In this episode, NCIS finds a new way to do a retrospective in its 200th episode. And loyal viewers get a chance to see what would have happened if Gibbs had made different choices.
This is Your Life
We finally get to see where Gibb gets his morning coffee. You didn’t think it was Starbucks, did you? As he’s sipping his first cuppa Joe at a mom and pop diner, a kid pulls a gun and fires after Gibbs identifies himself as a federal agent. Gibbs’ life literally flashes before his eyes. Then Mike Franks appears, explaining that the alternate reality diner is full of the people most important to Gibbs. They’re there to show him what he’s accomplished, and what effects the choices he’s made have had.
Longtime fans were rewarded with a vision of how life would be if Kate had never been shot by Ari. Kate and Tony are now married, and she’s just given birth. Abby and McGee are also a couple. Ziva is a renegade Mossad agent whom Tony calls ‘Tiva’ when interrogating her. It’s like the writers decided to address the events that fans have been most upset over from the previous 199 episodes. While it’s fun to watch, seeing the team members happily paired off makes me appreciate how much more interesting they are apart.
We also got to see what would have happened if Gibbs had never shot Pedro Hernandez, and it’s not pretty. Gibbs is swilling more bourbon than usual and no longer with NCIS. Worst of all, he’s cruel to Abby. While the shooting certainly set off a chain of events that affected countless people, clearly it was what Jethro needed to do in order to make some kind of life for himself.
Gibb’s sojourn between life and death also allows us to meet his mother. He finally hears her tell him that she’s proud of him, and he’s visibly moved. She also tells him that he should have cut his dad some slack. If he made some mistakes, he was entitled to them.
And what would look back on Gibbs’ life be without an appearance by Shannon and Kelly? Jethro’s deceased wife and daughter explain to him that had they not been killed, he would have never become an NCIS agent. He would have stayed a Marine. Then he would have been killed two weeks before coming home from a tour of duty, and the girls would have had to live their lives without him.
It’s All About the Choices
Mike tells Gibbs that he needs to choose. Is he going to dodge the bullet and shoot the kid? Is he going to take the bullet and join the likes of Mike, Shannon and Kelly? You wouldn’t think this would be a difficult decision for most people, but you can see the weight of Gibbs’ life choices in his face. It’s no surprise when he dodges the bullet and it just grazes his shoulder. Because NCIS without Gibbs is not a reality that would sit well with most viewers.
Of course, there was a case to solve and parallels were drawn. But mostly this episode was a way to thank the fans and give them a way to experience a different kind of reality for the key players and to see characters from seasons past. I appreciated that it wasn’t done in a cheeky, let’s-do-a-clip-show vein. There’s nothing more grating to me than when main characters sit around and say, “Remember when…” as a vehicle to show a bunch of old clips so a show can ‘celebrate’ a milestone episode. This was a nicely done thank you to the longtime fans, without a lot of annoying winking and nudging.