Let's get something out of the way: I hate cliffhangers. Especially season finale cliffhangers. At about fifteen minutes left, it became fairly obvious that NCIS Season 14 Episode 24 would end on a cliffhanger.
So, how do I judge this finale fairly when I am so conscious of my bias against cliffhangers? Admit it and move on.
There are two huge problems with cliffhangers as season finales, especially when it comes to reviewing an episode.
First off, you've only seen half the story -- the other half won't drop for another several months at least! Depending on the series, there might not even be a clear idea on the way Part 2 would actually fall out, in fact.
Secondly, cliffhanger season finales have a tendency to drive fans crazy when they inadvertently turn into series finales if a show gets abruptly canceled. Happily, this is not the case here for NCIS, which has already been renewed.
Overall, "Rendezvous" worked out fairly well. Each of the characters got something to do in this episode, from Director Vance all the way down to Jimmy Palmer.
The plot stretched credulity without completely shattering it for the most part. (I do have to ask whether the NOAA actually has satellites that ridiculously accurate.)
My favorite part of the episode was the sequence at the end; the fight and escape was dynamic and fast-paced, and I absolutely loved how McGee stayed behind to cover Gibbs (even though, objectively, it was insanely stupid).
The dramatic ending left us viewers to wonder how NCIS will resume in the fall: will Gibbs and McGee somehow make it out on their own? Will one or both of them be injured or killed?
This was actually a very significant episode for McGee. I've read more than a few comments saying that McGee's performance after ascending to the role of Senior Field Agent has been lackluster. I think that changed quite dramatically here.
Gibbs: It’s strictly voluntary.
McGee: I’m good.
Gibbs: Well, you got new responsibilities.
McGee: Boss, I appreciate that, but… don’t forget, I’m an NCIS Special Agent.
One has to wonder, though, if McGee will earn himself a Gibbs slap to the back of the head for getting out of the helicopter to cover Gibbs instead of escaping with the others.
There were a few nice bits of continuity thrown in, with Quinn having to step away a couple of times to handle her mother, plus the return of J. Claude Deering as Curtis Hubley.
Curtis: You can call me… anything you want!
Abby: How about “Totally Inappropriate”?
Here's a stray thought about that ending escape/firefight: these so-called rebels were explicitly called out as being more thugs than revolutionaries. Given that Gibbs and Co. have already mowed through several dozen, how long before they panic and run?
This reminds me of a story I heard some years ago, about some British troops in the Middle East. Pinned down by insurgents, the Brits eventually ran out of ammunition. With nothing to lose, the soldiers fixed bayonets and charged the insurgents.
The insurgents saw this utterly insane charge and fled in terror, despite having guns and ammunition to spare.
Just a thought. Sort of goes along with the, ah, remarkably mission-oriented attitude displayed by Petty Officer Dean in this episode.
(I am shocked that Dean didn't die of either blood loss or infection, though. Maybe his hand was severed by a cleanliness-conscious Paraguayan thug?)
It was an interesting twist for Dean's hand to be mixed in with his unfortunate comrade's dismembered bits, though not the first time Ducky's come across that sort of thing in a meat puzzle!
I also appreciated that the team's understanding of the reason for the SEALs' presence in Paraguay shifted at least three times.
First, Dean was doing extreme sports; second, Dean and Hudson were going to rob the rebels to pay off gambling debts; third, they were there to rescue the son of the man who helped them last time.
Combine this with the strongly-choreographed ending and the small but significant character moments for McGee, and this season ended on a fairly high note for me.
If you missed this finale episode, never fear! You can watch NCIS online to catch up! And be sure to come back in the fall for NCIS Season 15!
What did you think of "Rendezvous"? Will McGee and Gibbs make it out alright? How? Are you excited for NCIS to return in the autumn? Let us know in the comments section below!