NCIS Round Table: Has Tony Really Changed?

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Typically, when a military procedural talks about terrorists, we  find out that the case of the week has nothing to do with terrorists. It boils down to criminal activity with simple greed at the core.

Not so on NCIS Season 12 Episode 12, which gave us the story of a woman who was rescued by Navy Seals from her terrorist captors... only to find out later that she was actually one of them.

But the biggest surprise of the episode was the discovery that Tony - a.k.a. "Spider" -  is in relationship with none other than the entirely likeable Zoe Keates. 

Below TV Fanatic panelists Tanya Moat, David Taylor, Kathleen Wiedel, Christine Orlando and Douglas Wolfe discuss the Tony/Zoe pairing, the effects this will have on the team - and much more - in this edition of the NCIS Round Table...

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Describe this episode in a few words or a sentence.

Tanya: Things are not what they appear.

David:  Goode girl goes Badde.

Kathleen: And everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.

Christine: Hiding in Plain Sight

Doug: No Secrets Allowed

Tony said he hates being the center of gossip. Does that make sense? Did it ring true given the fact that he and Zoe are now in a relationship? Even Gibbs was scratching his head about it. What do you think?

Tanya: I think Tony likes being the center of attention, which is different than gossip, in my opinion. Since NCIS apparently has a thriving grapevine, I could see why he might keep it a secret if this was more of a friends with benefits type of thing. It seems like they are serious, so I'm not sure why he wouldn't share beyond the fact that he doesn't have a very good track record.

David:  I think maybe he's afraid of karma.  As much as he dishes out the quips to his teammates, I think he was trying to avoid the payback.

Kathleen: Tony knows all too well that his personal life has been anything but personal. He's had very few serious relationships over the series's run, and one of those was with Jeanne - which, as we all know, did not end well. Plus, look at his coworkers' track records, too: most of them have not had anything resembling good luck in their own personal lives, either. (Bishop is a notable exception.) Maybe he thinks that the office is a jinx on that sort of thing.

On the other hand, it was more than a little self-deluding for Tony to think that he could keep his relationship a secret for very long.

Christine: Yeah, I wasn't sure exactly how to read him on that. He seemed happy but I guess he's had such incredibly bad luck with woman (and cars) in the past that it might be hard to share. Perhaps he doesn't want an audience if this one crashes and burns too.

Doug: Tony's been known to be fairly private, regardless of open and gregarious manner at work. We saw this when Tony Senior bunked at his apartment and totally stomped all over over Junior's Chi.

Despite that, I couldn't buy that he had any pressing need to keep his relationship secret from the gang. Maybe it was just a reflex on his part, rather than something he thought through carefully.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag, will Tony go back to abusing McGee or has he changed?

Tanya: Sure. I'm not 100% sure why he ever stopped. Being nice to everyone is what made McGee suspicious! As an investigator, he should know changes in behavior are a red flag. :)

David:  I think he will, but only if "provoked."

Kathleen: Possibly, but I think it may well be plausible that simply being in that relationship was what made Tony so mellow. I may be misremembering, but didn't a similar change in behavior accompany his (very ill-fated) relationship with Jeanne?

Christine:  I think Tony has mellowed but when he's not so comfortable I'm betting he'll still be able to throw a good barb McGee's way from time to time.

Doug: I really wish he would change his stance toward McGee, but my suspicion is that it's a formula that works too well. So he'll go back to mcmessing him up whenever the opportunity presents itself.

What are your thoughts on Tony and Zoe?

Tanya: To be determined. I prefer Zoe as she seems more Tony's equal over the other potential romantic interest they introduced in the beginning of the season. I don't even remember her name but I didn't like her. I certainly want my NCIS family to have happy relationships, but that's not my main interest in the show. As long as their romance doesn't takeover the show, I'm fine with Zony or whatever we should call them. Now it's weird that her names starts with a "Z" too.

David: I like these two.  I think their shared history makes them interesting and the fact that she can be just as "alpha" as Tony (and probably put him in his place when he needs it) is refreshing.  In comparison, she-who-must-not-be-named (BRILLIANT, BTW) wasn't as good at that, at least not early on.

Kathleen: I really enjoy the two of them together so far. She's willing to give as good as she gets, which is something Tony needs, and she doesn't have nearly the emotional baggage that (I'll take the plunge and speak the name!) Ziva brought.  It's well past time for Tony to find a long-term (and available) romantic partner. And I agree with Tanya that Zoe is a much better love interest for Tony than FBI Agent Leia Pendergast, who came across as a ball-buster.

Christine: Meh.  It's not so much that I dislike Zoe but that we've seen so little of them together that there's really very little to judge. As much as I'd like to see Tony happy, I'm not the least bit emotionally invested in this relationship. If Zoe disappeared tomorrow and we had to start over with another love interest, I simply wouldn't care.

Doug: I liked her when she showed up in Parental Guidance Suggested (NCIS Season 12 Episode 6) with her affectionate term of "Spider" for him. She struck me as being soft for him, but no pushover back then, as we saw her stand up forcefully to Gibbs. I think her character provides the perfect match for Tony, who despite his comedic ways is no slouch himself when it comes to the serious stuff.

What was your favorite scene or quote?

Tanya: When Fornell came into NCIS. I enjoyed Tony's awkward hug but laughed at McGee being a little uncomfortable with Fornell saying Diane was quite fond of him. Poor McGee, spooning Diane is going to haunt him forever.

David:  McGee and Bishop eavesdropping on Tony and "prairie-dogging" from behind the wall was funny--like two bratty siblings spying on their older brother.

Kathleen: Oh, Fornell. I love every scene he's in. He appeared in the very first regular episode of NCIS, "Yankee White," do you remember? He's been a part of this show almost as long as everyone else. For this episode, I really liked the final scene where he asks Gibbs to promise to give him a piece of Mishnev. That will probably be an encounter to remember...

Christine: Fornell was the definite stand out in this episode. Despite his stoicism and concern for his daughter, it was very clear that losing Dianne was tearing him apart. Hopefully he will let his friends help him as much as they can as he deals with his grief.

Doug: That romantic scene between Zoe and Tony in the office - where she practically purred while agreeing to keep their secret - was unusual and hot. I liked it a lot.

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 12 Quotes

Zoe: Relax, Spider. They know about us.
Tony: Who knows?
Everyone: We all know.
Gibbs: It's about time. Geeze.
Tony: How did you find out?
McGee: We're trained investigators, my friend.
Zoe: And in honor of us coming out, Tony is going to buy everyone drinks.
Tony: I am?
Zoe: Yeah. You are. C'mon. Get your coat.
Tony: Yeah, boss.

You make me a promise. When you find this monster, I get a piece of him.