We so rarely get to see Tony and Gibbs seriously team up that it becomes an unusual treat when they do.
Such was the case on NCIS Season 12 Episode 19 when the mere name of an old cold case operation - Lex Talionas - caused both men's Spidey-sense alarms to go off.
It's also rare to see the two alphas communicate without words, as they did when that name came up and they made a beeline to MTAC, along with Vance.
Though you have to wonder: how did Vance know so quickly? Maybe there's a kind of ESP that operates at moments like this.
Watching McGee get locked out of MTAC was kind of cool to see, too. Although what came out of that later was considerably less welcome.
Interesting how, of the two betas in NCIS -- McGee and Palmer -- only one of them sort of understands his place on the totem pole. McGee will forever be the would-be alpha, never quite making it into the club.
A case can be made that Palmer wants to be an alpha too -- as evidenced by his small spat with Ducky over the DNA testing. But that was merely an example of his ignorance. He's truly a humble guy who got momentarily lost in his social skills. Fascinating that Tony knew the whole scope of that interaction and tried so hard to keep Palmer from shooting himself in the foot with the more serious Ducky.
McGee came off like a whiny 9 year old girl, time and again at the start of the episode. First with his complaint in MTAC -- in front of Vance no less! -- about how he hadn't been read in to the op. Vance was far too gentle with him on that:
McGee: Okay you're telling me that Ziva knew too?
Vance: Agent McGee, your ego is not the subject of this briefing.
The second occurrence happened when McGee and Tony were arguing on their way into the tattoo parlor:
McGee: How do I know you're not working on another secret op?
Tony: How do I know you're not working on another secret op? Are you working on another secret op? McGee.
McGee: Hurts, doesn't it?
Man -- when will this guy grow up? Tony had to apologize just to shut him up.
In the real world, a man like Gibbs would take careful note of his childish behavior and make sure that when the time comes, the guy who gets promoted is Tony, not him.
There were two notable performances in this episode. The first was the interrogation scene between Gibbs and Eddie "Collarbone" Rosario.
Arturo del Puerto, who played Rosario, pretty much chewed up the scenery in that little room. The scene was written perfectly, as it allowed him to display his puffed up braggadocio to a "t'.
The other outstanding scene was the interrogation between Gibbs, Tony and Tomas Orlando. Between Tony sitting in the dark corner, firing off quips and questions to Orlando, Gibbs pounding his questions from the front, and Orlando stick-handling all of it with a kind of rough grace, the whole room sparked with tension and grit. I loved every minute of it.
The case itself was held together by the thinnest of threads. We didn't get enough of a history on Ambassador Edmunds' past and motivation. Sure, she was threatened by Armand Luna, but we didn't get any details on that threat. Nor did we learn nearly enough about how they met, and about the money she took from him years ago. The whole motivation was added almost like an afterthought.
Granted, the show is only an hour long -- but that speaks of a need to make at least a two-parter out of it.
- McGee can't trust Tony? Really? Despite his commendable actions on the last episode, I wouldn't trust McGee to have my back. Not if his feelings were hurt, anyway.
- When you set up an enticing premise like Tony and Bishop mistakenly going to a couples' intimacy class, you can't just talk about it and not show us the embarrassing results of it. That sounded like it would have been so much fun, but they cut it short and only alluded to the discomfort after the fact. Bad move.
- "Let it go, Elsa"
- Tony's father makes an appearance next week. Be sure to tune in to NCIS Season 12 Episode 20, entitled "No Good Deed".
What are your thoughts on this episode? Were McGee's scenes written as per the norm, or were they especially whiny? Did you enjoy the case of the week?
Chime in on the discussion below and as always -- remember that you can always get caught up when you watch NCIS online.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.