Wow. We lost two main characters on NCIS this week, people who played a major role in the lives of Ziva David and Leon Vance. I did not see that coming.
The variations on the theme of family relationships woven throughout "Shabbat Shalom" were hard to miss. We began with a father who desperately wanted his son to open up to him, only to have the connection made - albeit in a weird way - after they discovered a dead body together while fishing.
Dad: Sorry, we shouldn't have stayed.
Son: Are you kidding? Dad, this is like the most bad-assed thing we've ever done together. Thanks.| permalink
The body turned out to be a disgraced reporter who was masquerading as a Navy petty officer while in pursuit of a story. In a typical NCIS episode, there are two stories going on: one involving a murder, and another involving the lives of one or more of the NCIS agents. But this episode was anything but typical, as we soon found out.
The second relationship was that of Leon and Jackie Vance: the two were looking forward to spending a romantic evening without the kids. She has always been his rock and most definitely the love of his life: his vehement promise to clear his schedule to ensure this night happened made that clear. Her quick uptake and overwhelming disappointment shone clear, too, when Leon said "is that wine kosher?"
She guessed right away that Eli David was going to make an appearance, after which she scrambled to ensure their Shabbot meal would be as close to perfect as possible. Leon hoped they could salvage the night but:
Leon Vance: So. We'll still have the house to ourselves after dinner right?
Jackie Vance: You had your shot, baby. | permalink
The third relationship, marvelously highlighted, was the father-daughter dynamic between Eli and Ziva. So amazing to see the wary hope in Ziva's eyes as she realized her father was near retirement and on the outs with Mossad and had come to America just to see her. He disappointed her badly in the past though, didn't he? And so she kept a close eye on him.
It wasn't until she saw a picture of him wearing a hat - a picture that had been snapped by the dead reporter's camera - that she realized heartbreaking disappointment. Her father had killed the innocent man, all in an effort to ensure his real purpose - to strike up a relationship with his Iranian counterpart - would not be jeopardized. And with that, the two subplots came together.
Her loyalty to NCIS and to Gibbs were without question, as she refused to share wine with her father and finally got up from the table in disgust in order to call up Gibbs to let him know who the killer was.
She thought she felt pain... but that didn't even come close to the agony she felt after her father was shot to death.
And then we saw an amazing shot of Gibbs and Tony standing apart in the hospital waiting room. Stark, and filled with apprehension. Gibbs eventually left alone to meet Leon, as he came out to say that his wife was dead.
This story was amazing and filled with sadness. I cannot imagine a more compelling episode. The writing, the dialogue, the incredible performances all combined to a bring heartbreaking masterpiece to the small screen. I can't wait to see the second part of this story.
Some final thoughts:
- "Shabbat Shalom" is a Jewish greeting, offered on the Sabbath (between sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday)
- We don't know who the shooter was.
- The team is worried that this incident might bring strong waves resulting in war, between the U.S. and Iran, Israel and Iran or all three.
What are your thoughts? And who do you think commissioned the shooting?
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.