So, yeah. That was really amazing and really horrible all at once. I'm giving it an A, but with conditions - I'm attaching an angry note demanding payment for the surgical repair of my badly broken heart.
Let me just state for the record that I hate Mike Franks, and have from the day he was introduced. If you're going to be a gruff old bastard, you have to be at least as hot as Gibbs in order to be likable. Come to think of it, that might be why I so despise Fornell. *shakes head* Anyway!
He was actually almost bearable in the first part . For once, lack of a true case was interesting, as I followed their storyline with rapt attention. I kept waiting for it to bore me; it didn't (although Franks never did become likable). Loved the ramshackle, retro diner, too. I wonder if that was a studio or location set? Either way, I want to visit it; I was quite enthralled with it and wished for a more 360-degree view.
And Jenny - oh, Jenny. I love her. I love her sharp outfits, and her hair finally being as pretty as it was when she first started, but mostly I love the layers in her character and the nuanced emotions, showcased beautifully when they were first talking to Sasha (R.I.P.). I devoted a good minute of the first act to pleading "Director has security! Director CAN'T DIE!" and then chanting "Whack McGee, whack McGee, whack McGee!!" over and over.
And it was actually nice to cut from the gravity of their scenes to the levity (which became progressively more serious) of Tony & Ziva's Tour de L.A. & (go)ogling. Especially nice were Ziva's multi-layer threat of "First movie quote I hear, I'm driving" and Tony randomly stopping the car to get out and scream into the desert.
And then there were...kind of answers about Paris! Which we've only been waiting for since the Director appeared, and I'm really not convinced they ever had a master plan for this storyline. I'm starting to think they put it on the shelf for when Mark Harmon and/or Lauren Holly left the show/it got canceled, figuring they'd write something to fit whatever the current storyline said. If you ask me to explain those answers, I will not be able to, for that is the nature of the show. Blurry spinny flashbacks often tell you more than the dialogue does, and so it's more a vague feeling that I understand how the pieces fit in, the same way I can't explain how I crash-course orient myself in the canon of a new fandom.
You had to break my heart with the Gibbs/Jenny stuff, didn't you? It was simultaneously the best and worst thing that could have happened. SWEET VINDICATION! I nearly died of glee at the mention of conversations on the boat down yonder in Mexico, and I don't care what Mike later claims; they were totally about Jen. Remind me to dig up "Hiatus" later and treasure it more. Oh, and as for Paris...well, that's new! Gibbs didn't fit into her "five-point plan"? Aw...
I never watch reruns so I can't remember if this was specified in canon, or heavily implied, or I drew my own conclusions from source material, but I was under the impression that Jen had done something awful to betray him while under cover, thus shattering his feelings for her and their relationship in one fell swoop. This version is much more interesting, and that actually made me kind of hopeful. If she's the one that broke it off, given that she's always seemed slightly more into him than the other way around as far as UST has gone on the show, then it makes my AU imaginings much easier.
*takes deep breath, reminds self that there are worlds and worlds of AU to play in, before continuing*
So...the ending of part 1. This is the biggest factor both in my broken heart and the reason for the A, because it was awful and yet also VERY well done. I was 90% sure Jen was doomed from the beginning, what with everyone saying the actress wanted to move on, and 99% sure as soon as Mike noted that she had plenty of time left, but I was still hoping for misdirection. I was hoping for misdirection all the way up to the bad guys driving up. And the way they cut from that to a long shot of the diner lighting up with flashing gunfire - and one last definitive blast - before snapping to commercial was powerful. It also made me sick to my stomach with dread for the next 5 minutes. Here's my verbatim reaction to the subsequent scene -
"Dead guy? *looks hopeful*
TWO dead guys? *looks more hopeful*
THREE? THE HELL ARE YOU, HORATIO CAINE?
Oh no. That last blast. No - no -
I will never get the sight of Jen's blood-soaked body out of my head [or maybe I will; I've blocked it so much that it's mostly fuzzy] The image haunted me for the rest of the night, brief and indirect though it was, and I think I may have actually cried at some point. Kate? Meh. OK, to be fair, I'd only just started watching when she died, and it wasn't long before I decided that Ziva was the best thing to ever happen to this show, but still...I can watch that without too much emotional affect. This, for as much as I expected and have been preparing for it, just crushed me. Hearing that she took two bullets in the arm before the fatal shot both helped and hurt. On the one hand, damn, scrappy to the end. On the other, PAIN. And at the thought of her going out like that, I can't help but whimper.
The second half was just as compelling, despite my vehement hatred for Vance intruding on every other scene. I liked how they handled both the fallout of her death and her body itself. I was dreading seeing her in autopsy - again; I dealt with Kate fine, but it would have felt so wrong to see her on the table like that, exposed both literally and figuratively. Powerful choice to just have the body bags. I wish we'd had a proper funeral scene, though, and not just the team in their mourning outfits.
Speaking of which, I need a moment of mourning for Jenny's mansion (townhouse/condo/whatever they called it on the news report, PSH. That interior didn't belong to any Monopoly development) going up in flames. I think it's an interesting and fairly clever cover-up, but...*cries*
God, there's so much to deal with, I can't possibly cover it all. *grits teeth and keeps sifting through notes*
Abby! I rolled my eyes in various degrees of annoyance at the McGee comfort scenes, even though they made sense in context and nobody else was around anyway, because I am just so violently opposed to anything that reminds me of that horrible time they were dating. (I don't know! I can't stand the thought!) But despite my lack of patience in waiting for it, they did eventually give me the Gibbs/Abby hug I was waiting for. Worth it, but oh so sad. Although Abby's reactions in general were sheer gold.
Oh, and I loved that Ziva had obviously been crying when we opened on part 2. I had almost forgotten that they didn't just get along at NCIS, they had been friends beforehand. Ohhhh, my heart hurts even more now. And Tony beating himself up...you know, it kind of WASN'T UNWARRANTED, so I'm going to go ahead and help him pin the blame on himself. I actually thought that was building to a rift between the two of them, and I was intrigued by this new blockade to Tiva, so I was quite surprised when Ziva sided with McGee in insisting it wasn't his fault.
P.S. Dear Tiva: Under normal circumstances, you are great. Please get out of this episode, and do not ruin the excellent talk of Gibbs/Jen with parallels to your weird non-relationship. It's uncomfortable.
-Palmer was way more likable this episode. No idea why. Was just kind of cute while running away from Gibbs.
-Abby's cell phone ring is a raven caw. HEE.
-Abby headslapping paper!Tony was priceless.
-Jen: "Stop looking at my ass." HEHE. But you know, it's kind of hard to blame him.
-Is it bad if a) believed Mike shot Jen and b) wanted this to be true so we never had to see him again?
-*tilts head* Did we previously know Gibbs had been named godfather to Mike's grandkid? Because that's sort of adorable.
-So, this...kind of still doesn't explain Jen's hatred of La Grenouille. Gr.
-I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE INSURANCE POLICY IS.
Is Vance really, seriously replacing her as the permanent new director? WTF. DO NOT WANT. Words cannot express my loathing for this despicable character and his disgusting toothpick-chewing ways.
My reaction to the ending looks like this:
(on Ziva's position being eliminated) "WAIT WHAT?!"
(on Tony being reassigned to a bloody ship) "WAIT. WHAT?!"
(on Gibbs being given a new team - frankly, I thought he was going to get fired, but I guess this makes for better punishment - and the whole NCIS world generally being turned topsy-turvy): "ASLKDJF?! DAMN YOUR SPOILER DELIVERANCE."
I can't believe it. They said that the death would not be the biggest shocker, and I was like "The hell! You can't top death." And then not only was the death not that shocking - not only pretty much spoiled beforehand, but telegraphed from the beginning, however much I pretended otherwise - but it was completely knocked out of the ballpark by the ending from left field. Seriously, was anyone expecting anything like that?
Actual reaction: "Effing hell. I want this fixed within two episodes, and I do not want a repeat of what happened with House [in season 3]. Understand?!"
Translation: I'd actually forgotten that Ziva was there in a liaison position, so that was like a punch to the gut. And the rest was what had my eyes popping out. I mean, I figure if they can blow Gibbs up, put him in a coma, have him retire and then restore everything to normal, they'll be fixing this too, but...you know, after House unceremoniously pretty much eliminated three (or at least two) of its stars at once with no prior warning, I'm leery. And either way, I really don't want to waste episodes meeting new people and waiting for the team to get back together. Did that once. Wasn't overly fun. Also resulted in Jeanne, so...yeah, you see my point.
P.S. OK, so now do you all realize that Vance is as horrible as I first suspected?
Conclusion: I'll tell you one thing, though. NCIS, unlike SOME shows this year, knows how to deliver a finale. In all seasons not numbered "4," anyway.