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NCIS Round Table: "Better Angels"

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Our review of "Better Angels" broke down last week's NCIS Season 11 Episode 7 in detail.

Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Douglas Wolfe and Christine Orlando have assembled for a Round Table Q&A discussion of various events and topics from the installment.

Join in as we analyze the return of Jackson Gibbs, Tony and Tim taking point and more!

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

Doug: No right way to be a son.

Christine: Everything changes.

Steve: He's a good man.

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

Doug: My hands down favorite quote/scene was the last one between Gibbs and his dad, when his turned and look at him with pride and said "He's a good man. He's the best person I know." That completely blew me away.

Christine: I liked Gibbs' conversation with Ducky. We don't get to see Gibbs open up often and I liked that he respects Ducky enough to share something so personal with him. And since he knows Ducky has lived through something similar, Gibbs was actively asking for advice.

Steve: I have to copy Doug's choice, because it really drove home why Jackson wanted Leroy there to badly. It would have been enough to have his son meet his old friend, but there was a much greater importance to it than that, and the scene itself was wonderful.

3. What, if anything, didn't work for you?

Doug: For the most part the episode seemed to work fine for me. I hope that this yo-yo thing with DiNozzo's character will soon come to an end. I get that he has some irritating habits - like playing the clown all the time. But it's time for some character development, and for his antics to get a bit muted. He'll always have a quip or two to bring to the team, and that's fine. But this thing where he's scared of "the boss" is getting old. He's not a teenager - he's a genuine leader (a characteristic for which we've seen countless examples). Gibbs respects him, clearly. I'd like to see his status get raised in everyone's eyes.

Christine: McGee seemed incredibly grumpy and I got the feeling it was more than just his competing with Tony. I actually wondered if there was trouble between he and Delilah but it never really went anywhere.

Steve: I think Tony - and I love Tony - has been all over the place. As has been widely noted, his leadership and skills as a very special agent are undisputed, yet he seems to revert back to his childish ways more often than not. I never want him to stop clowning around, but there's a time and a place and sometimes I feel like he doesn't know when that is.

4. Were you surprised at how Jackson's storyline progressed?

Doug: Quite surprised. I expected to see a heart-wrenching episode where Gibbs finds out that his father is suffering from early stage Alzheimer's disease. The cop who took care of him at the police station seemed to think that was the case - at least, that's the way I interpreted his remarks to Gibbs. So the nuanced writing on this was terrific, and I was pleased to find out that the old man is as ornery and as "with it" - with all of his faculties intact - as ever.

Christine: No. I started to suspect that the other pilot might have been the enemy early on. And having dealt with my grandfather when his license had to be taken away, I really appreciated how they handled that part of the story. Jackson's not senile but he is getting older and changes have to be dealt with whether we like it or not.

Steve: I was. Like Doug, I pegged it as Jackson suffering from mild Alzheimer's or dementia and was not prepared for the twist that his old war buddy was on the other side, or that he wanted Gibbs to meet him because of that. To him, Leroy's mere existence is emblematic of the whole experience. I do agree with Gibbs, though ... how did that never come up over the years?

5. Do you like the Tim-Tony dynamic this season?

Doug: Not so far, no. It's getting old. Maybe I'm reading too much into what happened in this episode, but I'm hoping this sibling thing is coming to an end. If anything, Tony should be quietly and subtly mentoring Tim, not making him the butt of jokes. That's what a leader does.

Christine: I agree that it's getting old. I love both characters and their occasional squabbles but I need to see something new between these two.

Steve: Yes and no. Some great one-liners and buddy cop scenes, but a little over the top sometimes. I'm looking forward to Bishop's arrival (see below) in part because I think the team needs its dynamic shifted a bit and she should certainly help in that department.

6. If you were a probie, who would you prefer ran point?

Doug: McGee. Hands down. Only because Tony in his present state prefers to slough off the unwelcome tasks to his underlings. You can't trust him to share the burden. There's no "i" in "team" as they say but there's an "o" as in "oh my God - enough already" in "Tony."

Christine: I like them both... when they don't feel like they have something to prove. When they do, Tony tends to push menial tasks off on others and McGee will go overboard to try and prove he's earned the spot. Both can be annoying.

Steve: Tim would probably stress me out less, so he's my McPick.

7. Emily Wickersham makes her debut as Bishop this month. Discuss your hopes and expectations for the new character.

Doug: For one thing - I don't want her to be at all romantically interested in Tony. And vice versa. I'm hoping she comes to the team already attached to someone. Or perhaps is interested in someone else. Maybe Vance (or as I mentioned earlier, Abby). I'm hoping she has the same delightful curiosity as we've seen in Delilah - that characteristic will round out the team well. It would be cool if she had high status, and was willing to stand up to Gibbs. We're clearly not seeing that with anyone else in the team. Even Vance has come to an understanding with Gibbs that has reduced any residual animosity between them. Don't get me wrong - I'm not looking for a confrontational attitude from her. Just a presence that is assured, focused and willing to stand up for what she believes and thinks, even if the boss doesn't like it.

Christine: I'm keeping a completely open mind. I figure the fewer expectations I have, the more I'll be able to accept the character for who she is and the less likely I'll be disappointed. Other than what I consider the Tiva debacle, I generally enjoy the show so I'll just go with it and see what I think after she arrives.

Steve: I actually have a lot of faith in the NCIS producers and writers. I don't think she's intended to be a Ziva clone or replacement, and the fact that Emily was promoted to series regular before we've even seen her tells you a lot about their confidence in her character. So I'm going into it with no expectations really, just curiosity as to what she brings to the table.

Bishop on NCIS

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 have to agree about some of the comments in the review. I have really enjoyed Tony's toned-down and mature character in the first six eps, but then they back-track him and use him as the comic relief again. We've seen his sharp, competent side many times now, time for the show to move him forward and distance him from the juvenile behavior. Witty is fine when it's coupled with competent. Also, I loved the more caring, supportive McNozzo we saw in the first 5 eps, but the last 2 have given us a very out of sorts McGee, and this only pushes Tony to be a bit juvenile. Hope they go back to the two working together instead of competing. And yes, Tony didn't used to be afraid of Gibbs. Time for the two to be on a more equal footing.

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I don't think the "Tim-Tony thing" is getting old at all. Now that Ziva is gone, the team dynamic has changed and McGee is feeling like the low man on the totem pole again. However, clearly he is not content to be treated as such and is exerting himself a little, causing Tony to push back. They sort of need to go through this process so that everyone can find their place in "the pack" again. That is, at least, until New Girl shows up. Besides which, I think the Tim-Tony scenes are gold. Keep 'em coming, I say.

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@ EB

I love the McNozzo too, EB, but prefer them like they were in the first five eps, with friendly banter and mutual respect. I hope you're right that they're just vying for position on the team, and will settle down. Michael and Sean work so well together, and I hope the show takes proper advantage of their chemistry and timing. As Gibbs told Tony, "you don't waste good."

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I don't think the "Tim-Tony thing" is getting old at all. Now that Ziva is gone, the team dynamic has changed and McGee is feeling like the low man on the totem pole again. However, clearly he is not content to be treated as such and is exerting himself a little, causing Tony to push back. They sort of need to go through this process so that everyone can find their place in "the pack" again. That is, at least, until New Girl shows up. Besides which, I think the Tim-Tony scenes are gold. Keep 'em coming, I say.

Julia64

I quite enjoyed the Jackson/Gibbs storyline and didn't see the whole German fighter pilot bit coming, nice twist. However, as someone who has seen every episode and always liked the great relationship that DiNozzo used to have with Gibbs, back in the days when he used to call him “Tony”, I couldn't help feeling that I wanted some reason where Gibbs had cause to say the same thing about Tony, i.e., "he’s the best man I’ve ever met”. Now that would have made me cry! Kinda like how at one time Gibbs thought that Tony was “the best agent he'd ever worked with” which would seem pretty laughable if he said it now. However, what I really didn't like though was all the bickering between Tony and McGee. How is it that one week Gibbs is proclaiming that he'd trust Tony anytime and the next he's giving McGee point over his Senior Field Agent? Has Tony been demoted and no one told us?! We used to get amazing episodes, where Tony supported McGee, like the season three “Probie” - now apparently (not that we saw it) they make it up watching “Beaches”! And I agree can Tony PLEASE be given some continuity of character. I hate the whole “which Tony are we going to get this week?” Any resemblance between the Tony we saw in PPF and Once A Crook, and last week’s Tony is purely coincidence. And is it me but is there a pattern developing this season? We’ve just had the Gibbs & his father episode, we’re shortly getting the Tony & his dad episode, and oh look in December we get another Devils Triad. I had hoped with Ziva leaving that GG might shake things up a bit. What about one of them going undercover, or someone getting hurt or one of them going missing? Mix up the pairings a bit - perhaps Tony gets caught up in something with Palmer, or McGee and Ducky. Is it too much to want a bit of dramatic action and some jeopardy?! The last time I felt even remotely excited was the Tiva car crash and that was followed by one of the biggest anti climaxes in television!

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@ Julia64

Agreed about the predictability of the episodes. Some of them have been really good, and all the nuances in the writing are great, but I also hoped they'd shake things up a bit and get the character development rolling. Yeah, there is comfort in the routine and maybe they felt some 'comfort food' was necessary after Ziva's abrupt departure. Feels like the Tony/McGee dynamic the editors were talking about getting old is an example of that as well. It's all well and cute but I think they can play around with newer drama and perspectives now -- not just with the incoming new character, but with the existing ones as well. I hope they do something different and dramatic with this Parsa story arc. Also, yeah, a more serious, sincere, and consistent depiction of Tony's char. dev. would be nice. He's like a simmering pot you've watched for years, waiting for the meal to be done and wondering if it's as good as the recipe said it would be. And that doesn't even have anything to do with his personal life; just in the office, it'd be nice to see his abilities, not just be told about them -- albeit by the most trusted voice in the show (Gibbs), but when you just get brief glimpses, latent hints, and the sad clown with a very sad love life, you just feel bad for the guy. He needs some major story arc where he delivers a strong leadership or a solid, reliable second-in-command act.

Sue-ann

4) @Steve: "To him, Leroy's mere existence is emblematic of the whole experience. I do agree with Gibbs, though ... how did that never come up over the years?" Jethro Gibbs left town during the Bicentennial celebrations in 1976. The only significant time he spent with his father after the funeral of Shannon and their daughter was when Jackson Gibbs stayed at his house while the Mexican cartel was after him. (Because he was angry that Jackson showed up with a date to Shannon and Kelly's funeral, and they became estranged.) So, as he mentioned that the original discussion of the incident took place when he was seven, and he would have mentioned it had there been a subsequent discussion before he left home, I think there was never another discussion. It is NOT something a Boomer would forget. (Speaking as a Boomer whose Dad was in WWII.)

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So who should Tony be dating I hope its someone outside of the NCIS group like Mcgee is doing man I wish I had Mcgee girlfriend she make abby look worse then Ziva.

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@ Michael

Can you possibly be more irritating? YOU want Delilah, a fictional character, to be your girlfriend; is that what you actually wrote? Because she makes Abby look worse than Ziva? How old are you anyway?

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Is it just me or were the pictures of the Marine killed at the store those of the same Dawson on trial in A Few Good Men?

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@ Doug

im really sure ive seen the photo of the marine on ncis before it rings a bell can anyone remember seeing it before (maybe even in the opening titles)

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@ Doug

Yes, you are correct

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We don't have to worry about a "relationship". Bishop is married according to Gary Gladberg (sp). Curious on how the team accepts her as well as the fans. As for Delilah. I love her. Keep her around even if in name only.

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@ Bunster

Sounds like the team accepts her just fine, since Gibbs will be her "father-mentor" and Tony will develop a "close sibling" relationship with her. I never expected her to be a love interest for Tony, she is far too young, but TV tends to ignore those kinds of reality.

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Looking forward to this new female in a way. Agree that she should not be in any way interested in, or interesting to, Tony. His heart should "belong" to Ziva for a while to come. I also agree that the sloughing off of menial tasks by Tony has gone on too long and needs to stop. McGee is not a probie anymore. Just because we lost Ziva does not mean that McGee and Abby have to break up too, get rid of Delilah please. We need to see a very serious plot right, to get back into why we watch NCIS. I love this show, but it needs to get back to it's roots and give us some unexpected twists and turns. Go Team Gibbs, get the bad guys!!

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@ Sally

According to GG, Tony will talk about dating in "Gut Check" and we will see him step back into the dating pool in the spring. Bleech! Don't like the Tim/Tony dynamic that is going on. And McGee and Abby are not a couple, so it wasn't necessary for them to "break up." They dated in Season one or two, but Abby didn't want them to be more than friends and put the breaks on. This show has always been about the people working this job than the job itself. I wouldn't hold your breath regarding an NCIS that is procedural only and totally ignores the personal aspects of the characters.