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NCIS Review: The Secret Life of Tony DiNozzo

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After last week's unorthodox 200th episode event, NCIS returned to traditional form tonight with "Secrets," an installment better embodying the series' vintage blend of humor, relationships and crime-solving.

In the wake of an episode that asked "what if" on such a grand scale, it was hard not to play a similar game this week as well. After meeting the infamous Wendy, DiNozzo's ex-fiancee, can't you see the connection?

Clearly he still felt it. Having not spoken to her in nine and a half years since being dumped the day before their wedding, Tony found himself serving as Wendy's press liaison ... and making out with her in front of her son.

Not what he envisioned going into this case, and certainly not what I expected either. To the extent that chemistry can be present in a couple who split up a decade ago, these two certainly had it.

If Wendy hadn't left him the way she did, would Tony be at NCIS? More broadly, would he be happy-go-lucky and fully content with life, rather than putting up facades and chasing the wrong thing?

Tony and Wendy

Everybody gets pensive and confused (people also get not hungry), and DiNozzo has clearly been more conflicted this season than in the past, but he may have set a new high water mark tonight.

The way he and Wendy left things, that inner turmoil may not fade away anytime soon.

Suffice it to say, the vaunted closure Ducky spoke of did not take place for Tony, at least not in the sense that he finally put his relationship with Wendy behind him and turned the corner for good.

The extent to which Gibbs was playing "cupid" to set his right-hand man up with her is unclear, but he could clearly tell (as Gibbs has a way of doing) that Tony hadn't really let Wendy go yet.

Where those two go from here after Wendy's surprise explanation for leaving Tony, and apparent overture - she wasn't ready for The One then, but she is now - remains to be seen as well.

Is she really trying to pursue a relationship with him after all this time?

It seemed that way, although she also became the umpteenth person to remark about his feelings for a certain someone. Can we list everyone who's picked up on this over the past several months?

Wendy made no secret of her renewed affection for Tony, in any case, and the parallels between Tony and Gibbs, as helpfully explained by Ducky in a terrific scene in the morgue, are distinct.

Will the younger continue to repeat the elder's destructive romantic pattern, or break the mold?

Gibbs and Duck

Wendy seems cool in a lot of ways, but as Tony himself said, that crashed and burned. Rekindling the flame may not be the key to happiness; extinguishing it for good might be the ideal course of action.

Whatever sparks may exist, he might want to stop and consider that Wendy ... A) Lied to Tony at least once; B) Dumped him nearly at the altar; C) Has a child with another man. Maybe not the best fit.

Regardless, Michael Weatherly, even more than usual, was terrific in his nuanced portrayal of a man battling repressed emotions and combating them with every humorous defense mechanism in the book.

Perrey Reeves, as Wendy, was also enjoyable, especially given that were predisposed to dislike her. McGee's right, she's a cutie - and a tough nut to crack, hard-nosed, witty and more than a little vulnerable.

Far from a one-note character, not unlike Tony.

I'm interested to see when and if she'll be back, and where Tony takes this, but her appearance made for a solid episode, along with a super-charged investigation that provided one laugh after another.

The idea of ordinary citizens embodying superhero personae for real world causes was both amusing and eye-opening, as these aren't people dressing up for fun: they're driven, organized community activists.

Even Gibbs had to give props for that final takedown.

Now an investigative reporter, Wendy nearly met her demise because of her profession. Fearful that she would link the heroes' crime-fighting ways to improving property values, the murderous real estate developer dad (Ray Wise, great in everything he does) of one of the costume-wearing Samaritans tried to kill her as well.

Abby in Costume

The superhero premise also led to an inordinate number of McGee nerd jokes and legitimate fangirl moments for Abby. Even though this was a DiNozzo-centric episode, the whole team was involved and terrific.

Yes, it was a cheesy case at times, but it offered plenty of laughs, so it worked.

Overall, it was a fun hour that struck the perfect NCIS balance of action, comedy and surprisingly complex character development. A refreshing return from the terrific, but unconventional 200th milestone last week.

A few additional thoughts and observations before turning it over to you:

  • How funny is it that Vance has to seriously ask if Gibbs was married to a woman he "goes way back" with? Signs you have too many ex-wives: When your boss loses track of them.
  • Who knew Palmer took such a profound interest in wedding caterers?
  • "This isn't my costume. These are just my clothes." Amazing.
  • Someone needs to make a TV Fanatic username ICU.
  • Tony does look good in a suit, doesn't he?

What did you think of this week's NCIS? Did it live up to expectations, or leave something to be desired? What were the best and worst parts for you? Discuss in the comments below, and vote in our survey:

Who can you best envision romantically with Tony?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
  • 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (216 Votes)

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

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I liked this episode very much. I don't think Wendy is long term for Tony, however, she does need to show up again if Tony is going to deal with his past. Wendy was the cause, so that's what he needs to make peace with. I am Not a Tiva fan. I do not want to see Ziva and Tony together. I would much rather see Tony find someone outside the team. I love Ziva, but I don't think that she should get involved with Tony, that would make it very complicated at work. I love how Tony and McGee's relationship has evolved over the years. Tony does not put him down nearly as much as he used to and gives McGee credit now and then. Big change. McGee actually understands Tony more and they seem to be friendly towards each other. I loved the car scene. Ducky hit Tony's problem right in the Morgue scene, he needs to deal with the past and not make the same mistakes Gibbs has made.

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Did not care for this episode. To have to rewrite a characters history to make a story fit just seems wrong. We all know that Tony has issues with commitment and loosing a parent at a young age and having the other one not set a good example is enough of a reason to have this issue.There was no need for Wendy.
Each time a writer changes something about Tony they're making things worse. Tony was an interesting , caring, smart man but with all these "things" that have occurred with Tony since mid last season he is being protrayed as a sad screwed up person.That is not the Tony I watched before or want to see, now. Makes me wonder how he ever passed his psy eval to become a cop and later an NCIS agent.

Frank-lee-meidere

I was very happy with the episode, and unlike most, I quite liked Wendy, too -- but then, I also liked C.J., so what do I know? Admittedly, I wouldn't want to see Tony end up with either of them, but that's a different matter. I'm most impressed with how they've dealt with Tony's character throughout the course of the show. Years ago we were told (by Ducky) that Tony was a lot like a young Gibbs. This connection has been growing in wonderfully subtle ways. When I first started watching NCIS, Tony was the one character I didn't like. He struck me as the "comedy relief," and it annoyed me because a crack team of investigators can't afford someone whose only talent is goofing off. But it only took a few episodes to realise that Tony was far more than that.

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So far, the best fit for Tony has been the tadpole. (What else to call the Frog's daughter?) I'll wait for this to come back around, thanks!

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I didn't like Wendy either. She seemed like every other woman Tony dated. Maybe that's why.

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Wendy just didn't do it for me last night - I don't see her with Tony. They both need to realize that what 'was 9 years' ago is so different from what 'is now'.... Ducky is just the right person/advisor to help Tony get it straight. Gibbs has just seen the light - or so we are led to believe, and is too close to be the big advisor to Tony. Conflict of interest. Ziva is unusually quiet these days and we need to see what is up with "CI Ray" now that he is conveniently out of the country. I predict that both Tony and Ziva will again come to emotional loggerheads this season after the "other infuences" in their lives have been resolved. Consummated? maybe not....but defenitly closer.

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Poll mean nothing beside not everyone who love NCIS has a computer and come on these things I am just happy to see Tony being treated like a man by a woman who love and respect them we have not seen that since Kate and Jenna

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You know Kate is dead, right ? And she was totaly into Gibbs when she was alive . Do you think she should be with Tony when she is dead ? Lol...

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Steve - Good review. I think you summed up how I felt about the episode. Nice to see the team back working together on a very funny ep (well done Mr. Binder), especially after that VERY weird 200th last week. So many funny parts that made me laugh. I think the Wendy-Tony-Ziva Observation room scene was my favorite though. That was VERY symbolic for a number of reasons. Brilliant. I didn't think Wendy was all that bad..IF she is helping to serve a greater purpose, here. But I DON'T want to see Tony in an intimate relationship - yet again - with another woman. Especially not his Ex after all these years. How tacky is THAT?!! If Tony was "the One", she would have married him, period. Not some other man in the meantime, and then when he doesn't work out..go out and find the one who WASN'T really The One, but he is The One at present, now that you are divorced, and lonely and you want a man. If Tony falls for that trap yet again, he's an Idiot.

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Hey, Michael, did you check out the poll above -- who "fans" can envision Tony with?