NCIS Round Table: "Under the Radar"

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Our NCIS review broke down "Under the Radar," this week's episode of TV's #1 show, 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 the installment.

Join in as we analyze the first episode sans Ziva David, Twitter and more from this hour ...


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

Doug: Too close for comfort.

Christine: #ShootNow

Steve: No credentials at concerts!

NCIS RT - depreciated -

2. What was your favorite quote or scene from the episode?

Doug: I enjoyed Gibbs' little dig at Eugene when McGee escaped his clutches over the investigation into the loss of his credentials. "Yeah we'll get back to you on that, Eugene." Gibbs knows a stuffed shirt when he sees one, and has little tolerance for them.

Christine: Can I go with the scene that bothered me the most? I have to believe that plane would have been blown out of the sky the moment he got over open water. Giving him time to get to the ship or worse, turn back over a populated area seemed ridiculous to me... but this is TV.

Steve: I liked the maligned McGee subplot and how he ended up saving the day in the end. I was legitimately sad to see the episode fade to black before we got to see Tim at the White House!

3. Vera Strickland: Refreshing temporary addition to the team or disruptive?

Doug: Both, I think. She breezed in and was going to help herself to Ziva's chair, until the team in unison said "not there!" I would imagine it wouldn't matter to Gibbs one way or the other, but he showed sensitivity to his teammates by guiding her to the other desk. Still, I liked her brash and bold manner. Probably because she seemed to bring joy to Gibbs.

Christine: Refreshing in small doses. I loved that she could joke around with Gibbs and that she knew all about Tony and wanted nothing to do with him. It was fun but too much of it could get on my nerves.

Steve: Refreshing and not disruptive, at least for a week. It was fun to see Gibbs react to her like he did, as well as how she got called into active duty with Tony due to Tim's issue.

4. The use of Twitter to track the plane: Believable or unlikely? Why?

Doug: I've read the comments about this, and I still say it's highly unlikely. Or at least, it is around the geeks I hang with anyway. People have jobs and places to be during the day. Ain't no one got time for tweeting about plane locations in the middle of the day. People will gladly tweet each other when a celebrity asks them to, but to go outside? Forget it. Plus - what's the likelihood of there being the necessary concentration of band followers available along the flight path? Seems just a bit out of reach.

Christine: Both. The technology certainly allows for it with location and metadata tracking of tweets and smartphones. And given that the request was put out by a popular band that might have millions of followers, anything is possible.

Steve: In concept, I don't think it's that far-fetched. If, say, Lady Gaga asked her Twitter fans do something like this, they would heed her words with immediacy. The only thing that made it slightly iffy was the concentration of fans over the exact flight path in Virginia, as Doug notes. Had the plane been flying over a major city like D.C. I don't think I would have even questioned that. As Christine notes, the bigger stretch was that the plane wasn't shot down immediately if not sooner.

5. How would you describe Tony's activity and behavior this week? Has he been changed by Ziva's exit?

Doug: Confident, cool, still a bit of a brat (re: his innocent-but-not-innocent invitation to the hobbled Vera to join him for a ride), serious and man of action. I was honestly pleased by the slight change to his character for this episode (the last two episodes don't count as he was pre-occupied with Ziva). I think we're seeing more of the serious side come out now. That scene where he tackled Vera and then turned and shot out the tire of the truck was amazing. Note to the writers: More of this, please!

Christine: He's still smarting from her absence which I'm happy with. I'd hate it if they just glossed over it. I think it's going to be a long time before he'll be comfortable seeing someone else at that desk.

Steve: We definitely saw the full range of DiNozzo actions and emotions this week, didn't we? I liked how it clearly impacted him that Ziva was gone, but he isn't completely hampered by it either. He's still a very special agent and a character with a job to do and who has a good time doing it.

6. What should be in the job description for the agent who will take Ziva's place?

Doug: Number one, she cannot be a carbon of Ziva. Absolutely cannot mimic her in behavior or personality in any way. No one can take her place, and no one should even make the attempt. Number two, she can be pleasant to Tony but she can't allow him to get away with anything. I'd like to see a more nuanced and subtle agent acting as foil toward him. Or maybe - maybe we can just have an agent who's an agent, who wants to get the job done. Let's avoid the whole "will she/won't she" possible romance angle here. If there has to be a romance, why don't we have her have a crush on Abby instead? I think the new agent should be a woman, by the way, just because I'm against a sausage-fest field workplace for this team. The team always needs balance.

Christine: I agree that she needs to be very different from Ziva. Someone strong but very much her own person. Ziva's predecessor, Kate was just as unique but still very different from Ziva. I don't have the magic formula for this one. I think it's going to be a process of trial and error until they find the right person.

Steve: My fellow panelists said it well that Ziva's successor should not be a Ziva clone. She has to be a woman to even up the gender teams, but beyond that I'm open to anyone compelling for their own reasons, not just to replace all the tangible and intangible things Cote de Pablo brought to the table.

What's your take on these issues of the week on NCIS? Discuss below!

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Still thought it was a boring "filler" episode that served no purpose.


Darn near perfect episode. MIT was full of real feelings, real friendships. Taking the burden if a token Tiva moment, so frequently forced and/or awkward, the show has become much more balanced. MIT was nice to see the other characters interact and not just be seen in one specific locale.


@Guest, You take your creds to a concert just in case you get an emergency call in. As for the people still having difficulty with the twitter solve, mapping with a smart phone is easy, perhaps too easy. It didn't require that many tweets, as the plane was in VA and its target was in VA. You could probably track its pattern down with 10 or less tweets. We are a mobile society today we don't all work in offices anymore. Just remember, next time you use your smart phone, they might find you! And maybe all the Sterile Puppets fans were furloughed gov. workers, just kidding there. I also have to disagree with Christines' complaint about the plane, they would not immediately shoot it down over water. A lot of small aircraft fly around Norfolk/ Newport, it would have to be definitively identified first, and as was noted the defense systems on an aircraft carrier would take it out if it got too close. How would you feel as a pilot of an F-18 if you shot down the wrong target over a misidentification, over US waters?


It felt like the old NCIS the case was perfect it made sense Tony was Tony again Mcgee was Mcgee again we got Abby back as well as Gibbs what more could a true NCIS fan ask for


Tony had only been back from Israel for a week. And maybe the rest of the team hadn't seen her for four months but they expected to and didn't know she wasn't coming back until the week prior. So yes, I expected a little bit more. Glad you liked it.


@guest, but remember that Ziva is supposed to have been gone for 4 months, so really the team, with the exception of Tony, hadn't seen her since they resigned. Personally, I loved Loved LOVED this episode.


I loved the episode too. How wonderful not to have to endure the snarky putdowns and smug reactions in the weekly Ziva humiliates Tony moments. Tony actually got some action!!! As a Tony fan I was watching less and less because I was so sick of wonder Ziva/clueless Tony schtick. With Michael Weatherly's talents, yes, he's funny, but his talent is so much more expansive. I really hope now that he's not chained to super Ziva that he will get some actual Tony centric episodes that flatter him for a change of pace.


I was distracted the whole time by Ziva not being there and the very few references to her were without the emotion I would have thought would be present after only a week. I understand the need to get back to work and get the job done but they are human as well. The case was boring and I felt the whole purpose of the episode was to showcase the person who would not be sitting at Ziva's desk. Did like action Tony in this one though. McGee was blah...why was he stupid enough to take his creds to a concert and why was he out with Abby when he has a girlfriend? Made no sense to me.


I was very disappointed with this episode. Very below the capability of the writers. Hopefully things will improve over the season or this season may be their last I'm sorry to say.


Great observations. Loved Vera, and how she made Gibbs smile, as well as being a good comic foil to Tony. Loved McGee saving the day and the team finally getting a little recognition (long time coming!). I think the balance of acknowledging Ziva's absence, yet also trying to move on, was handled well. And I love this more serious, but still funny, Tony. They actually let him shoot, save someone, and get the bad guy! (Also a long time coming!). Yeah, please give us more of this kickass Tony. And I also love the idea of letting the new agent have a crush on Abby. Other fans have actually suggested that, and it would be an interesting way to go. But please, no more snarky insults from the new person towards Tony. Had enough of that, time to move forward. It was great having Tony and Tim get along and support each other, and the team all working together again. I enjoyed the ep a lot.

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.