NCIS Review: A Slow Burner

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Now that was a first-rate episode of NCIS.

The show raised the emotional and criminal stakes again Tuesday with a case that shed light on a core character's background while setting the stage for a compelling season-ending run in May.

"Rekindled" was a fitting title for an installment in which Tony crossed paths with a boy who changed his life forever and vice versa, and we were reintroduced to the mysterious Phantom Eight.

All in the middle of a complex and wide-ranging arson case, no less.

This is how you do an "origin" episode and develop characters. Rather than simply having a guest star randomly tell us something about DiNozzo, he relived the past while working with Jason King in the present.

That night made both men who they are today - former and current members of the Baltimore P.D., respectively, as it turns out. Had Tony not saved Jason, he wouldn't have lived to serve others so bravely.

Just as significantly, it was a defining moment in DiNozzo's life.

Gaius Charles on NCIS

Rescuing Jason inspired Tony to pursue a career in law enforcement, which ultimately led him to Gibbs and NCIS. The event shaped both individuals immeasurably, though not without tragic, long-lasting repercussions.

You can't save them all. We're still here, she's not. Focus on the ones you can save. The elevator scene at the end was poignant and profound in its simplicity, sage advice from the veteran cop to his protege.

Tony's right, plain and simple. Had he gone back for Jason's sister, all three would have perished. Instead, the two survived and went on to save countless others, yet carry the weight of her loss to this day.

You can't save them all, but you can't forget those you don't. Jason was bitter to this day and after seeing the old photo, it was clear how much guilt Tony had repressed, even if he believes his own lesson.

Gaius Charles was terrific as Jason and Michael Weatherly was typically solid as Tony, who has been the brunt of jokes or (somewhat forced) introspective storylines this season but really shined this evening.

Charles wasn't just a one-note guest star vehicle for Tony flashbacks. As an arson investigator, King really knew his stuff, saving the day with the airlock and helping Abby arrive at the right chemical reaction.

Hopefully there will be an opportunity for him to return. This case certainly isn't over. Not unlike the thermite, this was a slow-burner of an episode, the beginning of an arc that could take weeks to play out.

The investigation featured multiple Gibbs interrogations, took us from an electronics warehouse to a cargo ship and a suburban driveway, and featured suspects ranging from a woman posing as an author to one of Baltimore's own fire investigators, whose death was the only predictable thing all night.

Rekindled Pic

Did anyone not voice "boom" out loud one second before he turned the key? The case came together too quickly for the team to nab the perpetrator(s) right then and there. This guy was merely the pawn.

The connection to the Navy was the missing piece that eluded Gibbs & Co. throughout the episode, as "Rekindled" weaved a tangled web of controlled burns and faulty wiring. Who knows where it may lead.

What we do know is that the Phantom Eight/Watcher Fleet was working to correct the wiring problems and that their AquaMarine (sp.?) mission has been heavily compromised. The question is by whom?

You had a feeling the Fleet and those shady microchips would resurface one of these days, even if they appear to be the victim(s) this time. Does this mean we'll see the return of Stratton? Or E.J.?

I wouldn't bet on either, but you never know, since NCIS arcs can be surprisingly elaborate for a show procedural in nature. With Gibbs' fears of terrorism clearly proven correct after the shocking explosion, international tie-ins with characters introduced on last week's open-ended episode are also a possibility.

As the first chapter of a saga guaranteed to continue in "Playing With Fire" (May 1, with NCIS off next Tuesday), it was an exemplary one. Hopefully I'll feel the same after watching the rest of the season.

A few stray observations before turning it over to your comments:

  • The NCAA Final Four has never been in Baltimore, nor has UCLA played Ohio State in it; I realize it's a fictional show but that was an oddly descriptive set-up for the story.
  • How terrifying was that locked-up arson "expert"?
  • Fire doesn't destroy evidence, it creates it.
  • McGee. So nerdy and so awesome.
  • Rule #8: Never assume.

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


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (245 Votes)

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


I don't know why but NCIS always seem better in begging and the ending of the season escape for season 7


Well guest, we may just have to disagree. I don't dislike the Ziva character because she took Kate's place. As a matter of fact, I found her fine in her first two seasons. It was when she was turned into princess perfect, wonder woman, poor victim, and superior snark dispenser that my dislike grew. If Tony's mission is to "keep things loose and in good sprits in the bullpen" then Ziva's job must be to make the bullpen into a personally insulting, competitive, unpleasant place, where she can extol her own superiority over Tony. I'm just tired of the schtick. Part of it is the way CdP delivers these types of lines. Instead of it feeling like light hearted teasing, it comes off as smug, judgmental, and self impressed IMO.


Personnell i thought it was a very moving episode with tony going into the burning building having to make a choice of who to save, and i thought the character jason did great, i would agree l like see more jason, tony, palmer, abby and less jlc


I loved this episode. I'm so glad that they showed who Tony really was, and the true reason why he became involved in law enforcement. It was great how they played this out and that Tony and Jason came to an understanding. Although, I would think that Jason would be able to come to that conclusion on his own, especially after becoming a arson inspector. I loved that they made it into an arc for the next episode while they go into the May sweeps.
Love this show and this episode reminded me why.


Stan Burley IS COMING BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


This episode was great because Jamie Lee wasn't in it. Above all it was great.
I really felt for Jason, dealing with the lose of his little sister, and Tony having to live with the fact that he had to make a choice. He really only had one choice to make. I wish they would show more of Ducky and Palmer. Ducky is sexy in his own way. I was impressed with this episode. Keep up the good work and lets kick some real butt once in awhile, it keeps us jumping!!


Personally I was thinking the puberty comment instantly just like Ziva did. I don't get the bashing of her for saying it. For all the people who still dislike her just because she took "replaced" Kate, you know Kate would have said the exact same thing and the same people would be talking about how funny it was. Honestly I think Tony would be disappointed if someone hadn't taken that opportunity. Tony make it his mission to keep thinks loose and in good spirits in the bullpen. Sure it goes too far sometimes, but every one of the characters are guilty of it at times.


Absolutely loved Rekindled. The Tony/Jason story was touching, the elevator scene was great. The actor who played Jason did a great job, and I loved the way he and Abby worked together. It was wonderful to see a good, solid NCIS episode - so much better than the crappy episodes with JLC. When she's on there is not enough attention on the team and NCIS is a team show - they shouldn't have to take a back-seat to a guest star. (climbing down off the "I Don't Like Dr Ryan" soapbox)


I've said it before and I'll say it again. WTF Ziva. Why is she constantly putting Tony down? I would not be opposed to a ship exploading while she is on it.


I really enjoyed most of last night's episode. I'm tired of the obligatory humiliate Tony scenes, that it seems must be inserted into every episode now. And of course we had our mandatory snarky "puberty" comment from Ziva. The first half was slow and a little dull. The second half picked up. The scenes between Tony and Gibbs (small as they were), the scenes with Jason and Abby, McGee actually having a back bone, were nice. The elevator scene with Tony and Jason was quite moving. I wish they'd keep giving us team episodes like this one in the season finale arc this year, but fear another Gibbs and Ziva angstfest, just like last year's finale, since Dr. Ryan and Monique are returning. Don't the writers understand that Tony, Abby, McGee, Ducky, and Palmer also have fans who would like to see their favorites have some multi episode finale drama too?

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