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Some of my favorite episodes (written by some of my favorite NCIS writers) have featured the volatile connection between NCIS and Mossad and the equally passionate relationships - Ziva/Eli, Eli/Tony, Eli/Gibbs – that have framed the evolving drama.
We’ve seen Ziva acting under her father’s command. We’ve seen how Ziva has since forged relationships with Gibbs and the NCIS team that became stronger than blood. We’ve seen Eli struggle to hold onto a daughter as she slips away. And we’ve seen father and daughter come to a long-distance understanding that has held for the last two years.
But in “Shabbat Shalom,” I thought it would be interesting to explore the idea of Ziva and Eli trying to make things work on a more personal “family” level. Eli is getting older, and has become more sentimental about the only family he has left. Ziva now has Gibbs as a trusted paternal figure, but a part of her still misses the man who taught her how to pray. Could these two equally headstrong but very different people actually work things out and become a real part of each other’s lives?
Ultimately, my answer was “no.”
Ziva has changed too much and Eli not enough. The fate of these characters is crushing, but deep down they both know it was inevitable.
Ms. Cote de Pablo, as always, is sublime, and lets us in to see Ziva’s heartbreak. Michael Nouri as “Eli” shows us that this stoic father figure has a much bigger heart than he previously let on.
However, the tragedy of Ziva and Eli now also extends into the Vance family. Fitting, I think, given Eli and Vance were “forged in blood.”
An extra special thanks to Mark and Rocky, who broke all of our hearts with that final scene in the hospital. Also, a big thanks to Michael, Pauley, Sean, David, Paula Newsome, our wonderful guest cast, and the tireless Dennis Smith for making an episode worthy of NCIS canon.
Thank you all for watching (and for all your passionate responses on various social media outlets)!
Christopher J. Waild, Co-Producer