NCIS Season 10 Review “Hereafter”

It’s always hard to keep going when someone you love is suddenly taken from you. Nothing makes sense, and you’re in so much pain you just don’t know what to do. There are always lingering questions and an emptiness that you don’t think will ever be filled again. Grief is hard. That’s why it’s important to have people who truly care about you around to help you through that difficult time. That’s what happened to Leon in this week’s NCIS. The case of the week was just ok, but it wasn’t really about that anyway. This was really about Leon trying to pick up the pieces and move forward.

A few thoughts about “Hereafter”:

Like I said, the case of the week was pretty standard. A marine died suddenly during morning exercise with his unit. Ducky discovered that the marine had bruises and puncture wounds all over his body and they couldn’t explain why since the marine had never been in combat. They discovered that the marine was participating in some sort of fight club off base which is where he got some of his bruises. The investigation revealed that the marine unit commander was torturing his marines in an effort to (in his mind anyway) prepare them for what they were going to face in the war zone. As it turns out, the commander’s little brother had been tortured and killed in Afghanistan and the commander was recreating the torture on his marines so that they could be prepared to withstand it if they got captured. Two marines in the unit died as a result of the commander “preparing” them for combat. I don’t necessarily buy the commander’s rationale for torturing his marines, but I suppose grief affects us all in different ways. The commander dealt with his grief by trying to make his marines harder and more battle ready. I’m not saying it’s logical, but I suppose I can understand.

I didn’t discover NCIS until it was well into its third season, but it’s one of those shows that I fell in love with almost immediately. After a few episodes I was kicking myself for never having watched it before. All of the characters are so wonderfully quirky, but they all fit together and compliment each other well. Even though they tend to keep things relatively light on the show, they don’t shy away from some of the darker elements when the story calls for it. One of the aspects I’ve always loved about NCIS is how they treat each character as a real person. What I mean by that is they don’t gloss over deep emotions like grief, anger, and fear. Each character is given the opportunity to work through whatever pain they’re feeling and the team is there to help them every step of the way. Tonight, it was Leon’s turn to grieve.

When I started watching the show, Jenny Sheppard was the director. I didn’t really love her as a director, but I did love the relationship between her and Gibbs. By the time she died, I had grown accustomed to her and I was having a hard time warming up to Leon Vance. His style of leadership is completely different, and the dynamic he and Gibbs share is obviously completely different. Over time, I have really grown to love Leon. He has proven himself to be a stand-up guy and I’ve enjoyed watching the relationship between him and Gibbs go from distrustful and adversarial to real friendship. Leon certainly needed Gibbs. Leon found a safety deposit box with cash and legal papers when he was going through Jackie’s things, and he started to get all riled up. He was angry that he didn’t know about it. He was angry that no one would tell him about it. But mostly, he was just angry that Jackie died. It was Gibbs who assuaged Leon’s fears and gave him sound advice on moving forward.

Every time I watch an episode of NCIS I think it’s impossible for me to love Gibbs any more that I do already. But then he does something like provide quiet support to a friend in need and I just love him even more. Gibbs is one of the few people who can truly understand what Leon is going through. He knows how difficult it is to figure out how to keep living your life when the most precious thing in your life is taken from you. I absolutely loved that Gibbs was concerned about how Leon was dealing, but in true Gibbs fashion he didn’t push the issue. He waited for Leon to be ready to talk. When Leon did finally open up about what was going on, Gibbs helped him see that Jackie wasn’t necessarily hiding things from him. After she almost lost him in the attack on NCIS, she took precautions to take care of her family in case something did happen to him. It was a very practical thing to do, and if Leon had been in her position he probably would’ve done the same thing. I thought the last scene between Leon and Gibbs in Gibbs’ basement was wonderfully done. I really wanted to just hug them both.

All in all, very solid hour. I was very much amused by how much the acting director of NCIS doesn’t want to be in charge. How on earth did he become the deputy director? I also really enjoyed the conversation between Leon and Ziva. They both still have a whole lot of healing left to do, but at least they don’t have to do it on their own. So what did y’all think of this week’s NCIS?