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NCIS Review: False Witness, False Tony

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Three weeks after its terrific two-part November sweeps story arc, NCIS returned last night with a new episode, only to leave us again until January in a puzzling scheduling move.

That said, "False Witness" was a typically solid effort. Guest star Annie Wersching (24) was introduced as Arlington D.A. Gail Walsh, but the real star had little to do with the plot.

At least less to do with it. Michael Weatherly took a break after seven-plus seasons as the show's comedic foil and portrayed Tony DiNozzo as a serious, straight-laced go-getter.

Had this been April 1, we'd have assumed he was kidding ...

A DiNozzo Pic

Michael Weatherly was terrific as the anti-Tony Tony.

Ziva and Tim were so flummoxed by DiNozzo 2.0 that they were were noticeably distracted. Gibbs? The man does not get distracted, but he did notice. Even that says something.

The case DiNozzo was so on top of involved the lead witness in a death penalty murder trial who went off the grid after receiving threats days before he was scheduled to testify.

We were introduced to a number of suspects and plot twists along the way, as well as the obligatory friction between Gibbs and the D.A., although the reason for it was unusual.

Walsh was sleeping with an informant, Smitty Brown, who often hired the accused killer our witness was scheduled to testify against. Gibbs thought Brown wanted Jerry dead.

In truth, he wanted him alive ... and doing time indefinitely. That way he could smuggle his drugs to someone on the inside. We didn't see that or the informant-banging coming.

The killer was eventually freed because of Walsh's indiscretion, only to be confronted by the brother of the girl he shot. He wanted him to walk free to deliver payback personally.

It's hard to find fault with NCIS' writing, and any criticism should be considered relative to the show's extremely high standards. But we just couldn't see that kid pulling this off.

The standoff was just a bit cheesy, too. Gibbs and the killer both imploring the kid not to throw his life away? The stakes don't seem that high when you know he won't shoot.

Tim and Ziva

Don't even think about trying to run.

The bulk of the episode was strong, though. It's amazing how much these mysteries unravel and change course in just one hour, and how many fun moments there are as well.

Jerry, the witness, threw everyone for a loop with his emotionless, armchair psychoanalysis of everyone at NCIS. His parents were psychologists, apparently, and he was spot on.

When you can rattle Gibbs, or at least make him stare an extra second with that irritated look on his face, you know you've struck a nerve. Is he really a sad individual?

As we said earlier, the episode really belonged to Tony even if the plot wasn't Tony-centric. The signature scene came when Ziva finally learned what caused this metamorphosis.

It was Brenda Bittner, or more specifically, Tony internalizing over how he may have treated this previously-mentioned love interest unfairly. Ziva then offered him sage advice.

We don't have to grow up all at once, and we are who we are. But there is such a thing as balance and it can be achieved while being true to our own nature. Wise, Agent David.

This was an interesting lesson for a character responsible for those same qualities on NCIS. Without the Tony of old, the show's own delicate equilibrium would be disturbed.

That classic Tiva scene and McGee's acknowledgment that normal Tony is a great investigator made this a moving story instead of just a gimmick. Talk about finding balance.

Until next year, some additional closing thoughts:

  • Ziva drawing her gun in the office during Tony's episode-ending prank (a nice comeback for exalted class clown)? Amazing. You can take a girl out of the Mossad, but ...
  • Think we'll see this D.A. again? Her reputation had to take a hit over this.
  • Does Abby buy techno versions of holiday classics or remix them herself?
  • Was McGee really checking her out? If so, just ask her out, Tim!
  • We have got to get Ducky to "Like" TV Fanatic on Facebook.

What did you think of last night's NCIS? Comment below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
  • 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (94 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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I so like the 12 year old class clown better. It was a very good show with others actually doing the humor end. Liked the Tony and Ziva moment.

Carmen-scheer

I really enjoyed this episode. My husband and i were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. the whole Jerry thing just irritating the hell out of everyone was so funny. I love the tiva scenes too. I love Tiva. I have this feeling that they may be hiding something. Did you hear the way Gibbs said "yeah" after Ziva told him where she was going for the holidays. It was as if he didn't believe her. like she was hiding something or making the story up to go around something else if you know what i mean. I love the new storylines with Tony and Ziva. Give us more Tiva, please!!!

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i must say i didnt expect much from this episode,but how wrong was i,it was one of the best it had everything and more and showed everybody how good is michael weatherly acting his part and thank god hes back to his normal charming tony.

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I must admit that I wasn't that excited about this episode, since the promo didn't look that good.
But I LOVED it! I laughed, held my breath and smiled. We needed a laugh after the serious Enemies Foreign and Enemies Domestic. - Ducky getting a facebook account. All I can say is lol!
- That random McAbby moment about McGee checking her out.
- Jerry is my new favorite witness to ever be on NCIS! It was so funny that he got on everyone's nerves. Espicually the scene with Ziva "We're FRIENDS!" And Abby. And the fact that he made Jimmy cry. But Gibbs please start being nice to him he deserves it.
- I got my Tiva. And I more than loved it. The scene was really long actually, every time the music got higher I was like "Aw already done?" But it kept going and it was really nice. If that is the scene Michael was talking about I get why he liked it and it might be one of my fave series moments for Tony too.
- The last prank totally caught me off guard and I LOVED it :D
So funny when Ziva pulled her gun and everyone at the office was like "what the hell?"
- I hope the Miami guy skees off of a cliff! That is the ONE thing that is WRONG with this season. It's Rivkin all over again! At least wait another season or too before using that storyline again. Not saying I think he's a killer but
1. Random hints throught the season.
2. Tony got suspecious in the first episode.
3. Shane Brennan said he would be shown in the last part of the season and he would bother Tony. Need I say more? But I loved False Witness, so much better than I thought it would be and my fave holiday episode.

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I loved when Ziva told Tony we love you meaning she loves him. and at the end when Tony did that jork and Ziva had her gun and Tony says too much. love Tony and Ziva. wish showed more Abby. Ducky`s facebook thing was good and Palmer crying after talking to Jerry. can`t wait til mid season.

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Loved the ep. Loved seeing serious, competent Tony surprising Ziva and McGee with his abilities(come on, did they really think Tony wasn't capable?!). Bothered by Ziva describing Tony as "capable too". Really? Wow, that hurt. And although I loved the interrogation scene, wonder if Ziva really thinks the essence of Tony is "class clown"? Because he's so much more, and if she can't see that, perhaps she's better off with "Miami Man". Great review !

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I immediately wanted to rewind the part where Ziva confronted Tony on how serious he had been acting. That was an awesome scene, the only thing missing was that it didnt happen in the mens room haha. At the end, the look of fear on his face was priceless! Ziva screcched, jumped 10 feet in the air and had her gun ready to roll. She's still from Israel Tony! The first thought in her mind was probably BOMB!

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The TIVA scene was awesome! Ziva basically told Tony that she loves him!!! FINALLY! :)She said "that's why we love you", but her face told it all. Tony was taken by surprise and had tears in his eyes. If they hadn't been interrupted, I wonder what might have happened...do you think it would have been a kiss? perhaps!

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I always liked Tony and run into many people who do ... but I also run into people who love the show and hate Tony. One comment I've heard from a couple of the Tony haters is "How can this guy ever get any work done," like he's coasting and McGee and David have to do everything. Except Tony's always been on top of everything and does "lead" the others in Gibbs absence or when he specifically wants something from them for an idea he has. Well, this show hopefully showed the haters that Tony can do his work, if they've kept doubting it. Hurray!

Sue-ann

Yes, I would say that Gibbs is almost permanently sad. One time when he was not was when his father gave him the keys to that yellow car, and he drove it down the main street of his home town. Big sincere grin on his face. Usually, I see him as a guy who is staying alive out of a sense of determination, so as not to dishonor his family or the Corps, but who takes little or no joy in life. He presents as a very sad man.