Wednesday, February 08, 2012

After NCIS's 200th Episode

The entry title is almost enough to warn you that there are spoilers ahead for NCIS's 200th episode.

Shortly after walking into a diner, Gibbs draws his weapon to confront a hooded figure. Uncharacteristically, Gibbs hesitates and gets shot, sending his life spooling out before his eyes. At the same diner, now bathed in white light, Gibbs' mentor Mike Franks (deceased) asks why he hesitated.

This set off an hour of Gibbs questioning pivotal decisions in his life, an excuse for the retrospective we expect from a touchstone episode. "Life Before His Eyes" didn't rely on archive footage, though. It actually brought back previous cast and recurring characters to play out how their lives might have gone differently.

For instance, what if Gibbs had seen Ari and flushed him out before he had a chance to kill Kate with a headshot? The episode postulates that Tony and Kate would have married and had a child. What if Shannon hadn't testified in Pedro Hernandez's trial for murder? The episode postulates that Shannon and Kelly would have survived and Gibbs would have stayed in the Corps and died for his country, widowing Shannon. All interesting scenarios, but by no means set in stone. There's no way to say with high-definition certainty how one change would have affected the long term.

Gee. I guess it's a good thing I killed my wife's killer in cold blood, or I'd be a basket case living in my basement.

I did appreciate the ending that showed Gibbs hesitated because the hooded figure was the son of a man who, like Gibbs, had done wrong for the "right" reasons. The shot that sent Gibbs's life reeling turned out to be a glance off his shoulder, not serious enough to bench him for long, if at all. (Balloon deflating.)

For many shows, a long run means eventually there's nothing fresh to do. I wish more shows would see it as an opportunity to take chances as it's likely viewers would come along.

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