Original Air Date: Nov 23, 2010
Maria – TwoCents Reviewer
The last episode was all about trying to keep Eli David, the Director of Mossad and also NCIS Agent Ziva’s father, alive. There was a very real danger, but Gibbs’ team was able to eliminate and contain a Palestinian terrorist group. Despite this, the episode ended with Eli’s bodyguard dead with no indication as to NCIS Director Leon Vance’s or Eli David’s well-being.
This episode resolves that and exposes the real enemy.
It’s a complex episode, involving flashbacks and references. Vance wakes in a room, seeing Eli’s dead bodyguard but no Eli. Vance flashes back to a room with other dead bodies. He’s brought back to the present by distorted footsteps. In his wounded state, he still manages to grab his gun but he lowers it when he recognizes Gibbs. Vance’s words are: “I can’t believe that happened again.”
Vance flashes back to almost twenty years ago, when he was fresh from Naval War College and approached by a woman from NIS (as it was back then). That woman was Whitney Sharp. Sharp appeared in the last episode and I never even realized she was in aging makeup then. Sharp gives Leon Vance his first mission as an NIS agent.
Meanwhile, Ziva and Tony (along with Mossad Agents Liat and Malachi) are trying to track down the whereabouts of Eli David. There is a blood trail and it leads to a message written in Hebrew in the sand but Liat smoothes over one of the words. Clearly, the audience is supposed to be suspicious of her but she merely wants to find him and help him before NCIS does. Although Eli has a history with Vance, Vance is the true target and killing Eli would be just a happy consequence. Eli is aware of this, which is why he is hiding but he’s prepared to tell all to Gibbs.
Vance’s first ever mission involved a target called “The Russian”. Such inventive names! The mission took place in Amsterdam and he was talked through it by Agent McCallister. Since McCallister is both in the flashbacks and in the present day meeting, it was fairly obvious to me what his role would turn out to be, but it doesn’t matter because Rocky Carroll does such an amazing job of acting twenty years younger.
There’s also the distraction of Eli David. Eli’s hair has been dyed darker to make him look twenty years younger. He is Leon’s ally and saves his life, using a homemade explosive devise that was mimicked in the present against Leon and Eli. Quite a coincidence, but it does muddle to waters a little as to who is the ally and who is the enemy.
Of course the enemy is McCallister. He sent Leon Vance on missions he thought were impossible and was frustrated when Leon was promoted ahead of him. Thankfully, Gibbs arrives just in time to save Vance from McCallister’s attempts to kill him in hospital. Vance stabbed McCallister before he succumbed to the drugs, and Gibbs saved him from the drugs whilst nurses attend to McCallister.
McCallister isn’t all evil bad though. It was him who was responsible for sending Gibbs and Jenny Shepard to the mission in Paris, where they spent many happy and hot moments together. We also get to see Leon and Gibbs meeting for the first time, where Leon has squished Gibbs’ Danish in a fit of frustration whilst talking to McCallister. Fans will recall Vance giving money to Gibbs for Danish in one of the early scenes they ever had with each other.
There are other nice touches, such as Sharp talking to Medical Examiner Ducky and showing her sympathies at the loss of his mother some months ago and Perky Goth Abby calling McGee the McNickname of MacGyver.
All in all, I found this a very satisfying episode. Although the title gave away the identity of the true enemy, the format of the episode combined with the skilled acting and referential script made it very entertaining. That said, it took me a while to decipher all the events and references so I don’t know how a newcomer would respond to the show.
Did you find the episode too confusing, perfectly mentally stimulating or perhaps you found it too obvious? What did you make of the flashbacks and do you believe the actors were believable acting nineteen years younger? What are your thoughts on the episode? Please, leave your TwoCents in a reply.