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NCIS Review: Hunters and The Hunted

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Get ready: this episode was the launching point for the major story that will take us to the end of NCIS season 10.

To that end, this was one of those installments where the last 10 minutes were the most compelling, particularly that slow approving nod from Vance to Ziva.

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

The title - "Chasing Ghosts" - was a play on words, as the "ghosts" here were twofold: the first was the missing Navy reservist's husband, Noah Daniels, who was later presumed dead.  The second was Bodnar, who's been in the wind since the death of Ziva's father and Vance's wife. Both the Navy reservist - Callie Daniels - and Ziva were looking for closure. 

Tony, Abby, Gibbs and Ziva

In the case of Daniels, it turns out he had staged his own kidnapping at his home - and then later staged his own death by killing Darryl Orton, a man he had previously met in a restaurant. And then left a fake suicide note, directing the investigators to (supposedly) Daniels' dead body. 

The degree of Daniels' commitment to the ruse was found in his willingness to have his girlfriend lop off his ring finger, as well as his willingness to kill the stooge.   Daniels' marriage was going through rough times and he didn't want his wife being able to access his trust fund or come after him for it in the event of a split. He had hoped that the staged kidnapping and death - complete with the fake confession from Orton - would allow him to be free to flee with the money and his girlfriend. 

The discovery of Daniel's finger in the garbage can sort of creeped everyone out, especially Tony who tried to make light of it:

Tony: Hope this doesn't turn into one of those whacked-out games of tic-tac-toe. You know, a finger here, an arm there, you find a head and you've got a meat puzzle... | permalink

There were two other subplots, which I found much more interesting. The first involved Palmer's career evolution. We're so used to seeing him make lame jokes that go nowhere and being considered a clown who is slightly lower in status than Tony. 

Consequently, it appeared that Ducky didn't take him seriously, trying to shoo him out of the picture when it came time to do a psychological profile of the man who they thought had kidnapped Daniels. Palmer's heartfelt rejection of Ducky's dismissal is recounted in the NCIS quotes from this episode. And it was beautiful. 

The final subplot was mostly about Ziva and, to a lesser degree, Vance. Finally we saw most of the NCIS gang find a way to support Ziva's hunt for Bodnar - whether it will end in his apprehension or (more likely) Ziva's vengeance on him. Throughout the episode Tony was in full investigative mode when it came to Ziva, even to the point where he took note of her five minute tardiness in getting to work. 

This bugged McGee to no end, a fact I found a little strange until near the end, when we discovered that McGee had been helping Ziva all along. 

Interesting that Tony didn't try that hard to hide his misgivings from Gibbs, choosing instead to ask for his permission to find out where she was and what she was doing. Equally surprising was Gibbs' agreement and encouragement to do so "now!" Tony - and likely all of the viewers - were surprised to find McGee in that room with Ziva.  None of us saw that coming. Not so surprising was the fact that Ziva had been active in her search for Bodnar all along, employing the help of contacts from all over the world. 

Even Abby was on board, despite her misgivings, in helping Tony track Ziva down. 

The next surprise was Gibbs' knowledge of this activity and his active agreement with it. I had a hard time trying to figure out whether I was amused at Gibbs' fake innocent expression as Ziva and Tony shared their apprehension prior to Ziva's confession to Gibbs... or Ziva's shock at learning that Gibbs' not only knew all along, but was more than willing to allow her to do some traveling to find Bodnar, even to the point of sharing with her the latest intel: that Bodnar was in Rome.

And then there was Vance. A man who had his own closure to deal with. He too approved of Ziva's hunt for Bodnar and indicated so by his slow nod at the end.

This is going to be good.

Final notes:

  • I was positive at the start that Daniels' neighbor had kidnapped or killed him, out of a misplaced attraction to Daniels' wife. Did anyone else suspect him?
  • Even though McGee had been helping Ziva all along, Gibbs told Ziva to go to Rome and to "take DiNozzo." Not McGee.
  • Tony got one of Gibbs' "slap upside the head" in this episode, something we haven't seen in quite some time.
  • We learned something from Ducky about the custom of having the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the right hand. Certainly this was news to me anyway.  "Vena amoris" - literally, the vein of love.

What do you think will happen next? Does Ziva intend to bring Bodnar in or kill him? When Tony first spoke to Ziva after getting Abby's help in finding her, he said that he wanted to help. Do you think his help will extend to helping her kill him if that's her goal? How do you think Vance will fend off Homeland Security in order to allow Ziva to continue her manhunt? 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
  • 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (296 Votes)

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

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I agree with you SadTonyFan. I too prefer no tiva and believe he has been diminished. Tony being interested in her romantically after all she's done to him is not unlike a kicked puppy going back for more. Of course she didn't ask him for help, what with her seeing him as dead weight and all. And he would do anything for her. I don't hate her but I'd like to see him grow some self-esteem. I prefer the team dynamic of years past. Evenso, I still watch because I'm 10 years invested in these characters & because writing teams change so as long as there is a next season, there is always hope. Thank goodness for fan fiction. But I really miss the Tony & Gibbs dynamic & I really miss Jesse Stern.

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Sorry guest - I don't take orders from over controlling total strangers. In the old Tony days, while he was used for humor and there was teasing, he was not ALWAYS the one who ended up with egg on his face. He was portrayed as sexy, desirable, yes - arrogant at times, but also sweet at times, dedicated, brilliant, brave, heroic, and the one on the team who could think outside the box. Now he's just the butt of the weekly joke, and there to make goo goo eyes at wonder Ziva. If you can't discern the difference between the writing in the first four seasons and the predictable, soapish, uninspired, formulaic crap that has become the norm now, than I guess my posts will be an irritant to you. So be it.

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It has always been the let's humiliate Tony show. Kate was always putting Tony in his place. I am so sick of hearing about the old Tony. Get over it. Move on. Tony is the same as he has always been. Wait, he has actually matured over the years. I like this Tony much better. Find something new to complain about.

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I agree with all the posters who want no tiva. As far as Tony's bucket list mentioned, I doubt it will get any attention unless it plays into Ziva's dramas somehow. It seems like Tony's only serious moments have to be centered around his "relationship" with Ziva now. They've diminished the wonderful Tony character of the early seasons, that made me fall for NCIS in the first place, and now only use him for their tired and uninspired - Let's humiliate Tony - "humor" moment, or if Ziva needs admiring. I really miss the Tony and Gibbs dynamic. It's pretty much disappeared.

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IMO show is MUCH better with NO Tiva. If they have Tiva they every show they will have to have more an more of it to keep the Tiva fans happy and PO all the other fans who don't care about it and drive them off watching the show. So no Tiva and focus more on cases. Just thankful they have pretty much killed off any idea of McAbby.

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I love the series but this episode was hard to watch, I felt bad for Tony, I understand why ziva told McGee, but it would have been nice to share it with tony to.
I love Ziva she's my favorite character, but still I could not help feeling disapointed at the end of this episode. oh I'm sorry English is not my first language.

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Looking forward to the finale, I remember hearing something about the possibility of bringing up Tony's bucket list from last season. Has anyone else heard this or anything more on it. And if so I can't help but wonder how it will play into everything that is going on?

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Those posters who want to have two tiva wuv, seem to be falling all over themselves trying to justify the FACT that Ziva didn't include Tony in her little "research project" when the obvious implication is that she didn't include him because she didn't need him. She needed McGee and the outside sources that she mentioned having contacted. Who knows if she was telling the truth when she said that she intended to tell him? This could have just been a lie that she made up quick since she was caught anyway. Another big Ziva dramarama - no thanks - season 6 season finale, take 2. Blech

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Vance needs closure even more than ziva. even tho he told his old boss they wouldn't, he absolutely backed ziva going after him. I am sure he is dying to be with her but knows she will get the job done. That doesn't include bringing him into justice.

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made perfect sense for ziva to have mcghee help here hunt dude down, as searching electronically is what he is a genius as but made more sense for gibbs to have tony go with her. In a fight and down to short strokes to find him you would want tony d and his instincts at her side. havn't seen much of kick ass ziva last couple of years, really toned that part of her down and much more sensitive side. could be a real bonding moment for tiva, as they have been headed that way for a while. the case was weak one, sidebar stuff much more interesting like jimmy standing up to ducky and being right. always have enjoyed ducky's stories and facts and now that love vein was just greatf!