NCIS Review: "Enemies Domestic"

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The second half of NCIS' two-part episode featuring Leon Vance and Eli David was even better than the first, melding past and present with more intricacies than most programs would attempt over the course of an entire season. Everything about it was superb.

Whereas "Enemies Foreign" focused primarily on Eli, "Enemies Domestic" revealed the link between the Mossad shot-caller and Vance, the target of an assassination plot himself.

Not the first of its kind, it turned out.

Young Vance

Rocky Carroll as Agent Vance, circa 1999.

Before dissecting the plot details, special mention should be made of the acting and makeup work that sold the flashbacks (primarily 1991, with one 1999 scene) so immaculately.

Rocky Carroll and Michael Nouri (Eli) looked so believably like themselves two decades ago - thinner and more fresh-faced, plus different facial hair - every scene was convincing.

The would-be-directors and Michael O'Neill (as McCallister) acted younger, too, which really sealed the deal. The actors and entire NCIS crew deserve recognition for this episode.

In the aftermath of the safe house explosion, everybody was pointing fingers. The Palestinians were dead or captured, so it had to be a leak. But was it on the Israeli or U.S. side?

Suspicions and tension were running high, leading Liat to mislead Ziva about a clue left outside the safe house by Eli, a trick Ziva quickly saw through and was not happy about.

As both tracked Eli to the nearest synagogue, Ziva called for him to reveal herself - as "abba" - and after a skirmish with Liat, he emerged, agreeing to return with his daughter.

Back at NCIS headquarters, Eli revealed to Gibbs what happened in Amsterdam and we slowly put together the pieces of Vance's first assignment and their current situation.

Right out of college, Vance was recruited and sent to hunt down a Russian operative. Little did he know, he was a pawn sent on a suicide mission orchestrated by McCallister.

What McCallister didn't count on was Eli David saving Vance's life.

As he battled for his life in surgery, Leon had a "moment of clarity." The person who tried to take out Eli David and himself was someone who had it out for him his whole career.

Riley McCallister wanted him killed in Amsterdam in 1991 so that his area of expertise, the former Soviet Union, would return to prominence, fast-tracking him to the directorship.

Setting the Trap

Veteran actor Michael O'Neill delivered another chilling performance.

Enter Eli David, who helped Vance evade the Russian and take out his hit squad - with the same EID-rigged trap that nearly felled them in 2010 - to boost his Mossad credentials.

This foiled McCallister's plan, as Vance's career was the one on the rise after that event. Making matters even more complicated was McCallister pointing Gibbs toward this case.

Did he want to Gibbs to believe the same Russian was coming after Vance now for revenge. Did he simply not know that Gibbs personally killed the Russian, Anatoly Zukov, in 1999?

Either way, McCallister's attempt to frame Eli and/or the Russia spy backfired when Gibbs broke out Rule #9 - "Never go anywhere without a knife" - at Vance's hospital bedside.

Sure enough, a vengeful McCallister appeared to finish Vance off in person by upping his meds to unsustainable levels. But before he could, Vance stabbed him in the stomach.

It was a terrific Vance episode, past and present, as he's always been such an enigma. Delving into his past proved more interesting and complex than we could have imagined.

Moral clarity is so hard to find in their line of work. Beyond the plot to kill Vance, which is extreme, conflicting motives abound, even among those purportedly on the same side.

Any doubts about loyalties between Vance and Gibbs were put to rest early on last night, but with Eli David in the mix, the line between allies and adversaries becomes muddled.

Eli's role was significant, but secondary, though the concluding scene between Ziva and her father likely made more than a few eyes water. They left things on the perfect note.

All is not forgiven. No one is pretending it's going to be easy going forward, or that their relationship may ever be fixed. But the desire is there, the bond is there. It was a step.

Some final thoughts ...

  • As McCallister and the Grey's Anatomy serial killer, Michael O'Neill has the murderer thing down pat. Good thing his West Wing secret service agent never went rogue.
  • "How many people know how to hand-make a claymore mine?" "In this room?"
  • Mark Harmon's brief appearance in the 1999 flashback was a great touch.
  • A decade-long grudge over a danish? Eh, with those two, we'll buy it.
  • Gibbs reminding Vance what “that tube” was for ... amazing.
  • McGyver ... Tony really should've thought of that first.
  • How did Gibbs get that knife past security?

What did you think of last night's NCIS? Discuss below!


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (125 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


I believe McCallister wanted Gibbs to think that it was Eli, not Zukov, who tried to kill Vance. Since McCallister sent Gibbs and Jenny to kill Zukov in '99, he might have thought that, Gibbs, knowing Zukov was dead, would believe it could only have been Eli who tried to kill Vance in 2010. In fact, I believe McCallister assigned Gibbs and Jenny to kill Zukov so that Zukov
couldn't reveal that Riley was the one who gave up Vance in '91.
RM may have also told AZ's lover where to find LJG and JS, leading to JS' death in '08 (Judgment Day pt. 1) In short, RM used everybody: Gibbs, Jenny, Vance, Zukov, Svetlana, and quite
probably those Palestinian terrorists (After all, no one found who it was that tipped them off about Eli)


I absolutely loved this episode.
The way it tied in the unanswered questions of the past with the mysteries of the present was brilliant. The writers really went all out to give us these answers, and they sure delivered.
McCallister making it look like either Vance or Eli tried to kill the other with that bomb was a brilliant twist, and the flashbacks showing both the 'danish feud' and the birth of the infamous "Jenny/Gibbs Europe years" was a really nice touch for long-term fans. I particularly liked the way they explained how Vance's recruitment and those Europe ops were inter-connected, without being over the top or melodramatic. The Ziva/Eli stuff was a nice B story, and really brought some closure to that issue I think. Not resolved, but getting there. Over all, a great episode, perticular for those of us who have been left with many questions over the years regarding those early years. If this is the direction the show's going in, count me in!!!


great show I LOVED THE WAY IT WAS DONE----------------------


it was good but not exellent maybe because the main charactors where in the background dont know felt something missing and where was the big tiva moment


Did the actors was really filming in Amsterdam (I once was in the same bridge!). Look like no special effect here ? And yes, the flashback was awsome!


I loved this episode. I thought it was better than Enemies Foreign. I liked how it connected past events to the current storyline. It brought in things that were left un answered in season 5. In the flashback we saw a glimpse of Jenny (rip). McAllister is indirectly responible for Jenny's death as well. He order them to kill the hitman and his people came back for revenge and killed Jenny.


This was a brilliant episode and yes, the continuity was wonderful, was a gift from a show that finally pays attention to such things. The cheese danish payback made me very happy, it was a totally “here’s to our fans� moment.
I kept telling Ziva “you go girl and kick Liat’s butt�. Liat was a very good Ziva-2.0. Eli David is such a golden character with a past so malleable that he can be a good guy and a ruthless guy and possibly, bad guy all at the same time.
What is done in the name of power and reputation is almost always indefensible and McAllister fell into the trap years ago and was drowned by it, as he should.
Wonderful episode.


I was surprised when Eli said that his wife took away his children? All this time we thought Ziva had been trained her whole life. Maybe she lived with her mother, but then Tali got killed and Ziva wanted to return to her father and join Mossad. Just a theory, but it would make sence if you think about what she told Tony in Kill Ari.


Yay! they finally finished most of their unfinished story arcs... I guess next on deck is the "insurance" file that Mike Franks has from when Jenny died...


I would of like to of see them mention aira and kate some but maybe next time Mcgee did their at the end I love how the tie the two Russian mission together

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NCIS Season 8 Episode 9 Quotes

McGee: Hey, where is Boss, anyway?
Malachi: He's in Interrogation.
Liat: With Director David.
Tony: Oh! This is like Clash of the Titans. We should be there.
Ziva: It's a closed show.

Agent Sharp: It's like herding cats, huh, Agent McGee?
McGee: I don't like it at all, Agent Sharp. I've got a dozen other retired agents. I have Branch, I've got Morrow, I've got Nedrow. I have more directors than the front row of the Oscars.