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Where do I begin?
In all of its quirkiness, "Life Before His Eyes" was meant to be one thing - a gift to the fans. Believe me, we know it was a departure from the usual formula. An intentionally unique idea because we all felt episode #200 couldn't be 'just another NCIS'. One of the things this series does better than any other show on TV is stretch its boundaries. We can experiment, test ourselves, and bounce back with a more traditional episode the following week. "Life Before His Eyes" is meant to make us think. Not only about our own personal decisions, but the decisions we've watched Gibbs make over the years. By simply not squeezing a trigger or letting someone walk out of a door, so many things would be different. We've all been there. In that sense, as a writer, I thought it would be fun two hundred episodes into the series to experience something different. I hope we delivered and I hope you were entertained. There are some very, very exciting stories coming up and we feel as creatively enthusiastic in season nine as we ever have. Episode #200 may be a milestone, but it in no way signifies we're slowing down. If anything, we've refueled and we're ready to go on as long as we can.
Working on "Life Before His Eyes" was a joy and a challenge for me on so many levels. This cast and this crew are, simply put, AMAZING. Let me start with Mr. Mark Harmon. I think this could be his most nuanced performance to date. I urge you to watch the episode again just for him. See the way he processes what he's experiencing. I've never had a 'creative muse' in my career. I think I found one. Wow.
Our director for this episode, Tony Wharmby. Tony was handed 58 pages of hopefully inspired 'crazy' and brought it to life. We talked endlessly about what I was going for and how to handle the 'what-if' scenarios. We spent an enormous amount of time conceptualizing the diner. His work was, simply put, brilliant. And then there are the actors - dead and alive. Some were added optically. Others actually came in and made an appearance on-set, if only for a couple of hours. A special thank you to all of them for coming back to play in this unique little story.
Did anyone realize Sasha Alexander wasn't really in that hospital bed? What older episode did we take her 'image' from and optically add it to this scene? I think it worked masterfully. Try to figure it out. ;)
Mark Horowitz and Charles Johnson...you are the glue and support that makes all this happen. A special thank you to Greg Gontz, our editor, who worked tirelessly to put this episode together. Especially that 30 second montage of flashes from Gibbs' life. I enthusiastically suggest you go through that sequence frame-by-frame and see what he did. Amazing. Our post-production team - Avery Drewe, Josh Rexon, Richie Owens...this episode happened because you got it there. I couldn't have done it without you.
Everyone at the studio and network, thanks for your continued support of NCIS. As long as you're happy, we're happy.
And, finally, a special thank you to the fans. 200 episodes is not something to be taken lightly. We achieved this milestone because you sit down and watch every week. Cheers to all of you. I'm so proud of this achievement and I look forward to everything that lies ahead.