NCIS Round Table: "Life Before His Eyes"

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Our NCIS review broke down the latest installment of TV's #1 show in great detail.

Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Matt Richenthal and Eric Hochberger have assembled for a weekly Round Table Q&A discussion of events from last Tuesday's 200th episode, "Life Before His Eyes."

Join in below, as we analyze various aspects of Gibbs' introspective journey ...


Describe this episode in one word (or two).

Steve: Imaginative; Thought-provoking.

Matt: Great stuff.

Eric: Edge-of-your-seat. I defy you, Steve, and your tyrannical word limits! From the moment Gibbs was shot, this became a riveting installment, albeit not because of the action or the real-world plot (obviously Gibbs would come out of this fine). I just couldn't wait to see who appeared in the diner, and what alternate NCIS reality we might get a glimpse of next.

NCIS RT - depreciated -

What was your favorite one-liner?

Steve: One easily overlooked but quite cool moment was not as much a one-liner but a lack of one. Tony's serious, supportive reaction to McGee's career decision really threw Probie for a loop.

Matt: Gotta be Tony calling Ziva "Tiva" in the interrogation. Great wink to the fans.

Eric: The comment about Palmer's abs after Abby's rolfing session. We're all thinking it, but for once, Gibbs - the functional mute, as Tony once said - was the one to say it.

Did the highly unconventional format work for you?

Steve: It did. I talked at length in my review about all the reasons why, so I won't ramble too long here, but I felt it was a great tribute to the show's run, with plenty of nods to the viewers, but wasn't a throwaway episode on its own merit. Past and present (and reality and alternate reality) intertwined nicely for the sake of the broader narrative. Bravo.

Matt: I enjoyed the episode overall, but I'm going to be contrarian for a moment, because a lot of our readers raised valid points. For the big 200th episode event, I would've liked to see more of the entire team, not just a heavy Gibbs-centric story. Don't get me wrong, Mark Harmon, Muse Watson and Michael O'Neill are all terrific, but Franks and McAllister had more significance than cast members who have been on the show for most or all of its run. The humor, relationships and crime-solving that make the show so good were relegated, at least somewhat, to the back burner this week.

Eric: I agree with what Matt just said, but I also don't care. Once in NINE YEARS, I'll allow for an experimental episode like this, as long as it's well-written, acted and directed. Which this clearly was. Kudos to the whole team for attempting and pulling off such a difficult concept in one hour of television - and here's to 100 more!

Anyone or anything missing that you wish we could have seen?

Steve: I found it interesting that young Gibbs was in the periphery of the alternate reality diner scenes. I know they're making up the rules, but how does that happen exactly? A conversation between older Gibbs and his fresh-faced, Marine self would have been a lot of fun, especially considering that Mark Harmon would be acting alongside his own son Sean.

Matt: A scene with Lauren Holly's Jenny could've been great, even if it had to be cobbled together from footage on the cutting room floor, like they did with my girl Sasha A.

Eric: Seeing Ari and Vance playing chess was awesome, but I wish they had more to say to our fearless leader. As some fans have said, this could've easily been a two-hour episode!

Life Before His Eyes Pic

What scene was the most emotional?

Steve: Everything that involved Shannon and Kelly, from their conversation in the diner to the "what-if" scenes in which Gibbs' loss became theirs, or in which a despondent Gibbs had not avenged their death by taking down Hernandez. Both what-ifs were realistic scenarios that anyone who has experienced loss would likely consider, and they hopefully helped Gibbs see the good that emerged from an unspeakable tragedy.

Matt: The look on Gibbs' face when he laid eyes on his daughter.

Eric: Personally, I liked the scenes with Gibbs' mother because I didn't see that coming at all, and always wondered about her and didn't quite know/remember what happened to her.

Will Gibbs finally let go of his guilt?

Steve: I think so. He seemed awfully rejuvenated at the end, especially for a man who just got shot in the shoulder. Not that I expect Jethro to take time off, but it looked like mentally, a little weight was off his shoulders.

Matt: That was the subtext to all of this, right? You can't have it both ways. Wherever you go, there you are. As an intelligent, principled man, Gibbs will never let go of those he lost, or feel any less responsible for not being perfect. That said, this had to shine a light on everything positive he's accomplished, while proving that what might have been isn't necessarily idyllic.

Eric: Let go of? I don't think you can ever expect that, given all he's been through. Made peace with? That may be more feasible after revisiting the consequences - good and bad - of the decisions in his life.

What's your take on these issues of the week on NCIS? Discuss below!

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


Yes, I enjoyed the Episode - it was good - not the best episode - and for sure not for all the hype of a 200th. Tell me this - do they think having Tony say "Tiva" makes anyone happy? Did that word replace the whole scene - because it seemed off somehow. And Tony and Kate hooking up ? NEVER - she was nasty to him for 2 years and she was nasty again to him in this - whatever it was - some scene from SWAK for sure !! UGH !!!


I have always loved your round table reviews Gentleman and I almost always agree with you and enjoy reading what you have to say. This week Matt, you are my hero. I think you are right in saying that for the big 200th episode - how about more of the Team?? I would have liked that and maybe just maybe if it had of been 2 hours long - we would have seen more of that.


I agree with Eric and others that this had such a huge scale of characters & that more of them needed to be 'active', this concept really needed 2 hours.
Butttt, I did like Mike F. being the 'host' of the show (still miss Muse Watson, he was the best of all the 'non-regulars'), nice was the scene of Mike flicking the bullet away from Jethro in that first scene!! On the other side, having Gibbs' mom with such a large role,...why?...we'd never seen her before,...her time took away from people like Jenny and Ducky,...who had known Gibbs much longer than any of the rest of the team. Don't get me wrong,...Mom's messege was poignant but needed 'abbreviation' in the hour-long format.
All-in-all though, 'Life....' was an entertaining concept that keeps fans like me believing that an episode 300 can still be considered very realistic!


'Loved it. I was nice to see Muse Watson, meet Jethro's mom, see Ralph Waite. I was tickled by the Tony-Kate-baby thing, but I've always seen more chemistry between Ziva and Tony. I'm just sayin' . . .


I am one of those who thought it should have been two hours. Then we could have been given those scenes we were told about by actors and writers that obviously got cut in the final editing. And maybe a conversation between Gibbs and Ari or Gibbs and Hernandez. And for me, the CGI images did not work. Too obviously recognizable from the episodes they were taken from which threw me out of the scene; a good thing as far as the Tony/Kate/Baby thing was concerned. Also would have liked to see more of what Ziva would have been like. Two lines in an interrogation where we don't even know what she was being interrogated about seemed like a brush off of her character and her life now at NCIS is a direct result of a decision by Gibbs to let her remain on the team. It was indeed a valiant effort and I applaud them and hope they put a director's cut on the Season 9 DVDs.


I thought the show was absolutely wonderful & 2 hours would've ended up feeling too long. My favorite parts were seeing Abby & Tim together, Gibbs as a frightening sad shell of a man, & most of all getting to see Muse Watson portray Mike Franks again. Great job EVERYONE!


I couldn't agree with Steve more about having a conversation between Young and Old Gibbs. Mark Harmon is my favorite actor so naturally I'm going to be interested in his son (not to mention he's close to my age and good looking) and Sean's acting ability. That would have been absolutely spectacular!
I cried like a baby when it came to the scenes with Shannon and Kelly. I have always looked at Gibbs avenging his wife and daughter as maybe not the right thing to do, but it's definitely understandable.
There are many great actors out there, but to me, Mark Harmon is the best. Just look at his performance Tuesday night. The man portrayed what seems like every emotion possible and did so extremely convincingly. The man's amazing! NCIS is amazing. And I definitely agree that this episode would have been far better as a two hour, one night, episode. No "to be continued..." nonsense.
Great homage to the fans! I look forward to every episode to come!


Well if I had not read the above reviews i was not aware this was the 200th episode and they were going a little "off script". Show was Ok but did not like thinking Abby and MacGee couple is just to weird for me. I am a little tired of Harmon still brooding for wife and child. I know something like that never really goes away but it is time to move on with life. It is kind of fun to see the Halloween and Christmas shows but this just really did not click with me....It was OK but let't get back to the NCIS I love.


I loved the Abby/McGee scenes, but this is episode 200 were talking about! Maybe just a little Tiva action would be nice. I wish they could have brought Sasha Alexander back for this one episode. I think the whole Tony/Kate scenario would have gone a lot smoother. I agree with you guys, Jenny should have played a more important role. It is kind of depressing to think that Tony would have had a huge future ahead of him including a wife and daughter if things would have been different. I adored the scenes with Kelly and Shannon. They were tear jerkers! It did seem a little rushed, I must admit. Happy 200th! :)


I thought this episode was awesome. MH did some of the best acting. I think, though, this should have probably been a 2 hour episode. So much more could have been done. I was glad to see Mike come back, was really sad when they killed him. Been watching this show since the start. Watch all the reruns any time I know they are on and LOVE the NCIS shows when they play them back to back all day long. It's the ringtone on my cell.

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