We received a curious glimpse into Tony's past at the Remington Military Academy on NCIS Season 12 Episode 14.
Although the case itself was interesting, with odd bits of twists and turns, it was Tony's distaste for the place that stood out. This, despite the praise everyone wanted to heap on him.
TV Fanatic panelists Katherine Wiedel, Christine Orlando, Tanya Moat, David Taylor and Douglas Wolfe had many thoughts about the above topics. Read what they had to say and then let us know your take in the comments below!
How would you describe the episode, in a few words or a sentence?
Kathleen: Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana!)
Christine: No honor in Honor Corps.
Tanya: Honor. Respect. Duty. Undone.
David: Code of (dis)honor.
Doug: Tony's Day in Purgatory.
What was your favorite scene?
Kathleen: There were a few scenes that I really liked, but I'd love to highlight the moment when her husband Jake told her about dinner with Gibbs... only he couldn't actually say anything! And did you know Gibbs is really easy to talk to? Yep, Jake, Gibbs is really just an adorable, cuddly teddy bear.
Christine: Mine was Tony in the interrogation room when he told his former mentor, “I left RMA a long time ago. I don’t talk about it. It’s not who I am but there was a part of me that still believed in the motto, the code. And that part’s gone now along with Christine Saunders and John Wallace.” It was Dinozzo at his best.
Tanya: My favorite scene was Tim seeing it's just Gibbs and Jake at the diner and quickly backing out. I can't blame him! I wished we had seen more of their dinner together.
And I wholeheartedly agree with Christine that Tony nailed his scene in the interrogation room with his mentor.
David: Well call me a geek if you must, but Gibbs trying to sound all techie was hilarious. And Abby playing straight man only added to my laughter.
Doug: I absolutely loved Bishop when she said "...whatever happened in your past helped make you the awesome guy you are today." She didn't need to say it. He wasn't looking for it. She offered it up in heartfelt conviction, and he knew it. That silent smile of his said it all.
Was there anything that didn’t work for you?
Kathleen: It seems that every single time we see a character's beloved mentor on television, that mentor always has to be ultimately revealed as some sort of massive disappointment (if not outright corrupt or dirty). Would it be totally impossible to have a mentor be exactly what he or she seemed to be in the first place?
Christine: I agree Kathleen. I knew Tanner knew more about this than he was letting on simply because he was Tony’s mentor and that’s always the way these things end up. I was hoping we’d see a different ending here. Perhaps we should just be happy he wasn’t the actual murderer.
Tanya: Not to pick on poor Tanner (just kidding - he deserves it) but I was disappointed too that he was another flawed mentor. And yes, I know putting people on pedestals is risky, but it would be nice to occasionally meet a deserving mentor.
Plus, I wish we could have delved a bit deeper into Tanner's relationship with Tony. When he was giving Tony a ride to RMA, he gave a movie quip that modern day Tony would never have missed, so I wonder if he was the one influenced Tony's love of movies?
David: I agree with all of you. I don't particularly care for plot lines involving fraternities and secret societies--something always goes amiss and people end up disillusioned or in this case, dead. And the fact that Wallace's mentor cared so much for the honor code and the school's reputation that he resorted to murder to keep up appearances proves it.
Doug: I didn't like the fact that the "Honor Corps" was always in the background threatening young Tony or "Piggy" - but we never got to see or hear exactly what they would do, or how they managed to punish the girl for a month before her suicide. What exactly happened?
They didn't have to act it out but we should at least have heard about the atrocities they did, so as to get an appreciation of the horror they brought. Without that, it was difficult to feel much suspense about them.
What are your thoughts on Tony’s disgruntlement/simmering anger while visiting the academy?
Kathleen: Tony knew about the Honor Corps, after all, even though it was supposedly dissolved. He may not have been one of their targets after becoming a basketball star, but he was certainly aware that they were out there. So the veneer of honor and respect and duty must have tasted rather bitter, even after all those years.
Christine: For as much good as that school obviously did Tony, it also taught him how twisted the concept of honor can become. I think it taught him not to trust anything at face value. It’s probably made him a better investigator but it also made him cynical as well.
Tanya: I'm going to be honest - this episode didn't hold my attention super well, and I'm not clear on his initial anger. What Kathleen and Christine said makes sense, although I assume some of his anger was aimed at himself out of adult guilt.
Adult Tony is a good man. Teen Tony was probably not overly observant as conveyed by Piggy/Travis' pointed response of "You didn't ask" to Tony's apology for not realizing what Honor Corps was doing to him.
David: I think at least part of it was what others mentioned. Tanner was kind enough to take Tony in hand and help him adjust and succeed as a cadet....but then he saw that the academy's unsavory traditions remained intact and were psychologically damaging and getting people killed. And his mentor, a school administrator, seemed powerless to change anything.
Doug: When Tony first arrived at the academy he was a jerk to the guy who would eventually become his mentor. I think Tony remembered that, and that it formed a dichotomy in his mind, whenever people offered him praise for his work on the basketball court or his overall - and ultimately, his legendary - status at the academy.
So his hatred of the place was likely overshadowed by self-loathing. He didn't believe he deserved any praise, especially about a place that chewed up anyone they saw as weak.
Will Gibbs ever make it into the technological age? Will he ever indulge in the Internet of Things?
Kathleen: I doubt it. He would much rather rely on his own instincts and street smarts to figure things out. He's good at that. He's got a team for all the technical stuff, and they're good at that. So, overall, I don't imagine he sees any pressing need to join the 21st Century in that regard. As for the Internet? Forget about it!
Christine: Only in small doses. If it’s case related, he’s surrounded himself with the best in that department and in his personal life…wait, what personal life? He makes boats in his basement. He doesn’t appear to need an internet connection for that.
Tanya: I hope not. He wouldn't be the Gibbs I know and love if he did!
David: If last night is any indication, I think he could adapt.
Doug: I can just picture him plugging in an internet-connected refrigerator, and the display telling him right away that he's out of eggs: "out of eggs! What do you mean I'm out of eggs? I don't even eat eggs. Where's Abby?"
So no - I can't see him becoming technically proficient any time soon. Give him a hammer, some wood, some nails, a chisel and some lacquer, and he'll be content for hours. Hand him a smart watch and he'll heave it in the lake and ask for a normal wind-up watch.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.