"We done with our tea and crumpets?" asked Gibbs (Mark Harmon), interrupting a cozy moment between his team and a British ally-or-adversary in "Royals and Loyals." This particular NCIS episode wasn't done at all, of course, exploiting every stereotype of Anglo-American differences. The false suspect of the week, Royal Marine Major Peter Molloy (Daniel Gillies), insulted our tea ("tastes like paper"), our beer ("horse excrement"), and our Gibbs (by comparing him to John Wayne instead of Gary Cooper). Of course his imperious manner meant that he couldn't be the real killer — along with the fact that he was suspected as such just a half-hour into the episode. Still, the dodginess of the actor's North London accent had us hoping that maybe he'd turn out to be an African national posing as an Englishman in some last-minute twist.
The real killer couldn't have been the grieving wife and supportive sailor seen in an early scene, either — just because DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) already got to be right about his "the wife did it" in another recent episode. That didn't leave many other guest actors to be the culprit. So kudos to NCIS for using a lot of misdirection to keep us from thinking too hard about virtually the only other non-regular with speaking lines in the episode, local CIA honcho Loretta Tennison (Kristen Ariza). As usual, it is all so obviously unobvious, in retrospect.
Tony was flirting with Molloy — bonding over Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, and Dudley Moore — when he wasn't flirting with Ziva (Cote de Pablo), whose barely glanced email exchanges with a mysterious acquaintance continue to bring out his series-long snooping tendencies. Since Ziva teases Tony with how much he'll like the mystery man when they meet, can there be much doubt it won't be a divisive Rivkin-type boyfriend but the soon-returning DiNizzo Sr., aka Robert Wagner, himself?
"Royals and Loyals" wasn't one of NCIS' best episodes, but it was a quintessential one, in the sense of being an hour you could show to a neophyte and have them instantly grasp nearly all the boilerplate elements the series keeps in balance — the humor, the "grab your gear," the teamwork, the head slap, Gibbs "taking a bite out of the crabby apple," the discovery of the unlikeliest culprit, the bad Jimmy Palmer joke, the ritual McGee humiliation, the Tony mock-jealousy, the Gibbs/Vance tension and reconciliation, the carving of the corpse who was killed in one place and dumped in another, and a Caf-Pow cameo.
Best moments: Gibbs pushing a charleyhorse-ridden Abby (Pauley Perrette) to her desk to hurry up the scientific exposition. Gibbs suggesting Ziva be the Switzerland to the warring English and American personalities, then ordering her to watch Molloy "like Syria." Weakest moment: Gibbs proudly wielding the wrench he used to sabotage the British ship and keep his murder scene from leaving port, not because that's something Gibbs would ever really do, or because it wasn't already obvious he was the saboteur, but because the show needed a zinger visual before cutting to commercial. Moment we don't know whether to hate or love: Tony expressing his most explicit tenderness toward Ziva ever, then setting off nuclear-level alarms as he again attempts to hack into her email.
How did "Royals and Loyals" affect your NCIS loyalty?
"We done with our tea and crumpets?" asked Gibbs (Mark Harmon), interrupting a cozy moment between his team and a British ally-or-adversary in "Royals and Loyals." This particular NCIS episode wasn't done at all, of course, exploiting every stereotype of Anglo-American differences. The false suspect of the week, Royal Marine Major Peter Molloy (Daniel Gillies), insulted our tea ("tastes like paper"), our beer ("horse excrement"), and our Gibbs (by comparing him to...