What a treat to have a new episode to watch and critique tonight! Some authors, including us, write a novel with two or more subplots that resolve at the finale. One is usually the primary plot while the other is lesser. We realized this evening that the writers of NCIS often do the same thing. Sometimes the criminal case becomes the primary story, with the personal relationships of the NCIS team taking a backseat. In “Hereafter”, the writers serve up the opposite. A suspicious death of Lance Corporal Gabe Crowe turns out to be a simple investigation, giving viewers plenty of time to zero in on Leon Vance’s grieving process.
Losing one we love is difficult. Gibbs acknowledges this when he tells Ducky how he is concerned for Leon survival of what comes “after,” thus the title, “Hereafter”. When Leon discovers in Jackie’s papers an unexecuted separation order and a stash of what appears to be roughly five thousand dollars, he is understandably perplexed. In a twist, the writers have Leon joining his Special Agent crew on their investigation while he deals with the shock of figuring out Jackie’s scheme.
When Leon asks Tony and Ziva to serve as short term baby sitters, we are drawn into the why. He stays behind at work, drinking coffee, and confiding to Gibbs that Jackie kept a secret bank account. She even hired a lawyer to draw up legal papers, separating their property. His angst is palpable. Gibbs urges him to “go home and hug your kids”. The unstated truth is that Gibbs cannot hug his daughter Kelley. Tony’s funnier side shines during his time with Leon’s two children. A pizza box becomes the mighty mouth of “Jaws” as Tony chases the kids around the house getting them to laugh for the first time since their mother died. Tony passes the test with flying colors, which isn’t lost on Ziva. Her brief talk with Vance about the tragedy is somewhat awkward, but she expresses her sorrow over Jackie dying while hosting Ziva’s father.
The two plots merge when Vance assists the team at Quantico and they discover the commanding officer of the dead private is totally unable to adjust to the death his brother, who was brutally killed in Afghanistan. In the end, Leon hurries down the steps to Gibb’s basement seeking answers. Well he finds an important one. Like Jackie, Shannon had taken out an insurance policy on Leroy’s life, fearing that he would die before she did. Gibbs offers to Leon the solace he needs. Jackie was not up to something that would destroy his beautiful memories of their life together, but was simply preparing for the worst, after the bombing of NCIS headquarters.
One aspect missing from tonight’s episode is the power of prayer when dealing with pain in our lives. God cares for us all and hears us when we call out to Him. In the show, Leon turns to Gibbs and others on his team for comfort and help. He is not alone.
A final thought: Will the Deputy Director be long for the show or will he be taking his packed suitcase to places unknown?
Diane and David Munson