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NCIS Round Table: "Shabbat Shalom"

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Our NCIS review broke down "Shabbat Shalom," this week's episode of TV's #1 show, in detail.

Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Douglas Wolfe and Eric Hochberger have assembled for our weekly Round Table Q&A discussion of various events and topics from this powerful installment.

Join in as we analyze the return (and demise) of Eli, Vance's loss, and what comes next ...

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1. Describe this episode in one word (or two, or three, or four).

Steve: Powerful and unexpected.

Doug: Brilliant and heartbreaking.

Eric: Still in shock.

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2. Best episode of NCIS Season 10 so far?

Steve: With a show like this, "best" can mean so many things. The balance of episodes varies so much in terms of weightiness and symbolism, humor and continuity, although almost all of them are excellent. I will say I haven't been this shaken up by an installment since Season 8's memorable "Swan Song."

Doug: I've been wracking my brain trying to remember a better one. This one even surpasses the last episode of Season 9 and the first of Season 10, when NCIS was bombed.

Eric: I agree with Steve and Doug. Definitely the most powerful of this season and up there with Mike's death and a few other episodes in terms of making you lie awake thinking about it afterwards.

3. Favorite quotes or scenes from "Shabbat Shalom"?

Steve: Ziva screaming "Abba" and bawling was enough to give anyone the chills, as was Gibbs standing stone-faced and ignoring the SecNav's calls. These scenes are enhanced by the fact that we're so invested in these characters after 10 seasons. Overall, I could answer the entire episode. Superb TV entertainment, but also emblematic of the uncertain times we live in.

Doug: It's a three-way toss up: Ziva's agony over the death of her father was heartbreaking. The scene with Tony and Gibbs standing sentinel at the hospital waiting room was, I think, the best scene cinematically. So stark, and filled with such tension. I rewound it and watched it again. And finally, the dead look in Vance's eyes as he answer's Gibbs' question. "She's dead. My wife is dead, Gibbs."

Eric: This Round Table and the comments on Doug's review will be dominated, justifiably, with reactions to the shooting. So I'll give a humorous mention to the old photos and undercover guises. Not sure if the soul patch really works on Michael Weatherly, however Cote does make a cute pregnant person, am I wrong?

4. The twice-fatal conclusion: Did you see it coming?

Steve: You had to get the sense something would happen to Eli. One of the most targeted men in the world giving everyone the slip is a recipe for disaster. Shalom can mean "hello" and "goodbye," and next week's episode title "Shiva," refers to the Hebrew mourning period. Nevertheless, I wasn't sure if he'd actually die, and was stunned that Jackie Vance became collateral damage of his mission.

Doug: Some of our commenters took a cue from the tearful scene in the car when Eli asked Ziva to join him across from the table "one last time," and guessed that he would die. I didn't. I had no idea that either he or Jackie - or that anyone actually - would be killed.

Eric: Sadly, after the secret meeting with Vance, Gibbs, Eli and his Iranian counterpart, I did. I half expected it to take place then. Jackie's key role in the episode made me fear the worst for her as well, though I was still quite surprised to be proven correct in this hunch. Part of me can't believe the writers went there.

5. Does NCIS rely too heavily on character deaths?

Steve: I've thought a lot about this. At times it seems that way, then again, such episodes are the best in the show's history. The storylines are multi-layered, altering the fabric of the characters and the show, and not done solely for shock value. It's sad that Palmer is basically the only one with a family outside of NCIS now, however this is also somewhat realistic in this line of work.

Doug: I've read that criticism in a few places, but vehemently disagree with it. I was actually surprised that Ducky made it through his drama alive at the start of Season 10. No, the writers of NCIS are very careful in who they kill off, and there is always a compelling story and reason when they do. These deaths will have an effect, on both Ziva and Leon Vance. We already know, from the promo for next week, that Ziva will be after vengeance. I can't even imagine Vance as subdued or even acting in a professional by-the-book manner after his wife's death.

Eric: Sometimes, I wish they wouldn't do this. Jackie in particular felt unnecessary to kill off. However, as Steve said, there's no denying the collective brilliance of the cast and writers last night and in similar episodes. So, I guess we have to trust them and see where they take this next week and beyond.

6. Best acting performance of the night?

Steve: Rocky Carroll's face at the end said it all. Truly awesome work.

Doug: Cote de Pablo, hands down. She nailed it with full commitment.

Eric: Rocky and Cote were both amazing. The latter deserves Emmy consideration for this effort I'd say. But in the interest of offering a different answer, Michael Nouri delivered a great, convincing final performance as Eli, and Mark Harmon's stoic brilliance was also a sight to behold.

7. Who do you think was behind the shooting?

Steve: Eli's list of enemies is a mile long, and his supposed Iranian "friend" is certainly an option, being that he knew his whereabouts. That may be too obvious, however. An inside job by Mossad? A rogue Palestinian operative? What I'm almost more intrigued by can be summed up in one word: Revenge. Will it fall on Gibbs, a man who took matters into his own hands under similar circumstances, to rein in Ziva and Leon as they seek payback?

Doug: My guess is Mossad commissioned it. Logically, it's the only thing that would keep Iran and Israel from going to war. If Iran was behind it, then all bets would be off. Also, there's the fact that, before he died, the assassin said "I did not expect you to come after me, rather than checking on your father." So whoever made the decision probably knows them intimately.

Eric: That's the million-dollar question going forward, and almost an afterthought following the end of "Shabbat Shalom." I can't even venture a guess, but you know there will be dire ramifications.

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.

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    @charli anyone with a first grade education would know that i meant ziva not mrs vance stop nit picking.

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    Putting the devastating deaths of Ziva's father and Vance's wife aside, how are the NCIS team (notably Vance and Gibbs) going to explain to the Sec Nav why these two men were in town and no one alerted Homeland Security or Sec Nav himself? Plus no one bothered to answer Sec Navs calls. I see trouble from that and am not sure which way it will go. Will Vance have to step down or will he step down on his own due to his wife's death in order to be available for his children? Any comments on that?

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    The show was incredible. I was a bit suprised they did not use it as a first or last show of the season. I agree with others who have commented that Ziva/Cote's performance stood out, we have never seen her like this. Gibbs also obviusly hoping the best for vance's wife & no doubt contemplating what this will do to the team. I am afraid this could be a reason to get rid of the vance character. It took him a long time to recover from his brush with death in a prior season. It could also be used to get rid of ziva/cote but I really hope they will not do this. Who did it? My best bet is on MOssade, another slap in the face to ziva. I though when Ziva came upon him, she said something like his name - as if she knew him. Did anyone else get this? Eli was definately being squeezed out and wanted back in, & seemed to believe his friendship with the Iranian could produce some resolution. That would be a great legacy for Eli - who would not want that? Other radical iranians who, like everyone else want the destruction of israel. HOw about the #2 guy to follow in Eli's steps - he would not want Eli back in his powerful position. Thats my bet - it is the more complex & interesting option leaving room for some great gibbs & ziva performances.

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    Last night's episode of NCIS, "Shabbat Shalom" was one of the best. Vance has been edgy and watching his back since the "Enemies Foreign" and "Enemies Domestic" storyline (when a former agent tried to kill Vance). Last season's finale, "Pyramid" when the bomb was discovered in his the back of car, has made me wonder if he hasn't been considering walking away from the job. It seems unlikely that Jackie and Eli survived last night's episode - it certainly seems that they did not - but stranger things have happened. I'm sad, though, if we have lost these two characters as they added depth to the NCIS "extended family". I'm not sure if the full ramifications of this episode have been considered. With two NCIS-centric character deaths during an episode that is neither part of the "sweeps weeks" programming nor part of the finale story-arc, it's difficult not to wonder wnat sort of fireworks the NCIS creative team has in mind for the rest of Season 10.

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    All things considered, this has to be considered one of the best episodes in the run of the show. A great one? That may hinge on how next week's episode plays out. An unforgetable one? Without a doubt.

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    Michael, if fear of loss of a loved one controlled everybody's life, no one would ever get involved with another single human being anywhere. Countless numbers of police and fire people, along with soldiers and others in the military get involved with, engaged to, and married to one another every day of the week. That is especially true with the real life NCIS agency. So, knowing all of the dangers, I have a feeling that Tony and Ziva will get involved with one another and will probably be engaged or even married by the time the series ends.

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    Actually the shooter was probably only aware that Ziva and Eli were daughter and father, fairly common knowledge, even the arms dealer Aga Bayar knew that, but it's not an intimate detail. The Iranians played on the connection when they tried to frame Ziva in S4 Shalom. If the shooter had had intimate knowledge, he would have known they were estranged, and that her reaction might have been less predictable.

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    Great episode, and I actually think it sets the stage for Ziva and Tony -- eventually. I think it was interesting that this episode followed the one about Tony and his dad. Those two characters have become so close this year and last -- it is hard to imagine them with anyone else. The discussion of the pseudo-pregnancy photos was also interesting. Ziva clearly would like a child, but she would not want a child born into such a dangerous life.

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    As heartbreaking as Ziva's situation was with walking out on her father at the dinner table just before his death, I wonder even more about Vance. He not only lost a wife, but now his two children are motherless, and in the background was SecNav trying to contact everyone by cell phone. SecNav is not warm and fuzzy, and you have to wonder if he's going to fire Vance because he has too much emotional baggage on his plate to go forward. Correct me if I'm wrong,but aren't both Cote's and Rocky's contracts up at the end of this season?

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    It has occurred to me that someone might not be dead -- a plot twist that has been used elsewhere to smoke out a perpetrator. But Ziva's mourning as too real; she had told her father his sins were too deep, and she never had the chance to make peace with him. It's another one of those episodes that will evoke tears, just remembering how powerful it was. I really liked Jackie Vance.