In the last two episodes of NCIS season 13, FBI Special Agent Tess Monroe (played by Sarah Clarke) was introduced to fans as one of the two replacements for “Very Special” Agent Tony DiNozzo. It goes without saying that no one can fill Tony’s shoes. Adding new characters to beloved shows can be notoriously difficult (right, Bishop?) Tess, who transferred over from the New York counter-terrorism department three months ago, definitely made her presence known when she met the team.
So has NCIS found a worthy replacement for Tony? Not so fast! We haven’t had a lot of time to get to know Tess, but so far, I am less than impressed.
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Common Ground with Gibbs
Just like Gibbs, Tess has been divorced three times. Tess is a brunette, not a redhead, so at the very least she won’t be hooking up with Gibbs. I hope not, anyway. She is stubborn, like Gibbs. When Gibbs yells at her for speaking with a spy’s ex-wife when he wasn’t present, she not only holds her ground, but challenges him. For some reason, the chemistry between these two isn’t exactly fireworks. I think that Tess is meant to annoy and frustrate Gibbs, but their sparring feels forced.
Tess is Tough
Tess is also a tough cookie in the physical sense. While on a stake-out with McGee, she uses a hand grip exerciser while she waits. Dainty she is not. When the suspect appears, she demonstrates her physicality by giving chase then tackling the suspect. Earlier, she had asked McGee to let her shoot the suspect if he had to be shot because she doesn’t care for dirty cops. I think she was serious.
More Estrogen, Please
I think that adding another female to the team along with Bishop and Abby would be great in theory. This is where things get tricky. Tess can’t be as strong and tough as Ziva, or that is repetitive. If she is brainy, quiet, and always hungry, then she is too much like Bishop. No one likes a carbon copy character because it makes you want the original back even more. It also makes for the same dynamics with the characters, and that can be yawn-inducing.
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Playing Mind Games
Tess really enjoys mind games. She asks Ducky if he has done a psychological profile of Gibbs because she would love to read it. When Ducky responds that it would be private, if such a hypothetical report did exist, Tess answers that she could get the details out of Palmer.
While on the stakeout with McGee, she again shows how she likes to rattle people when, after listening to some comments that McGee made during the night, she asks about him proposing to Delilah. McGee is shocked, and asks how she knew. Tess responds that he confirmed his plans just then, and that she had gleaned the information from some of his remarks.
The Art of Seduction
When interrogating a male suspect, Tess walks over, pushes him against the wall, and runs her hands over his chest. She purrs seductively, almost kissing him, and asks him a question. The previously tight-lipped man gives up some information, and she pulls him back to the interrogation table once he does. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t remember seeing any of the other team members ask questions in quite the same way. It may be provocative and novel, but I find it aggravating.
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Is Tess a good fit for the team? I don’t think so. The overall chemistry with the other team members seems forced and artificial. I feel that she is supposed to be a female version of Gibbs, but she doesn’t quite carry it off. I think that NCIS can do better.
NCIS season 14 returns this fall on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)