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NCIS - Episode 11.03 - Under the Radar - Review

     Set only a short time after Ziva David’s unfortunate swan song, this episode of NCIS keeps up with the best episodes of NCIS. This is the second time in the series that a team member’s desk has been empty and though it’s clearly going to be difficult to get used to, I think this show is going to be able to move past Ziva.

     To fill this void, we are introduced to Vera Strickland. Vera used to be Mike Franks’ partner. To be honest, I really can't picture this lady and Mike Franks working together. Vera is just crazy enough to be funny, but also just serious enough for NCIS. In her last few weeks on the job, Vera is called into HQ and is forced to join the team for a short amount of time. In the short amount of time, she has with the team she rivals Tony in hilarity. Though I doubt she will return to the show, she would definitely be welcomed in my opnion. Maybe rather than making a New Orleans spinoff about NCIS, CBS should focus on a Mike Franks/Vera Strickland prequel series. I don’t know about you, but I would sure tune in.

     Taking an elevator trip down to autopsy, Ducky is surprisingly quiet in this episode and unfortunately for all who can hear, Palmer (Autopsy Gremlin) is busy mumbling quite a bit. He and his wife are considering adopting a child. Ducky comments that he envies Palmer’s possibility of having a family. You can’t help, but feel sorry for poor Ducky. If I remember correctly, the only woman we ever saw Ducky on a date on, ended up being the killer.

     Abby, meanwhile, is up to her usual stuff: Loud music, concerts, and the occasionally odd sentimental moment. This week’s odd sentimental moment comes in the form of a scarf from Ziva. Something that I think should be mentioned is the way that this episode did not lean on Ziva’s absence as a crutch. While it is definitely noted throughout the episode, it’s not like the whole team just whines about her absence throughout the entire episode.

     McGee is, however, feeling the absence of something he really, really needs: His badge. After just recently reacquiring it from the grip of Parsons, McGee lost his credentials at a concert! As you can imagine this is quite a serious problem for McGee. It was enjoyable to see McGee try to figure out how to combat the issue, especially after Vance found them for him. I found it a little out of character that McGee would lie to Gibbs about something as silly as a lost ID, but it made for a funny story line.

     Even outside of the banter between characters in this episode, the procedural element was actually pretty good this week. After tracking down a number of leads (one of which led them to Prison Break alum Wade Williams) a bomb laden plane was discovered to be one a crash course with an aircraft carrier. Gibbs’ and the team decide to use a rather unconventional and unlikely method of tracking the plane however. They track the plane based off of people on Twitter. It made for a good segment, but I personally thought it was a little far fetched that every one of the replies on Twitter was accurate. At least, we got to hear Gibbs say, “What’s a hashtag?” though. It made the whole episode worth it for me.

     Overall, this episode isn't going to change the show radically like the premiere did, but it's probably one of the best procedural based episodes of the show I've seen in a while. It had the perfect amount of unique character interaction and regular old investigation if you ask me.

Rating: 9.2/10

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