If you’ve been following my mad ramblings lately, you’re probably well aware of the fact that I’m working my way through the (currently) nine seasons of NCIS.
The first season or so, I had to hang in there. I kept thinking it had to get better. Any show that a) had Mark Harmon in it, and b) had lasted for nine years had to get better traction than it showed the first few seasons. I’m glad to say it did.
I also couldn’t stand Tony DiNozzo as a character for the first few seasons. Immature, a womanizer and so ego-centric, he made my teeth ache. It didn’t help to tell myself he was just a TV character. He rubbed me up the wrong way. Period. He’s one of those guys I try to scrupulously avoid in real life, because they’re just that painful to be around.
But one of the magical things about this show is that they let their characters grow and change. Tony has had one of the strongest character arcs across the series, so far. And he’s turned into a fascinating character. He still has moments where I’d like to slap his face. But he has far more moments where he’s just plain damned good at his job. And then he has moments when you think you’re getting a hint of the real man inside. Serious, introspective, kind and dare I say it…sensitive. Even emotional.
These have been genuine pulse pausing moments. He had a long term undercover assignment that involved seducing a woman. Peice of cake for a guy like that, right? Except he fell in love with her. It was some of the best writing, and most highly-fraught scenes I’ve ever watched — especially when played in flashback, once you found out that he had been undercover all along, and desparately trying to stay aloof and uninvolved.
The most electrifying pulse-pausing moment so far, though, would have to be the opening episode for Season 7, Truth or Consequences. Ziva, the Isrealli agent attached to the unit, has gone missing for weeks, and Tony, who has finally figured out — at least in his own head — that he wants her, organizes a mission into a terrorist camp in Somalia in order to assassinate the terrorist who (he thinks) killed Ziva. Tony and Tim, the other member of the team, get captured and Tony is pumped full of a truth serum and starts talking like a babbling waterfall.
That’s the moment. That’s when any even luke-warm romance afficianado would melt.
Because Tony, still unable to control his mouth and his thoughts, blurts out: “Couldn’t live without ya.” You can see him fighting to stay on top of it, and not give up everything in his soul. He just manages to amend it. “I guess,” he adds. Then he warns her he’s full of truth serum, so if there’s any answers she doesn’t want to hear she’d better not ask the question.
A few minutes later, despite a knife at her throat, and their apparently helpless postions, Tony hauls Ziva out of the camp, with Tim’s help.
But holey-moley, that’s a shriekingly tense moment! Given that this has to be one of the longest running romances-without-a-kiss, they’re managing to inject more than enough of these little heart-starters along the way to keep romance lovers hoping without any real evidence for more than six years so far.
I really hope they don’t stretch it too much further…