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NCIS Review: If You're Not Need to Know, You Don't

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You know, despite how much I enjoyed the 200th episode, Jamie Lee Curtis' guest appearance and some of the heavier installments in recent months, it was refreshing to have the "old" NCIS back Tuesday.

By old, I don't mean that the show has lost a step. The writing has still been top-notch. There were just some things that felt lacking; I missed the truly team-oriented crime solving as well as the humor.

Last night was terrific in that regard. The crime under investigation was both serious enough to keep you interested and detest the bad guy(s) but not so serious that the team couldn't let loose at times.

Abby and Gibbs in Action

The investigation's focus was on international arms dealer Agah Bayar, prime suspect in the death of Petty Officer Wiley, who was "murdered by remote control" i.e. a satellite signal impacting his pacemaker.

Across the country, every viewer fortunate enough to have their heart problems regulated by such a device was swallowing hard. That was a unique angle, and it was just the tip of this criminal iceberg.

After Gibbs correctly noted that Wiley was "diagnosed with a slow heartbeat and died of a fast heartbeat," the team went to his apartment and found $43K in cash, plus a Rolex that Tony obviously tried on.

Agah Bayar now looking even more suspicious, Gibbs decided on a face-to-face meeting ... with an agenda. Our man threatened to "take him down," then stealthily put a tracking device on his Aston-Martin.

The most interesting thing about the case was how multi-layered it was. It would've been fine on its own merit, but for most of the episode, Gibbs & Co. didn't fully understand what they were even after.

Not because Bayar is such a smooth criminal, either. The DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) kept them all in the dark, saying Vance and Gibbs weren't "Need to Know. If you're not need to know, then you don't.

This must be exasperating beyond belief for one federal agency to be stonewalled by another, especially when - as Gibbs and Vance's conversation briefly shed light on - NCIS is still fighting for respect.

The agency is, by federal investigative standards, quite small and easily overlooked. It's not hugely surprising that they'd be further down on the totem pole, or that Gibbs couldn't care less about politics.

Anthony and Ziva

Eventually, no thanks to the DIA, we learned that the woman at Bayar's company was a Russian agent (not a call girl, sorry Tony) whose father was in the KGB. Bayar, too, was playing both sides of this.

Gibbs put on a good front when he learned the whole thing was misdirection, that the DIA was trying to broker a deal with false intelligence secrets, and that he and Bayar were actually on the same team.

"This time," at least. Think he'll emerge as an NCIS target again soon?

The silver lining to the subterfuge throwing up roadblocks for the team was that it got McGee and Ned Dorneget (Matt Jones) off the hook for losing the Russian agent. Poor Ned. He had no chance in the bathroom.

Dorneget was great, I thought. Between bumping into people, forgetting his gun, trying to impress Gibbs with break room "coffee," and his inability to even hold his ID right side up, how do you not love the guy?

Fans (myself included) are inclined to be lukewarm to anyone new taking on a substantive role when we already don't see enough of our own team some weeks, but that didn't feel like the case last night.

Even with Dorneget thrown in the mix, everyone, even Vance, had memorable scenes. I enjoyed that he referenced how overworked he is and how it's taking a toll on his family, with Gibbs encouraging him to take a vacation. Ziva had an entertaining side plot too, although I wish we were able to see a snippet of her speech.

As for Ned himself? His bungling of everything was predictable, but didn't make him any less likable.

Tim and Ned

His homosexuality was handled well, too. The topic came up with McGee - who was great trying to be the big senior agent, naming rules and whatnot - in an organic way, and Tim was wonderfully understanding.

Had he not been accused of dropping the ball because of Baransky's beauty, Dorneget probably wouldn't have brought it up. Just because he's gay doesn't define him as an agent or a person, it's just a part of who he is.

He had little choice but to "come out" at that moment, and once he did, he and Tim could shift their focus and move on ... to how dead they were both going to be when Gibbs found out. Which he hasn't. Yet.

Tim had another reason to embrace Dorneget's sexual orientation, besides just being a good guy - he no longer has to worry about him leaving stuff at Abby's place. The look on his face was priceless there.

Dorneget's subtle crush on Tony? Also pretty funny.

Overall, an excellent episode from start to finish, blending just the right portions of all the things we've grown to love about the show. I hope we get more like it coming down the home stretch of this season.

A few odds and ends before turning it over to you ...

  • Ducky really is right about wedding registries ... and most things about weddings.
  • Speaking of which, when is Palmer's scheduled for? Has to be this spring, right?
  • That interrogation scene in the morgue (when Ducky left for tea) was intense!
  • The electro-score whenever Abby is on screen always makes me smile.
  • The show is off until March 20, when Jamie Lee Curtis returns.

What did you think of this week's NCIS? Discuss in the comments below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (219 Votes)

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

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    56 Comments New Comment Subscribe

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    I do hope we see more of Matt Jones as Agent Ned Dorneget. As much as I love the whole cast of NCIS it is nice to see new faces.

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    As a UK viewer of the seried since the beginning, I can only comment that the writing in season 9 has been generally lacklustre. Definite signs of creative flagging. The whole cast appear to be sleepwalking through the script. Is this a sign of the increased control given to Dhane Brennan? (NCIS - Los Angeles is just a bad joke!) or are there more serious problems at Castle Bellisario?

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    I love Tony and I love Ziva I just don't see any sexual tension between them. Saw more between Tony and Kate. Wish they'd keep on the Tony maturing track. Anyone else think Palmer has the longest engagement in TV?

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    @Lisa: Putting Tony & Ziva together would probably kill the show see House & Cuddy on FOX's "House" for further explanation

    Also the pictures of Tony were at Jean Benouit's home when he was assigned to get close to her to target La Grenwie (Director Shepard's obsessive target) and he fell in love with her (Jean) instead.

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    It seems the writers are starting to get back to what I call the regular episodes. Nothing against the last few but I like the original way the show was written with the characters we all love interacting with each other solving cases. I didn't care for Dorneget, doesn't seem to fit in as an agent. Would not like to have him as a partner backing me up!!! He seemed more the type to be with Columbo(Peter Falk) in his old show.
    I like seeing the regular cast and good guest stars, love Robert Wagner.
    I like the old saying if it's not broke, don't fix it.

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    This episode was unusual, and not one of the writers' best. However, the reappearance of Bayar was interesting; he's appeared on a couple other episodes. His voice is great. A lot of the comments on here have to do with Tony's return to his immature behavior. I don't like the way that's going, either, but I did notice that his scenes on the opening credits are serious, not like the goofy dancing he did on previous intros. The cast works together well and I truly miss Mike Franks. And, come on writers, I am a diehard Tony/Ziva fan - get them together! It's obvious they belong together, in spite of Gibbs' rule not to date co-workers. There's no rule against married co-workers, is there? And remember many seasons ago when someone had pictures of Tony's visits to Ziva's home late at night? Those have never been explained. And the "Undercover" episode was WAY hot. I love all the characters. This is one show I never miss, and one that I can never get enough of in reruns on USA!

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    Remember when Tony's father was framed for murder? Tony blackmailed Dorneget with knowledge about Dorneget's costume at the Halloween party- and his behavior (in the copy room?) with a woman.

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    great episode.loved the team work...cantw ait to see jamie lee curtis back again.it was fun to see her and mark harmon together again.

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    1st off, Tony is Tony. He'll ALWAYS be Chief Instigator on NCIS. As long as HE keeps humiliating his teammates, he deserves to BE humiliated. If he can't take it, he shouldn't dish it out, period. I think the fact that viewers are tuning in LESS lately is very prophetic (Hello, CBS?!). I was NOT happy w/ this ep and it seems neither were Millions of other NCIS fans. The writing of late has been appalling. Many, many fans lament that they miss Team Gibbs of S3-S7(Shane, COME BACK!). Tony's acting like a CHILD again when he’s supposed to act like someone who will succeed Gibbs as Boss. If I were Gibbs, I'd BENCH him for such immaturity. Tony is far too old to act like a Fratboy Jerk. Re:the others-it’s as if TPTB doesn't know WHAT to do with them. There's a huge difference in character progression to show growth & COMPLETE alteration, so that they’re no longer recognizable to even the invested fan. I don't know WHICH T/Z/Tim I'll get from week to week, and it's ridiculous.

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    Excellent episodes these last couple of weeks. Looking forward to Jamie coming back in for an episode or two...thought sure the final scene in the restaurant with dimmed lighting and white table cloths would have Jamie sitting at the table.love being a total NCIS junkie!




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