Our NCIS review broke down "Hereafter," this week's episode of TV's #1 show, in detail.
Now, TV Fanatic staff members Steve Marsi, Douglas Wolfe and Eric Hochberger have assembled for our weekly Round Table Q&A discussion of various events and topics from this installment.
Join in as we analyze the return of Vance and his dueling storylines below!
1. Describe this episode in one word (or two, or three, or four).
Steve: Different; interesting parallels.
Doug: Vance’s circuit is complete.
Eric: Slow-moving but solid.
2. Favorite quotes or scenes from "Hereafter"?
Steve: Gibbs and a despondent Vance in the office, and later in his basement (both scenes below). We've seen a lot of great moments from the two of them but never quite like these. The revelation about Shannon was great, too - it makes sense, and clearly helped Vance gain perspective. Rocky Carroll continues to impress, every time.
Doug: There were a few exceptional scenes: Ziva and Vance having a heart to heart comes to mind. The scene were Tony and Ziva smile at each other after she tells him to “pull it together” is another. But the scene with Tony and Ziva playing with the kids and the look on Vance’s face when he hears their screams of laughter pretty much did it for me.
Eric: Definitely Ziva and Vance. And also Tony being Tony. Some say the writers overdo it with the class clown act, and maybe at times they do ... but he is who he is, and he makes me laugh with it.
3. What was your biggest problem, if any, with the episode?
Steve: If we're nit-picking, it felt like there were some holes in both the Marine investigation and Vance's personal story. You can probably chalk that up to cramming them both into 42 minutes.
Doug: I truly didn’t understand why Jackie had drawn up a “separation of property” paper. In the end, I just assumed it was a legal matter that had to take place; something that non-legal folk wouldn’t understand. The support for that assumption is the fact that Vance had no legal right to access Jackie’s bank account – so maybe the separation of property thing was designed to ensure that in the event of Vance’s death, Jackie could access what she needed. But then – why wouldn’t Vance have a will that would cover this? That plot point needed more explanation.
Eric: Agree with Doug. I understood the idea of what Jackie was doing; it made total sense and made for a solid Vance episode. The details, however, weren't that well explained.
4. Did you like the focus on Vance and his loss?
Steve: I did. Vance was portrayed, in my eyes at least, as someone who's lost. The safe deposit box was a vehicle for us to identify with his situation that was different than other routes the writers could have chosen. I also enjoyed the roles played by Tony, Ziva and Gibbs, helping the reeling Director in their own ways.
Doug: Yes and I think it really needed to happen in order to advance his part of the story. The writers were quite creative in coming up with this parallel plot: so much more entertaining than them just having him say that he’s over his loss. He isn’t, but the final scene between him and Gibbs sort of brought a small measure of closure – he can now mourn his wife without all of the painful doubts.
Eric: I've always liked Vance more than most because of this kind of complexity. You don't get to where he is without making a lot of hard choices, ones he is now forced to question in the aftermath of this tragedy. Rocky Carroll does an awesome job with a character who's always had depth and been tough to read.
5. Will he be back at the helm anytime soon?
Steve: That's the implication, but I think the interwoven storylines of Vance, Craig and Bodnar are far from over, and the deaths of Jackie and Eli will have lasting repercussions beyond what we know right now.
Doug: There’s a reason he asked Deputy Director Craig about whether he had his bags packed. He also agreed with Gibbs that Craig isn’t management material – so yes, I think he’s coming back. I’d like to know how Craig got to his position though – it doesn’t seem reasonable to assume he doesn’t have a compelling back story. He can’t have just been “filler” for the NCIS helm while Vance mourned.
Eric: In body, yes. In spirit? That remains to be seen. Clearly we haven't seen the last of Craig, who I don't think is the mere patsy he's portrayed as. Can't wait to see more layers of this one peeled back.
6. Which NCIS character(s) would you hire as a babysitter?
Steve: Personally I'd probably hire Ziva for her nuturing side as well as protectiveness - no safety concerns with a virtual superhero in the house - but my three-year-old son would probably have more fun with Tony. I'm totally going to try his Jaws gag with a pizza box the next time we order out.
Doug: It’s too easy to say “Tony and Ziva” so I’ll just say that I think Abby would make a terrific babysitter. She’s playful and personable and you get the sense that she loves kids. Might want to lock up all of the sharp knives though first – wouldn’t want anyone suddenly being forced to have to wear an eye-patch or something.
Eric: I'll defer to Steve and his actual kid on this one, but can we please see Abby and Tim watch Vance's children sometime? I'd love to see McAbby's approach compared with Tiva's!
7. What the heck is Gibbs building down there?
Steve: A memorial for the bombing victims? A converted apartment for Ducky? I honestly have no idea, but I'm certain that like Mike Franks' coffin, it will make perfect sense when finally revealed.
Doug: For some reason I always thought it was a boat. I’m about 90% sure it’s something nautical – although that metal piece he was working on completely stumped me.
Eric: Was that a wood stove?! I'm more confused than ever. Please, readers, enlighten us in the comments!
What's your take on these issues of the week on NCIS? Discuss below!