the final word on their relationship.  So okay - the viewers have tolerated the writers' need to play for a long time now. Time to either open the door right up, or slam it shut.  Tony and Ziva need to kiss and make up (out) already.

Since Shabbat Shalom, I wondered if the writers would be able to maintain the high state of anxiety for the team; whether they would be able to meet the bar set by that episode, and they have shown that they not only can, but thrive on doing so. So my hope is that the momentum is maintained, and that they find a way to raise the stakes even higher for NCIS season 11. We have Vance who is single, Palmer and his wife who are adopting a baby, the team which has resigned, and Gibbs playing the sniper. There's a lot of material with which to work: I can't wait to see what happens next.

Now, over to you. What grade would YOU give NCIS Season 10?

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



When will they come out with a full length NCIS movie based on one of the Fan Fiction stories? For those who want new interesting NCIS stories, just check Fan Fiction. I'm glad I did.


I loved the entire season. This is such a great cast of actors and characters.
I was a little confused at the end of the season. Maybe if they'd explained a little more about what was going on, it would have helped. But, I trust the writers and 'powers that be' to bring it all together for us. I can't wait until September. I'm living on reruns and a few other mystery/crime series that have a humorous overtone. There's so much negative stuff going on in the world, it's great to get away...and laugh.


@Carol, I agree with you. I don't think the Michael Weatherly stays with the show just for the income. I believe that he truly loves his job, the show, and the people he works with. I was responding to people that say that he stays because he needs the job and the money. I was just pointing out that he could live comfortably on what he had made for the rest of his life if he wished to leave the show because he does not like the direction his character is moving in. I love Tony and Ziva and Gibbs and all the characters. I cannot imagine the show without any one of them after this many years. They all add something to the show and I enjoy them all very much.


Michael Weatherly does publicity because he is interested in the success of the series. He has stated that he would like to stay with the show until the end. Also, he has an opportunity to direct. With many stars, it is not the money only that is important, it is the opportunity to achieve new ventures such as directing.
TV Guide NCIS #1 show for the 2012-13 season. This even outranks Sunday Night Football. If anyone has questions about this, just check TV Guide/NCIS (#1).


Really @Michael? He makes $170,000.00 per episode and his wife is a Dr. I hardly think that they are struggling for money. (that x 24 is $4,080,000.00 per year) He could downsize his life and live comfortably off of what he has made in one season for the rest of his life. The average American earns around $40,000. a year. So ya, if his integrity was so threatened by the writing of his character on the show, he could retire and live comfortably for the rest of his life on about $100,000. per year for the next 40 years- that would take him to the age of 85. That doesn't include his wife's salary and that is living off of ONE year's worth of income. He has been on the show for 10 seasons and worked as an actor before that. I would think that he has plenty of money saved up and a retirement fund.


@Guest I don't know what country you live in but in american we have bills and taxes to pay and not a whole lot of jobs so that most likely why he stay


I love how all of you think you know what Michael Weatherly feels about his character and how he is portrayed. If he was really that upset, he could quit the show. He has stated that the show has been very good to him and has made him a lot of money. If he was truly bothered by it, he would leave. Apparently the almighty dollar is more important to him than the integrity of his character. Lord people, get over it. I am so tired of "hearing" you people whine about Tony. It's a television show! And Tiva is not over with. Did you not read the article where Gary Glasberg said that Ziva did not friend zone Tony, that they are dancing around their feelings and treading lightly toward one another? He also said they would see where to take their relationship in season 11. The TV Fanatic page posted this article; perhaps you all should read it.


I'm sure that MW is too much of a professional to whine in public if he has grievances. Also, he seems to be a team player and not a big ego. If they portray his as the butt monkey 90 percent of the time, than he's not a deep human hiding behind the face of a clown - he IS a clown. The only character who Tony was allowed to be serious about or with this season was of course the center of ZCIS melodrama - Ziva. He got one brief sweet moment with Tim. Aside from being butt monkey, his side job is as Ziva's handsome purse. Too bad Ziva hasn't matured. She's just as arrogant, violent, and out of control as ever. And now the writers have had to twist the entire team into a bunch of law breaking hypocrites so the ZCIS world could revolve around her little revenge/murder which has already been swept under the rug.


@Kim Hampton
at the end of season 7 before season 8 statred Michael Weathlery was said to be very mad at the writer because he felt season 7 took his character backwards in trun of development to the point where he almost walk off the set after the end of season 7 it took Mark and Rocky to bring him back plus he got to direct in season 8. it has been well know for the last couple of years that Michael Weatherly and Mark Hamon have butted head with the writers over their characters and all the Romances on the show


Wow...still feel like I'm in an alternate universe. Maybe I'm watching a different show, but the "post-elevator-us" Tony is much more mature than even the Tony of seasons 8 and 9. Anybody else remember when Gibbs said,"Tony likes to act behind the face of a clown..."? Tony acts like a clown when he's nervous. But there is a difference between acting like a clown and making jokes. Tony joked quite a bit during season 10, but underneath it all was a deep concern for the other members of the team. I haven't read that MW is upset at how the writers are writing Tony. Do any of you who are complaining about Tony's treatment have any evidence that MW is unhappy?

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NCIS Quotes

Tony: One other question, I know you're an expert in English history. And I was just wondering, have you ever heard of Archibald Drummond, the 17th Earl of Trent?
Ducky: The Earl of Trent. No, I can't say I have. Why?
Tony: I was just wondering. Thanks.

McGee: All right. Well you should probably know that Abby and I used to date?
Bishop: Ew. Like, each other?
McGee: Yeah.
Bishop: Wait - isn't that a violation of rule 12, never date a....
McGee: It was a long time ago. After we'd broken up, one night I went to her lab. Found a scribbled piece paper; a list. Potential boyfriends had to fulfill certain conditions by a pre-arranged date or else, goodbye.
Bishop: Such as.
McGee: Things started off relatively normal: opening the door for her, flowers, putting the seat down. Then around number 8, it gets uh...
Bishop: What?
McGee: Does she know you have these?
Bishop: Does she know you have these?
McGee: Yeah she wasn't happy when she found out.
Bishop: These are all very specific.
McGee: Yeah.
Bishop: These ideas apply to you?
McGee: No those rules weren't in place when we were together. At least I don't think so.
Bishop: What's with the two month cutoff? Abby's sabotaging herself. I've seen stuff like this before. We have to talk to her.