Once again, we were treated to a couple of fascinating parallel plots in tonight's episode of NCIS, "Hereafter."
In the crime story, the team was called to investigate the mysterious death of a marine who perished during training at Quantico. Turns out he died as a result of cerebral hemorrhaging, due to repeated blows to the head.
The team was provided some misdirection as a result of the discovery that the dead marine had participated in a fight club. Later it was learned that their commanding officer had been attempting to toughen his team up by wounding them repeatedly - basically, torturing them - in the same manner as his brother, who had died from his injuries.
The more personal story involved Leon Vance, who discovered that his wife had kept a separate bank account and a legal "separation of property" letter; he found them inside a safety deposit box that he didn't know about.
Of course, the immediate conclusion he came to - and by extension, the viewer - was that she was getting ready to separate from him prior to her death. The agony of that assumption was plain to see, as he tried to ensure his kids continued with their lives. He even went back to work while harboring that painful secret.
The writers did a great job with Vance's character, portraying him as a brittle and proud man who felt the need to shield his kids and everyone else from his anguish. It seemed sad to me when his daughter offered to help him sort papers and he declined, telling her that they needed to get into the kitchen and eat some breakfast. Or when his son asked him when he was going back to work, only to be told to get ready, because the car was leaving in 20 minutes.
It would have been better for him to have let them in, allow them to grieve along with him - but that wouldn't have been Vance, would it? It would have been someone else entirely. The truly bright spot occurred when Vance returned home after solving the crime, only to find his kids shrieking with laughter as Tony and Ziva chased them around the house. They needed that, he said. And he was right about that, just as he needed to smile at their laughter.
And how about that exchange between Tony and Ziva just as they got to Vance's house to babysit? The excruciating grimace on Tony's face was hilarious: he was truly horrified at the thought of being around them. Then this happened:
Ziva: DiNozzo, pull it together.
Tony: Kids. This is way above my pay grade. I spent the afternoon in a child care clinic when I almost lost my life.
Ziva: Stop stop stop stop. We're doing the director a favor, okay? We just need to be here, we need to be normal. Can you just please do that for a few hours?
Tony: Sure. Fine.
Tony: Only because you asked nicely. | permalink
Did you catch the laugh and smile they gave each other after that? Interesting to say the least, as was the fact that they both got into playing with the kids.
I liked the fact that Ziva finally had a brief heart to heart with Vance about the death of his wife. The beautiful/tender tension between them was portrayed so well by Cote de Pablo and Rocky Carroll. There was some great acting there.
The compelling conclusion tied up Vance's story nicely, with Gibbs making him realize that Jackie was merely preparing her kids and herself for a time when Vance wouldn't be around. The key point involved the fact that she started preparing around the time the NCIS building was bombed (end of NCIS Season 9 and the beginning of NCIS Season 10.)
I have to say: the writing, the directing and the acting on the show are stellar. Hardly a wrong note anywhere. If there is to be any criticism, it would be the idea of Tony continuing to be the clown and not evolving more and more into the strong watchful Tony we saw in "Shiva." Maybe it's time for someone else to play the clown for a while. Deputy Directory Craig might fit that role, or Palmer.
Some final thoughts:
- It was good to see Abby, even if only for a little bit, as she had at least one great line from the NCIS quotes of the evening: You could totally rock an eye patch Gibbs. And that's not important. | permalink
- Missing from the picture entirely was Jimmy Palmer He wasn't in either of the autopsy scenes. What's up with that?
So, what did you think of this episode? Did you see any plots holes? How do you think Deputy Director Craig will leave? Or will he?
Steve Marsi has set up this week's round table to discuss this episode. We're stumped about whatever it is Gibbs is building in his basement. Come on over and check it out. It's here: NCIS round table.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.