Our review of "Gut Check" broke down last week's NCIS Season 11 Episode 9 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 debut of Bishop and look ahead on TV's #1 show ...
1. What did you think of Ellie Bishop's debut in "Gut Check"?
Doug: I loved it. I love her. She's a great addition to the team and is unlike any of them. The way she was introduced, such that we pretty much got a concentrated injection about who she is right from the get-go was welcome and important: she now gets to fit in completely as a fully-formed character which allows the writers to concentrate more on the NCIS stories. Yet they left a few questions unanswered so that we can learn a bit more as time goes by.
Christine: I really liked her. She's different and quirky. Young, smart, can take care of herself but still inspires that protective / mentoring streak in Gibbs. I think she's a good fit and just the breath of fresh air this team needed to move forward.
Steve: She was great. I thought the episode was first-rate and her role in it was wonderful. Excited to see how her character evolves and meshes with the team the rest of this season.
2. What was your favorite (and least favorite, if any), thing we learned about her?
Doug: I like her apparent brilliance and quick thinking. The way in which she helped with the interrogation scene went a long way in proving her value to the team. Some have noted that she seems a bit too much like Abby - a notion that I don't think is true. The fact that she can take disparate facts and make them fit together is a quality that touches on Abby's capabilities, yet diverges from it: Abby is concentrated and can focus deeply into the atomic structure of a suspicion concerning evidence, while Bishop can see patterns in random facts - patterns which apparently eludes others.
Christine: I liked that she processes things differently from everyone else which led to Tony's "A Beautiful Mind" quip. I also liked how she bonded with Gibbs. It's a little like the relationship he has with Abby, yet different. I didn't dislike anything per se. Perhaps her wedding ring, but I'll have to wait to see how that story plays out.
Steve: I'd say that the writers were trying too hard to make her quirky and different, but that's just who she is and her personality traits blended in with the investigation so well from a plot standpoint. It's hard to judge too positively or negatively from just one episode but I enjoyed her on screen a lot and I liked the early signal that there won't be sexual tension with Tony.
3. What are your hopes for the character and her working with the team going forward?
Doug: It's early yet, so I'm just waiting to see what else they choose to reveal about her. I want her to get over the soloist habit that she has - and quickly. I'm curious to see the direction she'll take with Tony (and vice versa) now that we know romance is off of the table.
Christine: Mostly I'd like to see her incorporated as part of the team. I don't want to see any romantic relationships within the team, at least not for quite a while. But so far I think the writers have done a wonderful job of bringing on a major new character.
Steve: I'm already convinced it's going to be a smooth and enjoyable transition, which is a testament to the show's writing team. I guess I'm excited to learn more about her the same way we do everyone else, intertwined with the weekly case work and the team's lives.
4. Diane returns this week in "Devil's Triad." Excited?
Doug: And Fornell is back too! This should be an interesting and funny episode. It always is when the two of them share the screen with Gibbs.
Christine: Diane who? Seriously though, she's never been a favorite of mine, but anything that has Gibbs and Fornell working together is always a plus.
Steve: Gibbs, Fornell and Diane (and it looks like her third husband) are bound to provide some laughs. Once or twice a year I don't see how this can go wrong.
5. The following week's episode, "Homesick," is reportedly Abby-centric. What do you think we'll find out?
Doug: There's a lot still to learn about her. Why she's a goth chick, what love interest she has going perhaps, and perhaps more about her family. We haven't seen much concerning her biological brother in a while.
Christine: I don't know. More about her family perhaps. I do feel as though Abby's gotten a bit stale. I'm hoping they give us something to add more interest to her story and give her more emotional connection with other characters on the team.
Steve: I would like to have some insight into the tattoo-loving goth within, but as Christine says, some new life into her character would be refreshing as well.
6. How would you grade NCIS Season 11 so far?
Doug: I'm not easy to please. It would take a lot for any episode of any show to warrant a full five stars (it may have happened once; I'm not sure). Yet I have to say: the writing and acting on NCIS has been done consistently well this year so far. I'm impressed. My hope is that the dynamic of Bishop's character carries through. Every now and then you need to shake things up. Her debut hints that that's what may be happening here. If so, I'm all for it.
Christine: B+. I was really upset about being strung along with the Tiva tease for so many seasons. I'm actually kind of relieved it's over and I'm looking forward to this new chapter for our NCIS team.
Steve: Going to give it an A-. Maybe I'm grading on a curve a little, but when you consider that Ziva's exit was not something any of the producers, writers or cast members wanted or planned on until very late in the game, the nine episodes of NCIS Season 11 so far, from her departure to Bishop's introduction, have been pretty exceptional.