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NCIS Season Finale Review: "Pyramid"

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After Mike Franks' "Swan Song" made for one of the best episodes in NCIS history, last night's finale felt less like the season's climax and more like the denouement.

"Pyramid" connected the dots and filled in the blanks involving operation Frankenstein, while dangling a number of intriguing threads that will carry into next fall.

The Port-to-Port Killer, Lt. Jonas Cobb, wreaked plenty of additional havoc on the team before he met his maker, but ultimately went down fairly easily in a shootout.

The more interesting and unexpected developments didn't fully unravel until later. This being NCIS, Cobb's demise was just part of a complex, tangled web.

Man Down

There were several significant reveals this week, not the least of which being that E.J. Barrett is the niece of Secretary of the Navy Davenport. Naturally, Gibbs knew.

He never spoke of the obvious nepotism that buried him in the P2P case, possibly because you don't just call out SecNav, and it's not Barrett's fault who her family is.

If that were E.J.'s only secret, maybe we'd actually like her after this episode.

Her "moment alone" with the body was chilling (no pun intended) and beyond shady. What was in Gayne's wrist, why was it there and how did Barrett know about it?

You can expect this surprising twist to be fleshed out next season and you can guarantee there are more layers to E.J. than we're currently aware of (although Tony may be privy to more information than anyone else, which we'll get to briefly).

Vance's role in all this was equally startling.

The Director actually conceptualized Frankenstein ages ago, only to watch it blossom into a joint CIA/NCIS operation that went horribly wrong on so multiple levels.

Vance's hands had blood on them, and were tied by the chain of command. There was plenty of blame to go around between Vance, Kort and SecNav Davenport.

With Cobb "evolving" as Ducky put it, his focus shifted to destroying those who made him a creature. That put NCIS and the CIA squarely in the killer's crosshairs.

The weight always falls on the bottom of the pyramid.

In this case, it's hard to tell where upon the pyramid Vance sits, stifled by higher-ups, with his agents at risk, yet due to an operation - at least in part - of his own creation.

When he brutally kidnapped Ziva and then surrendered shortly thereafter, you knew there was more to it. His target wasn't Ziva at all; she was merely a distraction.

Still Hunting the P2P

Having occupied Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his team, Cobb broke free within NCIS' confines - a bit dubious that he wasn't more tightly guarded - and returned "home." 

With Mr. Palmer, Kort and Barrett held hostage, Vance, Gibbs and SecNav all descended on Frankenstein in what promised to be an epic showdown. It was not.

Davenport, Vance and Kort were all there, and Cobb wasn't making it out alive. Why he didn't he take them out, or at least try? Did his humanity surface, however fleetingly?

In any case, he hesitated and when he drew his gun, the aforementioned trio shot him countless times. Game over. Anticlimactic in a sense, but the demise of Lt. Cobb was but one of many elements to this twisted tale of government subversion.

Ray, who made his return last night, received a text message that Kort was in Tel Aviv, and to "handle it." Perhaps the one-eyed slime, who co-opted Frankenstein for personal gain, has finally crossed the wrong people at The Company.

Suffice it to say, the box he gave Ziva felt like an empty gesture in more ways than one. CI-Ray may be one of the "good" guys, but he has work to do to win our trust.

The fact that CI-Ray is off to Tel Aviv of all places makes you think, too. As world cities go, that's a random one ... unless his business there somehow involves the Davids.

Mike's funeral, meanwhile, was one of the most moving scenes in recent memory. As many of us posited last week, if Cobb didn't kill Gibbs' mentor, Franks' own lungs were about to. Gibbs knew it, as evidenced by my favorite reveal of the night.

After watching Gibbs in the basement all season, finally seeing his woodwork on display during Mike's burial - with the Marines' gun salute and "Caught By the Light" by The Boxer Rebellion providing the soundtrack - probably left a lot of viewers choked up.

Then came the cliffhanger(s).

Barrett is moving on, or so she says. Gibbs told her she's welcome back anytime, or so he says. From the theft of that chip to Cobb sparing her twice, there's something very much amiss about E.J. Which brings us to Tony and the new SecNav.

Vance and his new boss called Tony in to track down someone within the organization selling U.S. intelligence. Clearly Tony was chosen for a reason, and from the look on his face, clearly he's familiar with whom he's been assigned to keep tabs on.

Kort, Ray, Cade ... there are plenty of possible suspects. But the one I keep coming back to, given the scene in the morgue and Tony's relationship with her, is E.J.

What does Tony know? What will he do? This was a fantastic way to end a season finale that, rather than splitting Gibbs' team apart, brought them closer than ever.

While "Pyramid" was unconventional in some ways, it left me appreciative of the show's underrated writing and acting, and already anxious for Season Nine of NCIS.

Do you agree? What was your favorite part of the NCIS season finale? What do you make of Tony's assignment? Sound off with your comments below.

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (612 Votes)

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

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Yes Cobb's demise was anticlimatic but that's a red flag in my mind. I am sure we will learn more next season about what he did and his 'legacy'. My guess? He left something or said something or contacted Gibbs in some way and didn't put up a fight on purpose. He knew he was going to die in there- felt more like a suicide than anything else.

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I really enjoyed the show. I do hope that EJ won't be back. They can wrap up her part without her. I love all aspects of Tony. The fun loving man and the serious man. We have seen him serious before. Can't we all be funny one minute and serious the next?
Who could be selling NCIS secrets? Has to be someone high. I'm wishing it is VANCE.
And when someone is dead, do they bleed? I thought not, but what do I know.

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hi editor well it wasnt what i expected thats for sure it was too much cramed into 43minutes it should of been 2hours finale,dont know if Ej will be back i dont think so,will ray be back i dont know.tony going undercover again that should be exiting who is he investigating either Ej or ray is my bet wont be gibbs or i think tony would refuse.it was a good episode but i liked swan song better.as for tony being serious never he will always be the tony that we love and to all my friends who sends comments have a good summer and take carexxxxxx

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I was suprised at the ending. I really wanted EJ to die. I knew she was related to someone and that was how she was getting some of her help with cases. I think that she already knew the thing was in Gayle's arm and that is why she went down to get it not because she really cared about anything. That is why she is staying in DC, she has unfinished buisness. I think Kort is loosing his edge and that Ray is going to take care of him.
On a happier note I am glad that they did not kill off any of the regulars. I was very afraid that Palmer was going to get it when Cobb had him last night but he did not and was very relieved. I liked the wood work that Gibbs made for Franks coffin it was beautiful. I look forward to next season.

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I hardly know what to say!!! Nothing like I expected for sure!!! Janet and Tiva - I think you will agree with this. The one person I loathe, abhor, despise the most - may, could, might be back!!! Rats... If Barrett does return in Season 9 - I won't be watching. I hate the sight of her and having her in soooo many scenes last night and just walk away like she did nothing wrong since her first appearance just made me want to throw something at the TV ...her arrogance shines through if nothing else. She just went from one bad thing to the next saying how she "screwed up" and then just continued "screwing up" plus she is sneaky and I don't care if Gibbs now likes her!! I do not!!!! And I have to say, I am a bit annoyed at Ziva too. Ziva, who I have loved since the day she walked into the NCIS squadroom. Ziva, who has been through so much. Ziva, who just the week before "didn't think she could take it anymore"!!! The scene with her and CIRay and the empty ring box - hated that so much. She hasn't talked to him in months and now they are talking marriage?? What?? AND she did not attend Mike Franks funeral..what up with that??? And Tony - for sure he and Barrett's thing was just sex - swell - and keeping secrets from his Team is never a good idea which it looks like will be next for him. Everyone who wanted a 'serious' Tony and no more jokes and fun and laughs - be careful what you wish for!!! Tony never does well with secrets and I don't like this uptight, almost angrey smug Tony near as much. I loved the honest emotion from Abby (at least I think it was Abby - with all the other people she only got one tiny scene (never good) when she thought something had happened to Ziva.I was thrilled to see what Gibbs had been working on in the basement. Very touching, and I liked the idea that Gibbs knew all along about Mike being sick. Naturally, he would and it made sense to the week before when Mike was guiding Gibbs on the case as his mentor - one last time. I would like to say tons more, and I will - but let me just say this for now. Gary Glasberg (hanging my head here in annoyed stunned silence) you didn't let me down. Just what I expected from your writing..gosh..why why why do you get to do the finale???? The one good thing is - I won't have to worry all summer long about any of the Team or NCIS in general. Thank you for that at least. Ughhhhhhh Come on!!!!!!!!!!!

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The season finale for me left alot of unanswered questions. Was finally hoping that McGee would tell Abby how he really felt about her & wondering back to Season 2(I think) when Gibbs asked McGee if he slept at Abby's house & in the coffin. McGee says you let me sleep in a coffin & Abby says Thats not all you did. Who texted CIA Ray to tell him Cort was in Tel Aviv plus thinking that it has something to do with Ziva's father since Ziva's father had texted Vance saying He found him meaning the P2P killer maybe. CIA Ray going to Tel Aviv to handle it meaning kill Cort. EJ cuts Gayle's wrist cuz she felt something in it so what did she do with it & what was that green stuff. Thinking that even though the P2P killer is dead that somehow CIA Ray is involved in it. Gibbs telling Cort that if anything happened to Ziva Cort would answer to Gibbs. What did Gibbs whisper to Mike's daughter in law. Don't want Tony to have another Tony/Jeanne thing going. Tony looking in the folder & the expression on his face. Tony investigating CIA Ray even though he is not with NICS. Knowing that even though they didn't tell Gibbs about what Tony is going to be doing that Gibbs will know since he knew for awhile that EJ was the neice of SecNav. Like I said alot of unanswered questions and thinking that I maybe analzying too much into things. When Season 9 begins would love for CBS to air in Tuesday 8pm slot then right after from 9pm to 11pm give us a 2 hour premiere.