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NCIS Review: "One Last Score"

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As if he hadn't already left an indelible mark on NCIS in seven-plus seasons, Michael Weatherly directed a compelling, unique and thoroughly entertaining episode Tuesday.

Michael deserves praise all around, because while "One Last Score" was definitely unusual as NCIS episodes go, it was still terrific, well-acted and perfectly paced.

A lighter tone was indicative of Weatherly as the shot-caller and hit the mark nicely. Even though there were some corpses, there wasn't a deadly serious moment.

That's not to suggest the plot wasn't typically detailed and awfully complex at times. What looked like a standard murder of an NCIS employee became a lot more.

One Last Score Pic

Financier Leona Phelps, a hybrid of Bernie Madoff and Martha Stewart (ankle monitor and all), was accused of defrauding billions from federal employees and thieves alike.

Our original victim was part of a crew trying to find out where she stashed it. Rather than a standard murder investigation, this episode took on the feel of a heist flick.

The Phelps Fund used to retirement funds of people who trusted her, and when Gibbs watched clips of some of the men and women who fell victim to her, it was upsetting.

Especially in difficult economic times - also referenced in the agency's cutbacks Vance was charged with - this struck a powerful chord, punctuated by Phelps' smugness.

The government never recovered her money, but Phelps, who was able to finagle her release from Camp Cupcake, was undone by the fact that she stole from thugs, too.

Gibbs eventually discovers that the thieves attempted to steal her ledge holding offshore account information so they could get theirs back (and then some, most likely).

When they couldn't get it even after pilfering her seized property within NCIS' confines, the last remaining member of the gang tracked her down at her opulent home.

Where, conveniently, she had just secured her release.

Fortunately, Ziva and Gibbs were standing by to apprehend the thief AND nail Phelps, now caught red-handed with ALL her account info. High-fives all around, guys.

You knew there would be a chase scene with Weatherly behind the camera, and this was a good one, especially the end with Gibbs' mere glare inducing surrender:

After watching that scene again, all I can think of is that Mark Harmon is no Steve McQueen, but he's not too far off, either. I doubt I'll get a lot of arguments there.

This nod to the ultimate film anti-hero was far from the only Weatherly touch, of course. The topical, cinematic references were off the proverbial hook this week.

Ducky and Tony reflected on Psycho while lambasting Palmer for not seeing it. Tony referenced Xanadu from Citizen Kane, lambasting the guard for not knowing it.

The fact that Phelps owned William Faulkner's old desk was another nice touch. The show's writing and direction makes even the smallest details quite memorable.

If anything felt slightly off last night, it was the introduction of E.J. Barrett (Sarah Jane Morris), who transferred to D.C. from Spain - the very post Tony turned down.

E.J. caught Tony's eye early and often. Ditto Gibbs, but not in the same way.

It's unclear if he's just surly toward newcomers (very possible with L.J.) or doesn't like her specifically for reasons unknown. We'll find out more in the coming weeks.

While I liked E.J. and she seems like she could blossom into a dynamic character, the shower scene at the end caught me very much by surprise. It seemed sudden.

Tony and E.J.

We haven't even met her team yet (she has one, right?) and she's already half-naked with Tony? In typical fashion, we faded to black before they actually kissed, but ...

Needless to say, it'll be interesting to see where this goes, especially in light of the fact that we're soon going to meet Ziva's boyfriend Ray. What did you think of E.J.?

While I don't see a need for her on the show, I'm open-minded. If we rejected every new character without giving them a shot, where would we be? Remember Ziva?

On a lighter note, and perhaps not coincidentally, there were references to showering earlier in the night, with McGee, Ziva, Palmer and Tony all exchanging notes.

Basically ... Michael Weatherly has a thing for showers. Not surprising or unfunny.

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

Review

Editor Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (141 Votes)

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

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I find EJ kind of an annoying and shallow character. Obviously Tony saw something more... I hope we do too, if she is going to be a re-occurring cast member. Even though I don't like her, I'm glad Tony's got a new girl! I'm happy that Tony is finally feeling like he's doing something right. The episode overall I liked, but I agree that McGee was out of character. I didn't like that Tony was the brunt of every joke and the idiot in every scene the past season or more, but having McGee suddenly leave him alone was too weird. Sorry Michael! Otherwise, I enjoyed the change and I look forward to the next episode. I hope there's some action between Tony and Ziva because of their new significant others as well.

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This is the best show on TV and I think Michael Weatherly did an awesome job directing this episode.I guess a lot of people don't recognize the foreshadowing they do for future episodes.It does take some intellect to see that in TV,movies and books.I don't like Vance as a character,he should be slapped upside his head every time he acts superior,or talks down to Gibbs.

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I thought the characters were out of character in most of the episode. The scene where McGee is using all the old "ganster" lingo to describe the scene didn't work. The scene where Tony and McGee are circling the autopsy table and Ducky while talking was weird. Gibbs knocks before entering Vance's office because he wants to get in the Director's good graces... since when?? Then the new team lead shows up. We don't get to know anything about her character and next thing we know, she's in a towel and kissing Tony. Her character has no credibility with the audience or Gibbs' team. Now she's just the office tramp. This episode is up there with the "muscle car" episode as two of my least favorite.

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I have to agree with the majority of posters. I did not like the new character, and her listening in was not very subtle. Hit the viewers with a brick-bat? If this is just a short arc, then I'm okay with it. Otherwise, not so sure.

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I agree with most who do not like the new girl. I hope hers will be a short arc and nothing permanent, and I hope that she goes out bad like being a traitor or something...and I most certainly hope DiNozzo will not fall too hard for her.

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I too liked the show but did not like the new character at all. I agree with the majority that she is not needed and that no changes need to be made to the cast and show. Why is it that when a show gets to be number one and very popular the powers to be feel a need to change it up and ruin it? Leave it alone...I would rather see the show go out on top rather then end it's run without its once faithful fans and viewers.

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Leave the cast alone dont need a new cast memmber. Dont fix what is not broke.

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I think EJ is there to spy on Gibbs under Vance's orders, did anyone else noticed how she not only kept butting in but was literally staring at them while they worked and was listening to everything they were saying. And that end scene in the shower was just odd and out of no where. First episode I didn't like.

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I didn't like Ziva the first few episodes, but would be devastated should she leave now. Give the new girl a chance, I think these people know what they're doing. We love all the others on the team...and they picked them out...although I will say I'd love to see Vance take a hike. Can't stand the way he talks down to Gibbs. Wish Gibbs could just haul off and slap him. lol. Michael did a great job directing this, not that I know anything about that, but the show was great. Hope to see more from him. Also, would like to see more of Jimmy, he cracks me up! I just love the show!!!

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I also did not see a reason for bringing in a new character. I found she did not bring anything positive but seemed to be just hanging around the room, tossing in comments that weren't necessary. What happened to those people who used to sit there and didn't pay attention to what was going on? I hope she's not jumping the shark and being brought into to bring in more tension. The show for me is about Gibbs' team and I would find it hard to watch with EJ being thrown in the middle.

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