'NCIS' season finale post-mortem: Burning questions answered
NCIS closed out its 10th season with an episode that left a team divided, Gibbs with a sniper rifle in his hands, and someone we know in the crosshairs of said gun. (For a full recap, click here.)
So where do we go from here? Executive producer Gary Glasberg has the scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I have to say, I couldn’t have predicted where this season was going to end.
GARY GLASBERG: Thank you. This has been a really fun season for me and fun for everyone because, first of all, we tried some very untraditional things. As Mark Harmon and others have said, we did multiple [episodes] that could have been season-enders this season — the car crash, killing Ziva’s dad, the revenge factor of killing Bodnar. It was one thing after another and because of that, I wanted to do something different for the actual season finale. So we got into this case that Parsons (guest star Colin Hanks) was building against the team and against Gibbs, and I think it worked pretty well.
Tell me about how you arrived at that storyline.
One of the things we really started to think about was, 10 seasons into a show — 234 episodes — [there were] so many cases, so many opportunities and ways that Gibbs handled things but maybe crossed some lines in the way that he handled them. And someone had to have noticed that somewhere along the way. There are people who are paying attention and what if someone — an investigator who was out for his own reasons — decided that this was the opportunity and the moment to go after them and basically say, ‘You can’t keep doing this.’ Ziva going after Bodnar was just sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back.
And, naturally, Gibbs had to get out of hot water, but that came with a price.
His team resigns and puts their badges down on Vance’s desk and Morrow, along with Vance and others, come to him and say, ‘We can make all of this go away if you help us with this case.’ And it’s, ultimately, a case linked to that head of the Navy SEAL that we were dealing with. All those threads will tie up.
To clarify: That case that Gibbs is working ties into the “threat on home soil” that Morrow mentioned, correct?
Exactly, yes. And, ultimately, jumping ahead four months, we don’t see who’s in that town car but we know it’s someone Fornell is protecting, and we’re left with Fornell in Gibbs’ sights.
Well, I immediately thought, ‘Well, it can’t be Fornell…can it?’
Exactly! “Can it?” All the pieces will fit together, I promise.
How quickly? Tell me about how we pick up next season.
Yes. The episode will pick up and we’ll sort of see, in steps leading up to…[background chatter] Brian Dietzen is telling me to be very secretive and not tell you anything.
[Laughs] In the season opener, we will see the progression of time leading up to that moment that everyone just experienced, and in that progression, we’ll see the case that Gibbs is assigned to, the specifics of the case, how it is unfolded, who the players are, and then when we get to the exact moment. It will all make sense.
Is the whole episode that lead-up?
Does that mean we’re also going to learn what McGee, Tony and Ziva were up to in those four jobless months?
Have you already figured that out?
I’m starting to. There are a bunch of pieces that are floating around in my head and at some point, when I’m sitting on a beach in Hawaii, I’ll figure it all out.
I do have to talk about some of the other characters, obviously. There were so many great character nuggets in this episode. First: McGee has a girlfriend!
The lovely Delilah. That will likely pay off at some point as well. We may even meet Delilah.
Is that something you want to do quickly next season?
I don’t know. It depends on how much I can handle in the opening episode. But, yeah, there are some threads and nuggets — there’s Delilah, there’s the Palmer baby. There are all kinds of little cookies in there that hopefully people will pick up on.
Tony and Ziva had a significant moment in this episode. The question I’m seeing most on Twitter: Did Ziva just ‘friend zone’ Tony?
I don’t think so. I think there’s a little more to it than that. I think they’re sort of dancing around each other and trying to get a sense of how to move forward and, based on everything that’s happened in the last year, where they are and what the next step is going to be. And, you know, we’re letting it slowly percolate and build and hopefully get it to a place that’s going to be satisfying for everybody.
I thought the forehead kiss was a nice touch.
Thank you. It might not satisfy everyone out there, but I think we’re getting there — she even reaches up with her hand and puts it very gently, and in a lovely way, on his shoulder before that kiss happens. I think there are gestures being made that have definitely advanced from where we were a year ago.
I liked Abby’s video game, by the way. Can we get that released?
Isn’t that cool? Our post-production people did a fantastic job on that.
Any final words on the season?
This has been a really fantastic season for us. Best numbers we’ve ever had — more viewers than we’ve ever had. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the state the show is in. We’ve hired a couple of new writers; we’re already working on five or six of the stories for next season. Everybody is energized and ready to go. We’re going to take a few days off and come back and keep going. The show’s in a really fantastic place and we’re constantly surprising each other about where we want to go and what we want to do. And as long as we keep feeling that, I don’t really see an end in sight for NCIS.
This finale felt like a treat for people who have been watching. That’s not really the procedural way.
It’s true. It was definitely a different season-ender but I feel like it’s been a very different season and in doing that, I wanted to come through with something that wasn’t what people normally would have expected. I certainly hope that’s what I delivered.