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NCIS Review: The Steel Bonds of Blood

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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
Shabbat Dinner

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?

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (702 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter

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@Keith Vlasak
I agree, eli had to be the target. I still can't belive that he is dead, wasn't one of my favorite characters but liked the dinamic between him and ziva and between him and toni. Cote was amazing.

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When the episode began I was rather irked by the fake accent of Eli and the predictable dialog between him and the Iranian, but the final outcome was so stunning that all my criticisms were swept away in the sorrow of Vance losing his wife and Ziva's heartfelt despair. Shocked doesn't begin to describe my reaction. We have lost main characters before; nothing can compare to the death of Kate, but as I waited with Tony and Gibbs in the hospital corridor for word of whether Leon's wife had survived surgery, I reassured myself, "They would never kill two major characters." It was like a blow to the solar plexus when Leon came out and just stood there. What a sense of loss.

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It broke my heart...when Ziva came in the room and said "Aba" I felt like I was truly watching a Dad and his daughter and I cried like I have for any TV show in a long time.........not just a few tears welling up out and out crying like it was someone I knew(well I guess in a way I do). Gibbs afterward was terrible to watch at the ER/ but I loved how he told Ziva "hold on I am coming to you" To me in many ways he has always been a kind of Father to her different than her own but no less complicated.
Eli could not change/he is Mossad and that is something that is hard to explain even the dynamic of how they feel about their Country is hard to explain..anyone who has spent time there will know what I mean I think. What they go through is so different than our day to day dynamic and they always portray that so well in that part of the show/much as they do with Ducky & Abby coming to the hospital and them all together....Finally I will miss Eli David/he was a character of many layers and that is not something easily created or portrayed on TV that much any more.

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The shooter said to Ziva that he had been counting on her seeing to her father rather than come after him (which meant he even recognized her and knew who she was). To me, that says David was the intended target and anyone else was collateral damage.

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I was thinking that Eli's boyhood friend and his Iranian intelligence operatives, stabbing him in the back or under his orders to stab Eli in the back, could only be a red herring because it would be an act of war -- only, I guess, the Iranians this last year trying to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington DC didn't start a war, so I guess Iran killing the head of Mossad wouldn't necessarily start a war??? But, still think he'll be a red herring!

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This is espionage (and David killing some innocent so his cover's not blown is right out of LeCarre). It's a war threat on par with a terror threat. I guess they have to investigate it like a murder investigation, but I'd guess their priority would be to put out the fire rather than arrest anyone (not saying they will be out to murder someone, but that proving guilt in court wouldn't be a priority -- meaning they might run what comes next like special ops??? Might point is I can't see it as a kind of legal situation where they'd keep Ziva out of it (like they did Tony re his father) so as not to get evidence thrown out of court, that is.

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awesome show watch ncis all the time can't wait until next week so exciting thanks for being a wonderful show to watch

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From the previews I expected this to be a sweet episode between Ziva and her Dad but never saw all this coming. I am curious though, since Ziva had just left the room, is it possible that she was the intended victim. Probably not but just a thought.
I liked Jackie, she could keep Vance in tow and I think he will be so angry he may lash out just like Ziva. Anyway can't wait to see next week's episode.

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@vicki,I know excatly what you mean havent cried for a show that much since nate died on Burn Notice.I was thinking of that as soon as i saw lastnights episode...

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Who is behind it? I will guess elimants of Mossad because because Eli was on the outs and meeting with an Iranian. Dumb mistake to leave Ziva breathing, because both her and Gibbs will come after you, no matter where you hide. Great episode, felt bad for Vance losing his wife and for Eli, he had a chance at redemption with Ziva and he blew it badly. It is now too late for father and daughter to come together. I did like it when Ziva was so mad at the assasin for committing suicide she tarted kicking him. Let's see what is next, for Vance and Ziva.

NCIS Season 10 Episode 11 Quotes

Leon Vance: So. We'll still have the house to ourselves after dinner right?
Jackie Vance: You had your shot, baby.

Leroy Gibbs: Leon?
Leon Vance: She's dead. My wife is dead, Gibbs.

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