By Mandi Bierly
September 22, 2010 at 09:40 PM EDT
  • TV Show

Image Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBSNCIS returned last night with an eighth season opener in which, somehow, Ralph Waite (The Waltons), who reprised his role as Gibbs’ father, Jackson, survived. I’m not saying I wanted him to die at the hand of Paloma (Jacqueline Obradors), the head of the Reynosa Drug Cartel who, along with her Mexican justice department official brother Alejandro (Mark Sanchez), wanted to avenge their father’s death from a Gibbs bullet. But I can’t be the only one who had a season 2 finale flashback to Caitlin’s death by sniper as Jackson stood in Gibbs’ home, asking his son to come home and help him rebuild the store Paloma had shot to smithereens after Jackson pulled a shotgun on her.

Fortunately for the Gibbs men, Paloma fell victim to the classic Big Bad mistake of wanting to torture her target before putting an end to him. Gibbs’ mentor Mike Franks (Muse Watson) had time to surface. (I also thought he might finally bite it when he voiced the unspoken rule to Gibbs: “Do what you have to for family.”) Alejandro had time to pretend he wanted to turn on his sister so he could plant a bug in Vance’s office and make an ill-advised threat to Abby. “Be careful, the roads can be dangerous at night,” he said. Yeah, no. You do not threaten Abby in front of Gibbs. (When Vance stepped up and told Alejandro to get out before he hurt him, I literally fist-pumped and made noises like I was Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.) And Paloma had time to put Day of the Dead dolls on people’s windshields and in Gibbs’ home, where she could have easily taken out his dad and Franks. (You weren’t sure what Gibbs was going to find when he raced home. That was some sit-up-on-the-sofa suspense.)

In the end, the team used the bug in Vance’s off to set up the Tony-dubbed Wonder Twins: Alejandro phoned his sister when he overheard Tony tell Vance that Gibbs was moving his dad to a safe house. Then, Vance called Alejandro in for a meeting that he abruptly cut short after he received a strategically abandoned note saying that Paloma had been killed. Alejandro went to the safe house for payback, saw someone moving inside, and fired away. Okay, Gibbs escorting him inside to see that he had killed his sister was a twisted turn. But it was no match for the season 1 finale shootout on Justified. I respect that Gibbs and Co., used their brains to win this war, but I wanted to see even more jockeying. Perhaps if it had been a two-hour premiere Paloma could have been a villain to remember and not just, to quote mildly sexist Franks, a sweet, little woman with a Hornet up her skirt and her sights set on revenge.

The episode ended with Vance burying Abby’s report that proved Gibbs killed Paloma and Alejandro’s father (who had killed Gibbs’ wife and daughter) in a box, and receiving a text from Ziva’s father, Eli David, that said, “I found him.” That’s just one of the vague teases of stories to come: Tony blew off a message from his dad (Robert Wagner), who wanted to talk about his “situation,” and Ziva playfully hid a correspondence with a male “friend” she met in Miami.

Was the season premiere action-packed enough for you? Would you have liked more bullets and blood? (Not really the show’s style, I get it.) And wouldn’t you like to see a special webisode of Abby bonding with the agent charged with guarding her for four months while Gibbs waited for Paloma to strike? Him silently pointing to help her choose a collar — hilarious.

  • TV Show
  • 16
  • TV-14
  • 09/23/03
  • In Season
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