Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NCIS “Truth or Consequences” Restores the NCIS Team

Photo from CBS

Season 7 of NCIS (CBS) opened with an episode titled “Truth or Consequences” which featured both truth AND consequence, plus a heavy dose of flashbacks. Let me go on record to say that flashback sequences are being used far too much in TV drama these days. For me, they are starting to lose their dramatic impact. (Maybe ABC has the right idea with their news series “FlashForward” since they will be going in the other direction.)

I have been a fan of NCIS for quite a while, but not a regular viewer at first. This series seemed to start hitting its stride in season 5, which I think was the first season after executive producer and show creator Donald P. Bellisario was ousted from the show. That was a good thing, as there were rumors that Bellisario was too controlling and creating too much friction with the cast, primarily with Mark Harmon (who I call “the franchise”).

In this new episode, Special Agent Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) is in Somalia, bound to a chair in an interrogation chamber. He’s been beaten badly, but his pretty white teeth look very intact. He seems to be in the same chair where we last left Ziva (Cote de Pablo) at the end of the sixth season. Tony is being injected with a truth serum and is questioned by the terrorist Saleem (Omid Abtahi) about his mission, who he is working with, NCIS, and Ziva. Tony tries to be evasive in his answers but eventually begins to spill some information. We also later see that McGee has also been captured and is laying, bound and also injured, on the floor.

It is this interrogation sequence with Tony that give us the flashbacks, as Tony recalls the previous months, that took place after Ziva did not return with the NCIS crew. Tony seems to have mixed feelings' he misses Ziva but tells his boss Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (who Tony referred to as a “functional mute”) that he and Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) want Gibbs to allow them to hire a replacement for Ziva. Gibbs gives them permission to do so, dumping all his applicant files on Tony. Of course, Tony is Tony and he only wants to hire a woman – which coincidentally happens to be the gender of all the applicants in the pile. While Tony is screening candidates in the only sexist way that Tony seems to know, he still is distracted by the fact that Ziva has never made any further contact with him or the team.

The issue gnaws at him, and Tony finally approaches Gibbs and wants permission to go find Ziva. They believed she went back to working for her father and Mossad, and they become worried when they hear that the ship she apparently was on was lost at sea. This is distressing to the team but they want to press on for answers. The seem to get a lead as to who was responsible when Abby (Pauley Perrette) helps Tony and McGee to make the connection on the ship’s manifest that will help them track the terrorists – it’s one personal item that the terrorist wanted: Caf-Pow, which also happens to be Abby’s favorite beverage. (I find myself wondering if someone will eventually market the stuff for real.) Gibbs convinces Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) – guy who I swear almost never blinks – to let them go after these terrorists.

When Tony spills the information to Saleem that the Caf-Pow was what led them to him, Saleem throws it to the ground. But he then brings in another captor who is wearing a hood, and sits the person down in front of Tony. When he removes the hood, it is Ziva, very much alive. Saleem asks them to chose – one them will live and one will die. But Tony tells Ziva that they have a plan. Later, when Saleem returns and holds a knife to Ziva, McGee makes his move and uses his body to knock Saleem off balance. When Saleem pulls a gun on McGee, Tony taunts him and saying that they basically have him where they want him. Saleem is doubtful since Tony is bound and has no weapon. Lucky for Tony, McGee, and Ziva, Gibbs is waiting from a perch outside, and she shoots and kills Saleem. This triggers a full assault on the camp, and the team is saved. (You expected something else?) They return to NCIS headquarters to the applause of the rest of the office.

While I felt the start of the episode was a little plodding (too much one on one with Tony and Saleem) and outcome of this episode was predictable, it was enjoyable. The weakness with NCIS is that I think it has focused far too long on middle-eastern terrorists, which becomes repetitive after a while. The episodes I enjoy most are those concentrating on actual naval crimes on their home soil, and less on terrorism cloak and dagger. The series strong point is it’s cast, which has characters that have well formed personalities and behaviors, and also have great chemistry. (I haven’t watched the NCIS LA episode as yet so I can’t comment yet on whether they have the beginnings of the same cast dynamics.) The writers also do a great job in coming up with the witty lines that fit in well with each character’s personality.

NCIS continues to gain in popularity and I’m happy that it is getting the attention it deserves. This episode was a good start to the season and I’m glad they have the team back together again.

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1 comment:

samfan said...

I LOVED this episode! I loved that Gibbs saved the day:) It was great, great review!