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?


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



just an afterthought, after reading a few reviews that wanted to see Tony and Ziva get together: there has surely been some chemistry between them, but I don't think it would work well within the story lines. I am also a big fan of Bones, and Seeley and Bones managed to make the transition from members of a team to a couple work. I didn't think it would work, but it has so far, with few changes to either of their personalities. I just don't think it would work with Tony and Ziva within the NCIS story lines - covering each other, at all costs, works fine with me.


Ziva was awesome. This episode really showed her talent. Love her!


I don't see Vance's wife being a target - I see it as being a 'clean sweep' attack. And I am also a big fan of Criminal Minds and Hotch, who is their leader, made it as a single dad after his wife was brutally murdered. I don't see any reason for Vance's wife to be alive and in protective custody - collateral damage. It was, definitely, one of the most poignant shows ever. And as well done as they all have always been. Ziva will do what she has to do - she was born Moussad (sp?) and those traits have not been extinguished. Vance? I don't know - he has always been a puzzlement to me - of the entire cast, he is the only one I would not miss. But Ziva? It would totally change the dynamics of the show if she left. It was hard enough to lose Kate, but I think Ziva adds more to the cast of characters. I want the same cast that is there right now to remain until this show is no longer - and I truly don't want this show to ever end - NCIS, same characters, same time slot. It works very well for me.


I never have liked Vance either. Feel sorry for his wife and kids but not him. I don't trust him and will never trust him. lol I hope that they "the killers" were after him instead of Eli. Would make a more interesting story.


Did the 4 Navy guys have anything to do with it? They all copped to killing Tyler Wilkes, the reporter. And the drug story will have to play out. He also had Petty Officer Luke Grisner's id. That one to me didn't come out so I under stood it. Not sure if Wilkes knew Eli David from the picture, or someone was paying him to follow that man? Maybe he was told this man was the person selling the drugs to the Navy men?
Eli In Ziva's car would have been a surprise if the commercials hadn't shown it as such. Him trying to reconcile with her was touching, even if it had been a lot of problems under the bridge. Ziva had a GREAT performance. But hated to see Eli die as well. If he knew something was up would he have it happen at Leon's? He could have staged his own death. But unlikely. Arash Kazimi knew he was in town after the meeting, but unless he had shooter follow them, how would he know where Eli would be? And the shooter have a poison cigarette? That is high espionage there. SECNAV calling Gibbs, did someone tell about shooting? Or maybe with team called out they had to know. Will be interesting to figure out next week.
I figured something was up with Jackie coming to see Vance. And I figured their alone time would be non existent. But surprised she knew Eli would be there by The Kosher question. And not sure if she is dead, but she isn't the target unless she knew more then was let on.


Wonderfully and powerfully done - my kudos to all involved. Like another's comment, I've never trusted Vance either but sad his wife died. I think Ziva and Gibbs' bond will deepen. Palmer should have showed up with Abbs and Ducky....they are all family. Felt bad that Ziva wept alone but we'll see what happens next week.
Again, kudos to ALL.


WOW, look at all of the comments. I agree that this was one of the best NCIS episodes in a very long time. The ratings also agree. So happy that NCIS is back to top form. Hope next week continues the trend. Well done to all involved.


Gibbs will be a hypocrite if he doesn't let her be involved in some form or another. He himself knows revenge well. He even went after his own revenge plot this season, because he had hurt his "family" & the Navy, not to mention all of the other times he went....and got revenge on someone. Of course, he is a hypocrite if he does allow her investagte too. I think he should let her do "something" but I am not sure what. He sure is going to have to walk a tight which he just may fall off. lol


Heartbreaking in so many ways . . . Jackie brought a sense of 'normal' to the show, and she was so gracious to provide the shabbat feast and challah! I'm hoping, as some have speculated, that she's not dead and Vance is protecting her. Some here have asked why wasn't Ziva at the hospital? Obvious she has to deal with her own grief, and so touching that Tony and McGee could only speak with their eyes. They also knew not to intrude on Ziva's tears for her father. Michael Nouri was awesome as the aging Director David, wanting to see the love and respect in his daughter's eyes, but unable to be anyone other than the man he had been his whole life. Who killed him? He had so many enemies it's hard to say. It will be interesting to see what the writers come up with next.


Am I the only one who wonders what Vance will do now? He is hardly the stay-at-home father type, yet crises like these sometimes cause people to make major changes in their lives - like retire so they can "protect" their kids......

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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.