Season 8 of NCIS has just begun and with it, an excitement of what is to come. Since watching the Season Premiere of NCIS last Tuesday, which wrapped up the Leroy Jethro Gibbs vs. the Reynosa Drug Cartel arc, I began reminiscing about last season. Which episodes did I fall in love with, returning to watch them over and over again as I waited for Season 8 of NCIS to begin? Which episodes of Season 7 have I watched only once or twice, never to return again? What constitutes a great episode of NCIS?
For me, a great episode of NCIS has a case that is interesting, has lots of team work, humor and the characters are in character. I hate the episodes of NCIS where Tony is just plain goofy instead of charming and witty, Abby acts like a two year old instead of the smart woman that she is and Gibbs is – well, Gibbs.
Which of the Season 7 episodes fulfilled my criteria as a great episode and which NCIS episodes failed badly. Here are my picks – see if you agree.
Best NCIS Episodes of Season 7
I am a huge fan of the Tony/McGee relationship. I think these two act like brothers – complete with incessant teasing, pranks, trying to one up the other to get Daddy’s (Gibbs) approval yet having each other’s backs when it is all said and done.
NCIS fans knew this episode was going to be a rocky ride for the two friends/brothers from the moment Tony approached McGee’s desk demanding to know why Tony had stood him up After much discussion, it was decided that they were both through with each other which led Ziva to point out that they were acting like a married couple while Gibbs replied, “Oh, no they’re not. They’re still speaking.”
Enter Detective Phil McCadden, spouting movie references right next to Tony and you had the blossoming of their “bromance,” as Abby would call it. This bromance led to McGee feeling left out and very upset, much to his surprise. McGee grumbled that Tony forgot his Nutter Butters, dubbed McCadden and Tony, T-Cad and complained to Abby about the relationship. The last led to a very humorous scene in which Abby asked Gibbs to give McGee her hug since he needed it more than she did. The expressions on both Gibbs and McGee’s face were priceless.
Tony quickly dropped McCadden as a friend when he made “geek” jokes about McGee. Did McGee realize why Tony dropped McCadden? I’m sure he did – after all, he is an MIT graduate. Hearing Tony on the phone with McCadden saying, “Us NCIS GEEKS , just closing out the case,” would have been a big clue. Needless to say, McGee and Tony made up in the end – well, in their own unique sort of way. Tony told McGee he was being annoying. McGee told Tony that he was juvenile. But in the end, their smiles were enough to confirm that everything was all right between them.
Add Tony going undercover as a john – at least for 5 minutes or so – while Holly Snow coached him – and you have a great episode. NCIS viewers could tell that poor Tony had never had to pay for sex – no shock there, since he is extremely handsome – and really felt out of his element. Holly trying to teach him how to act was hilarious, especially when Tony said, “Instructing a DiNozzo how to act around a woman. What’s wrong with you?” The expressions on McGee’s and Gibbs’ faces when Tony was slapped by the woman was funny and when Tony improvised so he could get to the bathroom by saying, “Daddy has to make wee-wee,” their reaction along with Holly’s had me laughing for quite some time.
This episode of NCIS had a lot of wonderful guests. No, they weren’t all big name stars like Ralph Waite, Gena Rowland or Robert Wagner. The only one I recognized was the woman who played Abigail Boren. She is Diane Neal who played Casey Novak in Law and Order: SVU. No, the reason they were wonderful is because they were just funny, cute and memorable.
The guy who played Kyle, Boren’s team mate was very funny, especially when Boren smacked him on the back of the head ala Gibbs. Kyle’s fumbled attempts to get his gun into his holster while stammering an apology to his Boss reminded us of a Season 2 McGee. And the cute, little forensic tech that appeared on the screen in MTAC was just too adorable for words. Miss Choi was only on for a couple of minutes, but she lit up the screen during that time. If Abby were to take a vacation for a week or needed help in the lab for a week or so, I would love to see Miss Choi be outsourced to NCIS.
The case had many twists or turns which was interesting for me. Also a very funny interrogation between McGee and a girl that was dating the deceased. She was definitely a stereotypical “dumb blonde.” She was shocked to hear that he was dead and when McGee asked her what her relationship to the deceased was, she replied, “Oh, my God. He’s deceased, too?” The expression on McGee’s face was so funny. The rude guy at the storage place, Gibbs refusing to call Boren Abby saying, “No, that’s not gonna happen,” and Jimmy and Ducky’s talk about Treasure Island, in which Jimmy states that he used to jump on the bed pretending he was Jim Hawkins sailing with Long John Silver when he was 23 brought lots of humor to this episode.
I know that Abigail Boren was brought in to make NCIS viewers wonder if she would be the next love interest of Gibbbs, however, I found myself enjoying the chemistry between her and Tony. From the moment Tony flirted with her as she held her gun to his back to the moment where they discussed the movie “Sierra Madre,” I found their scenes fun to watch. If I could get past the weirdness factor of Tony dating a woman that reminded him of Gibbs, I would really have liked to see their relationship go further.
I loved the scene in the dead man’s house when Tony is held at gunpoint by Boren. Why? Gibbs comes out and points his gun at Boren before promptly having Kyle pointing a gun at him. Gibbs takes out his identification to show Kyle, slapping him with it and telling him to look and not touch while never taking his eyes off of the gun pressed at Tony’s back and Boren herself. It was clear to NCIS viewers that Gibbs was ready to take out this woman before she could kill Tony and would not hesitate to do so.
Also loved the scene with Abby freaking out in her lab and shaking not only the laptop but herself as well. Why was she freaking out? Seems Caf-Pow changed their ingredients and it was affecting her. When she says that she is going to keep banging her head, Gibbs kisses her and says, “Don’t do that. I need what’s in that head.” Yes, scenes with Gibbs playing Papa Gibbs to his “kids” always makes me happy, as is the case with the Tony and Abby scenes.
Make the electricity go out all over the city, bring the NCIS team a case of a dead female naval officer handcuffed to the scene of the crime, add their frustrations at not being able to use the phones, computers and other technical things into the mix and sprinkle with a healthy dose of a laid back Gibbs who seems to enjoy doing things the “old-fashioned” way and you have one great NCIS episode.
The whole MCRT team, minus Gibbs and Ducky, grumbled through the entire episode about having to “walk” down leads instead of being stuck in traffic with the rest of the city, getting paper cuts from having to do paper searches instead of computer searches, having to stay up all night trying to match fingerprints and their machines shutting down without being properly turned off. In all fairness, Ducky had backup generators for autopsy so he was not affected. Gibbs, on the other hand, seemed to thrive throughout the entire episode.
Gibbs carried around a little case filled with all kinds of goodies – cameras that did not need to be charged, flashlights – even a can of tuna, which he offered McGee when McGee said he was hungry. When the others could not figure out how to use an older copier, Gibbs quickly showed them how – after smiling at their continued efforts to get it to work. Gibbs was not bothered by having to use a cork board instead of the plasma, nor did he mind DiNozzo’s recitation of older cop shows such as Dragnet, Kojak (complete with sucker) and Hawaii-Five O. In fact, Gibbs added his own Hawaii Five O reference when they caught the bad guy – “Book him, Dan=ozzo,” to which Tony replied, “Nice Hawaii Five O reference, Boss.” This brought a smile to Gibbs’ face.
The scene in autopsy with Ducky, Jimmy and Gibbs in which the agents are going in and out of autopsy in order to get their refrigerated snacks while Ducky tells Gibbs about the murdered woman is extremely funny. After the first man comes in, Ducky tells Gibbs that he loaned out one of the compartments to the agents to keep their food and drinks in since the electricity was out in the building. Gibbs let it go, however, when another agent came in, Gibbs stopped him dead with a glare. Ducky laughed softly while Jimmy shook his head no and uttered a soft, “uh-uh” to the agent, who backed out of the room.
The case was one of the best of the season. I was totally surprised to find out who actually robbed the place and the reason for the female officer being handcuffed at the crime scene. Her grieving husband questioning why she had to die, defending her honor and being proud when Gibbs told him she was a hero was very touching especially since Gibbs totally empathized with him. When the man said his wife was “brave and stubborn,” Gibbs quietly agreed, saying “been there.”
The ending was one of my favorites. As Tony, Ziva and McGee tried to convince themselves that they did not need computers, phones or technology of any kind in order to be happy, the electricity came back on. They immediately jumped onto their computers, busily typing away as Gibbs entered the bullpen. Gibbs packed up his little case and put it to the side before watching everyone else type away. After a few moments, he turned off his own computer and sat back with his hands behind his head as he smiled.
Okay, two words. Tobias Fornell. I love this recurring character and while I usually don’t rate the NCIS episodes with him in it as my favorites, that is only because most of the time the team dynamic is thrown off. However, in this NCIS episode, Fornell worked with the team and had a lot more interaction with them as well as Gibbs. That being said, this NCIS episode was one of my favorites of Season 7.
Fornell and Gibbs in the elevator – this scene made the whole episode worth watching. While Gibbs does not usually tease a lot, he showed in this episode that he can be quite “Tony-like.” Gibbs kept teasing Fornell about his undercover beard by pointing out that he looked like Kenny Rogers. Gibbs even threatened to call Fornell, “The Gambler.” Fornell was not to be outdone. He got to laugh at Gibbs when Gibbs had to undergo a polygraph test given by Susan Grady.
Speaking of Susan, she was another bright spot in this NCIS episode. Quirky, funny and a little annoying is the best way to describe Susan. Her attraction to McGee is fun to watch, as is his discomfort at being the object of her affection. And Abby’s little sparks of jealousy let us know that she is still territorial when it comes to McGee. Not to be outdone, the two “dudes” who talked to Gibbs was just as hilarious. “I said dude don’t look and he was like dude we’re looking.”
Jimmy Palmer was in this NCIS episode a lot and that always makes me happy. I am a huge fan of the character and the man who portrays him, Brian Dietzen.
I enjoyed all the references that were made regarding Jimmy being the “autopsy gremlin” as Tony has affectionately dubbed him. Even Gibbs joined in saying, “Don’t get him wet.” And when Tony, Ziva and McGee walked into the bullpen at the end of the episode to find Jimmy shirtless, trying to apply lotion to the henna tattoo on his back in an attempt to stop the itching, Tony said, “Dear God, somebody fed him after midnight.” The continuing argument at the elevator made for one of my favorite NCIS scenes of all time.
Who doesn’t love a Christmas episode? I am a sucker for them and unless they are very badly written, I love them. This NCIS episode was a really good Christmas story.
The episode had everything you could want in an NCIS Christmas episode. A somewhat interesting case. Jackson Gibbs visiting his son and having a secret. Tony worrying over what to get the “evil, grinch of a woman” after he drew her name in the Secret Santa lotto, McGee helping Abby to fulfill her friend’s nephew’s Christmas wish to see his mother and a bar fight involving Ziva and Tony in which Tony got to kick some butt. What more could you want?
The talk between Jackson and Gibbs after Gibbs finds out that his father had to shoot and kill a robber that entered his store was very poignant. When Tony shyly gave his gift to Dolores in Human Resources and she loved it, we NCIS viewers got a glimpse of the real Tony. The one who is like a little boy just looking for approval and who is happy when he finds it. McGee and Abby watching in MTAC as the little boy talked to his mom on the screen was magical. I know a lot of people like TIVA (Tony and Ziva), however, if there were one couple that should get together on NCIS, I would want it to be McGee and Abby. They are definitely special. Round all this out with Gibbs and Jackson preparing to take the toys they have made to the Children’s Hospital and it was a wonderful ending, indeed.
Did this NCIS episode have humor? Oh, yeah. Tony looking around the bar and stating that he and Ziva had found “the whole cast of Hee-Haw,” Ziva calling them “redthroats” instead of “rednecks” and Tony’s expression when he realized Ziva was going to cause a fight were very funny. As was McGee telling someone on the phone that “Nicholas Whitebeard” had sanctioned getting a live feed to the boat on which the boy’s mother was stationed and Gibbs calling Tony “bubble butt” when Tony reached for more of Jackson’s candy.
Flesh and Blood
I have waited for years to meet Tony DiNozzo’s father and I was not disappointed. Robert Wagner was a great choice to portray Michael Weatherly’s dad since they look enough alike to be father and son.
There was humor – the reactions of the team as they met Senior and when Gibbs chastised Tony for partying in the Prince’s room by smacking Tony repeatedly over the head with the hat. There was not much drama or a very good case. However, the episode was saved by the emotions being played out on the screen.
After so many years of wanting to see Tony with his dad, we were heartbroken that Tony felt so unloved and Senior was so clueless. I mean, how many fathers would tell their son they “had a nice talk and wanted to do it again” when the talk was all about his son relating how badly he felt about the father not liking his choice of career or feeling abandoned when he was left at a Maui Hilton for two days by his father. Not many.
From the moment that Gibbs introduced himself to Senior, NCIS fans could tell that Gibbs was not only suspicious of Senior’s motives for being in DC to visit his son but also that he did not like him that much. After seeing how Senior’s visit was affecting Tony, Gibbs took Senior into the conference room to have a chat about “their” son. Gibbs did not rant and rave or scream at Senior. Instead, Gibbs very calmly let him know that he thought Senior was a bad father. By looking in his eyes, you could tell that Gibbs was pleased when Senior told him how much Junior thought of him and was angry at the way Senior was treating Tony. Great scene.
The end of this NCIS episode is my favorite moment between Tony and Gibbs – next to the scene in “SWAK” when Gibbs orders Tony to live. Tony, who had just left his father and who you could tell was upset by the whole situation with him, headed straight for Gibbs’ house. And Gibbs, who had been waiting for Tony, had already cooked them a steak just the way Tony liked it. Their subsequent talk and the way Tony seemed so comfortable in Gibbs’ house makes you realize just how close these two are and how often Tony must have made his way to Gibbs house before that evening. After all, when McGee took Gibbs home in “Jack Knife,” NCIS fans could tell how nervous he was being there. Not Tony. Tony seemed more relaxed at Gibbs house than he would in his own home – of which we have not seen yet. Many NCIS fans wondered if Tony was actually living with Gibbs at the time, since it had been mentioned in “Faith” that Gibbs’ guest room was not a guest room anymore and Tony did not take his father to his own home – choosing to set him up in a motel room instead.
Hopefully, we’ll find out when Senior returns this year. If Tony is not staying with Gibbs, then maybe we will finally get to see his apartment. NCIS fans definitely want to see more of these great scenes between Tony and Gibbs, Gibbs and Senior and Tony and Senior. I would love to see a scene with all three of them in it during this next episode and I am also hoping that Frank Cardea and George Schenk are the ones to write it. Why? Because these two have a way of showing NCIS fans the father/son relationship between Tony and Gibbs with very few words spoken and in only one or two minutes of time.
In this NCIS episode, it took two minutes for Cardea and Schenk to show us how comfortable these two were together. How alike they were as they both pulled out their almost matching knives at the same time. In “Obsession,” in one minute they managed to convey how in tune Tony and Gibbs were to each other’s feelings. Gibbs is the father that Tony always wanted and Tony is the son that Gibbs never had.
Truth Or Consequences
Jesse Stern wrote one of my, if not my very favorite NCIS episode when he penned this script. This NCIS episode had everything I could want for an hour’s worth of entertainment and more. We had comedy as we watched Tony and McGee try to take down a big marine tripping on drugs and interviewing women to take Ziva’s place. We had drama as we watched Saleem torture Tony. We had angst as we watched Tony and Ziva look into each other’s eyes for the first time since they had argued in Tel Aviv. Tony had thought Ziva was dead and Ziva had lost hope of ever being rescued. And we had the justice moment when Gibbs shot Saleem in the head. And let’s not forget that wonderful ending where the entire whole of NCIS, including Vance, clapped for our heroes as they brought Ziva home.
Michael Weatherly had the entire episode on his shoulders as he recounted the past four months to Saleem. Did he make the episode work? Oh, yes. I have read many times that while Michael feels comfortable doing comedy, he is not as comfortable with his work as a “serious” actor. I have one thing to say to that – Michael, whether you are doing comedy, anger, angst or sexy – you rock it all!
This NCIS episode has the standard that we all look for in an episode.
Worst NCIS Episodes Of Season 7
Most of the episodes that I considered the worst of Season 7 had to do with the fact that they were centered around characters that I have, or had not, come to love at the time. Either that or the fact that the team was not much of a team – meaning they were scattered thoughout the episode and not together.
“Endgame” was a story revolving around Leon Vance. At the time this show aired, I did not like Leon. I had not decided whether I could trust him or not. Therefore, I was not happy to watch an hour long program dedicated to his character.
“Jetlag” was another NCIS episode that I found boring, which was crazy since I am a huge fan of Michael Weatherly. But putting him and Ziva on an airplane the whole episode and making people wonder if they had been intimate while in Paris is not my cup of tea. I am not a fan of TIVA. While I love Michael and Cote and their characters, I just feel that the time for Tony and Ziva to be a couple has passed a long time ago. That ship has sailed and I am tired of the NCIS writers pitching the idea for the pro-TIVA fans. I believe that the writers need to quit straddling the line on this one and come down on one side or the other.
“Jack Knife” had the team scattered through most of the episode. Ziva was in a truck with Damon Werth, Fornell and Gibbs were in Gibbs’ Challenger and Tony was stuck in a truck with McGee who was so tired he was mainlining coffee.
I know that I am probably in the minority of NCIS fans when I say that Damon Werth is not one of my favorite recurring characters but he’s not – therefore, this whole episode stunk, in my opinion.
“Obsession” was very unbelievable to me. While I am a huge Tony fan, I could not wrap my mind around the fact that Tony could fall in love with a woman he had never met in so little time. Because of this, the whole episode did not ring true for me and I had a hard time watching it.
The only redeeming parts of this episode were the scenes that Michael Weatherly and Ashley Scott shared and the ending scene with Tony and Gibbs. I wish that the NCIS writers had not felt compelled to kill off Ashley Scott‘s character as I feel that she and Michael have wonderful on screen chemistry. I felt that way when I used to watch “Dark Angel.” As a matter of fact, I felt that Michael had more chemistry with Ashley than he did with Jessica Alba, even though he was engaged in real life to Jessica. Weird, huh?
The scene at the end where Tony and Gibbs are in his basement after the woman dies almost had me crying even though it only lasted for one minute. It made NCIS fans see how Tony opens up to Gibbs unlike anyone else in his life. Tony will complain about little pains, whether emotional or physical, to the entire world. But when the emotional or physical pain is great, Tony hides it with a fake smile and a joke or two. Not with Gibbs. When Gibbs notices that Tony is shaken, he asks if he is all right. Tony answers, “Not really,” and sits down on a stool. Gibbs immediately stops what he is doing as he gives Tony a worried look, then reaches for the bourbon. Gibbs always knows what to do for “his boy,” whether it is a head slap, a word of praise, a steak dinner or a glass of bourbon.
“Borderland” is one NCIS episode that I have only watched once. Why? It had the worse scene in NCIS history and one that makes me cringe just thinking about it.
I know that Tony can be silly at times, but this episode took silliness to new extremes. Tony was trying to keep people from “nexting” him on an internet site, not knowing that McGee had set his browser to change every 10 seconds. Tony was becoming upset and was trying to do everything possible to keep others from nexting him. When the Grouch Marx nose and mustache came out, I sighed. This was not good. When they showed Tony sitting at his desk with a gas mask on holding up a sign that said, “Hi! I’m Tony,” I almost turned the episode off – that’s how upset I was.
NCIS fans are obsessive and rabid in their love of their favorite characters and I am no exception to that rule. To have Tony – the witty, charming, slightly annoying, lovable goof turned into a total neurotic dweeb was too much for me to handle. When Gibbs told Tony to get a little respect, I had to reluctantly agree. Of course, that was before I started ranting and raving about what in the heck the writer of this episode was thinking when he actually penned this crap.
So Steven Binder – what were you thinking? You helped co-write two of my favorite episodes of Season 7 – “Moonlighting” and “Power Down” so what was up with this episode? Do you need Jesse Stern or David North to keep you in line? I would think not, since he wrote “Family” in the fifth season of NCIS all by himself. Maybe he has just forgotten what Tony’s character is really like or maybe he went overboard with the craziness, thinking it would be funny. Wrong call. Please tone it down next time and remember how loved Tony actually is by the NCIS fans out there.
So there you have it. My list for the Best and Worst of NCIS: Season 7. What do you think? Was I right on target or did I miss the mark? Let me know.