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NCIS Review: Misdirection and Wrong Assumptions

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Once again, we were treated to a couple of fascinating parallel plots in tonight's episode of NCIS, "Hereafter."

In the crime story, the team was called to investigate the mysterious death of a marine who perished during training at Quantico. Turns out he died as a result of cerebral hemorrhaging, due to repeated blows to the head. 

The team was provided some misdirection as a result of the discovery that the dead marine had participated in a fight club. Later it was learned that their commanding officer had been attempting to toughen his team up by wounding them repeatedly - basically, torturing them - in the same manner as his brother, who had died from his injuries.

At the Crime Scene (NCIS)

The more personal story involved Leon Vance, who discovered that his wife had kept a separate bank account and a legal "separation of property" letter; he found them inside a safety deposit box that he didn't know about.

Of course, the immediate conclusion he came to - and by extension, the viewer - was that she was getting ready to separate from him prior to her death. The agony of that assumption was plain to see, as he tried to ensure his kids continued with their lives. He even went back to work while harboring that painful secret.

The writers did a great job with Vance's character, portraying him as a brittle and proud man who felt the need to shield his kids and everyone else from his anguish. It seemed sad to me when his daughter offered to help him sort papers and he declined, telling her that they needed to get into the kitchen and eat some breakfast. Or when his son asked him when he was going back to work, only to be told to get ready, because the car was leaving in 20 minutes. 

It would have been better for him to have let them in, allow them to grieve along with him - but that wouldn't have been Vance, would it? It would have been someone else entirely. The truly bright spot occurred when Vance returned home after solving the crime, only to find his kids shrieking with laughter as Tony and Ziva chased them around the house. They needed that, he said. And he was right about that, just as he needed to smile at their laughter.

And how about that exchange between Tony and Ziva just as they got to Vance's house to babysit?  The excruciating grimace on Tony's face was hilarious: he was truly horrified at the thought of being around them. Then this happened:

Ziva: DiNozzo, pull it together.
Tony: Kids. This is way above my pay grade. I spent the afternoon in a child care clinic when I almost lost my life.
Ziva: Stop stop stop stop. We're doing the director a favor, okay? We just need to be here, we need to be normal. Can you just please do that for a few hours?
Tony: Sure. Fine.
Ziva: Fine.
Tony: Only because you asked nicely. | permalink

Did you catch the laugh and smile they gave each other after that? Interesting to say the least, as was the fact that they both got into playing with the kids.

I liked the fact that Ziva finally had a brief heart to heart with Vance about the death of his wife. The beautiful/tender tension between them was portrayed so well by Cote de Pablo and Rocky Carroll. There was some great acting there.

The compelling conclusion tied up Vance's story nicely, with Gibbs making him realize that Jackie was merely preparing her kids and herself for a time when Vance wouldn't be around. The key point involved the fact that she started preparing around the time the NCIS building was bombed (end of NCIS Season 9 and the beginning of NCIS Season 10.)

I have to say: the writing, the directing and the acting on the show are stellar. Hardly a wrong note anywhere. If there is to be any criticism, it would be the idea of Tony continuing to be the clown and not evolving more and more into the strong watchful Tony we saw in "Shiva." Maybe it's time for someone else to play the clown for a while.  Deputy Directory Craig might fit that role, or Palmer.

Some final thoughts:

  • It was good to see Abby, even if only for a little bit, as she had at least one great line from the NCIS quotes of the evening: You could totally rock an eye patch Gibbs. And that's not important. | permalink
  • Missing from the picture entirely was Jimmy Palmer  He wasn't in either of the autopsy scenes. What's up with that?

So, what did you think of this episode? Did you see any plots holes? How do you think Deputy Director Craig will leave? Or will he?

UPDATE:

Steve Marsi has set up this week's round table to discuss this episode.  We're stumped about whatever it is Gibbs is building in his basement.  Come on over and check it out.  It's here:  NCIS round table.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (284 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter

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The ratings always go up by a couple million in January and February, but the numbers are great for NCIS since it's sweeps month. I have feeling when spring comes or if NCIS has any actual competition from other networks, the numbers will drop, as they usually do.

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Ah! Good news! The viewers have been adjusted and NCIS got 21.08 million. So that makes five straight episodes in a row with over 21 million viewers. I gotta ask. Is that a new record or something?

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In regards to the Vance children being too old to have a babysitter...I don't know about you, but if my wife had been murdered in my own home and the perpetrator of that crime was still at large and trained by Mossad, I definitely would not be leaving my children at home without supervision, regardless of what age they were and even if they weren't in danger anymore. And seeing that he is still a little shaky it makes sense that he would want someone who could protect them and not just the 16 year old neighbor girl or the old lady down the street. I liked that they showed Tony entertaining the children-that is realistic. He brought much needed levity to the situation. And as for Tony and Ziva not having chemistry-are you kidding me? These two have been sizzling since day one and I can't wait for them to get together!

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I think that people need to think more about what they say before they post their reviews. I am tired of reading the same things for every episode. These same comments I am talking about are the ones that refer to Tony being a prop for Ziva and the only time he gets screen time is when it is with her. The other comment is the continuing bashing of Ziva and Cote de Pablo. Once again, it is not the Ziva show and those of you who think it is are obviously watching something different than I am. Tony and Ziva are PARTNERS, so yes, the majority of their scenes will be together.

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You guys have a right to be mad at some of the things that NCIS (The Show of course) does. But you have to accept the fact that what happens seems to be what most of the fans want. It doesn't get its 20+ million viewers five weeks in a row out of a hat. Do what I do. Don't care about shipping. Don't let it bother you. If it happens, it happens. Let the events of the show proceed naturally and let what may come, come. Life will be much easier that way.

Deann

Oh, and I adored the "pizza shark" that Tony used to get Vance's kids to laugh for a change. Bravo Tony! Those kids needed to be just kids for awhile, and NO, they are not old enough to take care of themselves, they look about 6 and 8, or thereabouts, not even close to being teenagers yet, so there's no way you could leave kids that young alone, especially after their mother was murdered. I enjoy Tony and Ziva's moments together, and I thought this episode had a great moment between Ziva and Vance, as well. Vance and Gibbs also had some great moments, and I completely understand why Vance chose to try and work with Gibbs before taking back his desk from that ninny who is the acting director of NCIS. Great ep!

Deann

I loved this episode, and I think Cote DePablo is a fine actress, very nuanced and lovely, not so obvious and externalized as Michael Weatherly, but that is what makes them such a wonderful contrast as actors. I have a Drama degree, so I think I know a little something about good acting vs bad acting. I honestly do not see much bad acting on NCIS at all, ever. These are actors at the top of their game, which is one reason this show is at the top of the ratings. Good scripts are important, of course, as is good direction. But if your actors stink, consistently, it will slowly unravel the entire show into a hot mess. That just doesn't happen on NCIS. And I have to say that even my 3 favorites, Abby, Ducky and McGee are all superb, even when they've only got a few lines per episode. Abby is a delight every time she's on screen, and David McCallum is a treasure, so accomplished and fascinating.

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i love this show along with the walking dead, and sons of anarchy. My father is a U.S. NAVY veteran so it's cool to see a drama series based on the military and it's #1 on cbs FU@#KIN AWESOME! anyways i hope vance is back to his role as the 'director' cuz it was weird to see him hanging w/ gibbs and comp though still griving over his wife's sudden death. my favorite part of this eps. is when ziva and tony were watching after vance's kids and tony playing around w/ them. when this show ends TONY AND ZIVA ARE MOST DEFFANTLY going to be together same goes for MCgee AND ABBY!

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o episodio foi maravilhoso!!!Qual o problema das pessoas com Tony e Ziva juntos??? Nós não podemos negar que a quimica do casal ultrapassa as barreiras do natural e esta nas costas dos dois o peso de muitos telespectadores dessa série!!! Amo Tony e Ziva juntos,não ha nada melhor do que apreciarmos momentos encantadores dos dois...

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I LOVED Pizza Shark. I thought it was clever. Tony can chase me around and threaten to eat me any old day.

NCIS Season 10 Episode 15 Quotes

Ziva: DiNozzo, pull it together.
Tony: Kids. This is way above my pay grade. I spent the afternoon in a child care clinic when I almost lost my life.
Ziva: Stop stop stop stop. We're doing the director a favor, okay? We just need to be here, we need to be normal. Can you just please do that for a few hours?
Tony: Sure. Fine.
Ziva: Fine.
Tony: Only because you asked nicely.

Vance: Do you have a suitcase packed, Jerome?
Craig: Always Leon. You know that.
Vance: Good. I'll be in touch.