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NCIS Season Premiere Review: The Aftermath

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"What's a four-letter word for surviving a terrorist attack? Luck." - Gibbs

NCIS kicked off its 10th season with another strong installment, one that was basically the final chapter of a five-episode arc, beginning in April with the burning of a Baltimore warehouse in "Rekindled" and concluding with Gibbs and Dearing finally squaring off mano-a-mano.

As premieres go, it didn't quite live up to the hype, with the conclusion a bit anticlimactic and parts feeling somewhat disjointed. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable, and it's great to have the team back in one piece.

Unlike last season's opener, which picked up the action months after the previous finale and saw Tony piece together the puzzle through a series of flashbacks, tonight began mere seconds after "Til Death Do Us Part" and the blast that rocked NCIS' headquarters, leaving its agents in peril.

With debris still in the air, Gibbs was ordered by SecNav Jarvis to proceed with "Extreme Prejudice" in the hunt for Dearing. First, however, we learned the status of his team members:

Extreme Prejudice Pic

McGee sustained a shrapnel wound he wasn't even aware of until becoming light-headed. Anyone who's ever been through a traumatic event can attest to the masking of pain with pure adrenaline. Fortunately, he came back strong, and we saw him call Penny afterward. It's unclear if Lily Tomlin will reprise her role as his grandmother, but EP Gary Glasberg hinted to TV Fanatic that he may explore Tim's relationship with his father soon.

Ducky and Palmer reunited at the hospital, shortly after the former's heart attack. In one of the episode's most poignant moments, he encouraged his protege to return to work without him; in another, the old man came back and uncovered a critical clue (off the record of course, as he's still in recovery).

Tony and Ziva were trapped in the elevator (which they acknowledged right away was against protocol), until they were rescued by Abby in amusing fashion. The Tiva fan contingent likely wished they were stuck in there longer, and justifiably so, as those scenes blended some hilarious banter with the obligatory sexual tension. It looked like he was going in for a kiss at one point, but the status quo remains. Which isn't to say it wasn't memorable, between Ziva using Tony's head as a thigh master and calling him "ripe." Details Eli doesn't have to know.

Abby (and Vance) made it out of the building relatively unscathed … physically. She's clearly taking it harder than most, and it will be interesting to see in the coming weeks if she recovers her infectious enthusiasm. Tonight, it was MIA, and for good reason. If anything or anybody can make one question the good in the world, it's the actions of Harper Dearing.

Kick. His. Ass. Abbs' directive was certainly heeded by Gibbs & Co., but their adversary kept them guessing with a blast that claimed at least one member of Fornell's team, then by faking his own death.

Force the turnover, Make him keep playing. The plan to stage the arrest of Dearing's ex and draw him out of hiding failed, as he slipped through their fingers again. What they needed was a real game-changer.

Gibbs devised one, concluding that this self-proclaimed superior "whistleblower" wanted his final memories to be those of his son. Sure enough, they met at the home where he raised Evan, cassettes eerily playing.

Dearing drew similarities between himself and Gibbs in the standoff, which was a more intimate affair than expected. After he reached for a gun, Gibbs stabbed him once in the gut in self-defense. Game over.

By his own design, Dearing remained shrouded in mystery until the bitter end. While the entire story arc was excellent, Richard Schiff almost felt underutilized in the role; an actor of his pedigree could have made this jaded, vengeful villain even more compelling given more screen time. It's not that what we saw of him was less than convincing, it's just that a few more scenes would've offered greater insight into how a Navy father's obviously loving mind could become so terroristic.

Ziva and Tony Photo

In any event, the villain met his long-overdue end with "Extreme Prejudice." Next week, the "Recovery" begins, and it will be interesting to see how the after-effects of what happened shift the show's landscape.

A few stray notes, quotes and observations before turning it over to you:

  • Of all the characters, the Ducky-Jimmy relationship may have shone brightest tonight.
  • Sad as it was that Tony Sr. didn't call, it looks like he'll pay another visit this season.
  • Like the episodes themselves, the blast was said to have occurred May 15, 2012 and the memorial outside the building dedicated September 25, 2012.
  • Evan's words on the audiotape, played during the closing sequence with a smiling Gibbs looking on: "I love this country. I want to protect it. I want to protect what it stands for."

And the million-dollar question ...

  • Why does Gibbs need a bigger basement and what exactly was he measuring for?

What did you think of tonight's NCIS Season 10 premiere? Discuss below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (767 Votes)

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

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@Ann Woodward It was the season Premiere its not like its was a episode before Christmas break if last night is what the season going to be like why watch it if im not on the edge of my seat.

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It's so good to have NCIS back. Every episode can't be full blown action packed. I especially liked the tender moments with Palmer and Ducky. This program is special because of the character relationships and of course the story lines too. I too prefer the one story episodes over the ones like this that go for weeks so hopefully the writers will go back to these most of the time. NCIS is still the BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I loved it. I've yet to see an episode I didn't like, but then I just love NCIS. I love the characters and am looking forward to the rest of the season.

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Another incredible show. It contained a moment that will go down in ncis history - the final moment of Gibbs facing off against a guy he knows wants to kill him & has tried to kill his entire team. The tension, the camera work, the slow unhurried pace - all done to perfection. And we remember for a moment that Gibbs is a killer. A trained assassian. We love Gibbs but there is a part of him that faces death, sees death and kills others. With a calm intensity he is ready to die, accepts the danger & that he might fail but at the same time he is ready to kill those that need to be killed.

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Loved it. NCIS is an all time favorite and I can't wait until next Tuesday.
The cast is absolutely fantastic! Mark Harmon is great and the family around him.

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Complain all you want,this show was still great and glad to see Ducky's assistant finally got into the opening credits.
The thing that got to me the most was how Jethro Gibbs went in alone to see the killer face to face, followed him knowing the guy was probably going to try and kill him, guy turns his back, Jethro sees the gun on the window sill and calmy pulls out a knife and stabs the murderer in the gut when the man turns around without so much as a flinch. God I love Mark Harmon and his character.

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Have to admit I was a little disappointed with this episode. It seemed almost trite - everything tied up in neat package with a bow by the end. The elevator scene wit Tony and Ziva is really disappointed. I didn't need a kiss or proclamations of love but sure we could have gotten at least a couple more meaningful glances. The writing seemed kinda lazy on this on. Lets hope it picks up in coming episodes.

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Never have we had to wait so long for such a so-so payoff on NCIS. Maybe it's time for the writers to go back to the one story=one episode format. I would love that since I'm old and my attention span is shrinking daily... I was sure that making us all wait four episodes + SUMMER for the climax to this story would produce amazing fireworks...but if you blinked you could have missed this "climax." What a waste of the Gibbs machine! It's frustrating, because I love everybody as actors and as characters and they deserve the best material possible... Kudos to David McCallum for doing a superb job playing the heart attack and the accompanying anxiety and befuddlement...a lovely job of work, as the Brits say. It's always nice to see a character we know so well thrown a major curve ball and he did a wonderful job with it.

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I agree with those who say the episode felt flat, and that some of the plot was outright stupid. Why would the FBI keep sending 'canaries' into close quarters to arrest a known bomb-maker?? Then, Gibbs did the same DA*N thing at the end. Obviously by that point, Dearing was ready for death by Gibbs--why not do it in a blaze of glory? Unbelievable that Gibbs would take such personal risk when there are much safer ways to accomplish the goal. Total misuse of Gibbs' talent as a sniper. Also, given the size of the blast at NCIS HQ, I agree with those who say the team should be hurt worse.

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Not the most exciting episode. I, too, felt it was a bit flat. One reason was the fact that it wasn't a 'team' episode. There were very few scenes of the team even working together, let alone talking together. Few Tony scenes usually equates to an episode that's lacking in zing. I had high hopes for the Tony/Ziva elevator scenes, not as a Tiva-thing but because I love their rapport, but I felt that part wasn't especially well written. I think part of the problem was the writer/director lost the impact of the team worried for each other. Their survival was very predictable and almost mundane. And did anyone seem worried about Ducky? He has a major heart attack and it almost goes unnoticed by everyone. Hmmm, while I adore NCIS, I felt this episode didn't quite come together as it should have. Perhaps they should have made it a two-parter so that they could spend time on the characters' reactions. After all these months of waiting, I want to see the whole team - not a Gibbs/Vance episode. But every episode can't be perfect so I don't see a need to cry 'shark.' Every season has a flat point here and there. I think the biggest mistake was not having enough Tony/Ziva scenes because that's usually where the energy of an episode lies.

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