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NCIS Review: Reclaiming the Good

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Harper Dearing may have been vanquished by Gibbs on last week's NCIS Season 10 premiere, but we learned tonight that the aftershocks of his campaign of terror continue to ripple through the agency.

The "Recovery" will not be short and sweet. Nor should we expect it to be.

With the emotional wounds of the bombing still omnipresent, most of this week's episode struck a somber tone. The team members each battled their issues in their individual ways, and it wasn't pretty.

At the same time, this installment was more about the characters than the case, which is when NCIS is at its best. It also revisited Abby's brother Kyle, a popular storyline introduced fleetingly last year.

Abby and Her Brother

The writers did a nice job of expounding upon Abby's relationship with Kyle, and of course with Gibbs, as a result of the traumatic blast. Sometimes, we learn the most about ourselves in the darkest of times.

This was certainly true for Abby, whose nightmares about the morgue lingered and were upsetting to say the least. With the counselor's help (okay, mostly Gibbs'), she found inner peace, and much-needed shut-eye.

There's no substitute for family, even if they don't know you exist. Yet. Kyle certainly seemed game for the reveal. As long-lost biological siblings walking into your life out of nowhere go, Abby would be pretty cool.

Daniel Louis Rivas was well cast in the role, as he and Pauley Perrette absolutely could pass for siblings. The scene at the end in Gibbs' house, where many of the show's top moments occur, was wonderful too.

Suffice it to say, she got some measure of good back.

There was a case this week, too, but it felt secondary in nature. The fact that it was related to the bombing (albeit indirectly) and intertwined with the agents' personal stories made it feel that way anyway.

Midge Watkins, an NCIS weapons expert, ended up being killed by the object of Tony's desire, oddly enough. That connection came out of nowhere, despite the clue of her relationship status being revealed.

Tony was off his game, and might want to thank Ziva and Tim for player hating, as behind the sport-flirting exterior, this woman was obviously bad news. A murderer, though? It's always the ones you least suspect.

He and Ziva were - for approximately the 275th time - mistaken for a couple this week.

The original murder suspect, a spurned NCIS job applicant, did the honors, likening the very special agents to Midge and her close co-worker (whose girlfriend ultimately pulled the trigger). Boyfriend? We won't even go there.

Tony and Palmer

The team was thrown off several times, given the unusual timeline and circumstances of the murder. Ducky had to make a special appearance, against his doctor's orders, to lend his expertise to a fledgling Palmer.

The good news is that his health is improving and his protege swallowed his pride long enough to make the call (or have Gibbs make it). The bad news is that Ducky's really struggling with being less than full strength.

He's reflected upon his own morality before, but probably never more than right now. Will he ever get back to where he once was? I hope so, but NCIS wouldn't be realistic if he weren't seriously questioning it.

Another character questioning himself? Vance. Leon Midge's disappearance hit closer to home for the director than anyone, given his status as head of the agency, but also as the man whose car Dearing compromised.

I'd expect nothing less than an irate and increasingly high-strung Vance after what happened on his watch. In fact, it would've been cool if they'd referenced this on NCIS: Los Angeles, even in passing.

He's a tough nut to crack, as is Gibbs, whose psych evaluation was similarly, and predictably, incomplete. Vance eventually bared his soul at the end, though, in what had to be a cathartic experience.

Hopefully McGee has some good storylines coming up, because it feels like he's been in the background of late. Obviously it's hard to everyone to shine each week, but Tim has been a little short-changed.

Very good episode overall, despite a few minor issues. It'll be interesting to see if next week's caper is back to being self-contained within that episode, and if the inter-office tone will be lighter at all.

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

  • The crisis counselor's greatest contribution was definitely the tribal names. Gothic wildflower. Brilliant chatterbox. Which ones am I missing? What ones would you suggest for the other characters?
  • Think the repeated references to the paint color were a nod to the fans? Quite a few have brought up that orange hue over the years, and speculated about its future in the wake of the attack.
  • "Rent a room." Awesome.

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

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (238 Votes)

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

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@Lurker
Tony was never as bad to Kate as Mcgee and Ziva are too him they act like two spoil rotten rich kids

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@Enoughalready
You need to rewatch the first three seasons. His treatment of Kate was borderline, and occasionally crossed the line, of sexual harassment. Ziva was introduced and he tried the same things with her, only to have her do the exact same thing back at him. He was a lot more dismissive of and rude to McGee, as well.

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@lurker - Exactly who was Tony harassing and humiliating the whole episode? I remember him ribbing Palmer a bit when Palmer came to the scene sporting a bit of an air. But of course, super Ziva - friend to the under dog, came to Jimmy's rescue. I mostly remember the writers giving Tony one humiliation after another. No one else ever gets that treatment. Ziva and Gibbs are practically perfect week after week. Only Tony gets egg on his face constantly. He seems to be the sacrificial lamb for what passes for humor, week after week after week after week after ........

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@Enoughalready
Have you forgotten that Tony has spent the larger part of the series harassing, humiliating, and joking about the others? Wouldn't you consider it a sign of maturity for the character that he can take it as well as he can dish it out?

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I liked the Abby story, but did not like the episode. It was a humiliate Tony fest from start to finish. As usual Ziva and Gibbs are the only characters who are made to look good all the time. As a Tony fan, I'm about to give up. I lost count of how many times Tony was the butt of the joke or portrayed as a loser in every scene he was in.

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I don't think that the others were as unaffected as they were pretending to be. That whole bit when the shrink first shows up with everyone saying they're fine seemed to me that they were just going through the motions, but all three of the musketeers could see beneath the facade. Gibbs seemed to be the only one who wasn't really affected, but considering all that he's been through before, maybe that isn't such a surprise.

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Sorry about that. Recovery was good but Abbys time was cut short.

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The recovery episode was good as usual,but Abby was FAMILY matters

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@disappointed
Love te name. I lol'd for a bit. But I disagree with what you said about Abby. People react to bad things differently. It's not like Abby wasn't really affected. Like Gibbs said, Abby felt alone and when felt like she had someone very special in her life (Besides the team), she knew that she would not have to worry about being helpless. It's not like her sleeping made it all go away though. She is just able to sleep again.

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So this horrible explosion occurs and everyone, except Abby (big surprise) and Vance (definitely a surprise) appears to be unaffected. And Abby is magically cured by contacting her long-lost brother? Oh, please. I am really disappointed that the writers took such a serious issue, like PTSD, and whitewashed it. I'm not a big "Abby fan" necessarily, but I always thought her character had more depth to it. I can get the same reaction out of my dog by throwing her tennis ball across the yard. Maybe they'll do better with Vance's character. But I do like how they are portraying Duckie and the life-changing event he experienced. He's the most introspective and thoughtful character on the show; I would really like to see the writers play out his struggle.