I can still remember where I was when I heard Cote de Pablo was leaving NCIS. Sitting in a theater full of people for a workshop on Yearbook, I exclaimed "That's terrible news!". I had enjoyed the character of Ziva David on NCIS for many, many years and was extremely sad to hear of her exit. In my opinion, Ziva was infinitely better than Kate. She offered a different type of character to the game. There's no other way to put it; Ziva has been an absolute bad ass on NCIS. That being said, I think the show will continue to thrive without her.
This first episode of the eleventh season of NCIS is largely Ziva-less. In a way that reminds of what TNT did to the late Larry Hagman for J.R. Ewing on Dallas, she is only present in instant-messaging to DiNozzo. While it may be a tad boring to simply see Tony and Ziva messaging each other, it adds a sort of anticipation to Ziva's return and eventual exit.
This episode picks up a few months before Gibbs had a sniper on Fornell. NCIS is down 3 agents and must respond to a major terrorist attack. Luckily for NCIS, the explosion that kills Sec Nav is able to shock Parsons into joining the Good Guys (this reference to Colin Hanks' old show is totally intentional). While in Tehran, Gibbs' cover is blown and in an excellently done scene, Parsons saves Gibbs. Of all of the parts of this episode, I enjoyed Parsons' head slap the most. It was a very much deserved headslap and with a wave of his hand, Gibbs' redeems the previously annoying Parsons. If it wasn't for his past with the team, I would have welcomed him as a new member of the team.
The other thing about this episode that I found most enjoyable was the almost entirely serialized aspect of it. I enjoy my procedurals, but I love it when they have completely serialized episodes. This episode was an excellent example of it. Tom Morrow admits that Homeland authorized a hit that somehow resulted in someone trying to wipe out the team after Tony and Ducky are targeted. This was a tad convoluted for my tastes, but I realize that they had to come up with this fairly quickly whilst Cote de Pablo was announcing her exit.
Moving over to McGee, we have now been formally introduced to Delilah. Abby is clearly unhappy with her and has one of the most awkward meetings ever. So far, I like Delilah, but I don't necessarily trust her. The fact that she has a higher security clearance over the team, makes her a definite threat. I'm sure it would please Abby to have my suspicions prove true.
Overall, if this episode is any indication, I think this season is going to work out fine. I'm hoping that Colin Hanks will stick around a little longer now, just not be such a pain in the ass like he was last season. The verdict: NCIS can survive without Ziva.
Rating : 9.7/10
Ducky knocks out the intruder while a useless Palmer whines
Parsons saves Gibbs
Gibbs head slaps Parsons
Tony talks to his fish... named Kate
Abby meets Delilah
Abby locks Parsons out of her office
DiNozzo wakes up and meets the "new" team (The presentation Palmer made was hilariously awful!)
McGee to Fornell - "This isn't about your ex-wife again, is it?"
Tony to Parsons - "Thank you, dick"