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NCIS Season Finale Review: "Pyramid"

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After Mike Franks' "Swan Song" made for one of the best episodes in NCIS history, last night's finale felt less like the season's climax and more like the denouement.

"Pyramid" connected the dots and filled in the blanks involving operation Frankenstein, while dangling a number of intriguing threads that will carry into next fall.

The Port-to-Port Killer, Lt. Jonas Cobb, wreaked plenty of additional havoc on the team before he met his maker, but ultimately went down fairly easily in a shootout.

The more interesting and unexpected developments didn't fully unravel until later. This being NCIS, Cobb's demise was just part of a complex, tangled web.

Man Down

There were several significant reveals this week, not the least of which being that E.J. Barrett is the niece of Secretary of the Navy Davenport. Naturally, Gibbs knew.

He never spoke of the obvious nepotism that buried him in the P2P case, possibly because you don't just call out SecNav, and it's not Barrett's fault who her family is.

If that were E.J.'s only secret, maybe we'd actually like her after this episode.

Her "moment alone" with the body was chilling (no pun intended) and beyond shady. What was in Gayne's wrist, why was it there and how did Barrett know about it?

You can expect this surprising twist to be fleshed out next season and you can guarantee there are more layers to E.J. than we're currently aware of (although Tony may be privy to more information than anyone else, which we'll get to briefly).

Vance's role in all this was equally startling.

The Director actually conceptualized Frankenstein ages ago, only to watch it blossom into a joint CIA/NCIS operation that went horribly wrong on so multiple levels.

Vance's hands had blood on them, and were tied by the chain of command. There was plenty of blame to go around between Vance, Kort and SecNav Davenport.

With Cobb "evolving" as Ducky put it, his focus shifted to destroying those who made him a creature. That put NCIS and the CIA squarely in the killer's crosshairs.

The weight always falls on the bottom of the pyramid.

In this case, it's hard to tell where upon the pyramid Vance sits, stifled by higher-ups, with his agents at risk, yet due to an operation - at least in part - of his own creation.

When he brutally kidnapped Ziva and then surrendered shortly thereafter, you knew there was more to it. His target wasn't Ziva at all; she was merely a distraction.

Still Hunting the P2P

Having occupied Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his team, Cobb broke free within NCIS' confines - a bit dubious that he wasn't more tightly guarded - and returned "home." 

With Mr. Palmer, Kort and Barrett held hostage, Vance, Gibbs and SecNav all descended on Frankenstein in what promised to be an epic showdown. It was not.

Davenport, Vance and Kort were all there, and Cobb wasn't making it out alive. Why he didn't he take them out, or at least try? Did his humanity surface, however fleetingly?

In any case, he hesitated and when he drew his gun, the aforementioned trio shot him countless times. Game over. Anticlimactic in a sense, but the demise of Lt. Cobb was but one of many elements to this twisted tale of government subversion.

Ray, who made his return last night, received a text message that Kort was in Tel Aviv, and to "handle it." Perhaps the one-eyed slime, who co-opted Frankenstein for personal gain, has finally crossed the wrong people at The Company.

Suffice it to say, the box he gave Ziva felt like an empty gesture in more ways than one. CI-Ray may be one of the "good" guys, but he has work to do to win our trust.

The fact that CI-Ray is off to Tel Aviv of all places makes you think, too. As world cities go, that's a random one ... unless his business there somehow involves the Davids.

Mike's funeral, meanwhile, was one of the most moving scenes in recent memory. As many of us posited last week, if Cobb didn't kill Gibbs' mentor, Franks' own lungs were about to. Gibbs knew it, as evidenced by my favorite reveal of the night.

After watching Gibbs in the basement all season, finally seeing his woodwork on display during Mike's burial - with the Marines' gun salute and "Caught By the Light" by The Boxer Rebellion providing the soundtrack - probably left a lot of viewers choked up.

Then came the cliffhanger(s).

Barrett is moving on, or so she says. Gibbs told her she's welcome back anytime, or so he says. From the theft of that chip to Cobb sparing her twice, there's something very much amiss about E.J. Which brings us to Tony and the new SecNav.

Vance and his new boss called Tony in to track down someone within the organization selling U.S. intelligence. Clearly Tony was chosen for a reason, and from the look on his face, clearly he's familiar with whom he's been assigned to keep tabs on.

Kort, Ray, Cade ... there are plenty of possible suspects. But the one I keep coming back to, given the scene in the morgue and Tony's relationship with her, is E.J.

What does Tony know? What will he do? This was a fantastic way to end a season finale that, rather than splitting Gibbs' team apart, brought them closer than ever.

While "Pyramid" was unconventional in some ways, it left me appreciative of the show's underrated writing and acting, and already anxious for Season Nine of NCIS.

Do you agree? What was your favorite part of the NCIS season finale? What do you make of Tony's assignment? Sound off with your comments below.

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (611 Votes)

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

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Overall, I love NCIS and it is my favorite and has been for at least 7, if not 8, years. Don't understand why they can't find a 'stronger' (a la Gibbs) man for Ziva; I agree that they seem to be 'dumbing her down' when we all know that she is a savvy chick. And Eli should not be 'setting her up' with his assassins. I couldn't get the attraction that Michael had for her... he was 'too dark' she needs someone that makes her laugh; sure isn't CI-Ray guy. Abby & McGeek are priceless whether together or not.... has anyone thought that it might be some sort of 'blow-back' from the 'Oriental Chick' that offed Langer??? Just a thought; or was Kort her contact??? Engrossing storys and the plotting and the music really make it flow together... last thought (off the top of my head): might it be something to do with G CALLEN?????? and Hetty... if so, I foresee another 'crossover' coming up... maybe Episode I for the upcoming season 9, which can't come soon enough!!

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For me two things stood out like sore thumbs. Sorry about the caps but, WHAT'S WITH THIS NEW, WATERED DOWN ZIVA? What happened to the hard edge, strong, independent woman who used to be able to tell when anything was wrong because she was just THAT good? Please don't tell me its because she's fallen in love, because I'm not buying it. Okay, I get it, people change but her evolution has soften her too much, even more than Kate used to be. And the other thing... Tony is going under again and given a new target. Upon seeing the picture he seemed shocked. Okay, if it's that EJ gal or her former SECNav Uncle it'll be La Grenouille all over again... SAY WHAT, COME ON! Can't be Kort because that's too obvious therefore not remotely a shocking cliffhanger since no one trusts him to begin with. My gut tells me it could be Ray, he seems secretive enough... But come on, what new angle will Tony either killing, arresting Ziva's boyfriend or having Daddy David come into play will bring to the Show? We've seen it before.. then again we don't know how things will be with this new Ziva. *yawns* Anyways, cool review and reply comments. Looking forward to next Season and hoping it improves.

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The reason Tony was pick was because he able to hide his true feelings for people

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Defiantly anxious for season 9!!! Favorite part? hmmmm had to the funeral even tough it made me very sad! Tony's assignment is odd. why pick him over Gibbs Dont like the new SecNav. Cant believe that's what Gibbs was making all along. Another whisper that well never know what was said! Ej is DEFINALTY involved!!! was that tracking chip? or something more? Why is ziva trusting Ray? I dont and why is HE dealing with Kort in what so happens to be the place where Ziva is from? Is Daddy David involved? CIA ray might be involved too how else did Cobb get that number?

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I think EJ and Ray are lovers and in this together. I didn't think the show had a great ending. Could have been much better.

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@ may Ziva has done it before

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lol, as if it's ziva. for one thing, you think tony's expression would just be, oh? i don't reckon it's one of the main characters; none of them would betray the team like that.
i didn't think this was as good as swan song- CIRay, who i find annoying, and kind of fake, the intenseness of tony wanting to find ziva and then not really going anywhere...
it was a good episode, but i felt like swan song was more powerful.

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My money is on EJ. She knew to slit the wrist and waited until everyone was gone, I don't trust her. She didn't log it as evidence either. New SecNav like him. Sad that Mike is gone, but funeral was very moving and I can see him not wanting to waste away in a hospital. In the funeral scene where was Ziva ? Glad CiRay is gone and the ring scene was awkward. Great episode and I can't wait for season nine. Not sure about Kort, he definitely has some issues but he usually does the right thing eventually. Tony does not do well undercover subtle is not his nature it will be interesting to see who it is. I hope Ziva doesn't wait for Ray, she needs to find someone who won't jerk her around. Notice that Tony didn't even shake hands with EJ when she left very telling that he was upset with her.

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I hope it's not EJ. If you watch carefully, she discovers the bulge in Levin's wrist, makes the cut, and is surprised instead of satisfied. And we need a female supporting character who doesn't get turned evil (or killed). Besides, there was no reason why she and Tony couldn't have been in an offscreen relationship. Tony/Ziva has passed its sell-by long ago anyways, and this show is best not turned into a soap opera.

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Unfortunately I missed last night's show. But from the comments it was either (a) excellent or (b) awful. My suggestions are these - leave Tony the way he is, he is an offspring of Weatherly and he is great. Quit messing with Ziva'a heart. She has been through more than her share of pain already. Don't do one thing to change Abby, McGee or Ducky. Gibbs is Gibbs for many reasons and they will never change so neither will he. I can take or leave Vance. Never did like him much, but I didnt like Shepherd either. And last but not least -- GET RID OF EJ!! For all of the reasons the posters have mentioned and more. It was never realistic that Tony would like someone like her enough to have an affair with her.