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I basically vanished off the internet for a week because I was so busy either working or trying to get ready for this weekend. I did it, and everythng went according to plan or better so I had a completely perfect weekend, but now it's Monday and I didn't have time to catch up on anything online-related so I'm hiding out from both Tumblr and my email in order to concentrate on the only thing I actually finished, albeit not in time to catch up with the show.

Season 13 finale of NCIS, "Family First"
lie down try not to cry

I was not prepared. I was not prepared to be that blown away by every second of everything. Not even with all of my spoilers did I dream they would create something so very beautiful. Where do I even begin? How about in no particular order with the scenes that matter most.

1. Tony's completely and utterly unhinged squadroom meltdown, culminating in just about breathing fire in a failed attempt to stop from ending in tears. Distraught defensiveness is a new one, I like it.

(though I kind of wish his rant had stopped at "she was a daughter to you," daring Gibbs to try and imply that "more than an agent" has the same meaning as "romantic interest," rather than the completely ridiculous spiral that she was no more important to him than she was to anyone. People knew you were close; everyone saw how hard you took her departure. There was no need to deny that).

2. Tali entering the room for the first time. Incidentally, did you comb the entire earth to find the single cutest toddler in existence? MY STARS. I want her. Maybe because I've been tricked by her uncharacteristic quietness and beaming contentment.

3. "That was not her decision to make." Yeah, I gotta say, I'm still not feeling real sympathetic to Ziva's cause here. Her not needing a man is irrelevant to the situation at hand.

4. Timothy asking the questions we know the answer to, but he asks because we need to hear Tony's answer: "We had a connection. And, obviously, a fond farewell." BUT WAIT he's going to go for gold. He is. "I loved her."

And McGee is gonna for the victory lap. "I know you did."

5. Nor is he the only one! Abby knows how much Ziva loved him in return. Because she told her. I'M SOBBING.

6. Back up I forgot the ridiculously adorable moment of Tony playing games with Tali, doing a surprisingly serviceable job as a babysitter. Little more daunting when he stops to consider that this is not in fact a babysitting gig, but the beginning of a permanent arrangement for which he will bear sole responsibility. And then he'll be distracted upon finding a scarf of Ziva's in the go bag, which he will promptly hold tight and breathe in while flashing back to their goodbye. hey guys thanks I didn't need all that saltwater in my tear ducts anyway.

7. Also, Tali identifying "Abba" in the photo, SHUT UP I don't need to imagine an adorable world where baby grows up bilingual but sticks with "Ima" and "Abba" as parental names, at least during her cute stage. Unless Ziva has other photos I don't buy that a toddler would recognize Tony and Tony With Sunglasses as the same person, but I'll go with it. Also, him relinquishing the long-protected necklace to fasten it around her daughter's neck is the most lovely thing.

You know what? I'm really, really at peace with this. I don't know why. I have always hated the idea of someone suddenly having to raise a kid without their other parent. A child is a very poor substitute for proper love, is the kids-ain't-all-that stance I will defend to the grave. But lately that's kind of what I've been wishing I had for Zoo, and it is like eight times better when the circumstances are a father raising a daughter. Be the start of an excellent middle grade / YA novel.

8. As for the final goodbye with Gibbs...yes. All the yes. I feel really good about Tony's departure based on that speech, his plans for the future and his genuine contentment at leaving. "I'm everything to that little girl now. I've never been anybody's everything before." A last hug with Gibbs and oh look an affectionate hair ruffle; that is precious.

On a less sober note: BWAHAHAHA TRENT'S DEATH BY NCIS FIRING SQUAD. They even took out the car. I'm not even sorry about how hard I laughed, that was just so over the top. It's like it's meant to be a surrogate vehicle for viewer rage about everything and every way the Tiva relationship has been handled, up to and including today.

[EDIT: I almost forgot that Gibbs' therapist showed up to this one. If there is one singular flaw in this episode it's that Gibbs' attention feels too divided between the Fornells and the earth-shattering news re: Ziva and its impact on Tony, and the latter doesn't get enough attention. I think his & Tony's last scene ws enough to cover their relationship, but I'm hoping that we can at least get a tad more focus on the impact of Ziva's loss at the beginning of next season. That said, his every reassuring interaction with Emily, including finding someone to support her when duty calls him away -- a super level of Caring, as he once did for Abby when he couldn't fix her PTSD issues himself -- was really great.]

Looking ahead
I'm really starting to feel like I'm not supposed to hope that Ziva is still alive, if only because in order to unring that bell, to make it a worthwhile and well-earned revelation, you'd have to make it the plot focus and then you'd need a reason for Cote de Pablo and/or Michael Weatherly to come back on the show. And yet...I'm okay with it? Whatever you want to do, since I notice Tony used present tense on "Ziva loves Paris" after he mentioned looking for answers. But you should know that in Secretly Alive stories, the longer they remain apart before resolution, the angrier I get about the giant waste of time they lost having either with each or the opportunity to build a permanent life with someone else.

What I'm saying is, this is not the goodbye I would have crafted but it was spectacular character exit anyway and everyone who worked on it except the person who ultimately decided to kill Ziva should be proud. And now as we move on to a new era of the show, with five hundred new agents and the oddest feeling that another piece of its soul is gone -- which surprises me because I never, ever thought losing Tony would make a difference -- I can't help but wonder what it will become. If it will feel the same, or feel like a shadow copy, like the end of CSI.

And going back in the opposite direction
Anyway, okay, time to go on an ill-advised shippin' tour, Nostalgia Edition, now that I have permission to shake off years of resentment at the terrible handling of their flirt/soulmate game and know that somewhere in the past few years of her tenure, all those irritating pain-in-the-ass Feelings scenes were genuine pieces of a love story on the verge of coming to a head.

It's already started. I splash-landed on some fanvids that told me tales of an 11x02 I straight up don't remember. I don't remember the plot of this episode. I don't remember Tony and Ziva spending enough time together for Tony to grow a beard. That orchard scene and "I'm fighting for you, Ziva" is straight up BRAND NEW INFORMATION, so new that at first I could not process this was from an actual episode and not cleverly edited fanlore put together from other projects the actors were in. I'm gaping.

Apparently there were beautiful things in season 10, too, which I'm presently tearing apart my episode reviews to find, and slowly realizing that I DID mention all the things that happened, just briefly and with great annoyance as I skipped past them. But now that I have permission to seek down the video version and read as much subtext into them as I want, they are blowing me away. There were tears. There were support hugs. There was waking her up from a nightmare once, which is in fact my favorite thing when I love the pairing, cliche be damned. There was indeed " a connection." So much so that I'm not sure I can go back to the world that was 95% of their interactions, the snarking and the mockery and the constant teasing and not-infrequently dating other people.

Just kidding I totally can. This shipper flame has come back to life with the strength of ten bonfires dotting the rolling hillside and everything they do together is so vibrant and full of chemistry and spark that I've watched about 80 more clips today. Speaking of spark in its most acute form, remember that time they went undercover under the covers, but first the entire teaser was a gigantic context-free fakeout loaded with kissing? Because I did not remember the latter part.

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