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NCIS often gets a bad reputation because it’s a procedural. But naysayers need only look at last night’s season finale as an example of what this show is capable of accomplishing.

As we expected, the final episode of the season picked up with the terrorist storyline that has dominated the last few episodes. Harper Dearing (Richard Schiff) was still at large, and the team more determined than ever to stop him. But the hour also proved to be a really special one for the characters, who stepped up to make tough choices in the face of immediate and imminent danger. It was an episode that truly brought out the best in every member of the team. Too bad we’re not sure who might live to see next season…

[Spoilers ahead]

Actually, I am relatively sure they’ll all be okay. Though, that small hint of doubt is what continues to haunt me now. But can you blame me after what that finale put us through? Let me rewind.

When the episode began, Dearing was still at large, but the team was hot on his trail. But then the treat became even greater when Dearing declared in a creepy video that he was done pointing out Naval weaknesses and was now focused on seeking revenge on behalf of his son. The problem? It all directly involved Gibbs.

We had previously learned that Dearing’s son was killed in an explosion on a Navy ship that was caused by faulty wiring. In this episode, we learned that he had been assigned to that ship as part of previous disciplinary action, and Gibbs had been involved in investigating the initial case.

As the hunt for Dearing intensified, the team was faced with the realization that they would not make it to Palmer’s wedding. I loved watching Palmer put on a brave face when his friends — or, as he referred to them, “family” — admitted that they had bigger fish to fry. But then he was more candid while speaking to Ducky, and admitted that he was hurt. Ducky’s response? He promised to attend the nuptials. (Awww!) The hug that came next was adorable. That was about as sweet/joyful as the episode got.* From that point, Dearing was on full attack. First up was Dr. Ryan.

After threatening her child, Dearing then bought off a judge, who saw to it that Ryan’s felon ex husband was released from prison. Fearing for her safety and troubled by Dearing’s far-reaching evil abilities, Ryan fled with her son, and said goodbye to Gibbs in a very touching scene. I’m hoping we get a chance to see her again next season when Dearing is properly taken care of — and I’m sure he will be. Gibbs will see to that, especially after the explosion.

Yes, explosion, which was one of my favorite sequence of events ever on this show.

Gibbs realized that Dearing had planted a bomb in Vance’s car. So, Johnathan Cole (Welcome back, Scott Wolf!), who the team had drafted earlier in the episode to help on the case, and Gibbs set out to find it. Meanwhile, the rest of the team worked on evacuating the building, but weren’t quick enough at getting themselves out; they were in the building when the bomb went off. (Bye forever, Scott Wolf.) Gibbs had run back inside to get Abby, and got there just in time to shield her from the blast. Tony and Ziva got stuck in the elevator, and McGee was thrown back by the force. Again, I’m confident they’re okay.

I’m less confident that Ducky will be fine. After getting the call about the explosion while in Florida, Ducky said he would rush back to help. As he hung up the phone, he grabbed his chest and fell to the sand. Tears? You bet! [Need some info NOW? Read what executive producer Gary Glasberg had to say about Ducky here in Spoiler Room.]

And something else that hit me later: Palmer left Florida — with his bride’s blessing — to go be with the team. TELL ME PALMER WASN’T THERE!!!

So, there you have it, readers. NCIS‘s season finale has left me stressed and more sure than ever that I’m in love with every single character on this show. Agreed?

* = This is a lie. There were two more sweet moments I loved: Tony and Ziva’s mutual appreciation for eloping and when the team gave Palmer his wedding gifts.


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