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NCIS Round Table: "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot"

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Our NCIS review broke down "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," this week's season premiere, 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: Busy, busy, busy.

Christine: Where's Ziva?

Steve: WTF (I know it's the episode title but it's especially appropriate this week).

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2. Was the NCIS Season 11 premiere what you expected?

Doug: Not at all. But then - I wasn't expecting Cote de Pablo to leave either. I can imagine the writers having a basic story arc planned out for the season, and then being broadsided by her announcement. There's a reason this episode was so hectic: they had to scramble to account for her coming absence, and rebuild the season from scratch. The experience for them must have been as frustrating and hectic as it must have been challenging (the latter of which, from a writing point of view actually is a good thing).

Christine: The time jumps were a little annoying... and I really expected to see more of Ziva. At least one scene. I know we have so little time left with the character that not seeing her at all was a real disappointment. But it was good to see everyone else getting back to work at NCIS.

Steve: Definitely not. From Ziva not appearing in an episode focused on her exit from the show to Parsons' turnaround to the extrapolation of the plot against NCIS, it was one curveball after another for me. That doesn't mean it fell flat, however. As a portion of a two- or three-part episode, if you count last season's finale, it left me as intrigued to see the next chapter as I've ever been watching the show. What more can you ask for?

3. What was your favorite quote or scene from the premiere?

Doug: I laughed at the scene in the office, when Tony is just getting acclimatized to seeing someone else sitting in Ziva's seat. When Murray (the new IT guy) tried to explain something, Tony said "hold on." Are you not using contractions?" (Because the non-use of contractions is Ziva's thing). I also liked the ambush scene with Gibbs in Iran. I don't think we see enough action on this show, so that was pretty cool.

Christine: Tony's line when asked about going to Israel. "I'll travel for good hummus." A man after my own heart.

Steve: The Iranian ambush scene, like Doug said, was NCIS: Los Angeles-esque. I also enjoyed in its aftermath how Gibbs asked, regarding Parsons, "What do you want me to do, leave him here?"

4. Do you trust Parsons?

Doug: Yes and no. I trust him always to do the ethical thing. But I don't trust him to always have the team's back, especially because they occasionally do the unethical thing. How much of a stickler for the rules is he? If it came down to a toss-up between following the rules and supporting the team, my money's on the rules. The team always tries to do the right thing but the right thing is not always the ethical one.

Christine: Not completely, but I do believe he was only trying to do his job when he attempted to take down NCIS. I believe he thought he was doing the right thing. It will be interesting to see how he will get along with everyone moving forward, if he continues hanging out with the NCIS crowd. And as Doug said, doing the "right thing" can get a little complicated when you're working in the field. It might be fun to see how Parsons handles that.

Steve: I do actually. Beneath the ruthlessly ambitious, bureaucratic ladder-climbing exterior lies a man who must be at least somewhat sympathetic to those to go all-out at their jobs, which the team truly does. Once he realized the true nature of what he was investigating, he saw Gibbs in a different light. I don't think he'll revert to his old ways, at least not next week.

5. McGee has a girlfriend. Discuss.

Doug: I don't think Tony's met her yet - I think he'd approve. I certainly do. Margo Harshman, who plays Delilah, was wasted on The Big Bang Theory. I like the fact that she has a higher security clearance than McGee and Abby: it raises some interesting potentials for conflict. Plus she's drop-dead gorgeous. (Sorry. Had to channel Tony for a second. Won't happen again. Not today anyway.)

Christine: Yet to be determined. I'm with Abby right now. I don't know quite what to make of her. She's smart and beautiful. I just didn't feel much chemistry between her and McGee in the short scene that we got. Maybe that will change moving forward. 

Steve: We'll need to see more to get a better feel for this, as Christine says, and here's hoping that Tony meets her next week or the week after. Good or bad, you know that would be memorably comedic.

6. The "Wall Street meets Al Qaeda" plot: Intriguing or underwhelming?

Doug: At first I was like "really?" It didn't make sense to me and seemed a little contrived. But then I realized, some terrorists are into the drug industry, using the profits to fund their terrorist plots. So it *kind of* makes sense that they'd seek other ways to accrue some profits - but only if their end game is to fund their ideology. Just can't bring myself to believe anyone would be a terrorist just to make money. I just can't. Robbing a bank - sure. Doing white collar crime? Of course. Blowing up buildings and innocent people and sending out assassins? Yeah, not so much.

Christine: I'm underwhelmed. For me it comes across as just one more conspiracy plot and we've seen a lot of them. On this show I'm always more interested in how the characters react and interact with one another.

Steve: On Revenge, the Initiative really was/is just trying to make money from terrorism. Here, I felt the Brotherhood's alleged motives and connection to NCIS/Homeland were a bit murky, at least as they were explained Tuesday. I'll reserve judgment in hopes that it plays out in a coherent way next week.

7. Prediction time: How will the show bid farewell to Ziva?

Doug: I think she is Israel-bound for the foreseeable future. In an effort to save her from the assassins sent out by the Brotherhood of Doubt, Tony will hunt her down and they will have their final bittersweet moment and that'll be that. I just hope the writers don't come up with a cheesy variation on "let's not say goodbye; let's say so-long for now."

Christine: My guess is that she'll be staying in Israel, either for her own protection or as a part of her father's legacy. And as much as I've been a huge Tiva fan, at this point I'm just hoping that Tony and Ziva get one great moment and then move on. The last thing I want to see is Tony being in limbo for the rest of the series in the hopes that she'll return for a happy ending. The guy deserves to be happy now.

Steve: If there's any positive to Cote de Pablo's exit, it's that NCIS will finally push the Tony-Ziva relationship to another levels, if only for a fleeting moment. And it's going to be great. At least I hope so.

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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I can't wait to see the rest of season 11 its going to rock

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Not disappointed in the episode at all. That businesses could be involved in terrorism is not so farfetched. We're not talking GE or Exxon here. There are a lot of smaller businesses world wide that profit off of war, the drug trade, why not terrorism. Ground zero had to be rebuilt, Boylston street, and now a mall in Kenya. People get paid incentives to finish on or ahead of time. Those incentives can be considerable. Profit sharing? Also surprised that I didn't miss the absence of a certain character. Just saying.

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@gatorgal Thank you for understanding our problems with Michael. But it's hard to not respond to him.

Gatorgal

The only thing GG had to change for the premiere was coming up with a plausible reason for Ziva to be gone. Parsons was still there, the case with the severed head was still there and the end shooting scene will be revisited. He said himself that what he ended up writing was much better and more exciting than the original version. Makes me wonder what the original script was. And no one pay attention to Michael. His sole purpose is writing ridiculous things to get a reaction out of people, and then call them liars.

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@Michael She never asked Tony off the team. She told Gibbs that she couldn't work on the same team with Tony. She never shot Tony.

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@Michael Ziva never shot him.

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It felt like the old NCIS back when it was not the Tiva show. @Mel
don't forget Ziva ask Gibbs to kick tony off the team after she shot him

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I'm with Christine: Let Tony move on and find some happiness, finally. I mean, the guy's fiancé dumped him the night before the wedding, his "romance" with Jeanne ended horribly and threw him into a long dry spell, and EJ didn't even have the decency to check on him after they were shot in that alley in S9. Sheesh!
As far as the story, Glasberg just can't write anything with a complicated plot, and this one was rather convoluted. I did like all the character stuff though. As far as the absence of Ziva, considering the actress playing her gave her notice just four days before they started filming, and the script had to be re-written numerous times to accommodate the change, I can't fault the show. Glasberg had a lot of territory to cover, and having to then fit Ziva's leaving into it all had to have created a mess. Despite this, they still managed to have a big Ziva presence in the ep.

Gatorgal

I was very disappointed in the absence of Cote from this episode. It would be interesting to see what the original script looked like. I think Parsons is a bad guy-his name is way too similar to their terrorist "Parsa" to be a coincidence. And how does a "Beltway Lawyer" as straitlaced as "Dick" find his way to Iran the exact same moment Gibbs is ambushed? Regarding Delilah, I also saw no chemistry between her and Tim, although I liked her. They didn't kiss hello or touch in any way. Tim seemed very uptight.

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I'm so with you. Give them the great goodbye scene then let Tony move on. One thing I wish you had mentioned is what great acting there was in this episode. So good that it rose above the dangling plot lines. GG has great ideas, but there are usually too many details for the writers to tie together, leaving. Convulsed and slightly (or very) confusing storyline. Less details and more actual plotting would be helpful. But, oh the acting was really good in this episode!

NCIS Season 11 Episode 1 Quotes

I'm positive that NCIS is being set up. Sending you out here was not about Lieutenant McBride. It was about separating you from your team.

Parsons

Tobias: Hard to know who to trust anymore.
Gibbs: Has it ever been easy, Tobias?

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