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October 8, 2015

'NCIS' Season 8, Episode 23 Recap

by Allison Waldman, posted May 11th 2011 12:15AM
NCIS_2011_CBS_Mcgee_Ziva_Tony['NCIS' - 'Swan Song']

There were two major revelations in this penultimate episode of the 'NCIS' season. We'd been forewarned that somebody close to Gibbs would be killed, a loss so major that it would rock Jethro to the core. Well, it was a major player and it was a jolt ... although astute 'NCIS' viewers had probably suspected who the victim would be and there was little surprise.

The other major development had to do with the ongoing port-to-port serial killer hunt. It all became clear with this episode, as we now know who the killer is and how he came to this grisly pursuit. And yet knowing the name and seeing his face is hardly a reason to celebrate, because he's still on the loose and still out to kill.

I was struck by the emotional tenor of the entire story. The mood was set in the opening scene where there was a downpour so heavy that it eliminated the blood trail and drenched the team. As the victim's body was carried into the ambulance, Gibbs stood in the rain and watched.

His mentor and best friend, Mike Franks, appeared out of nowhere, talking over Jethro's shoulder. That was the first indication that the body in the bag was, in fact, Mike.

For a show that generally doesn't employ tricks in the storytelling, the presence of Mike to talk Probie through the case, piece-by-piece, scene by scene, was refreshing. Like the secret of 'The Sixth Sense,' for a time it seemed like Mike was really there.

The scene that tipped it off was Ducky noticing Jethro's distracted reactions in autopsy. Gibbs was reacting to Mike; only Mike was in his mind, not visible to Ducky.

The return of Cort, the CIA slime, was a good touch, and a way to explain how the Frankenstein creature, Jonas Cobb -- a.k.a. P-to-P -- came to be. He wasn't just a run-of-the-mill serial killer like you'd find on 'Criminal Minds' or 'CSI.'

No, Jonas was built by the CIA to be a military assassin. Unfortunately, the CIA blew it. Cobb cracked after his first official agency kill and went off the reservation. As a thank you, Cobb ripped out Cort's eye.

As Gibbs retraced the steps that led to Mike's murder, there were hints that Franks may have challenged Cobb in that final confrontation because he wanted to die. The way Mike was coughing, and his pallor, suggested that he might have had emphysema or lung cancer.

It won't be a shock to learn that Ducky's autopsy shows that Mike was dying. He may have never gone to see Probie if not for Gibbs' call. He may have simply died alone in Mexico, although his allusions to the ghosts of naked women made it clear that Mike had still been pretty randy.

The more immediate concern in next week's episode, however, won't be Mike's autopsy results or his military funeral. It'll be whether or not Barrett and her team survived the trap set by Cobb. Gibbs and Vance were listening in as the situation turned grim for the 'new guys,' as Abby referred to them.

Mike's murder wasn't easy to take ... a fact underscored by Ziva's reaction. The normally cool agent showed her softer side, and it was understandable. When the elevator opened and McGee was comforting Abby in a similar fashion as Tony was Ziva, you knew that Mike had become as much a father figure to Gibbs' team as he was to Jethro. Tony's suggestion of a group hug for the four of them was completely appropriate under the circumstances.

Gibbs confronted Vance about the cold war in which they've been engaged. It wasn't just about airing out grievances; it gave Gibbs an insight into why Cobb had been studying him. That connection between the two will be the key to finding Frankenstein, but the death of Mike will be the weapon Jethro uses to assassinate the assassin. Next week should be a helluva season finale.

'NCIS' airs Tuesdays at 8PM ET on CBS.

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Dwight Handy

I don't get it, cause I must be too stupid to find and watch a TV show. I read this and I read that,but, I can not get a TV show to play. Oh, just in case you're wondering, I just purchased this computer brand new. So, being that it's not the computer, it has to be me. The dummy who can't click the right button to watch a TV show. If you want to watch NCIS, How hard could it be to click on NCIS?
Oh, that's right, you have to click this button and then that button and then another button and on and on and on. Now I wonder why am I still paying for AOL?

still hanging with AOL,
Dwight Handy

July 24 2011 at 8:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mr Bad Example

Actually, by the unwritten code (except on the back of business cards) that these characters live and work under, Mike Franks was eventually going to die a violent death when he failed to keep Jenny Shepard alive-whether she was dying or not. Simply put, it's the warrior's code-either come back with your shield in your hand or being carried on it. Since that time, he'd cheated the Grim Reaper three or four times, but the edge kept getting thinner and thinner, to the point where he started losing body parts.

Two items that really weren't mentioned that I think were important, if not this week then next season...first of all, the cardboard box of top secret documents (apparently, "The Secret History of NCIS Covert Operations", as Franks called it at one point.) While Franks dismissed studying it, unlike Trent Cort's file three years ago, Gibbs is definitely finding out whats in those documents.
The other point has to do with the elevator scene with Tony/Ziva...for the best part of the past two seasons, Tony has been running on fumes, getting the job done but seemingly sleepwalking from prank to crisis to case, to the point where even Gibbs seemed to get tired of constantly have to head slap him. But when things went to hell, and the previously impervious Ziva started to lose it, it was like he finally awoke...with very little effort, he was like Gibbs Jr.-rock solid in a crisis, no jokes, and does the right thing without having to think about it...we really haven't seen that Tony since he shot Ziva's old boyfriend in her apartment.

May 17 2011 at 5:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Blue Bloods and Tom Selleck are the best!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 16 2011 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The last several shows were definitely leading up to a great season finale, however, watching them eliminate the character, Mike Franks, was a hard one for me as I was not making time to watch any hints about last night's show.

The underlying question now is why Mike Franks and not another character? Where does he go now? Another show or a lingering voice in the upcoming ones to keep Gibbs on track is what keeps me wondering - why?

Knowing the "new team" was caught in a trap leads me to believe we have a shack up for the season finale.

Great show!!!!!!!!!

Scares me that they are aiming toward only one more year by eliminating a key character with Gibbs.

May 14 2011 at 11:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why did Gibbs call Franks in the first place to come???

May 13 2011 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did anyone else love Franks comment "sweet mother of crap!" I literally laughed out loud! Only Mike can pull that off. I'll really miss his character! :(

May 11 2011 at 7:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Mike Franks RIP.

My favorite scene in the entire episode:When the elevator doors open and Tony waves McGee and Abby in then pulls even McGee close.

May 11 2011 at 8:15 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Hey, Mikey I had the exact thoughts (Mike was dying - like Jenny, what about the DIL, granddaughter & crazy MIL that he left behind). Yes, EJ has to go. Annoying and no chemistry with Tony, don't see that connection at all.

May 11 2011 at 5:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike Siroky

Did anyone else notice Franks had two thumbs. Obvious when he lights up in Gibbs' basement and again on the front porch.
Yes, he was dying of some lung disease. So was Jenny (dying) when she was offed. I guess it is meant to lessen the blow. What happens to Franks' daughter-in-law and grandson in Mexico (Gibbs is the godfather).
They seem to set up all the women they want off by killing them, with the exception of the Colonel who was allowed to retire to Hawaii. I thought she might come in to play during the week they gave the second team off in Hawaii. Like Gibbs could call her and get a real report.
I think one of the guys is dead in the ambush (not the big guy) and I hope EJ is because they set her up so slimy as to be not missed. Maybe the big guy saves her and the bad guy flees. The shootout reminds me of old war movies when the Nazie would be runninng roughshod over everyone until the one American would show up and suddenly they were incompetent and dead.
So we have these well-trained international NCIS agents and all three get jumped (two already shot) by one wounded warrior. Yeah.
Most of us have been predicting the cliffhanger to be Ziva as hostage, but of who? We haven't seen her whacky boyfriend lately, so he could snatch her while Gibbs kills the Port-to-Port dude. CIARay would be another one of Cort's concerns that he didn't see coming. .

May 11 2011 at 1:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mike Siroky's comment

Re the Thumb: Tony referenced that it is a prosthetic when he shakes Franks' hand.

Re Jenny dying: The actress wanted off the show. The "she dying of a disease" hints I think were done as plotting cover for how she actually was killed off.

May 11 2011 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The finger that got shot off was season was Mike Franks index finger. Not his thumb. Also it's a grand daughter ( Gibbs god daughter)

May 11 2011 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Small grievance- the CIA guy is Trent Kort. Not Cork.

May 11 2011 at 1:32 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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