After last week's unorthodox 200th episode event, NCIS returned to traditional form tonight with "Secrets," an installment better embodying the series' vintage blend of humor, relationships and crime-solving.
In the wake of an episode that asked "what if" on such a grand scale, it was hard not to play a similar game this week as well. After meeting the infamous Wendy, DiNozzo's ex-fiancee, can't you see the connection?
Clearly he still felt it. Having not spoken to her in nine and a half years since being dumped the day before their wedding, Tony found himself serving as Wendy's press liaison ... and making out with her in front of her son.
Not what he envisioned going into this case, and certainly not what I expected either. To the extent that chemistry can be present in a couple who split up a decade ago, these two certainly had it.
If Wendy hadn't left him the way she did, would Tony be at NCIS? More broadly, would he be happy-go-lucky and fully content with life, rather than putting up facades and chasing the wrong thing?
Everybody gets pensive and confused (people also get not hungry), and DiNozzo has clearly been more conflicted this season than in the past, but he may have set a new high water mark tonight.
The way he and Wendy left things, that inner turmoil may not fade away anytime soon.
Suffice it to say, the vaunted closure Ducky spoke of did not take place for Tony, at least not in the sense that he finally put his relationship with Wendy behind him and turned the corner for good.
The extent to which Gibbs was playing "cupid" to set his right-hand man up with her is unclear, but he could clearly tell (as Gibbs has a way of doing) that Tony hadn't really let Wendy go yet.
Where those two go from here after Wendy's surprise explanation for leaving Tony, and apparent overture - she wasn't ready for The One then, but she is now - remains to be seen as well.
Is she really trying to pursue a relationship with him after all this time?
It seemed that way, although she also became the umpteenth person to remark about his feelings for a certain someone. Can we list everyone who's picked up on this over the past several months?
Wendy made no secret of her renewed affection for Tony, in any case, and the parallels between Tony and Gibbs, as helpfully explained by Ducky in a terrific scene in the morgue, are distinct.
Will the younger continue to repeat the elder's destructive romantic pattern, or break the mold?
Wendy seems cool in a lot of ways, but as Tony himself said, that crashed and burned. Rekindling the flame may not be the key to happiness; extinguishing it for good might be the ideal course of action.
Whatever sparks may exist, he might want to stop and consider that Wendy ... A) Lied to Tony at least once; B) Dumped him nearly at the altar; C) Has a child with another man. Maybe not the best fit.
Regardless, Michael Weatherly, even more than usual, was terrific in his nuanced portrayal of a man battling repressed emotions and combating them with every humorous defense mechanism in the book.
Perrey Reeves, as Wendy, was also enjoyable, especially given that were predisposed to dislike her. McGee's right, she's a cutie - and a tough nut to crack, hard-nosed, witty and more than a little vulnerable.
Far from a one-note character, not unlike Tony.
I'm interested to see when and if she'll be back, and where Tony takes this, but her appearance made for a solid episode, along with a super-charged investigation that provided one laugh after another.
The idea of ordinary citizens embodying superhero personae for real world causes was both amusing and eye-opening, as these aren't people dressing up for fun: they're driven, organized community activists.
Even Gibbs had to give props for that final takedown.
Now an investigative reporter, Wendy nearly met her demise because of her profession. Fearful that she would link the heroes' crime-fighting ways to improving property values, the murderous real estate developer dad (Ray Wise, great in everything he does) of one of the costume-wearing Samaritans tried to kill her as well.
The superhero premise also led to an inordinate number of McGee nerd jokes and legitimate fangirl moments for Abby. Even though this was a DiNozzo-centric episode, the whole team was involved and terrific.
Yes, it was a cheesy case at times, but it offered plenty of laughs, so it worked.
Overall, it was a fun hour that struck the perfect NCIS balance of action, comedy and surprisingly complex character development. A refreshing return from the terrific, but unconventional 200th milestone last week.
A few additional thoughts and observations before turning it over to you:
- How funny is it that Vance has to seriously ask if Gibbs was married to a woman he "goes way back" with? Signs you have too many ex-wives: When your boss loses track of them.
- Who knew Palmer took such a profound interest in wedding caterers?
- "This isn't my costume. These are just my clothes." Amazing.
- Someone needs to make a TV Fanatic username ICU.
- Tony does look good in a suit, doesn't he?
What did you think of this week's NCIS? Did it live up to expectations, or leave something to be desired? What were the best and worst parts for you? Discuss in the comments below, and vote in our survey:
Who can you best envision romantically with Tony?