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Wednesday, November 17 2010

If your head is still reeling, and your heart still pounding, from last night’s episode of NCIS, you’re not alone. The first episode in the two-parter exploring the history between NCIS Director Vance (Rocky Carroll) and Mossad Director Eli David (Michael Nouri) was info- and action-packed. Fan favorite writer Jesse Stern has spent all season working on these two hours. Last night, we watched as Eli ventured off Israeli soil for the first time in 12 years to attend, in-person, Vance’s review of international case files with contributions from all living NCIS directors (RIP, Jenny). He wanted to be there to defend himself when the truth was finally revealed about Vance’s first NCIS mission in Amsterdam 20 years ago. Having an emotional reunion with Ziva and luring out the remaining three members of a Palestinian terror network that wants to assassinate him was just a bonus for him. For viewers, however, those scenes of the joint NCIS-Mossad protection detail running through an ambush scenario in the hotel parking garage, Ziva confronting her father about why he wasn’t begging her forgiveness for leaving her for dead in the desert, and the actual ambush itself, were the highlight of the episode. (Watch them below.)

Eli never made it to the hearing, and the episode ended with Gibbs unable to reach Eli and Vance after a blast went off at the safe house they retreated to (RIP, Hadar). NCIS exec producer Shane Brennan promises the Nov. 23 conclusion will not disappoint. “Vance isn’t gonna wake up at the end of next week’s episode and say it was all a dream,” he jokes. “It’s a cleverly-woven piece of fabric. There are no loose threads to pull at the end of this episode.” That means we’ll finally find out what happened in Amsterdam to shape Vance and set him on-course to become the director of NCIS. (The episode has extensive flashbacks to that pivotal time and, through the magic of makeup and computers, actor Rocky Carroll was able to play Vance at age 27. We’ll have exclusive behind-the-scenes shots on Monday with commentary from Carroll and Brennan.) Brennan tells EW that we’ll also resolve another of the series’ great mysteries: “The infamous paper that was shredded — answered next week,” he says, referring back to the season 5 finale when Vance became director. “The famous last scene that shocked the hell out of everyone, when he walked into his office and shredded one sheet of paper, called everyone in, and shuffled them around the world.” The text Eli sent Vance earlier this season, “I found him,” will also be part of the revelation.

Two more teases: There will be at least one more death. (I’m betting on mini-Ziva, especially after we found out that she was sleeping with Malachi. And why wouldn’t she be? He’s smokin’.) And the tension you felt watching last night’s episode as they escorted Eli to and into the hotel is just the starting point. “I think of episodes and stories in moments because people remember the moments,” Brennan says. “They talk about them the next day. They don’t say, ‘Ah, the show was about such and such.’ They say, ‘Ah, there was this great moment.’ If you get five or six moments in an episode, great. In next week’s episode, there are probably a dozen moments that are memorable. The tension is cranked up from the beginning and it doesn’t let you go… And yet, we still manage that wonderful NCIS humor.” (I loved Tony suggesting that the room full of ex-NCIS directors might want to applaud him last night.)

What did you think of part 1? What’s your prediction for how part 2 plays out? The safe house bomb was an inside job? Who else doesn’t want Amsterdam revisited?

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