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We Need to Know: Why Did Stratton Target E.J. and not Tony on NCIS?

Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Warning: Spoilers for future episodes discussed.

This is a question that’s been plaguing me all season long. I get that FBI Agent Casey Stratton wanted to tie up loose ends after what went down in the Season 9 premiere, “Nature of the Beast.” But I admit to being confused about something. Why was the hitman so hardcore on going after E.J. while he pretty much left Tony alone the entire season? Especially since E.J. never pegged Stratton as the guy to kill Cade and shoot at her and Tony? Meanwhile, Tony actually saw him. I know in “NotB,” Stratton showed up at the hospital and briefly talked to Dinozzo. Was he satisfied that Tony didn’t recognize him? Or was he just prevented from finishing the job? Towards the end of “Nature of the Beast,” Gibbs crashed a meeting with Vance, Sec Nav and Sean Latham where Gibbs talked to the group about Stratton’s hospital visit and the need for them to find out who this mystery guy was. Latham was in cahoots with Stratton. All Latham said was Dinozzo was lucky to be alive. Wouldn’t Latham have told his cohort in crime that Tony remembered everything? Knowing Dinozzo knew Stratton was the guy to kill Cade and injured both E.J. and Tony, why didn’t silencing Tony become the priority as well?

Even in “Housekeeping,” it was all about protecting E.J. Gibbs did assign Tony to take Barrett to the safe house and even mentioned that Stratton would be gunning for him too. But, to me, Tony should have been under some sort of protection all season long. It was a bit odd that the whole thing was dropped for a number of episodes then was wrapped up in this first one back in 2012. Stratton had plenty of time to get Tony but apparently he was off looking for E.J. The former lead agent of the Rota office is good at what she does but I think it’s crazy that it took Stratton so long to find her. It didn’t take Tony all that long to find her in the season premiere. Just saying.

Gibbs and company took Stratton into custody after baiting him into going after the wrong safe house. By the way, I’m a little surprised he didn’t check to see if E.J. and Tony were in the place before he blew it up but oh well. While in interrogation,  Gibbs said something to Stratton about shooting innocent men. Stratton said Gibbs should know something about shooting innocent men. Then he sang a song that mentioned South of the Border. This means he knows about Gibbs killing the guy who murdered his wife and kid. Did Gibbs kill the wrong man? Is this going to play into the 200th episode? Is this show mining that story once again? Because after the events of the end of Season 7 and the beginning of Season 8, I was hoping that we’d put this story to bed.

Don’t get me wrong, I mostly enjoyed “Housekeeping.” This E.J./Stratton/Latham story needed to be dealt with again. I’m loving the presence of the new Sec Nav and think the way Stratton killed Latham was chilling. Michael Weatherly did a great job, as usual, I loved his visceral reaction to E.J.’s sudden appearance. His anger was pretty hot, I’m not going to lie. I enjoyed the Tony/E.J. scenes together too. And, of course, I loved Gibbs referring to Tony as his “best agent.” Of course he is. I know the show went pretty hardcore on the Tony/Ziva business too. I wish the writers could be more subtle about all of this instead of ignoring it for a long time then hitting us over the head in one episode. I guess it all basically leads to next week’s installment when CI-Ray shows up with a ring in hand.

Now that we’re headed into the back half of Season 9, I’m looking forward to the 200th episode; I’m hoping to see some real team missions where everyone gets a chance to shine; I’m wondering what story the powers that be have cooking for the end of the season; and I cannot wait for Jimmy’s wedding to Breena. Oh yeah, isn’t Jamie Lee Curtis coming on sometime soon? I’m definitely looking forward to her reunion with her Freaky Friday costar, Mark Harmon. I’m happy this bit of “Housekeeping” is over with — for now. I wonder if Scott Wolf could possibly pop up again someday. I wouldn’ be surprised if somehow his pesky character managed to escape at some point. I really figured he’d be in more than two episodes, which is still a possibility.

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