NCIS Round Table: "Nature of the Beast"

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Last week's NCIS season premiere evoked strong reactions, positive and negative.

Our official review of "Nature of the Beast" broke down the ninth season opener in great detail. Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Matt Richenthal and Eric Hochberger have gathered for a Round Table discussion.

Join the chat below, as we break down various aspects of the episode...


What was your general take on the season premiere?

Steve: As I said in my review, I thought the episode overall was very well done. Certain aspects I would have changed, and the way in which it was told was unusual, but as a means of continuing last season's arc, it succeeded.

Matt: Not my favorite, but still solid. Despite a couple of points I wasn't crazy about, and which I'll elaborate on in a minute, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eric: Not great, not terrible. The mystery unraveled in intriguing fashion and certainly left us hanging a bit. The flashbacks went on a bit too long and I would have probably preferred to see more of the team and less of a focus on the guest stars, but this wrapped up the E.J. story in a sense, so that should change in the coming weeks.

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What was your favorite scene from the episode?

Steve: The closing montage with Gibbs putting a face to the (fake) name of Agent Stratton and realizing what he's up against with the Phantom Eight. How many times have we seen Gibbs say it all by saying nothing at all? That was a compelling, eerie visual, and left me excited for the case to resurface.

Matt: The subtle Tony-Ziva flirting. I'm not even a big "Tiva" supporter necessarily but that scene was pure gold, and a welcome respite from the dark tone of the episode overall.

Eric: A tie between DiNozzo still cracking jokes and dropping movie lines while recovering from a concussion, and Ziva saying he and Ray (not Gibbs, as I initially said) are cut from the same quilt. So wrong, yet so right.

Was the plot too complex or not complex enough?

Steve: I always expect NCIS to raise more questions than it answers, especially early on, and I'm actually impressed at how many layers of this mission have been tied together. I had some issues with the storytelling and some of the characters, but if anything, I'd say the complexity of the plot was one of the episode's strengths.

Matt: It's not that it was too complex, but rather that it lacked for the team component that really makes the show pop. Portions of the episode were strong, but others felt just a bit amiss for that reason.

Eric: A little of both, but still a very good episode of NCIS overall and certainly one I would watch again. People who reacted negatively might want to wait to judge this story arc/season as a whole.

Hardest to believe: Tony's amnesia, E.J.'s escape, or that both of them, plus Cade, were played by the same guy?

Steve: Tony's amnesia. It's not that I don't believe something like short term memory loss could happen in the aftermath of trauma, but I didn't quite buy the way the details of his mission were eventually recounted (even though both actors were terrific) in pieces to Dr. Cranston. It just felt a little gimmicky to me.

Matt: All three of them being lured to the same place via text. They didn't text, or better yet, call each other and figure this out? I'd expect more from hard core, eternally suspicious federal agents.

Eric: E.J.'s escape, just because I can't believe they're bringing her back again. Enough already!

How much do you miss Mike Franks?

Steve: More than words can say. Watching Gibbs reminisce about him was bittersweet.

Matt: Greatly, although at least he went out in style.

Eric: So much that I'm actually hoping he appears as a vision again!

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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