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!


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (215 Votes)

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



I really liked this episode and enjoyed seeing Gibbs smiling and not so serious all the time. Actually, I would really like to see Roma Maffia join the NCIS crew. I thought she did a wonderful job and fit right in with them.


It was close to the "original NCIS" that I once fell in love with and missed for a number of past seasons.This episode was balanced and team-centric (including Ducky and Palmer) rather than focused on just one character or guest-star-driven, it "remembered" the true characters of the persons and friendships within the team (not only between Abby and McGee, who hadn't had propper scenes together in ages, but also Tony and McGee as Tony wasn't mocking him for losing the creds, and Palmer, too) and wasn't as predicable as most of the cases of the last seasons. It carefully acknowledged Ziva's departure as well as the friendships in the team (which had been neglected so much that it was often severly OOC) and had about the right dose of character background-story (McAbby, Palmer, Gibbs/Vera) without making the episode to heavily focused on one or more of the characters, i.e. actually still revolved around the case


The hashtag search for the plane would work in reality -- based on who did the asking. For instance, I could see that if Andrea Russett, just-turned-18-year-old You Tube star, former radio disc jockey, and now in Hollywood making commercials and on Awesomeness TV, plus hosting concerts around the country where her fans stand in long lines and cry when they meet her, asked for a plane search, her 815,000 YouTube followers and 450,000 twitter followers, most of them school girls, would drop what they were doing and go stand outside and look for the plane. I don't know about a band, but Russett and others whose fans are so devoted really could get that kind of effort!


Roma Maffia. I hated her. Absolutely hated her. Was I missing Ziva?.. you betcha! Having Roma's character sit in the same car seat that Ziva sat on, was SAD ! Tony needs to go back to Tel Aviv, find her again, and bring her home!


Fantastic episode! Loved Vera and I wish she was back next week. A few LOL moments and the pacing was on the mark with an interesting plot. Loved the use of twitter! Also enjoyed the guys moving on (with Ziva not forgotten) and loved all the character interactions. McGee's lost creds and Jimmy's adoption storyline was well done too. Looking forward to next week now!


@FanForever This is it like kate where Abby can no longer talk to her or see her at least Abby know Ziva alive and can see her when ever


Loved every minute of this episode. I definatley would like to see Vera again.


In Past, Present and Future we saw Tonys heart break from second one till the end, it was sad but also terrific, which is why i loved it so much.
In this Episode it was my heart that was breaking - I loved the Ziva hints here and there, though I was closely devastated to see a happy Abby when she lost her friend just a week ago, for me, it didnt make much sense.
I hope we get to see some deeper emotions along the line, because this loss isnt dealt with in two Ziva-centered episodes. This will take a while.
Its hard to watch the guys play without her... it will take some getting use to. Apart from that - I enjoyed it very much.


Great show! It was good to see a smiling Gibbs, a more serious Tony, and Roma Maffia was great. Actually, all of the cast was great!


What a fun episode! I liked seeing Ducky and Palmer getting a bit more screentime and furthering the adoption story. And Vera was hilarious! I hope that's not the last we see of her.
Not surprising they wouldn't let anyone sit at Ziva's desk--they did the same for Kate's desk for about four episodes.

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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.