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'NCIS' finale recap: 'Family First'

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Sonja Flemming/CBS

NCIS

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-14
seasons:
13
run date:
09/23/03
performer:
Mark Harmon, David McCallum, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Action, Crime

Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo experienced a devastating loss and a miraculous gain tonight and, while it may not be the resolution that some fans were hoping for, it was a deeply emotional end to his 13 years on NCIS.

The action picks up where last week’s episode left off. DiNozzo stares in horror at ZNN’s footage of the conflagration that was Ziva’s farmhouse and clutches her Star of David necklace — the one he returned to her and then she returned to him in her last episode.

 “I can’t stay here,” DiNozzo whispers, mesmerized by the flames dancing on the screen.

But the team knows this; McGee’s already booked DiNozzo on a flight to Tel Aviv, so he leaves to pack.

And then a grim-faced Vance gets a phone call from Tel Aviv.

Cut to DiNozzo’s apartment, where Senior says he’s got a feeling it’s all going to be fine.

“Feeling what?” DiNozzo asks. “The feeling that she’s still alive? So do I. But I don’t know that she’s still alive. And nobody knows anything. So what’s the point of feeling anything at all?”

His doorbell rings, the door opening on a devastated-looking Abby and McGee.

And DiNozzo knows.

“Ziva,” he says. “Are we sure?”

He sinks to the bed, and Abby rests her head on his shoulder.

Back at NCIS, everyone’s processing the news of Ziva’s death and recommitting to their goal of finding Trent Kort, who ordered the attack on her farmhouse. But when DiNozzo arrives in the big orange room, he can’t focus, instead remembering Ziva smiling at him from her now-empty desk.

Gibbs asks why he’s there, and DiNozzo loses it, wanting to know where everybody else is.

 “We’ve lost agents before, and when we do, it’s all hands on deck,” he bellows, pounding the desk.

“She’s more than an agent to you,” Gibbs calmly replies.

“She was a daughter to you. She was a sister to McGee and Abby. She was no more to me than anybody,” he chokes out.

Then his father’s there, telling DiNozzo that’s not true and asking him to come back home, where he can breathe.

“No. I can’t.” DiNozzo’s in tears. “I’ll breathe when Trent Kort is dead.”

His father figure steps in next. “Go. Or go for good,” Gibbs says.

A broken DiNozzo complies.

Gibbs then stands in front of the wall of fallen agents, where we see rows of familiar faces. He flashes back to the day he gave Ziva her NCIS credentials. McGee joins him and says he’s never forgotten that when he was hired, Gibbs told him that when the best agents in the world want to accomplish something, they get it done.

“For Fornell. For Ziva. We’ll get it done,” McGee says. (The NCIS theme plays quietly under this conversation, in case we weren’t emotionally wrecked enough at this point.)

NEXT: Daddy DiNozzo??

[pagebreak]

The next morning, Vance calls DiNozzo into his office, where he’s greeted by Mossad Director Orli Elbaz, who’s come to the U.S. with the lone survivor of the fire. It’s a child.

Ziva’s child.

Tony’s child.

Her name is Tali, named for Ziva’s late sister. Of course, of course, DiNozzo’s stunned.

“If I’d known she was pregnant, I would’ve been there in a second,” he murmurs.

And that’s exactly why she didn’t tell him, Elbaz says. Ziva didn’t want to disrupt his life, and she was comfortable raising Tali on her own.

“Without ever telling me,” DiNozzo says.

Elbaz acknowledges that Ziva came to regret it but didn’t know how to break the news to him, leaving DiNozzo to wonder if his daughter knows anything about him. The rest of the team, apparently not realizing what a delicate and emotionally fraught situation this is, all crowd around the doorway to get a glimpse the kiddo.

In autopsy, Ducky’s rocked by Ziva’s death and the revelation about her child. (“Not a typical day,” Gibbs understates.) Ducky warns Gibbs not to lose sight of what DiNozzo’s going through in the rush to catch Kort. “Family first, Jethro,” he says.

At his apartment, DiNozzo’s playing with Tali, and every female in the audience gushes at how great he is with her. When he reaches into her “go bag” for a stuffed dog, he finds one of Ziva’s scarves tucked inside. He brings it to his nose and flashes back to their final goodbye.

Later, Palmer drops by with some organic baked yams (yum?) and childproofing help. In his goofy Palmer way, he babbles about whether DiNozzo’s coming back to work, given how tough it’ll be to coexist as a single dad and an agent in the line of fire.

“Kids, they mirror so much of what they see,” Palmer continues, saying that DiNozzo will probably have Gibbs’ job in 10 years and Tali will see how happy he is and and follow in his footsteps.

We see DiNozzo’s wheels start turning. (He also refers to screaming and tears in the night — his, not Tali’s — and my God, this is all so sad.)

Okay, this feels like a good spot to check in on Fornell. He’s got nerve damage to his right arm and leg, which means he’ll have a long road ahead.

“Nothing he can’t handle,” Gibbs says.

Then Dr. Grace Confalone drops by at Gibbs’ request to stay with Emily while Gibbs takes care of bidness. Emily’s not pleased, but Gibbs makes big “I trust her, so should you” motions behind Grace’s back. Grace and Emily immediately make plans to get lattes and more Watermelon Pie nail polish to finish Fornell’s pedicure.

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On a return visit, Grace pushes Gibbs to open up about, well, everything: Fornell’s like a brother to him; DiNozzo lost a love and gained a child. What does that make Gibbs feel? She even offers him the Feeling Wheel, urging him to pick a face.

“Sad, mad, happy, scared,” she says, pointing to each one.

“Sure,” Gibbs says.

“Sure what? To which feeling? One of them? All of them?” she asks, exasperated. But he’s saved by the ringing of his phone, and before you know it, Fornell’s awake.

“Tobias,” Gibbs says cheerfully, “you look awful!” And of course, that’s when sourpuss Fornell spots his watermelon pedicure. (Emily and Grace do good work.) So Fornell’s got rehab to look forward to, but he’s going to survive. Whew!

Back to the case. McGee fills in a stroller-pushing DiNozzo on all the developments and comments on how much Tali looks like her mother. Then he asks what every single one of us wants to know: “Were you and Ziva an item the whole time?”

Good guy Tony refuses to kiss and tell, but he cops to a connection “and a very fond farewell.”

“I loved her, Tim,” he says.

“I know you did,” McGee responds

Seriously. This is awful.

Back at NCIS, Abby’s found a kindred spirit in the science-y Reeves. They locate an isotope in the mud from Kort’s shoeprint at Gibbs’ place that sends them to a particular nuclear facility. Meanwhile, the rest of the team makes another run at the wrongly convicted Jacob Scott, who mentions that he met Kort through a nuclear expert named Edgar. And what what do you know? A Dr. Edgar Polk works at the very facility with the mud in question.

The agents scramble there, only to learn that Kort’s already been there and abducted Polk at gunpoint. But they’ve got security footage, and Monroe can read lips from a distance (because of course she can). She sees Polk say something about a son in Chesapeake City, so that’s where they head next.

NEXT: All the goodbyes, all the tears

[pagebreak]

DiNozzo’s not there, though. He’s home with his father and his daughter. When Senior spills tea during their tea party, DiNozzo grabs a wipe from the bag. Inside it, he finds a picture of him and Ziva in Paris.

Tali points at Ziva and says “Ima,” which is mother in Hebrew. And then she points at Tony and says “Aba.” That’s Hebrew for father.

“Ziva must have told her. She knows me,” DiNozzo marvels. Then he pulls out Ziva’s Star of David necklace and puts it around his daughter’s neck, and simultaneously, dust gets in all of our eyes while we sit on our couches. The moment ends when McGee texts DiNozzo the address of where they think Kort will be.

The team rescues Polk and quickly surrounds Kort, who tells DiNozzo he had no idea Ziva would be in the farmhouse, claiming it wasn’t personal, “strictly business.”

“She was my family,” DiNozzo grits. Kort reaches for his gun and the entire NCIS team, plus Monroe and Reeves, absolutely unload on him. The shootout comes really close to being comically over the top. But then again, Ziva was family.

Cut to Gibbs working on his boat. DiNozzo comes down the stairs to say that he knows what he wants now in a way that he couldn’t clarify a few months ago.

Gibbs understands. “You can’t only think about yourself anymore.”

And that’s the thing. When McGee called with Kort’s whereabouts, DiNozzo realized he didn’t want Kort dead. He just wanted to take care of Tali, who’s lost everything in her life.

“Except you,” Gibbs says.

“I’ve never been anybody’s everything before,” DiNozzo replies.

So he showed up for Kort, and now he’s done. He’s going to take Tali to Israel to look for answers and then head to Paris. “Ziva loves Paris.” (The present tense of that sentence absolutely wrecks me.)

They hug, and Gibbs tells DiNozzo to take care of himself and his family. “Copy that, boss,” DiNozzo says as Gibbs gives him…no, not a slap, but a fatherly hair tousle.

At NCIS, Abby slides onto the Elevator of Schemes and Secrets with DiNozzo because she wants to tell him something before he leaves: “I know how much Ziva really loved you, and I need to know that you know that, too.”

“I do. I think,” DiNozzo replies.

“Don’t think. Know. I know. She told me,” Abby insists. They exchange “gonna miss you” hugs.

And then we hear DiNozzo reciting the NCIS Special Agent Creed as he turns in his badge and gun to Vance and bids farewell to Ducky and Palmer. At his desk, he boxes up a picture of him and Kate, along with his other belongings, while Bishop and Tim look on.

DiNozzo has five words for Tim: “Very Special Agent Timothy McGee.” Then he tells Bishop that she a very good agent who’s going to be even better someday.

And he exits the big orange room for the last time, getting on the elevator to start a life with his daughter.

Never one to dwell on life’s mushier side, Gibbs watches Monroe and Reeves talk animatedly with McGee and Bishop for a moment before telling them all to grab their gear.  

So. It’s cool that the show laid the groundwork for “Tony as father” from the beginning of the season, though I’m far less thrilled at the off-screen murder of a longtime agent — to say nothing of her being DiNozzo’s big love.

What say you, NCIS fans? Was this a proper sendoff for DiNozzo? Did you love the secret baby plot or hate it? (I totally called it, kind of!) Let me know in the comments! 

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