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NCIS Review: Hashtag Rescue

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The first NCIS episode without Ziva was fast-paced and still interesting, which is hardly surprising, given the quality of writing for this show.

"Under the Radar" introduced us to a spitfire of an agent in the person of Vera Strickland (played by Roma Maffia Nip/Tuck fame), who was a former partner of Mike Franks. She assisted the team in the investigation of a Navy Lieutenant who was planning to kill his air school classmates out of spite and revenge because he washed out of the running for Navy flight competency.

Strickland's charm came in two parts: her ability and willingness to shoot from the hip - loudly - and her ability to make Gibbs laugh. That last one was startling, as we're not used to seeing the all-knowing impatient agent even grin very much.

Special Agent Strickland

I think her presence in this episode - which will likely be her only appearance - proved something important: Tony needs a foil, which is a role Ziva used to play quite well. He needs someone to spark against. McGee provides somewhat of an opposite to him, but just barely and only in a slightly underdog way. Vera was Ziva squared: she knew him by reputation and wanted nothing to do with him. Even his rescue of her didn't change her mind: she ended up with a sprained ankle out of the deal. I liked her, though, and wish there was hope we could see more of her in future episodes. 

Although it has to be said: there was no way she could take Ziva's place. I was relieved at learning that she was about to retire.

Speaking of Ziva's place... her desk has become somewhat of a shrine these days. The rest of the team doesn't want anyone sitting at her spot - least of all Vera. I was surprised when Gibbs steered her to another spot, one that was much more cramped than Ziva's. Guess Gibbs is going to have to find someone exceptional for that spot; he can't just put anyone there. When Ziva's phone rang, the tension was terrific. 

It was pleasantly surprising to see what the writers did with Tony for this episode. He was a lot less of a joker, much more of a serious and dangerous dude this time around. In spite of his head-to-head with Vera, he became a sort of super-Tony at the bomb-seller's place: tackling Vera to get her out of the way of the fleeing truck, then turning around, aiming and shooting out the tire of the truck, bringing it to a stop. Then he took the guy into custody and with Gibbs providing assistance, got the guy to confess. That's the Tony we've been looking for. Then of course there was this:

Tony: Want to take a ride, Vera?
Vera: Bite me. | permalink

The use of social media to track the low-flying plane was a bit fantastic. The technology of it certainly appealed to this techno-geek, but the probability seemed a bit off. Now that we know that cellphones and cameras contain meta-data that provide location information, and that tweets often contain such data as well, it's not a stretch to imagine various tweets providing a sort of data map to show the trajectory of the lieutenant's plane.  

Theoretically it can be done. The probability of enough tweeters being around during the middle of the day with nothing to do but be outside - in the daylight even! - and tweeting their responses to NCIS' request for help just sort of tiptoes past the bounds of believability. Still, we were entertained, weren't we? And besides, it gave us a reason to ensure that McGee and company got to visit the White House afterward, which effectively cancelled McGee's troubles about the misplaced credentials.

I wondered about Lieutenant Keith's plan and why it was he had duct tape around his hand.  When Gibbs talked him out of blowing up the ship and he turned his plane around, it just all seemed too easy. I thought maybe the show didn't have enough money for the special effects necessary to show the plane being shot down. Turns out Keith was holding onto a dead man's switch. Too bad he couldn't keep it together long enough to land the plane. 

Final notes:

  • There's a lot of bro-love between Palmer and Ducky isn't there? Ducky pretty much bent over backwards accommodating Mr. Palmer's incredibly annoying phone ringtones, all to support the latter's upcoming baby adoption.
  • I had no idea Palmer's wife was a mortician. That'll make for some interesting conversation with prospective birth mothers.
  • Tony had to give a small dig to McGee about his girlfriend. Nice to see a nod in that direction, as it mean's we're definitely going to see more of her soon.
  • Check out some of the other NCIS quotes from this episode.
  • For once, Gibbs wasn't able to talk someone into something (notably, Eugene, who wanted to make sure McGee got the Naval slap he deserved for his mess with the ID). The fact that Vance stepped in for the save was fascinating. Okay, technically it was the President who saved him, but at least Vance got the assist.
  • Last night Pauley Perrette (@PauleyP) sent out a tweet asking her followers to send out tweets with Gibbs' line #WhatsAHashtag in support of this episode.

What are your thoughts? Would you like to see Vera back again? Were you satisfied with this Ziva-less episode? What do you think of Tony? Sound off on all things NCIS below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (214 Votes)

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

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As expected, the viewers and ratings dropped. Not going to point to a specific reason, but the first three episodes so far were below par in my opinion. NCIS dropped to to #2 the week of the premiere, per TV guide, but I don't know how accurate that is, and they lost 3 million viewers the third episode. This week they bring back dead Mike Franks (again), Tony goes back to Baltimore (again) DiNozzo, Sr shows up (again) See a trend? Sounds like writer's block to me. The only "again" I am happy about is Agent Borin's return. She's a hoot.

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IWOULD LOVE TO SEE tONY AND GIBBS BECOME FRIENDS AND GIBBS TO RESPECT HIM FOR THE GREAT AGENT AND PARTNER HE YOU CANT MAKE HIM A HERO SAVING GIBBS LIFE IN THE WATER SCENE ONE MINUTE AND THEN A STUPID FOOL GETTING HEAD SLAPS THE NEXT GOOD TO SEE GIBBS LAUGH AGAIN HE COULD EVEN LAUGH AT TONYS JOKES HES PRETTY FUNNY JUST SAYING ! A FAN

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Please don't bring in Vera, hope, hope that she is in fact retiring. She was an absolute terror! Will miss Ziva, she was perfect in this part: tough and pretty and had good vibes with the rest of the team. Was glad that she replaced Kate as Kate wasn't as good in the group I didn't think. Love NCIS and hope that you bring back Ziva or someone similar in cohesiveness, certainly not Vera!

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Bravo Kayla! It's as if you read my mind and posted it.

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...CONT 2: I loved this episode, and a quick look at the ratings show they're almost exactly the same as this time last year, so I doubt Ziva's leaving is going to affect the show at all. If anything, I suspect fans who left, like me, will start coming back now it's not all Mossad plotlines and tragic Princess Ziva angst all the time, with a side order of Tedious Tiva thrown in.

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...CONT: especially in view of Tony's age and experience.
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I wouldn't mind seeing more of Vera - she was a hoot. I loved seeing competent Tony again - much more like he was in the early days of NCIS before all his skills seemed to magically transfer over to Ziva, and he was just used as idiotic comic relief. I suspect MW is glad to have a chance to be a hero again - it was shameful the way the show regressed the character in the past few seasons.
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I think Cote leaving is the creative kick up the rear the show needed to move on. It was stuck in a Tiva/Ziva shaped bubble for so long that it had become utterly dull and predictable. Now, hopefully, we'll see more screentime for all the characters and more stories for them. It was already good to see a Ducky/Abby scene and a Tony/Abby scene in this episode - such scenes have become rare in the past few seasons and they used to be one of my main delights in watching NCIS.
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I hope the show keeps going like this - I loved this episode, and a quick look at the ratings show they're almost exactly the same as this time last year, so I doubt Ziva's leaving is going to affect the show at all. If anything, I suspect fans who left, like me, will start coming back now it's not all Mossad plotlines and tragic Princess Ziva angst all the time, with a side order of Tedious Tiva thrown in.

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I loved this episode! It felt more like old school NCIS, there was an emphasis on team work, and the pacing and action didn't have to slow down to accomodate smirky reaction shots from Ziva, her smug putdowns, or a boring Tiva 'moment'. Fantastic! I loved the Twitter thing - it was very exciting to watch and very well done.
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I loved Vera but I think Tony does just fine without a 'foil' - he's funniest around Gibbs anyway. I hope Gibbs's smile was a sign of things to come. He always used to smile and I like it when he has fun with his team. One of the show's biggest mistakes in recent years has been separating him from his team, turning them into his surrogate children, and only allowing him to have relationships and friendships with 'grownups' like Vance. Tony is his 2IC - and that relationship has always been the bedrock NCIS was built on. I'd like to see more of it as a friendship between peers, which is how it should have been for the past few years, especially in view of Tony's age and experience.
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I wouldn't mind seeing more of Vera - she was a hoot. I loved seeing competent Tony again - much more like he was in the early days of NCIS before all his skills seemed to magically transfer over to Ziva, and he was just used as idiotic comic relief. I suspect MW is glad to have a chance to be a hero again - it was shameful the way the show regressed the character in the past few seasons.
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I think Cote leaving is the creative kick up the rear the show needed to move on. It was stuck in a Tiva/Ziva shaped bubble for so long that it had become utterly dull and predictable. Now, hopefully, we'll see more screentime for all the characters and more stories for them. It was already good to see a Ducky/Abby scene and a Tony/Abby scene in this episode - such scenes have become rare in the past few seasons and they used to be one of my main delights in watching NCIS.
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I hope the show keeps going like this - I loved this episode, and a quick look at the ratings show they're almost exactly the same as this time last year, so I doubt Ziva's leaving is going to affect the show at all. If anything, I suspect fans who left, like me, will start coming back now it's not all Mossad plotlines and tragic Princess Ziva angst all the time, with a side order of Tedious Tiva thrown in.

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I have how NCIS Viewer ship has skyrocket since Ziva and Cote when bye bye

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NCIS has been my favorite show since it started. I will miss Ziva as I missed Kate when she was killed. At least Ziva has an opportunity to return to the show. As for Vera, I saw no value in her character and was happy to hear that she was retiring.

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I was really upset that Ziva left the show...But was very disappointed in the episodes where she left. For years we have had the super woman Mossad agent, tough and talented and brave, but the character that left was a weak wimpy one not at all like Ziva.....She added so much to the show, hope it does well without her...The one shining light is that the way it was done makes it possible for her to return sometime, I would be thrilled....

NCIS Season 11 Episode 3 Quotes

Tony: Want to take a ride, Vera?
Vera: Bite me.

Vance: Hang on. Agent McGee isn't going anywhere.
Eugene: Director.
Vance: Agent McGee and the rest of his team's presence has just been requested at the White House. His clever strategy just saved countless lives and a multi-billion dollar weapons system.
Gibbs: Yeah we'll get back to you on that, Eugene.

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