I went into this episode with a totally open-mind. I knew very little about it other than it was the second half to last week's and one of the team would be close to death.
For the most part I enjoyed it. I thought it was well written, well directed, well acted, moved far faster than last week's but there were parts that were slow and IMO unnecessary - padding in other words. It could have been tighter. Could the two episodes have made one? I'm not sure. Possibly they could have, but overall I think not. But they could have made one and a half, there was too much padding in both to make two episodes. So maybe they could have made one really edge of seat episode.
My biggest issue with it (as anyone who regular reads my reviews will know) was the constant flashing back to previous times, mainly Amsterdam but then also to 1999 and then to the here and now. I just find those types of episodes (and books) constantly throw me out of the story. I'm settled in watching it and wham, I'm pulled out. Thus I think it had lesser impact on me than many others as it was jerking all the time.
That said I did still enjoy it. Full marks have to go to the amazing transformation of Rocky Carroll and Michael Nouri from them today (especially Rocky) to how they were back in 1991 - ah, yes, 1991. I swear they are now doing this deliberately. Okay, so it wasn't Gibbs in 1991, but it was this now infamous year *g* That really was tremendous.
I did like how it tied up a lot of Vance and we have a number of questions answered - not all of them. We still know there are things in his past that didn't quite add up, things he didn't want NIS digging too deeply into, which I'm assuming is to do with his boxing days and the dead boxer. And we have what was written on the paper he shredded all tied up too. So full marks for answering a lot of questions. And I liked how they even managed to get in Gibbs and Vance meeting and the reference to the Danish - now we know. And also tying up the Russian Gibbs shot in Paris and how he was the Russian back in Amsterdam - an awful lot of loose ends dealt with. I thought that was cleverly done. How can NCIS get some things so right and others so wrong?
I did like seeing how Vance and Eli met and it was very believable. I liked seeing how they constructed the home made Claymore bomb and how it echoed the bomb in the safe house. And how Vance's never forgetting anything was what saved him; because of the bomb he helped Eli construct and place, he was alive today. As much as I hate flashing back and forth like that, it was extremely well done insofar as the story-line and the links.
Even though I don't enjoy the constant flashing back and forth, I was very intrigued by the whole Amsterdam project and how clearly from the beginning Vance was expendable not only to McAllister but also to Whitney Sharp - there's a part of me asking the question: how much did she know. Was she involved at all? Certainly she chose Vance for the reasons Gibbs stated and not for the reasons she gave. A young black man with no family was of course, at that time, easily expendable. She may not have actively tried to kill Vance, but she's culpable too in some way, something which seems to have been totally glossed over.
The whole thing was purely a set up to kill Vance, but to blame it on Eli and Mossad, it was a well set up idea, but part of me wonders why McAllister didn't act before that. Vance isn't always under guard, etc. Okay, so had he acted sometime between 1991 and now, he might have been caught, but OTOH, it did seem a tad elaborate to plan all of this just to kill Vance, when he would have had countless opportunities over the years. But I can just about hand-wave that, because let's face it if I don't then it makes a mockery of the whole two episodes. But if you examine it closely, it's a very weak plot point.
I also have to ask the question of just how McAllister knew all about the bomb Vance and Eli had constructed and the exact place it had been positioned in and how it was set off. I guess he went to Vance's room after the bomb in Amsterdam, but would it have been possible for him to work out exactly where it had been put and from what it had been constructed? Maybe he asked Vance and Eli for step-by-step details, but . . . And given the only reason, as Eli told us, that Vance was alive was because he remembered exactly the placing and making of the bomb in Amsterdam, McAllister had to know that. Hmmm.
McAllister, I thought last week that he was going to be involved in someway with something because of the focus of him. My suspicion of him grew once we saw him and Vance in Amsterdam when they were having this meet out in the open about the Russian and McAllister was sure the Russian would find Vance, even know who he was, and yet there they were totally out in the open - if the Russian was that good, he would know who McAllister was and so why meet so openly? I also suspected Sharp of being involved, given she'd recruited Vance. So it wasn't a huge surprise when McAllister appeared at the hospital and we learnt that it was him to tried to kill Vance and all because he (McAllister) wasn't the bright forward looking agent that Vance, Tom Morrow, Jenny and others were. A fairly weak motive really, but then there have been weaker ones.
Again I liked how the two teams, Tony and Ziva and Malachi and Liat worked together and complemented and echoed one another. I enjoyed how the men focussed the women who were clearly at odds with one another from the moment they met. I expected the chick fight at some point, it had to come, it was foreshadowed totally. Was it necessary? Nope, it was one of those padding scenes. I did also think Liat was involved and a baddie, given that would have been something of a cliché, I was glad to see they didn't go that route after all - even though she did try to keep Ziva out of things by erasing the important part of Eli's message. I hope we don't see her again as I didn't take to her from the moment I met her. She really is too showy and has far too many chips on her shoulders. Tony will, of course, be totally peeved that he missed the chick fight - we know how much he loves them.
I liked how Gibbs used Tim to do all the setting up and moving of the past directors, etc. to the Navy Yard and getting all the paperwork and old files whilst Ziva and Tony continued to work with Malachi and Liat. That worked well, as it would have been daft to split up the team that had been established, plus that kind of thing is something Tim would do far better than either Tony or Ziva. So it was a nice touch to see Tim with Gibbs at the hospital with Vance. I always like to see Gibbs and Tim working together.
The build up to Ducky meeting an agent from the past was totally weak and again padding, it wasn't necessary; it added nothing to the episode at all and we didn't get what it was all about anyway. Not that I'm complaining that their past 'relationship' didn't come out, but why the build up for something that didn't happen? What I picked up was that there was no love lost between them at all; Ducky was courteous as he always is, but there was an edge to it: he did not like her. As for his 'moment of weakness' maybe she came on to him, he momentarily succumbed, she wanted more, but he being who and what he is backed away and she never forgave him for that. Tony's comment about hanging a sock on the door knob was laughable given there was no hint of sexual tension or even liking. Again, it's something NCIS really do not seem to manage well; when they want supposed attraction between two people they so often mess it up. Anyway, a waste of a scene - as with the chick fight pure padding.
The McGyver reference had me smiling and also was a wee bit spooky as J had mentioned McGyver in relation to McGee only a day or two ago when we were discussing Mac names and he wondered if Tony had ever used it.
There were some nice team moments, the odd flash or two of humour, not that much but there wouldn't be given the serious nature of the episode. Again, there were losers because of the concentration on Vance and Eli and Malachi and Liat particularly Ducky and Abby but that was to be expected. I hope we get back to our team next week.
The plot was simply to dig out the bad guy or guys; find Eli; find out who wanted initially Eli dead and then realising it wasn't Eli they were after, but Vance and how it all tied in with the meeting between Eli and Vance in Amsterdam. And to move Ziva's relationship with her father forward so there could be healing.
The ending was very moving indeed, Cote is an amazing actress, I don't think I'd really appreciated just how good she is and says so much with her eyes, her face, her body language. A very touching and emotional ending. And again the whole two parter led up to that because it was so clear that whilst she still might hate him, maybe still hasn't truly forgiven him, Ziva still loves Eli very, very deeply. That came over in her face, voice and body language throughout the episode every time she mentioned him. The fact that he had to have been kidnapped as it was the only scenario whereby he was still alive - before they realised he got away himself.
So, yes, I did enjoy it, it was fairly powerful, but sadly it doesn't stand up to close examination.
- The opening scene with Gibbs's voice still coming over the walkie-talkie and Vance coming to. An excellent opening.
- How Tony and Malachi 'settled' Ziva and Liat in their first abrasive scene.
- Tim herding 'cats'.
- McAllister asking Gibbs for permission to smack his (nice little emphasis on the 'his' for G/Mc fen) boy (Tim) with his cane and Gibbs denying him permission. Only Gibbs gets to smack his team.
- The wee bit Gibbs & Ducky bit in Autopsy.
- Abby and Tim in her lab when she's talking about the home-made bomb and then calls him McGyver saying she'd been saving it. And he kisses her on the cheek - a lovely moment for A/Mc fen.
- Tim and Tony talking about the McGyver name and Tim asking Tony if there's any names he was holding back and Tony saying that's not how his mind works, his mind is full of scat, it's unpredictable and then his waffle as to what he means. A priceless Tony moment, so very well done. And a nice Di/Mc moment.
- Gibbs and Eli in interrogation.
- Tim coming into the squad room to find Tony, Ziva, Malachi and Liat trying to access interrogation as they want to hear Gibbs and Eli and Tim solving the problem in a second and hacking straight in and how proud Tony was of him. Followed by Abby asking how many people knew how to build a Claymore mine and Malachi asking 'in this room?' and then after Malachi, Liat and Ziva raise their hands, so does Abby. A wonderful scene and a nice touch of humour in the tense episode.
- Ducky's appearance to suggest they go to the hospital to give blood and Tony following him to the lift to ask about Sharp and Ducky telling him that Vance was not her type; she preferred policemen. Once again Ducky's dislike for Sharp was clear in his voice.
- Gibbs and Vance in the hospital. A very moving scene and tense and it showed just how far these two have come. Nice touch with Gibbs leaving Vance his knife and telling Vance never to go anywhere without one.
- Vance and McAllister - an information dump, but still a tense scene. Well done on fixing the Morphine beforehand. And good to see Vance use Gibbs's knife to kill McAllister.
- The final scene between Ziva and her father.
- The lack of Ducky. I know it had to be because of the whole nature of the episode, but that's one reason why I'm not fond of this kind of episode. Ducky is the one who always loses out.
- No Jimmy.
- A flash back to Gibbs & Jenny in Paris.
- The flashbacks generally - I don't like that kind of episode.
- The chick fight as it was padding.
- Ducky and Sharp again unnecessary padding.
- Quite how McAllister knew exactly how to make and place the Claymore mine so as to echo the one in Amsterdam.
Ship of the week:
Gibbs & Vance
Character of the week:
Actor/Actress of the week: