We're used to seeing Gibbs as the immovable and dependable rock for the NCIS team. In this episode, though, I believe that honor went to Tony.
In "Shiva," the team was under great pressure to find the mastermind to the shooting deaths of Mossad director Eli David and NCIS Director Vance's wife, Jackie. The possibility of a war loomed large, as Eli's Iranian contact - Arash Kazmi - was implicated. Eventually, they discovered that Eli's protégé, Mossad Deputy Director Ilan Bodnar, was the murderous traitor behind the deaths.
He knew about Eli's plan to work with Iran and wanted to kill Eli and take over Mossad while implicating Iran in his death.
The writers must be applauded: the story flowed exactly as it should have and there was a richness and depth to almost every scene. Gone (for the most part) was Tony the comedian and in his place was Tony the rock, which we saw when he entered the temple where Ziva was praying. He didn't try to manage her, or come up with a solution or a fleeting sentiment:
Tony: Tell me. What can I do? What do you need?
Ziva: Revenge. | permalink
Even Ducky had his moments this time around. The first was in the morgue with Gibbs:
Gibbs: What's that?
Ducky: His liver, riddled with inoperable tumors. It doesn't appear to have been under treatment. I'd have given him six months.
Gibbs: Made killing himself easier.
Ducky: Pity does not validate cowardice. | permalink
The second was his response to the deputy director of Mossad, after being subjected to a snide jab:
Bodnar: And whose grandfather would you be?
Ducky: Well that depends. Who's your grandmother? | permalink
I have to admit, I laughed out loud at that one.
Gibbs is known for his curtness, especially around authority figures, and it was into that dynamic that deputy director Jerome Craig found himself, all nervous. Gibbs knows when to pull back, though:
Deputy Director Craig: Rest assured. This is an interim assignment. I have no intention of taking Leon's job. You and I---
Gibbs: Deputy Director Craig. I've got your back. | permalink
Tony was so tuned into Ziva's torment - he didn't make a wrong move at any time. And every choice he made was dead-on. Bringing her back to his place to keep an eye on her... then telling her she needed to talk to get what's on her mind out in the open. I thought he meant she should talk with him. Instead, he meant she should talk with Shmeil, her Israeli friend, who he found and hosted in his small apartment along with Ziva.
What a stand-up guy. I remember a few seasons ago, when Gibbs noticed that about him: when the pressure is off, Tony likes to act up and play. But when the pressure's on, and decisions have to be made, Tony is front and center, strong and dependable. He saw it long before we got to see it.
The scene with Ziva going to the airplane and Tony coming to see her off was fraught with emotion. He didn't have to do that (as Ziva said) but I think he felt that he did. He could not let his friend go without telling her that they were on the case. The most important message to her (whispered into her ear as they hugged) was: "aht lo leh-vahd." Which is Hebrew for "you are not alone."
Some final thoughts:
- NCIS Deputy Director Craig was played by Greg Germann, who you may remember from Ally McBeal.
- Mossad Deputy Director Ilan Bodnar was played by Oded Fehr, who also has a recurring role on Covert Affairs (again, as a Mossad agent).
- There are some more NCIS quotes to view, one of which includes Vance's realization about Gibb's need for vengeance.
- Although Bodnar's plan fell through, he is still at large. Having killed Eli's Iranian contact, it remains to be seen how the NCIS team will encounter him again.
- The song at the end of the show, played while the montage scenes of Ziva in Israel and Jackie's grave site were shown, was "Not Alone" by Patty Griffin, from the album "Living with Ghosts."
I've said enough. Some of you guessed, as I did, that Mossad was behind the killings. Which was close but not exactly true. What are your thoughts?
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.