NCIS Round Table: Who Was the Best Sociopath?

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On NCIS Season 12 Episode 6, we finally found out why Tony has been playing the field so much in his romantic life - and we saw Abby call him on it.

Plus, we got to meet two very lovely and disturbing sociopaths - one of whom was joyful to the point of glee, while the other was just cute and nearly stole Gibbs' heart.

Join TV Fanatic panelists Christine Orlando, Michelle Carlbert, Tanya Moat, David Taylor, Kathleen Wiedel and Douglas Wolfe as they discuss and debate the various parts of this unusual episode...

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How many stars did you rate this episode - and why?

Christine: 4 out of 5. I didn't figure out who the murdered was until the very end and she was seriously scary. Plus the appearance of Bronson Pinchot as the incarcerated cannibal was a nice twist. I always picture him as Balki from the '80s sitcom Perfect Strangers so seeing him be evil can be quite jarring. But Zoe and "Spider" just didn't do it for me.

Michelle: I'd give it around a 3.5. There were some great moments, but also some that annoyed me to no end.

Tanya: A solid 4 stars. I enjoyed the killer twist and George Burton. Some of the Ziva stuff annoys me.

David: I'm going to give it 4.5 stars.  I was engaged from beginning to end and was floored by the twist regarding the killer's identity.

Kathleen: 4 stars for me. This episode featured some excellent twists and turns, plus some equally fantastic guest performances.

Doug: I gave it a hard-won 5 stars. Abby's accurate psychoanalysis of Tony's behavior - and his owning up to it - had a lot to do with it, as did the great performances and jaw-dropping storyline around the two sociopaths. I was too gobsmacked by the stories to notice much of anything else. As it seemed an almost impossible task to make the episode any better, I felt I had no choice but to give it full marks.

Ziva’s ghost has made an appearance (thanks to Abby). What are your thoughts on that?

Christine: I'm torn. Part of me wants to say move on but I guess Abby was helping Tony do just that. I think the show has gone on quite well without Ziva and I hope that Tony will do the same.

Michelle: I'm happy that it happened so that we could finally learn what the heck was up with Tony, but I hope it's a subject we can close for good now. It's been a year and I think Tony deserves the chance to move on.

Tanya: Honestly, can we give it a rest? I like Ziva and her leaving was shocking. But it's time to move on. It's been a year, which in TV land feels like forever. I didn't realize Tony was back to being a chronic serial dater until McGee and Bishop were teasing him about it. I actually thought Tony had resolved most of his Ziva issues last season. Can we ALL move on now?

David: I'm with Tanya. The online community at this website has been merciless when it comes to their opinions of Bishop and Wickersham. They seem to want Bishop TO BE Ziva and that just ain't going to happen.

Kathleen: I'm ready to move on from all the Ziva obsession that has been stalking this show, though we equally shouldn't ignore that she was such a big presence for all those years. I think that the scene with Abby and Tony was necessary - good, even - but now we should turn our attention elsewhere.

Doug: At the start of the episode, when they started talking about all of the dates Tony had been on, my first thought was "this again?" So when Abby uttered that forbidden word "Ziva" and got Tony to repeat it, there was a bit of relief. I'm glad she confronted him about it, and especially glad he owned it. He may be an enlightened yoga man but apparently this has been a kind of a blind spot for him for a while. Now that Abby's shone the light on it, maybe now we'll see Tony get on with life and stop seeming so immature.

Who played the better sociopath: the guy in lockup or the 10-year old girl?

Christine: As much as I loved Bronson Pinchot's portrayal of the flesh eating sociopath, that little girl was frightening. A cold blooded killer smart enough to fool NCIS for most of the investigation in an adorable little girl body. I think she even scared Gibbs.

Michelle: Balki as a serial killer/cannibal was amazing, but that little girl wins, hands down. She gave me chills.

Tanya: They both did an excellent job and made this episode stand out. Bronson Pinchot was unrecognizable to me and both scary and funny. I'd honestly love to see him again. But the 10 year old was better. Murderous, creepy children always win - hands down.

David: I enjoyed both of their performances, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and pick Pinchot's character.  The deciding factor for me was the dark humor he used. His delivery of "I Love Italian" and "I ate [my dog]; childhood memories..." was hilarious.

Kathleen: They were both fantastic in different ways, each bringing their own flavor to the sociopath psychopathy. I'm going to go with the little girl, because I'm seriously impressed when a child actor can bring out a performance like that!

Doug: I'm honestly torn between them both. They both brought a different element of their sociopathic personalities to the front, and both were equally disturbing.  His because he took so much joy of it, even in the memory of eating his dog. And her because she was so young, and because she knew exactly what she was doing and how she was manipulating people. I thought both actors did an amazing job with their parts - and so this is my way of saying they share the prize on this question.

What’s your favorite scene?

Christine: Tony - "I'm very Special Agent Tony DiNozzo."  George Burton - "I do love Italian."  The deadpan way he delivered that line and the look on Tony's face really made me laugh.

Michelle: When Gibbs brought Rachel into interrogation and suddenly she went from sweet and innocent to murderer, my jaw dropped. Until then, I had thought her only reason she had to be in the episode was to showcase Gibbs' knack with children. It was a nice twist I didn't see coming at all.

Tanya: Michelle already mentioned the great scene between Gibbs and they little girl where she went from sweet to psycho. So I'm going with the opening scene. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and I like the little girl dressing up as Harry, rather than Hermione. But what gives me shivers now is how the little girl screamed and cried over her mother who she killed. What a calculating, scary child!

David: I liked the scenes with Gibbs and the little girl even before he figured out she was the sociopath. Despite his gruff, no-nonsense demeanor, Gibbs always seems to have a way with victims' kids by making them feel protected and safe. 

Kathleen: I'll go with the same scene as Michelle, that final interrogation scene between Gibbs and the little girl. It reminds me of a similar scene with Gibbs, Fornell, and a serial killer's wife back the season 4 episode "Smoked". Mandy June Turpin gave me shivers when she switched from weeping and wounded to calculating and evil. One of the best endings to an NCIS episode ever.

Doug: I think I have to go with Michelle and Kathleen. I truly didn't expect the little girl to be the psycho killer. When her mask dropped in front of Gibbs, so did my jaw. The writers have to take credit for keeping the surprise so well hidden until the end.

What, if anything, didn’t work?

Christine: Zoe. The show currently has a revolving door and every week they're trying out these new possible love interests for Tony. For me, none of them are working. They're all just a little too aggressive. It's as though they are trying to replicate what he had with Ziva and it's simply not working. Maybe he could find someone who isn't a badass law enforcement officer. I don't know what the answer is but I know they haven't found it yet.

Michelle: The only thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the initial storyline about Tony going from woman to woman. I couldn't believe they were marching out that old shtick again, but I was happy when the truth came out as to why he couldn't settle down. I can only hope this means an end to the idiot Tony that we've been seeing for far too long.

Tanya: I didn't hate Keats as much as some of my fellow round table members did. I actually preferred her to Agent Pendergast. But I wholeheartedly agree that I am tired of them throwing females at Tony. Does his love life really need to be such a big deal? It is the least interesting aspect of Tony to me. And honestly besides laughing over Gibbs many red-headed wives, I prefer their love lives take a backseat. Seeing who Tony or any of them are dating is not why I watch the show.

David: AMEN Tanya!!!!!  Why do the writers seem hell-bent on trying to pair Tony off?  I find it interesting that all of the Bishop haters who WISH she was Ziva don't have a problem with the concept of these random women also seeming like replacements for Ziva.  As for Keats, her initial arrogance ("I don't make mistakes!") made me wince, but her compassion and understanding won out in the end--MUCH better match than Pendergast.

Kathleen: I'm in agreement with David and Tanya. While I liked Keats (and also think she's a much better match for Tony than Pendergast), I wonder at the incessant focus on Tony's dating scene. Seriously, what's McGee up to these days?

Doug: I really disliked the subtle - and numerous - little put-downs of McGee. Though I said he'll never be an alpha on the team, there's just no need to put an exclamation mark on it so much, is there?

Who’s the MVP for this episode?

Christine: I'm torn between the two killers. George Burton was the perfect combination of charming and scary but that little girl completely played Gibbs. She was chillingly scary at the end.

Michelle: Man, that's a tough one. On the one hand I feel like this was a really solid Tony episode, but that little girl kind of stole the show from everyone. So I may have to split the trophy and give half to both of them.

Tanya: The little girl. She fooled Gibbs initially, which is difficult to do with his trusty gut and all.

David: Again, I'm going to go out on a limb and say.......Abby.  Why?  Because that scene between her and Tony NEEDED to happen.  To me, that was the writers' way of breaking the 4th wall and telling viewers that Ziva's gone and that we ALL need to get over it!!!!!!

Kathleen: It's rare that a guest star shines so much, leaves such an impression. That little girl is one of those actors, so she gets my MVP trophy this week.

Doug: David, I share your interpretation of the Abby scene, and agree (strongly agree) that it needed to happen. That said though, my choice for MVP is Bronson Pinchot's George Burton. I've never seen him play a character remotely resembling this one, and thought he did an outstanding job with it. In fact, I'd love to see a non-NCIS branch off series featuring him. Kind of like a "Silence of the Lambs" deal, only with a new twist. He seriously ate up the scene with his performance.

Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter

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NCIS Season 12 Episode 6 Quotes

Abby: I know you, Tony. The real you. And the fake happy front you put up you.
Tony: Oh come on. I am a happy dude. I mean I like, radiate happiness. That song "Happy"?
Abby: That's baloney. This whole random act of dating schtick? Nobody's buying it, okay? We know you're lonely, and we no why. Ziva. Say it. Ziva.
Tony: Come on. I can say it. I know her name. Ziva.
Abby: Okay then let's stop dancing around this whole thing, okay - we all miss her. I love Ziva but she left us. She's gone. And it hurts, and it sucks but that's reality. We have to face it.
Tony: I have faced it, many many times. She said no, she didn't want to come back. That's that. I have moved on from it.
Abby: But you haven't moved on from her. And you can't keep putting your life on hold waiting for her to show up, because she probably never will.
Tony: I know. Doesn't make it any easier. The truth is: I miss my friend.
Abby: You have friends here too, Tony, don't forget.
Tony: I know. Thanks Abby.

Rachel: What's wrong Agent Gibbs?
Gibbs: You haven't been honest with me.
Rachel: What do you mean?
Gibbs: (shows her the gun) I went back by your house. I did a little digging under your fort.
Rachel: I didn't have time to bury it deeper. I needed to get back before Mr. Curtis realized I snuck out.
Gibbs: Then what happened?
Rachel: Don't look at me like that.
Gibbs: I want to help you. I can't help you if you don't let me.
Rachel: That's exactly what my mother said. That she wanted to help me. She was going to send me to a special hospital in Montana for treatment. I don't need help. I hate that word. And I hated her.
Gibbs: Yeah but you don't hate your dad though do you?
Rachel: No. Dad didn't see what she did. Things were always better when he was around.
Gibbs: That's why you injured yourself? So he'd come back?
Rachel: Sometimes it worked. But he'd never stay as long as I wanted.
Gibbs: Unless your mom was gone. Then he couldn't leave you.
Rachel: It's her own fault. All she ever did was make me feel broken. Getting rid of her was the best solution. Daddy didn't understand either when I told him what I did. He'll come around eventually. I'm a sweet little girl. Can I have another juice?