NCIS, Ep. 10.12, “Shiva”: Complicated case advances underlying love story

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NCIS, Season 10, Episode 12: “Shiva”
Written by Christopher J. Waild, Gary Glasberg and Scott Williams
Directed by Arvin Brown
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

“Shiva” picks up where “Shabbat Shalom” left off: Ziva is grieving her father’s death and Director Vance, the death of his wife. Although the shooter is dead, the one responsible for hiring the hitman is still at large, his whereabouts and identity unknown.

The deaths of Eli David and Jackie Vance bring an internal shift of power at NCIS as the Secretary of the Navy (Matt Craven) pays a visit to learn more about the attack, along with Deputy Director Jerome Craig (Greg Germann), who arrives to assume daily operational duties in preparation for Vance’s eventual leave of absence. Germann’s NCIS debut as interim Director Craig simultaneously poses and answers the question of what it would be like if McGee (cir. 2003) had been promoted to top boss. Craig comes off as awkward and out of his league if he were to ever butt heads with Gibbs or SecNav Jarvis. His insecurity sends him on a rambling effort to console Vance, a moment reminiscent of McGee’s initial bumbling nature. It’s a double take on why we liked the Probie in the first place, which gives Germann points in favor of an immediate return. On its own, Germman’s performance is quirky and definitive of a great guest appearance, but together with Harmon and Craven, he quickly establishes himself in the role of a character who is a qualified leader, eager to mesh well with Gibbs and work with the team.

Just as easily titled “Tiva”, the episode applies the show’s strength in character moments to also focus on Ziva’s unorthodox mourning and Tony’s attempt to comfort her. Because the news of her father’s visit was kept from American and Israeli officials, she is unable to sit shiva in the usual Jewish custom. Her tempestuous relationship with her father deepens the conflict within her, as they can never mend their bond, nor can he ever redeem himself in her eyes. Ziva tries to regain a sense of duty and return to NCIS after swearing revenge on her father’s killers, but orders from Ducky and Gibbs force her out of autopsy and Abby’s lab and into staying at Tony’s apartment until her father’s body is released for burial.

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Despite (or because of) their differences, Cote de Pablo and Michael Weatherly’s characters have always had a chemistry that hints at the possibility of a romance. Theirs would follow in the footsteps of relationships in procedural dramas of the past and present, an inevitable pairing set up from the beginning as a series-long love story arc. The path has been cleared for their relationship to progress- family matters have been addressed, former lovers have come and gone, and they have each matured and reached a level of mutual respect- and now it seems as though the show is closer than ever to making it official. At the risk of altering the stable team dynamic, a healthy and normal dating relationship is almost necessary in moving forward from the place in which the writers have found themselves. They’ve opened the door, now it’s up to them to push the characters through to the other side.

While Ziva’s role is more passive, working through her feelings in solitude or in quiet moments with Tony, Director Vance is forced into an immediate leave of absence when he interrupts an interrogation and aggressively confronts one of the suspects, an American oil-tycoon with links to a group behind threats to Eli David’s administration. Several leads are dismissed before it is revealed that the deputy director of Mossad, Ilan Bodnar, paid for his boss and mentor to be killed in order to prevent a peaceful agreement between Israel and Iran- politically favorable, but harmful to the profits Bodnar would gain from weapon distribution. Gibbs validates Eli’s death to Ashad Kazmi, Eli’s Iranian contact, assuring him that their efforts for peace were honorable and appreciated. Though the questions surrounding the death of Eli David have been answered, more are posed when Kazmi is killed in a car bomb while leaving D.C.

Mossad Deputy Director Ilan Bodnar (Oded Fehr) makes for a great adversary. He’s forced to step aside as American agencies unknowingly dominate the search for the culprit behind his own actions. After a cold, albeit very funny,  exchange between Ducky and Bodnar in the squad room, Bodnar can’t help but interfere as a way of throwing off detection, demanding to know details and meet with Ziva. Ziva’s resentment towards Bodnar for considering himself a son to Eli complicates her grieving process. Her comfort in having connections to home through Bodnar are short-lived when she discovers that he is responsible for her father’s death. Feeling even more isolated from her past, Ziva finally finds solace in Tony’s words, telling her in Hebrew as she’s leaving for Israel that she is not alone.

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Set to Patty Griffin’s “You Are Not Alone”, the episode closes with Ziva in Israel quietly accepting her family’s fate and hopefully ready to begin her life anew upon her return. The montage alternates between the peaceful setting in Israel to the forlorn funeral for Jackie Vance in Washington. Bodnar has eluded capture, leaving the ending open for a man-hunt, possible culminating into the finale episodes.

Everything that comprises “Shiva” builds upon the strong foundation laid by “Shabbat Shalom”. The show’s constant evolution incorporates relevant humor and intelligence while finding ways to return to the familiar qualities of past seasons. From the new face of NCIS (Germann) that calls back to the Probie/boss dynamic to Vance’s understanding of Gibbs’ life choices following his own wife’s murder, the show brings to life the series of events following the tragedy, wiping some slates clean, making progress on igniting the stubborn sparks between Tony and Ziva, and presenting more mysteries yet to be solved.

Amanda Williams

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