We’ve had big losses on NCIS before — like when Kate was shot by Ari , or when Jenny Sheperd died at the end of season 5, or when Ziva’s dad and Jackie Vance were killed in a drive-by shooting. So when we learned that Ziva (Cote de Pablo) was going to make an exit this season, I was terrified for her. But her exit not only — as we were promised — left Ziva in one piece, it left room for a return.
That said, this was a hard episode to watch because it was like an emotional bullet to the heart.
We opened on a scene of Tony traveling to Tel Aviv in his search for Ziva. Upon landing, he was promptly picked up by Mossad, who was also looking for Ziva. And they had made a lot of traction. Clue 1 (and, really, the only clue Tony needed): A teacher at an old school once attended by Ziva and her siblings spotted Ziva, who was there burying a piece of paper. Clearly written when she was a child, the note said: “I WILL: Be a ballerina, ride a horse, live in a castle, visit Iceland and America, and have a boy and a girl.” But childhood goals were crossed out, with a new goal written below: “stop this for him.”
This note became the center of Tony’s curiosity because he was sure it would lead him to Ziva, who he grew increasingly terrified for as time passed. Tony’s gut was right. A woman who grew up with Ziva told Tony that they had both written the notes — which they called their “wills” — as children and buried them after a teacher suggested they do so.
A bearded Tony eventually tracked Ziva back to the home where she was born — after, he explained later, realizing that Ziva was not looking toward the future but the past. It was here that Ziva confessed to Tony that in her journey through her past, she realized that she had left a trail of grief ever since being consumed by aggression. “How can I think that for every man I kill there’s not someone out there crying for him?” she asked Tony. It’s part of the job, he said. “This is who I made myself. But it’s not who I wanted to be.”
With that, Tony brought out Ziva’s “will” and told her it’s not too late to change. “This is the house you were born in. The universe is practically begging you to wipe the slate clean. I did notice there’s plenty of room on the back of this list to start a new one. Maybe I can help you with that.”
And he did. She wrote out new goals — No. 1: let go of the badge — and was ready to move on. But Tony wanted to be part of that, too. He wanted her to come back to D.C. with him.
“You can bag groceries for all I care. Just come home,” he said. (The inflection in his voice on “come home,” had me sobbing.)
Tony: “I just want you to come home with me. I know you want to change. I can change with you.”
[He kisses her hand.]
Tony: I’m fighting for you, Ziva.
[She touches his bearded face softly...and leans in.]
Ziva: I know.
How I read this scene: She didn’t want to pull him into her battle. As usual. And as usual, he could see himself nowhere else but by her side the whole way. And if I didn’t know that Michael Weatherly was going to continue on the show, I would have bet that Tony was going to stay with Ziva. Of course, he didn’t. He got on a plane. But not without a lovely goodbye.
Tony: What am I going to tell people?
Ziva: That you were right. I have to start over.
Tony: Okay, you and I both know that’s not going to be enough for Abby.
Ziva: Tell her I am honoring Gibbs.
Ziva: “Stop this for him.”
Tony: Of course, Gibbs.
Ziva: I want to make him proud. He taught me to follow my heart and I know I have to. I have to do this…alone. I have to let go of everything or I will be pulled back to where I started. Tell Abby that for me. She’ll understand.
Tony: I will. So what about Gibbs? Are you going to call him?
Ziva: I don’t know.
Tony: You gotta call the guy.
Ziva: I don’t know if I can.
Tony: Oh, it will be fine. You know how he is on the phone — functional mute. You’ll hardly know he’s there.
[She laughs as tears fall down her face.]
Tony: You’ll hardly know he’s there.
[She keeps crying.]
Ziva: Tony, you’re so…
Tony: …handsome? funny? What?
Tony: Okay, this is not easy…
Nope. Not it’s not Tony.
Elsewhere in the episode: Last week’s explosion and investigation case came to a close. And, in doing so, we also found out why Gibbs was pointing his crosshairs at Fornell in the season 10 finale. As many of you guessed, he was not aiming at Fornell. He was aiming at Mendez, the guy from last week who was supposedly part of an anti-terrorist group. Turns out he was only part of the group to be an inside man and help detract funders. Meaning, kill anyone who could possibly donate. Last week, Fornell has been been assigned to protect him because Mendez was on the hit list they stumbled upon last week, which turned out to be a red herring. Just before Mendez detonated another bomb using his cell phone, Gibbs took him out (and accidentally shot Fornell in the ass).
Before you move on to the comments (if you haven’t already) a few burning questions: We have a new SecNav! What did you think of her? Is this McGee line the quote of the night? “‘I will be a ballerina.’ I don’t get it. This is Ziva. Shouldn’t it say ‘ninja’ or something?” How cool was that Gibbs vs. thug fight? Do you think Tony finished his “Will”? And how hard did you cry when Gibbs picked up his phone?