Tag Archives: Leon Vance

NCIS – Shiva

12 Mar

After the first part of the two part story arc, “Shabbat Shalom”, I was really expecting great things from “Shiva”.  I was bitterly disappointed.

“Shiva” came nowhere near the standards of “Shabbat Shalom”.  It was messy, trite and horribly predictable.  I do wonder if over writing was the problem.  “Shabbat Shalom” was written by Chris Waild.  “Shiva” had input from Chris Waild, Gary Glasberg and Scott Williams.  Not so much too many cooks spoil the broth, as too many writers screw up the script.

After a brilliant performance the previous week, the writers gave Cote de Pablo absolutely nothing to work with as Ziva this time round.  By having Ziva close down emotionally they screwed it up.  There was no emotional hook for the viewers.  We couldn’t share her pain, because she wasn’t showing any.

The only great performance came from the actor who played Deputy Director Jerome Craig.  From ineffectual little dweeb to competent leader in the space of one episode.  Mind you, he did have Leroy Jethro Gibbs at his back.  That would give anyone confidence.  Or a nervous breakdown, depending on the circumstances.

For once the humor injected into the script felt false.  Usually it flows well and naturally, but not this time.  The only truly funny exchange jarred because of the subject matter of the episode:

Tim: Gabby is a spy, Tony.  Flirting is just another weapon in her arsenal.  Tony: And what an arsenal!

Note to writers.  You’d done a reasonably good job on making Tony gentle and understanding throughout the rest of the episode.  Then you had to throw Frat Boy Tony into the mix, didn’t you? *sigh*

Rocky Carroll gave a brilliant performance as Leon struggled to cope with the death of his wife.  His scenes with Mark Harmon were of the wonderful standard I have come to expect from both men.  Leon: Do me a favour, Gibbs.  Get these bastards!”

The great shame was that the episode concentrated too much on Ziva’s pain and Vance barely got a look in.  Lack of balance.  The death of Jacqui Vance was the greater tragedy.  Wantonly killed.  Collateral damage is the term.  Eli David courted his death with his life style.  That he would die violently was almost a certainty.  In my opinion the greater tragedy of the murder of an innocent should have been the focus of the episode.

Let’s get the the villain of the piece shall we?  The Deputy Director of Mossad and Eli David’s right hand man.  For a spymaster Eli David had lousy judgement when it came to picking subordinates.  The writers were also lousy in their creation of Elan.  He was so nasty, unpleasant, and bullying that it was obvious he was the villain, and behind Eli and Jacqui’s murders.  Elan was almost a cartoon villain.  I could almost see the dramatic black cape twirl behind him as he flounced about. 

The final scenes as the shots flowed between Jacqui Vance’s funeral and Ziva in Israel were beautifully done.  Problem is, it wasn’t enough to rescue a poorly written episode from the mediocrity it deserves.

NCIS – Shabbat Shalom

5 Mar

The NCIS episode “Shabbat Shalom”, written by Chris Waild, showed here in Australia last night.  This episode is probably one of the best to come from Chris’ fertile mind.

A journalist masquerading as a sailor is found dead in a river.  Was it an accident or deliberate?  Meanwhile, Ziva’s father Eli is paying a surprise visit.  Sounds like a volatile cocktail – and it is.

The character of Eli has always interested me.  Cold and amoral  In his mind nothing done for the sake of Israel is wrong.  Even to the point of using and destroying his own children.  A character who has polarized viewers since this first appearance. 

This time, however, some of the most thought provoking lines were given to Eli.  For example:

“Nothing is impossible, Ziva, only difficult.”

“Leon, my friend, you and I were forged in blood, but peace can be our legacy.”

“Ziva, the truth has many faces.”

Eli’s somewhat discordant appearances are offset by small moments of humor.  Not much.  This episode did not lend itself to the usual jokes and comments that have become the hallmark of NCIS.

McGee’s pronunciation of the work buttock (but -tock) was hilarious.  Leon’s acid comment of “Not exactly inspiring a chorus of Kumbaya” struck the perfect note.

Unintended humor for me was caused by my clash of fandoms, when McGee turned up wearing a purple shirt.  McGee in the Purple Shirt of Sex is a worry.  Sherlock fans will know what I mean.

The thing about this episode that blew me away was Cote de Pablo’s performance as Ziva.  Cote has really grown into the role since her first appearance in season 3.  Last night, she blew it out of the water.  Ziva’s distrust of her father, and her hoping that this time he was genuine.  Any illusions she had about him then being brutally shattered.  Then the final blow.  Eli David dead at the hand of an assassin.  Cote’s performance as she finds her father’s body is one of the finest pieces of acting I have ever seen.

Kudos need to go to Sean Murray and Michael Weatherly in this scene.  Both men said so much, without being given a single line of dialogue.  Their characters’ anguish and pain, as well as their love for Ziva, came through so clearly.  I am not ashamed to admit I was sitting there literally sobbing.

The final scene, however, was the emotional icing on a punishing episode to watch.  Leon walks out of the operating theatre, his face a mask of pain, and delivers the final horror:

“She’s dead.  My wife is dead, Gibbs.”

 

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