It's never easy to do a review when a story-line is spread out over two episodes, because of the fact that nothing is resolved and it's all up in the air, so this is very bitty and I won't be grading it until I've seen the second part.

I'm not a huge fan of NCIS two-parters because generally they tend to fail as there isn't enough material to keep the story-line moving for two episodes; most could have been done in one episode. Thus, they tend to be slow moving and include a lot of padding. However, given how (for the most part) excellent this season has been thus far, I dared to hope this wouldn't be another fail - plus, knowing it was a Gibbs-centric episode made me happy.

What we got was a very good, not heavily padded, fairly well paced first episode - I just hope that next week's is as good if not better.

The start was extremely powerful, one of the best openings I've seen, it really did set the episode up incredibly well, real edge of seat stuff. I thought the decision to go for geese as the cause of the engines exploded was an excellent one - it made the tragedy even more tragic and moving. Whoever made the decision was incredibly smart - a great choice.

The inclusion of the Chaplin Lieutenant Commander Melanie Burke was interesting and actually worked quite well. I know her being Gibbs's constant companion meant that we saw less of the team as she accompanied him to places or he went alone, but it worked - because her role was necessary, which you can't always say in these cases. She had some experience of the area and the culture in Afghanistan from a first hand basis, so that worked well.

I liked also how they managed to fit some humour into the serious nature of the story-line with Tony and his sudden obsession with his own mortality, I felt that worked well. It's hard to get humour into such a serious plot line and sometimes when it's done it feels wrong and shoe-horned, but this worked well, again because you can see from where Tony was coming and it was believable that this was the thing to push him and make him suddenly think about what he has achieved and what he still wants to achieve; life is short, you have to embrace it whilst you can. It was a well thought out sub-plot. And Ziva head-slapping Tony because he didn't want to stay behind came totally out of the blue and was another fun moment.

I liked the care that had been taking with writing this to show how different a case this was from others they'd worked on and how at times the kids seemed a little out of their depth, it was very real. And I liked the respect that was show by everyone for the dead and the missing.

I've said it so many times that I almost hesitate to say it again, but what the heck I will *g* Dare we really hope this time that we are done with Shannon and Kelly? Once again we have it set up that way with this time Shannon telling Gibbs he basically has to let her go - will it finally happen? I'd love to think it would, but we've been burnt so many times, I honestly don't know if it will.

I didn't mind the flashbacks to the early days of Gibbs's time in the Marines, which is rare for me. Maybe it was because they were few and far between and also because they fitted well. I thought Mark Harmon's son did a very good job as young Gibbs.

Poor Joseph Flores, I really felt for him. Believing his daughter is dead and just waiting to get whatever was left of her back and then learning that her DNA didn't show up in the coffins, thus she wasn't on board. Not knowing what has happened is so much worse than knowing.

I liked how the Marine Commandant, basically took charge when it came to 'ordering' Gibbs to go to Afghanistan to find Gabriela Flores and bring her back, alive or dead, in effect over-riding any objection the SecNav may have had.

It was good to see Ziva using her language skills and discovering that it was an inside job - clearly she'll be accompanying Gibbs to Afghanistan, because he'll need her for her language knowledge.

Two small things I found interesting were:

a) Although Gibbs marries Shannon later at the time he went into the Marines he wasn't completely smitten with her, because he was definitely flirting with the female Marine.
b) He used the name 'Jethro Gibbs' when talking to the female Marine, which makes sense because he had left home and had also left behind the name 'Leroy' yet Diane called him 'Leroy'.

It was a good, solid, interesting episode with some really intense moments and very 'relevant' and more than a little sobering. I'm looking forward to next week's.

Favourite Scenes:
- The team at the crime scene. I liked how respectful they were, how unsure they were of where to start, how shocked they all were - how real they all were. They've seen a lot, but this was something quite different.
- Ducky and Jimmy in Autopsy with Jimmy singing to keep awake and Ducky explaining to him how important it was that they finished their job as soon as they possibly could to give the families closure.
- Abby and Gibbs in Abby's lab when she was minutes from falling asleep.
- Tim using binoculars to see what Tony was doing and the whole 'bucket list' scene.
- Ziva head-slapping Tony.
- The scene with young Gibbs and the female Marine trainee when Gibbs is building the bird-house and they talk about Fathers.
- Gibbs, Tim, Tony, Abby and Ziva in Abby's lab when Ziva showed her multi-language skills and discovered the baddies were insiders.
- Ducky and Gibbs in Autopsy.

We learnt some things too:
- Tony has been on a Ferris wheel whilst naked!

Minor Irks:
- Shannon's appearance.

Pairing of the week:

Character of the week:

Actor of the week:
Mark Harmon

Storyline: 9.00

Enjoyment: 9.00


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