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!


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.

NCIS RT - depreciated -

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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NCIS Season 11 Episode 7 Quotes

Gibbs: Dad, German? That's the most important part.
Jackson: No, son. The important thing was that we were both fliers. We were brothers up there. We were the same. We're all the same. But we keep fighting each other. Walter told me that he saved me that day because he wanted to remind himself who he was. He's dying, and all he can see is the people he killed, over ideas that weren't even his. He can't forgive himself.
Gibbs: That's not an easy thing to do, Dad.

Jackson: Walter, this is my son, Leroy.
Gibbs: Sir.
Jackson: Walter, nothing can make up for the lives we took. We both know that. But what you did was more than you know. You made my boy possible, Walter. And he helps people, Walter. He's a good man. He's the best person I know.