Overall it lived up to and in parts exceeded my expectations.

For the most part it did well as the second part of a two-parter. Yes, there was some padding, but not as much in other two-parters. The whole Tony sub-plot about his fears was drawn out and there to pad and didn't actually add anything to the episode per se. It let viewers learn a bit more about Tony and leave them with a question, but it wasn't really necessary. I think, apart from padding, the only reason it existed was to provide some much needed humour in an otherwise very solemn episode - and on those grounds it worked very well. A lot of Tony's scenes were amusing and he was in clown mode for some of the time - but not the idiot. But I could have done without it, personally.

I found the episode very moving in parts, more than once I had a lump in my throat, especially when they carried Quincy's body off the plane/ It was a very thought provoking episode and a topical one. And one the vast majority of us have no way of understanding beyond the very basic level, because we don't have to deal with such an situation and culture. It's very sobering to realise what so many of us take for granted is denied to others.

The opening scenes with Tony coming into the chapel to find Lt. Commander Burke and Joseph Flores and just standing there, with us then moving immediately to Gibbs and Ziva sitting either side of a coffin was very well done indeed. It was a very enigmatic opening and at that point the viewer had no real idea as to whether Gabriela was alive or dead. Gibbs was sent to bring her back - alive or dead - and that was what he'd clearly done. A really excellent start.

I confess I wasn't sure about Gabriela's fellow female Marine who'd been in the school with her. I actually thought she might have also been involved as well. Sometimes my mind goes into strange places *g*

Gibbs in effect back in service is a force to be reckoned with, Gabriela's rescue was very well co-ordinated and carried out. A great shame that Quincy had to die, but to get out of there with the loss of just one life was quite something.

I loved Ziva in the episode, it was an excellent balance between the caring, compassionate young woman she is and the well trained killer who could more than look after herself. And I liked how she was still in sombre mood when she came back to the office and that she pinned Quincey's picture up on her wall. Very touching.

The girls were amazing, they'd been through so much and yet there they were with Gibbs, Ziva and the Marines in general clearly trusting them and smiling. I think Gabriela had a point; let Soraya see girls like that achieve so much. Things that Soraya could have achieved. Gabriela was a very interesting character, despite the fact we didn't see that much of her.

Gibbs's flashbacks fitted very well, I thought, with the episode, they were well placed, not too many of them, didn't distract or detract and gave us an interesting look at the young Gibbs.

I'd expected Gibbs and Ziva to be in Afghanistan for much longer, that their time there would take up much more of the episode than it did. But in fact them coming back and the case then moving to America was extremely well done - and a good idea. Gibbs in full scary mode in the interrogation room with Asa Zoranj was quite a sight to behold. As soon as Vance came in I knew it was a set up, before that I actually believed Gibbs was just being Gibbs - as we've seen him be so many times.

I can't say it was an episode I really enjoyed, because it wasn't the kind of episode I think you could enjoy. That said, it was however a very strong and powerful episode that certainly won't be forgotten quickly.

Favourite Scenes:
- Gibbs on the comm to Vance & the SecNav. I liked that he called Vance 'Director' and also had a little bit of fun with the SecNav.
- Gibbs and Ziva wit the rescued girls.
- Tony and Tim at the coffee-stand prior to seeing Asa Zoranj.
- Abby and Tim's scene in her lab.
- The arrest of Osman Zoranj. A nicely played scene.
- Gibbs and Vance in Vance's office when Vance tried to suggest Gibbs took some time off to have 'fun' and Gibbs told him the job was fun.
- Gibbs at Arlington at the end.

We learnt some things too:
- Tony's biggest fear is a room full of little children. Finally I have something in common with him *g* Not that I'm afraid of children, but I can't think of anything that would get me into a room of them.
- Tony made a bargain with God. I may be wrong, but I have a strong feeling the bargain was to do with rescuing Ziva from Somalia. And maybe Tony's part of the bargain was he'd tell Ziva how he felt about her. But that's pure conjecture - the second part at least. I'd lay a reasonable bet on the first part of my subjection being true.
- Gibbs did, as I thought, have strong feelings for Joan Matteson. One has to wonder what might have happened had she not been killed. Clearly he was interested in her and she was interested in him, at a level beyond just casual interest.

Minor Irks:
- The Tony 'sub-plot' as to his fears, I'm sorry to say. It added nothing to the episode and was simply there to pad it out/provide the humour.
- Ducky's minuscule part. Obviously, I wasn't expecting to see much of him, but I had hoped his appearance would be valid to the plot/episode whereas it was another filler scene.

Pairing of the week:
Tony and Melanie Burke

Character of the week:

Actor of the week:
Mark Harmon

Storyline: 9.00

Enjoyment: 9.00


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