NCIS Season 16 Episode 20 Review: Hail & Farewell

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Well, that was a nice change of pace.

NCIS Season 16 Episode 20 framed Gibbs for a crime he didn't commit.

It was a riveting hour that shed light on parts of his life about which long-time viewers did not know. 

Gibbs Makes a Grisly Discovery - NCIS Season 16 Episode 20

Many shows run out of steam in their later years, and then there's NCIS that is still fleshing out Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Bringing Ellen into the mix was a good move.

Suspect List - NCIS Season 16 Episode 20

Gibbs already implied on NCIS Season 16 Episode 19 that he was all about changing things up by changing one of his rules.

But he found himself under intense scrutiny during "Hail & Farewell."

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I got blindsided by the revelation that Gibbs and Ellen were engaged.

That was unexpected and raised the stakes in a way that I did not think was possible.

Torres and Bishop Investigate - NCIS Season 16 Episode 20

Ellen's remains getting found far away from the Pentagon was a cause for concern primarily because she was ruled dead in the 9/11 terror attack.

When the layers were peeled back on this case, though, it emerged that she got murdered in particularly brutal fashion.

There was always a mystery to what transpired, and Gibbs had never really found out the truth.

Wait, is that Gibbs? And a hot Gibbs?


There was surely going to be a reason for Gibbs's blood to be on Ellen's clothing.

There was no way the show was going to throw its most beloved character under the bus in that manner.

Gibbs Finds Torres - NCIS Season 16 Episode 18

Gibbs never felt good enough for Ellen, and I suspect that was part of the reason their relationship went south.

Ellen calling Gibbs in the dead of night on her final night alive was her way of trying to get help.

Related: NCIS: New Teaser Sheds Light on Ziva Mystery

Gibbs being hauled in for questioning was quite the surprise, but what else could his team do?

The evidence was starting to stack up, and Gibbs was not truthful about anything. 

Staring at the Screen - NCIS Season 16 Episode 20

He was telling information on a need to know basis, and that's what rubbed McGee the wrong way. 

The latter felt like Gibbs did not trust him with the information.

But in reality, Gibbs was struggling with guilt for not being able to do better by Ellen.

Palmer: It’s like watching John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon.
Torres: That is the whitest thing I’ve ever heard.

I dare say he felt ashamed by his actions. He thought that leaving Ellen behind would mean she would be safe.

In reality, if Gibbs were in a relationship with her at the time of her death, then there's a good chance he would have answered the call and saved her life.

Gibbs to the Rescue - NCIS Season 16 Episode 14

It's easy to think like that after such a devastating incident, but fate has a funny way of working. 

There's no telling how things would have played out in that scenario.

Gibbs was tenacious when he realized who the killer was.

He wanted a confession out of Daniel, and I loved that he cut the caps off the chair in a similar way to the way he did it when he was being grilled earlier in the episode.

Deep Trench - NCIS Season 16 Episode 20

Daniel was stupid if he thought he was going to get away with the murder forever.

When they found the remains and the whole thing started to unravel, he must have known the net was about to close in.

Disposing of the body in proximity to his home was silly.

The 9/11 terror attack succeeded in giving him a way out.

But he really should have moved the body if he wanted to get away with the murder for the rest of his life.

I was trying to do the right thing for her. But she still ended up here. I regret that choice.


The best parts of "Hail & Farewell" were the way the team reacted to their leader getting framed.

Gibbs is generally the one to call the shots, but he got removed from the case at one point.

Related: CBS Confirms Fate of NCIS

McGee did what he thought was right, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the others were too casual about the evidence.

I get that the NCIS follows different rules to the police, but he should have been questioned much earlier and removed from the situation.

Funny Stuff - Tall - NCIS Season 16 Episode 17

Ellen's father James never approved of Gibbs, and it showed in every single one of their conversations.

The most striking of which was that James considered Daniel family.

That's got to sting now that he knows what's happened.

This was the perfect episode to move away from some of the other more serialized storylines.

Still, I want to know more about the Ziva mystery.

What did you think?

.Were you living for the Comic-Con references?

Hit the comments.

Remember you can watch NCIS online right here via TV Fanatic.

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NCIS continues Tuesdays at 9/8c on CBS.

Hail & Farewell Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (47 Votes)

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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NCIS Season 16 Episode 20 Quotes

Wait, is that Gibbs? And a hot Gibbs?


Palmer: It’s like watching John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon.
Torres: That is the whitest thing I’ve ever heard.