I went into this episode with below zero expectations. Firstly, SB had said that he and the cast thought it was the 'best episode they'd ever done'. Well, from previous experiences Sb's idea of 'most shocking' etc. have had me shrugging and wondering just from where he got the idea that it was 'shocking'. Secondly, from what I'd heard it was going to be DiNozzo-centric and whilst I like DiNozzo a great deal, he's not my favourite character, thus any episode that has him in the main role isn't going to appeal to me as much as an episode that has one of my favourites in the main role - and I'm sure that's the same for a lot of people when their less favourite character takes the lead. Thirdly, one teeny part of the preview I'd seen had me more than a little worried for Ducky (so yes, I was wrong and have never been happier to be thus). Fourthly, as those on my flist will know I've been feeling blah about the whole new season anyway, and how fandom is heading. So yes, not exactly expecting a lot, that way I could only be pleasantly surprised, right?

It started with me thinking 'oh, yes, this is going to live up to my expectations', but there came a time (and I can't quite say at what point that was) when I did get caught up in it and got involved and it was quite a lot better than I'd expected. Of course the biggest annoyance for me, as I've said before, was the constant switching between Somalia and NCIS. I always have problems with that kind of thing, and constantly was jolted each time we switched and that definitely lessened my enjoyment. I know it was essential for the episode, but had it not constantly jumped I'd have enjoyed it more.

Character-wise, I didn't want to slap anyone and thought we actually had our team back in the roles that fit them so well. There was some superb banter, especially between McGee and DiNozzo and it lots of old-school ribbing and the kind of back and forth jibes and comments they do so well without any malice or nastiness. Please, oh, please let that continue throughout the season. It was the characterisation and their interaction that made this such a good episode.

Apart from being annoyed over the jumping the episode made me smile in parts and I confess at the end, I had tears in my eyes. The acting especially from MW, SM and CdeP was superb, really superb. That's how I love to see DiNozzo, showing us what a capable agent he is, making a fool of himself in small doses, being a jerk in small doses, but also being serious. So kudos to the writers who nailed the DiNozzo I really enjoy watching. Again, I'd love to think this will continue, but that I doubt very much indeed, if only because we know MW doesn't enjoy playing DiNozzo seriously. But, yes, I'm prepared to say that even as a non-huge DiNozzo fan, he really was the character of the episode.

So, we begin (naturally) with a 'previously . . .' that whizzes us through the salient points of the final episode of Season Six, culminating with Ziva's capture. We then begin the new episode with the same scene of a man walking towards a room and he goes in, but this time rather than it be Ziva sitting in the chair it's DiNozzo. Now this is the part that SB said people will be wowed and stunned over and wonder 'did I just see what I saw'? Really?

Okay. Well, Mr. B. if that's what you want you really, really, really should ensure that the bit that is going to stun people is not 'released' as a preview - because we'd already seen DiNozzo sitting in the chair. Would I have been stunned had I not seen the preview? Actually, probably not - at least not to the extent SB told me I would be. I'd have done a double take, I'm sure, but stunned? Nope. Too much hype, Mr. B. far, far, far too much hype - just concentrate on producing your two shows and stop talking to the press and leave the episodes to speak for themselves. Now there is a scene some twenty-two minutes in that did have the effect I was meant to have had at one minute in, well close to it.

The man, whom we learn is Saleem Ulman, gets out a needle and injects DiNozzo with a truth serum - one that he has concocted himself - and he also kicks another body that's lying on the floor. I assume we were meant to think it was Ziva (it would be logical to think that) but for some reason I didn't think it was; I didn't know who it might be, but the idea it might be Ziva never crossed my mind. Naturally, DiNozzo taunts him but Ulman seems unmoved or unconcerned by this (well he is in control really having DiNozzo tied up) and he said he's studied Americans carefully as he believes in 'knowing your enemy'. DiNozzo tells him he is Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS (ah, that term again, he does like to use that). Ulman says until seven months ago, he'd never even heard of NCIS and asks what DiNozzo's mission is; DiNozzo tells him they have various duties, one being to deal with international terrorism.

We then get the first of far too many flashbacks to May with DiNozzo and McGee on a ship yelling and then fighting with a very large man. DiNozzo is giving a running commentary at this time and calls it Team McGee and says that McGee has small muscles but a big brain (very nice) and as a team they are virtually unstoppable, the emphasise being on the 'virtual' as they are really, really struggling to take this man down. I thought it was a nice little bit of humour and really well done and well placed. Finally, they do get the man on the floor and Gibbs appears and put his foot on the man. Both DiNozzo and McGee look exhausted, the man less so.

DiNozzo then tells Ulman about Gibbs how he's their fearless leader, an ex-Marine, a sniper, a coffee aficionado and various other things we know about the boss.

And we then switch back to Somalia and Ulman asks about the fourth member of the team. DiNozzo said they'd lost her and mentions Ziva by name and the fact that she was a Mossad Officer. Ulman finds it hard to believe that a Mossad Officer would be working for NCIS (well, I've always found that hard to believe, I must confess). He hits DiNozzo but in true DiNozzo style that does not deter him, he still carries on being DiNozzo, as he does throughout the episode. However, this time (unlike so many episodes when he plays the smart-arse) it doesn't go too far, it doesn't get to the annoying level; it's very well balanced. Ulman also asks about the rest of the team, but DiNozzo says he doesn't care about them. He tells Ulman he is there for vengeance to kill Ulman. We then learn that Ulman went to Yale, whereas DiNozzo says he learnt his BS on the street and there is a small amount of talk about football. And then Ulman asks why DiNozzo chose him; DiNozzo says he didn't.

We then flash back again (this time to June). McGee and DiNozzo are getting out of the lift and McGee comments that he's not DiNozzo's home theatre guy. It turns out that DiNozzo wants McGee to go to his place to fix his computer/TV. McGee then starts his geek talk about plasma and various other really techy things that looses DiNozzo (and me) and asks what he'll get out of it. DiNozzo suggest a digitally remastered 1955 version of Bad Day At Black Rock. However, McGee is talking money for payment. DiNozzo tries then to charm McGee saying computers are his thing and he shows it off all the time. Cue arrival of Gibbs who passes a comment that it's against the law and tells them to grab their gear. A really excellent scene between DiNozzo and McGee, full of the lovely sibling banter I love so well with no nastiness or biting comments - spot on.

McGee asks if it's another Meth overdose, but Gibbs doesn't know. Then McGee and DiNozzo look at one another and decide it's time. DiNozzo leaves it to McGee to raise the subject initially and McGee suggests to Gibbs it's time they filled the empty chair and DiNozzo agrees. Gibbs then puts the Personnel files (only of the women) on DiNozzo's desk and tells him he can do it. McGee banters that it might be seen as a lapse in judgement if Gibbs were anyone else to allow DiNozzo to find someone; so Gibbs says they can both do it. Nice. DiNozzo gets into the lift and asks if Gibbs questions his professionalism (he does know you, DiNozzo) and Gibbs comments that there's no casting couch. Again, another lovely little scene.

On the ship we find our dead Petty Officer, but oddly enough the man hasn't been off the ship for sixty days, so it's unlikely he got the drugs himself. Gibbs suggests someone brought it to him and McGee comments that he guesses the man took it. At that moment Ducky's voice is heard saying: "We do not guess, Timothy, nor do we assume, presume, conjecture or prognosticate." Meanwhile DiNozzo stands back to wave Ducky into the cabin - again very, very nicely done.

Back to Somalia (I was already well tired of this constant jumping) we have DiNozzo telling Ulman about Ducky, how whilst he is not an official member of the field team he is nonetheless an essential element of the investigative process (hugs DiNozzo for that comment). He goes on to say about Ducky's encyclopaedic mind and how it never stops working and sometimes his mind is connected directly to his mouth. Again, a lovely touch of humour, really lovely (although it's a good job Gibbs didn't hear DiNozzo, we know he doesn't approve of anyone 'dishing' Ducky in any kind of way, even if it's true *g*).

And then we go back to the ship where Ducky is examining the body and indeed he has begun to tell one of his stories about how it reminds him of someone he was at Medical School with, someone by the name of E. Landen Reginald Ailsworth III. DiNozzo comments that no one is called that. McGee adds except his father and Gibbs throws in and his father's father. Again, a really lovely little piece of humour. Ducky goes on to tell them how Reggie concocted his own amphetamines and how he ended up collapsing half and hour before the end of an exam. He completes his examination, tells Gibbs the time of death and then starts to put his equipment away. Gibbs squeezes past him and give the boys instructions and goes. I have to confess that as a die-hard Gibbs/Ducky shipper I was very disappointed that there was no eye contact or anything between them during this scene, which has to be a first for the whole off the previous six seasons.

I digress. Ducky then comments "So many jobs, so few hands," and asks McGee and DiNozzo if they'd heard from Ziva they say they haven't and in turn asks him. He also says no and comments, somewhat quietly and with a hint of sadness that time moves on.

We then move to the squad room where DiNozzo and McGee are 'interviewing' prospective replacements. We get there just as one girl, whom DiNozzo calls 'pant suit girl' (one day someone really is going to have him up on some kind of sexual harassment charge) and she goes. Another girl (DEA Agent Claire Connell) appears and gives DiNozzo a very firm handshake, which clearly hurt. She explains how a personal relationship that went wrong and the other party not being able to cope is the reason she wishes to leave the DEA. DiNozzo comments how he hates clingy men and she just looks at him so he says clingy woman, McGee butts in to say that DiNozzo never asked that. DiNozzo says he's happy with Claire, McGee nods his agreement and they say they'll begin the on-job training, but that Gibbs has the final say. DiNozzo refuses to shake hands again and they go off.

Okay, minor rant: I'm sorry but NO WAY can I believe that is how this kind of interview (any kind) is conducted. Less than a minute, and they are already okaying her to show to Gibbs? Oh, please. Really. A huge moment of fail. And yes, I know it had to be done for the time slot, but they could have panned in at the end of the interview or even skipped forward or something, but that was just utterly laughable. I've sat on both sides of an interview table and honestly . . . *End of rant*

McGee and DiNozzo are together outside one of the conference rooms and DiNozzo is talking about how it is chemistry and they move very close together (the whole episode was full of DiNozzo/McGee moments a huge amount of fodder for Di/Mc fen - huge). And they agree Claire is unflappable. Cue door opening and the unflappable Claire storming out in tears, followed by a bemused looking Gibbs who hits DiNozzo with the file and says "Strike one." Again, apart from the ludicrousness of the so-called McGee & DiNozzo interview it was another good scene with some nice humour and banter - this is what we want, Mr. B, this is old style interaction and humour, not forced, just so, so right.

Oh, look, we're back to Somalia again. DiNozzo is telling Ulman that Ziva isn't replaceable. Ulman asks why he isn't looking for her. DiNozzo said he would in a heartbeat but it's not possible "Ziva David is dead." Did I believe it? Nope, not for a moment - well we all knew anyway that she wasn't. That is one problem with previews, interviews, pieces in magazines, appearances on talk-shows, etc. they choose some of the 'surprises', etc. and show that, talk about it. I know it's to entice fen, etc. but it also leaves people unsurprised.

Ulman says how he is interested in the human body and how humans react to things and what can be added and what can be taken away. He tells DiNozzo to stop fighting the truth drug as it'll only hurt him more. And he then tells DiNozzo of his 'addiction' to caffeine and he drinks from a canteen; now that was cleverly done because I was surprised as it was clear he wasn't drinking coffee, so why mention caffeine? Anyway, it was duly filed away and I carried on watching. DiNozzo comments that it must be lonely at the top of the pyramid and . . .

Wait for it, once again we are back at NCIS, this time it is July and we see Vance walking up the stairs. DiNozzo starts to tell Ulman about Vance how some people don't like him, some don't trust him, some would rather there be someone else in the job. And he says that anyone who doesn't complain about their boss is either lying or unemployed *g*

Vance asks Gibbs about the whole Meth thing and how they are getting on and Gibbs reminds him that the team is one short. Vance enquires how the search for a replacement is going and Gibbs tells him DiNozzo has a second person for him to see and he asks if Vance has heard anything about Ziva. Vance says he hasn't; he just knows she's back working in the field for Mossad. Gibbs pushes reminding Vance that he and Director David are close, so why hasn't he said anything to Vance. Vance says David has been tight lipped; Gibbs adds "Like you."

We then move to the Interrogation Suite where we see McGee interviewing Navy Petty Officer Dominic Dimarco about the drugs. Dimarco claims that he knows nothing about drugs and suggest someone must have slipped the drugs he'd found to have taken into his orange juice, saying that's how he thought drugs were administered, as he'd seen it on some TV show.

Meanwhile outside DiNozzo and another woman (Rebecca Hastings - Air Force) are watching. Rebecca is questioning the whole thing, asking why McGee is doing the interrogation. DiNozzo tells her they call it an interview and then she asks what the area they are in is called; he says the viewing area and when she asks about the other side of the glass he is forced to admit they call it the interrogation room. She wants to know if they think Dimarco will give up his dealer; DiNozzo then leaves.

Up in MTAC Gibbs is talking to NCIS Special Agent Chad Dunham and a 'woman' is mentioned and Dunham banters with Gibbs telling him that he wouldn't have much chance of blending in where Dunham is as he's too well shaven, they might think he's a woman. DiNozzo appears and Gibbs and Dunham stop talking, but DiNozzo caught part of it. He gives Gibbs Rebecca's file and says she could no longer fly on medical grounds, but wants thrills and thinks NCIS might provide her with them. He then asks about Dunham and the woman and what he's found. Gibbs tells him Dunham is tracking a terrorist training camp that could be prepping for a mission or could be covering up one that went wrong. He knows more, but won't tell DiNozzo anything else.

The next scene is another wonderful one for DiNozzo/McGee fen as they are having dinner together at an outdoor restaurant. We learn that Gibbs has signed off on Rebecca. McGee it talking, but DiNozzo isn't really listening, he stands up, puts some money on the table and walks off, followed by McGee. McGee then says he's thinking of buying some tight red leather pants that will caress his butt!!!! DiNozzo says it's not normal, leading McGee to begin to explain he was only kidding about the red leather pants, but DiNozzo cuts him off saying he meant it's not normal about not having heard anything from Ziva. They both lean there arms on the top of the car on either sides and look at one another as they converse. McGee has had the same thoughts as DiNozzo has and DiNozzo says Gibbs has too, he's just not telling anyone. McGee tells DiNozzo he can't find Ziva alone.

DiNozzo: "You gonna stop me?"

McGee with fond resignation: "That's not what I said."

Of course he's not going to stop you, DiNozzo, he's going to help you - silly boy.

And then we once again whiz back to Somalia and this time at twenty-two minutes and forty seconds I get the 'what the' that I should have got at minute one: the body on the floor is McGee. Now that did shock and surprise me - which is how it should have been over DiNozzo. Given, the previous scene, I don't know why I was so surprised to see McGee, but I was. DiNozzo in that chair never should have been shown as a promo. Ulman comments that DiNozzo must be insane to blame him for Ziva's death and travel half way around the world to find him. And he says why would he bother killing just one person when his world revolves around creating rivers of blood. That was a very chilling moment indeed and the whole thing with Ulman was all the more chilling because he was a well-educated, well-spoken man - they did a grand job with the character. He asks DiNozzo how he found him and DiNozzo admits he didn't do it alone.

And of course we go back to NCIS HQ, this time to Abby's lab in August where she is having a small go at McGee and DiNozzo for leaving her out. They try to reassure her that it was for her own good, but she's not having any of it - very Abby. And DiNozzo is again doing his voice over telling Ulman about Abby and her sleeping in a coffin and being a Goth and what she does at NCIS.

We learn that Abby has been trying to track Ziva herself and using a variety of methods, DiNozzo makes a comment about crystals and Abby rounds on him. NCIS in Dubai are trying to figure out what Mossad are doing, in turn Mossad are trying to figure out what the terrorists are doing and Ziva is in the middle of it. DiNozzo says he knows that Gibbs thinks Vance knows something but isn't telling. So Abby declares they have two options: hack Mossad or hack Vance. Unbeknown to the three of them, Rebecca had come into Abby's lab and upon hearing the hacking comment she declares she quits and goes. Some dare devil. Abby and McGee get down to hacking.

Up in the squad room, DiNozzo is taking a call for Gibbs and part of the message includes the word Damocles, DiNozzo says he knows about the Sword of Damocles. Then another woman appears causing DiNozzo to jump and fling the handset into his drawer *g* a lovely little touch; she is Heather Concade and she's there for an interview that she assumes he's forgotten about. He assures her he hasn't, takes the phone back out of the drawer, says "I'll call you back," and hangs up. He then proceeds to show her that he does know who she is; she's from Seattle PD and several other family members are too. He asks if she can walk and talk and she says she's never tried, but she's a fast learner.

In the Interrogation room Gibbs is now talking to Dimarco, who still maintains he is innocent; he doesn't take drugs and he doesn't know who gave them to him. Outside DiNozzo is telling Heather that they can't just drop someone into the mix and then what Gibbs is saying to Dimarco is echoed by what DiNozzo is telling Heather, how they've been trying to crack this case for three months and now nursed Dimarco back to health to discover he's the pusher and after one death he took a dose of the drugs himself. Dimarco is saying he didn't mean for anyone to die, but Gibbs just leaves. DiNozzo tells Rebecca there isn't a job and he leaves to. Gibbs and DiNozzo exchange a look.

And then we have a scene that rather lost me. Abby and McGee are still hacking and discover it's the goat. DiNozzo appears and they explain to him. Abby and McGee are ???? I couldn't catch it and Gibbs is their father and he bought a goat for them. DiNozzo is puzzled (yep, me too) but Abby and McGee explain how they hacked Mossad but the files were encrypted in Hebrew so they needed to sort them out and by use of an Arabic child's song they found out the key *shrugs* They then sing the song (which is somewhat like the 'Old lady who swallowed a fly'). The goat is the information that Abby and McGee got off of the laptop Gibbs gave them from Ziva's torched apartment. In turn they gave the information (the name of the terrorist training camp) to Gibbs who gave it to Vance who gave it to Director David. He put Ziva and a team on a freighter called 'Damocles' and DiNozzo tells them a bit from the phone call he'd had.

DiNozzo asks what the manifest of the ship was and Abby says it was a cargo ship. DiNozzo tells her to trace it, but she and McGee have tried; with no luck. At that moment Gibbs arrives and tells them the Damocles was lost at sea, it went down in a storm on 28th May (tell me, my dear American friends, why say 28th May, and yet if writing it write 05/28?) and there were no survivors. Again with the not believing because we already knew Ziva was still alive.

And then we go back to Somalia yet again and DiNozzo is saying how everything lost all meaning after that and we see first McGee and then Ducky and then Abby go to DiNozzo's desk with various things and talk to him, but it's all fuzzy and their voices are odd, because DiNozzo isn't taking any of it in, because he's lost Ziva.

And then we hear Gibbs telling him to grab his gear and it's said more than once, before DiNozzo finally says 'no'. Gibbs questions his 'no' and DiNozzo says that they need to finish the job Ziva started; they have an obligation to stop Ulman. Gibbs tells him to make a case.

We then move to MTAC where DiNozzo, McGee and Abby are 'making a case' to Vance and Gibbs, telling them what they've done and found. They tracked down exactly what was on the Damocles and decided to concentrate on the more personal things as even terrorists are human. Abby and McGee managed to break the code and found something that was unusual in both Africa and Europe, but common in the US. And when asked what it is, Abby holds up her Caf!Pow.

Back to Somalia where Ulman throws the canteen against the wall in disgust and indeed we see the vivid colour of Caf!Pow pouring out- that explains why he mentioned caffeine, but clearly wasn't drinking hot coffee (mind you to be drinking that amount of caffeine in the desert seems a tad odd) and Ulman strides out. DiNozzo then calls to McGee and asks if he's okay, McGee says he is and asks when they move; DiNozzo tells him not yet and then Ulman reappears with someone who has a bag over their head. He takes it off to reveal Ziva, a still battered and bruised and shattered looking Ziva. He pushes her into the seat opposite DiNozzo and say that one of them will tell him all about NCIS and one will die - they can choose. Again he goes. And DiNozzo, in true style asks Ziva how her summer was.

Ziva is clearly shocked and surprised to see DiNozzo and comments "Out of everyone in the world who could have found me, it had to be you." DiNozzo tells her she's welcome. He asks if she's glad to see him and she says he shouldn't have come and she asks McGee if he's okay whilst all the time looking at DiNozzo. They admit they thought she was dead and when she asks why they came if they thought that DiNozzo tells her he can't live without her. He also reminds her that as he is under the influence of the truth drug if there's anything she doesn't want to know, she'd better not ask him.

Now whether you want to take that as a declaration of love or just DiNozzo choosing that moment to make an off the cuff, DiNozzo-style comment is entirely up to each person. It was woolly enough to be either - but DiNozzo is under, as he tells her, the influence of a truth drug. But even so, to me it can be taken either way and I would have thought that whether people are DiNozzo/Ziva fen or not. If this is the level of things we get, everyone will be happy as those who like the pairing can use these kinds of thing to support their pairing, but I wouldn't have thought it was blatant enough to annoy the non-DiNozzo/Ziva fen. I like DiNozzo/Ziva as a pairing, but as I've said before, I don't want entire episodes or seasons about it and I don't want to see it blatantly forced on us; so this, I felt was well done.

Ziva goes on to say that they came simply to die with her and that she doesn't deserve anyone to help her.

DiNozzo: "Doing penance?"

Ziva: "It is justified."

DiNozzo: "Get over yourself."

Ziva: "I have."

And she tells DiNozzo to tell Ulman what he wants to know in order to save himself and McGee. McGee tells her that isn't how it works. She is surprised and asks if they have an escape plan. DiNozzo comments that that's where it gets a little tricky. Okay, I'll say it again, the writing for this episode has been really, really good. We've had the little snippets of humour in the most tense of situations and the characters we love in the way we love them. Full marks to the writing of the characters and the balance of humour and angst and light and dark.

And back to we go to NCIS with Vance saying DiNozzo doesn't have the proof that Ulman is where they think he is; that it can't all be based on a supply of Caf!Pow and as such a SEAL team will not be sent in. DiNozzo is angry and storms out. Gibbs smiles and follows him and suggests a different plan: two NCIS agents go in to do a reconnaissance and see what they can find. DiNozzo asks if Gibbs can sell that to Vance, Gibbs says he can and DiNozzo comments that obvious Gibbs and Vance have a little thing going about which he knows nothing (any Gibbs/Vance fen out there?). DiNozzo also volunteers McGee as the second agent (himself being the first).

And then we are once again in Somalia with DiNozzo and McGee (McGee is wearing a hat very like the one Ducky wears to crime scenes) are in a jeep travelling across the desert and there's more nice banter back and forth. They stop and they are jumped by a group of men; DiNozzo calls McGee 'Timmy' (oh, the DiNozzo/McGee fodder was rampant this week).

Back in the cell Ziva can't believe that they allowed themselves to be caught quite deliberately so they'd be taken to where Ulman (and her) was. She wants to know how they are going to get out of the situation. DiNozzo says that when he and McGee don't report in, then calls will be made and messages got through, but that could take hours or days. It's not looking good.

Ulman reappears and puts a knife to Ziva's throat; she tells him about the contact (which DiNozzo knew she would) and how he should kill her and use the Americans as leverage (as McGee said, Ziva, that's not how it works). McGee then kicks the knife from Ulman's hand, he goes down but he grabs his gun and turns it on McGee. DiNozzo tells him to stop and there's something he hasn't told him yet.

When Ulman asks what, DiNozzo says he's told him about everyone else, but not about him. He is the wild card; he assesses reality and tries to figure out a way around it. After all, he should be scared, but he's not. He's thinking about True Lies (one of the few film references he makes during the entire series that I not only know, but have seen) and how Arnie got out of it. He tells Ulman he has thirty seconds to live. Both Ulman and Ziva look stunned.

Ulman comments that there's no way DiNozzo can kill him, but DiNozzo said he never said it would be him and reminds Ulman about his boss being a sniper. The next second a bullet hits Ulman in the forehead and wham, he's dead. We then go outside and follow the trajectory of the bullet to where Gibbs, dressed in local costume, is lying holding his sniper's rifle.

Okay, I know Gibbs is good, darn good, but a shot like that? Plus, he seemed a hell of a long way away and I'm not sure he could see Ulman - but I digress.

There is a lot of shooting then and DiNozzo is freed and he and McGee, both supporting Ziva who has her arms around their neck, leave the cell. However, outside another man is there with a gun and . . . seconds later he's dead. And then around the corner comes Gibbs who says "Let's go home."

Gibbs really could not have got from the position he was shooting in to the cell in that time. Unless he was a heck of a lot nearer than the trajectory showed us. All in all that scene whilst tense was somewhat ruined by first the shooting of Ulman and then Gibbs's appearance. I think for such a meant to be powerful scene it was one of the weaker in the episode, sadly, because of a lack of being believable. I know one has to suspend disbelief to an extent, but I felt this could have been done better.

And home we go. All four are in the lift, all four look bedraggled and exhausted, Ziva most of all, in fact Ziva still looks stunned and more than a little out of it, but then she has been subjected to four months of constant torture of one form or another. DiNozzo tries to lighten the mood a little by saying "Just another day at the office," but no on responds. Gibbs looks at Ziva as if trying to will her to look at him, but she just stands and stares at the doors. The girl is in total shock and we have no idea what she has endured.

The doors of the lift open and we see Abby and Ducky (and I am so glad they included Ducky, he was missed out of such crucial family scenes far too often in the last couple of seasons).

Vance is standing on the stairs and for a moment I thought he was just going to walk off in disgust or anger, but he starts to clap. And then the entire office stand up and join and and that was when the tears started to well up in my eyes.

Gibbs looks at Vance and they exchange a look and still the clapping goes on and on. Then Gibbs moves to his desk.

Abby goes to Ziva touches her cheek and then very gently, as if she fears Ziva might break, enfolds Ziva in her arms and hugs her.

Ducky shakes DiNozzo's hand and then looks up at McGee.

DiNozzo goes to his desk and sits just looking at Abby holding Ziva and over Abby's shoulder we see Ziva's face. She clearly shattered and cannot believe how much these people care about her; what they have done to save her; that she is safe; that she is home; that she is free from torture.


So for an episode I expected to at most be 'blah' about and given it lacked a real case as such (I don't count the thrown in drug pushing Petty Officer - I really do hope that this isn't going to be how the cases are for future episodes, I do hope that this whole focus on non-NCIS 'real' case was a one-off) being a non-favourite character heavy, starting slowly and the constant flipping back and forth, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Although I really do have to question the logistics and the validity and just how the hell NCIS can/are going to justify being where they were, doing what they were doing. It's one of 'those' questions; one which shouldn't really be thought about/questioned too much - as I suspect they had zero jurisdiction. But what do I know?

The character interaction was on the whole excellent. It was old-school and old-style, pretty much back to how they used to be with one another, sibling banter, humour, some teasing, but not nastiness, no cruelty to one another, no one trying to be overly-clever or cocky or stupid, it was all just the right amount. Please, writers, keep this up. And the whole family feel and loyalty and closeness was back in abundance. And the DiNozzo/Ziva (I refuse to use smooshed names) was not forced down our throats and could be read (to my mind) as DiNozzo/Ziva as a couple/will be couple or DiNozzo & Ziva friendship

Absolutely superb acting from MW, SM and CdeP. I really believed and physically felt that Ziva had been tortured for months, it was in her eyes, her body language, her lack of any emotion face; it was chilling. Actually the most chilling was the blank, frozen look. Kudos to all three of them, but CdeP most of all.

A good season opener, actually, better than I was expecting. However, I most certainly would not call it the 'best episode ever of the 139, not at all, not by quite some way. Good, but not that good *g* I wasn't (the whole Gibbs and Ducky total lack of even a look) aside, disappointed, but then I'd been expecting so little.

The not quite so good points.

- Far too little Ducky.

- No Gibbs & Ducky scenes and no contact at all.

- No Jimmy.

- A bit too much DiNozzo for my liking. Even though I thought he was superb, etc. for me it was too DiNozzo-heavy.

- The constant jumping back and forth between NCIS and Somalia (yes, I know it had to be, but that doesn't mean I have to like it *g*)

- The 'shoot-out' scene and how Gibbs got from the hill to the cell in record time.

- The so-called 'interview' of Claire.

Best scenes:

- DiNozzo talking about each of the team members and showing how fond he is of all of them and showing their strengths and skills.

- The final scene in the squad room.

Ship of the week:


Character of the week:

DiNozzo (I never thought I'd say that *g*)

Actor/Actress of the week:

Cote de Pablo

Storyline: 7.00

Enjoyment: 8.00


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