You can never go wrong putting a dog into the star seat in any TV episode. And Dexter filled the role especially well in "Seek," a NCIS story about a K9 expert who was killed by a sniper after saving a child from a Taliban mine field in Afghanistan.
As it turned out, the murdered Marine's widow was correct in her suspicion that he was not killed by the Taliban, which the NCIS team was able to figure out with the limited number of clues it obtained.
The dead Marine - Ted Lemere - had been using his canine to help some contractors clear some empty buildings of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), not realizing they were searching for loot left behind by Afghanis who had previously fled from the Taliban.
When he discovered what they were up to, they offered him a cut of their take - and when he refused, they killed him.
In the midst of Tony's hilarious commentary, Ziva's secrecy and Vance's search for a nanny, Dex stood out as the top dog for this show, gathering good will and love from everyone right from the start when he settled down beside his murdered handler.
The chemistry between Dex and Ted's widow was apparent from the get-go, and despite her acceptance of the fact that Dex couldn't stay with her because of his continuing commitment to Marine services, I couldn't help objecting just a little bit: surely the companion deserved to stay with someone who obviously loved him, especially after he lost his handler.
The writing for this episode (kudos to Scott Williams) was clever. Even the name of the episode - "Seek" - served to bring the themes together in a collage of purpose: Vance was seeking a nanny; Ziva was seeking Bodnar; the NCIS team was seeking Ted's killer; and Dex... well, Dex's purpose was to seek out mines and IEDs.
The writing set up a cool sequence as well, starting from Tony's quip about Vance's search for a nanny:
Tony: If Vance is waiting for Robin Williams in drag to come floating on some magic umbrella, singing "Do Re Mi", he's going to be waiting a long time.
McGee: Wow Tony, three movie nannies in one reference. That's impressive. | permalink
This was followed by the character of one of the prospective nannies who encapsulated at least two of those same movie nannies: Mary Poppins (complete with umbrella) and Maria from The Sound of Music:
Maria [prospective nanny]: It was so very nice meeting you, Director. And I do hope you'll do me the honor of being governess to your lovely children. We'll play games and sing songs and...
Vance: Well that sounds great Maria but I do have a few other applicants to meet...I promise I'll let you know soon. Thank you. | permalink
Tony was in full joker mode in this episode, too, as he showed when he and McGee went to meet Mr. Pitt:
Pitt: My sister's kid. Useless.
Tony: Useless. Well with a name like that, what do you expect? | permalink
It's rare to find him and McGee sharing the same head space, as they did when commenting on an obvious point:
Pitt: Me, I'm not the coddling type.
McGee and Tony: We've noticed | permalink
Additionally, they shared a fear of dogs this time around. In fact they had more in common than not in this episode, even agreeing that Pitt should be charged for "assault with a deadly Dobie."
As it turns out, we may have an explanation for Ziva's mistake from the last episode, where she didn't realize her notes were being read by a detective: she's been working late at night continuing her search for Bodnar. I had forgotten about him, and so when Abby questioned Ziva's recent unavailability, I thought maybe Ziva had a romance going or something. It wasn't until Vance interrupted her investigation that it was apparent that Bodnar was still on her radar. Vance seemed to know this, too, but chose at this point not to address it.
(See the rest of our NCIS quotes for more details and clues)
There was a lot of concern from last week as to whether Vance was back to form after losing his wife, so Ziva was able to help him figure out. I thought her advice to him was dead-on and practical. Seems like the moment he figured out that he was sabotaging his search for a nanny, he was able to see a little more clearly, such that when the right person came along, he was able to recognize her as a good fit for his children. Mind you, that other Mary Poppins character was too weird for words, regardless of Vance's motivation.
The end of the day belonged to Dex. That magnificent animal so loved by his original handler Ted, Ruby and Gibbs. I knew that when he was shot he would live (prime law for animals in any episode: don't let them get killed off), and was pretty sure he'd be retired from active duty. Still, it was a relief to see him being left with Ruby at the end. More than a relief, really: it was a little overwhelming. That, or I got some dust in my eye. I'm not sure.
- This episode was directed by Michael Weatherly. The continuity with the other episodes was dead on and the acting and interchanges were lively and entertaining - I think he did a great job with it.
- We know the Bodnar plot will now go on It seems likely that Vance will confront Ziva about it at some point.
- Tony took note when Abby brought McGee - and only McGee - a coffee. Hmm.
- It's only been a few weeks/months and Vance is still in mourning and still misses his wife but... the new nanny is interesting, isn't she?
- Check out this week's NCIS Round Table
What are your thoughts? Did you like Dex (bearing in mind, the only acceptable answer is "yes")? Where do you imagine Ziva's search for Bodnar will go? Here is next week's promo:
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.