To say that NCIS season ten ended on a cliffhanger would be an understatement. Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) was sent on a secret assignment, and the show ended as he looked through the scope of a sniper rifle, with the crosshairs focused on Agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano). Questions abounded: Who was the target Gibbs was sent after? How does this relate to events earlier in the season?
Unfortunately we don’t get the answers straight away at the start of the show as we flashback four months to see Parsons (who was the individual investigating Gibbs last season, and who wanted to have him arrested for perverting the course of justice) asking about the mission that Gibbs has been sent on. One explosion later, and its certain that NCIS season eleven has started off with a bang.
Secretary of the Navy, Jarvis, has been killed in the explosion, which of course leaves a void to be filled. We can only hope that the next person to be assigned the role be a little more trustworthy. The office seems empty as Abby (Pauley Perrette), Ducky (David McCallum) and Palmer (Brian Dietzen) stand amongst empty desks, reminding us that Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), Tim McGee (Sean Murray) and Tony Dinozzo (Michael Weatherly) all resigned to get rid of the case facing Gibbs, so that he would be able to go on his mission. The three who are normally left lab bound are left to investigate the bombing. We are reminded of a case from last season, involving a navy lieutenant whose remains were found irradiated, and it is suggested that the bombing and this are intimately connected. NCIS director Vance (Rocky Carroll) tasks Gibbs with investigating the hows and whys – and the possibility of a new terror cell is floated about. Heavy stuff for a premiere episode.
Anyone who was wondering how the team are spending their time while they are unemployed is quickly answered: Ziva is in Tel Aviv, with Tony intending to follow her there, and Tim is sitting in a coffee shop feeling bad for himself because he can’t help. An awkward encounter between McGee, Abby and McGee’s new flame leaves a little hope for those still wishing for the computer nerd and forensic scientist to rekindle their romance. Gibbs is sent out to Iran, and this is where things start to get dramatic.
What follows is exciting in typical NCIS fashion, Gibbs’s spidey senses (or his gut) feels something is wrong – a shoot out is followed by the most surprising person pulling up in a truck – Parsons of all people. They kiss and make up, and we end up back in DC in time to see Ducky deal with an intruder in autopsy – seeing him knocking the assailant over the head with an organ pan certainly was a highlight of the episode. Tony is almost shot with a sniper rifle. The plot thickens as it has us questioning why someone would want to get rid of a ‘former’ agent. McGee is picked up by Agent Fornell, and we get the low down about a new terrorist dealing with American businesses to commit some planned destruction, destroying buildings with terrorist bombs so that the businesses can rebuild. Ziva’s in danger and has to go underground in Israel, and our team in DC has to untangle the strands of what is going on and why.
Part of what makes NCIS great is the team dynamics, and even with them split apart we still get moments of emotional connection that reminds us of why we love the characters so much. Abby’s anger at Parsons, locking him out of the lab, Tony calling Palmer ‘Autopsy Gremlin’, Ducky’s little stories and McGee’s charming awkwardness all come together, even in a tense situation where our favourites are the target of a soldier of fortune group, to add moments of lightness to the show.
We are left with a missing Ziva at the end of the episode, and considering that Cote de Pablo’s contract was not renewed at the end of last season, I think it is safe to sat that she won’t be returning any time soon, no closer to any answers about why the team are being targeted, or who is pulling the strings. And who is Gibbs’s target in four months time?
Coming into this episode I was worried that the writers wouldn’t be able to follow up on an emotionally charged season ten, but by adding the element of the personal targeting, it looks like this season is being set up to be the best yet.
10/10 – an outstanding season opener, which has set up some longer running storylines which could be the best yet.
NCIS airs on Fridays nights at 9:00pm on Fox.