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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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What ticks me off about the whole tiva thing, aside from the fact that these two actors have zero chemistry with each other, is that they've replaced all of Tony's drama with moments with Ziva. The writers still give her, her own stories, but it seems like Tony is only allowed to be the shows idiot or Ziva's admiring accessory. Sucks to be a Tony fan if your not a Ziva fan, because he seems to be chained to her in every episode if he's allowed a dramatic moment.

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Can we have a show were there is not at least some underlying hint of Tiva? There are some people who don't want to see it and are sick of the powers that be pushing it so much! PS Don't like McAbby either!

Watchestoomuch

First, Gibbs was just helping the director lie to himself. Buying life insurance is a perfectly valid response to worries about your spouse's death; creating separate bank accounts and so on is not. Joint accounts do not disappear or get locked when one of the spouses dies. I don't see how the wife's actions can be interpreted as anything but preparation for divorce or separation. Second, while it's credible that a traumatized man like the CO would take out his anger and grief on others, it's not credible that the whole unit would let their CO stab them repeatedly. A three-inch-deep wound?! I realize that a large part of military training is about instilling unquestioning obedience to authority and destroying individual initiative, but I don't think it's usually THAT effective.

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@Anna Oh, I don't know....it may not have been a "turning point", but they seemed to have a pretty good time babysitting Vance's kids. They were having a good time -- together. Rates as a nice Tiva moment.

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I thought that the episode was largely boring. Not due to RC's performance. He was fine. It was just not very well written. The case story was ridiculous. Why on earth would the director need two agents to watch his children who pretty much look old enough to be mostly okay by themselves? Well of course to shoehorn in a "tiva" moment. And why oh why does CBS and every reviewer sucking up to tptb, have to remind us each week what a fabulous actress CdP is? Maybe because it's not particularly obvious if they don't. She has two facial expressions that she uses for her four avallable emotions - her sad or inquisitive look (they are identical) and her angry or annoyed look which look exactly alike. They've all but ruined Tony by making him the show's permanent fool, in order to accentuate how superior Ziva is. This show has turned into the CdP show. What a waste of the talent of MW especially, and a sad shame for fans who don't adore the posing princess.

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really enjoyed the Vance storyline and was very glad that they didn't go with the divorce secret storyline for Jackie.
Even better part was there being nothing to the supposed 'turning point' spoiler put out to the tiva fans a while back. but honestly at some point ziva really needs to face the music for all the blood on her hands. As far as any incorrect details or slow moving storylines or even Tony stuck in clown mode, blame the writer. NMM isn't known for stellar eps. She hits them every so often but misses more often.

Authorsue

I thought the episode was great. I feel sorry for Vance, he's lost. I can identify with that situation. Still, Tony and Ziva are the ones that make us smile and feel good. I'm already waiting for the next episode. Sigh

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Personally, I thought the Vance story in this episode was more interesting than the crime story. To the Vance haters, I'm curious, exactly what are you expecting? Anyone who climbs to the top of the ladder does so for a reason. They usually have unsavory character traits and a storied history. I'm also quite sure that he feels plenty of guilt for his wife's death. If they bring in someone else to be a new director, I'm sure that person will also have many traits that the average viewer won't like.

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Tony stepped up in this episode...big-time...for Ziva. He overcame his kid-induced panic and actually managed to get Vance's kids AND Ziva laughing. Then, as they were preparing to leave, the clown was put away and protective Tony came out. Ziva was glowing as she laughed at Tony's antics with the kids and, Despite the uncomfortable moment with Vance, you could tell Tony had struck all the right notes with her and she appreciated the support he showed for the kids and for herself. I think, child issues aside, Ziva may finally be seeing Tony as a man she could possibly have a family with.

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@John
Worst show ever? I think those 20+ million viewers of five straight episodes would like to have a word with you.

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.

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