Season 8 Episode 23

Swan Song

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 10, 2011 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
358 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The NCIS team has to chase every possible lead when the latest victim of the Port-to-Port killer turns out to be someone with personal ties to the team.

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  • Hugs and comforting scene

    Just love the scene where Tony is comforting Ziva after the shooting. The elevator doors open and Tim is hugging Abbey. Then the group hug in the elevator brought tears to my eyes. Another wonderful scene from a fantastic cast.
  • P2P killer has a face and claims someone close to the team and the loss hits everyone hard.

    This episode is another fine example of why NCIS has lasted so long and was given an early okay for a 9th season. While most tv drama start losing steam long before their 5th season, NCIS seems to be going even stronger in the 7th and 8th season - a testament to the incredible cast of actors and writers.


    This episode begins with Gibbs in what can only be described as in shock and in grief. We see Leroy Jethro Gibbs as we rarely see his character - totally devastated and lost as someone obviously close to him is placed into a body bag. While the show did not show who was in the bag until towards the end, I didn't think it was a deliberate attempt to hide or keep audience guessing as to who was killed - former NCIS Agent Mike Franks, as much as keeping us guessing on HOW he was killed. This made for a very touching and poignant scene when Gibbs opened the body bag and we see Mike's pale face and torso lying on Ducky's autopsy table.

    As the story unfolds, we see the last moments of Mike Franks' life as he confronts the P2P killer in a heroic True Grit fashion. You can't help but cheer Franks onwards and, yet, feel saddened that the curmudgeon but lovable Franks would be no more. And this leads to the glimpses into the NCIS team as they each deal with the loss in their own way which in turns revealed a side of Ziva that was only hinted at in the previous episodes. We also see Tony without his wiseguy facade which he dropped for Ziva and we see a hint that Gibbs and Vance may finally come to a truce if not outright friendship.

    As the setup to the season finale, we are taunted with the fate of Agent Barrett as she straggles against the P2P killer.

    Overall, this is one of the finest episodes of NCIS, and one can only wonder that if this show can hit it out of the ballpark with episodes like this in their 8th season, we can only imagine what season 9 is going to be like or season 10, 11, 12, 13...?moreless
  • The NCIS Team Chases The Port-To-Port Killer When It's Revealed That He Has Infiltrated The Navy Yard. Who The Trail Leads To Angers Gibbs.

    "Swan Song" is a remarkable and important episode. It marks the final appereance of Mike Franks, who was probably my favorite guest star in the series. Yes, sometimes he was very annoying, but I genuinely liked him. I did not follow the story at first when Gibbs stares the body-bag and I think it could have been done better. How exactly did Kort work his way to the story right away? The biggest problem here was how the CIA tried to clean up their own mess. What I liked here was the suspense throughout the episode which keeps the viewer guessing until the very end. Despite the flaws, "Swan Song" is definitely one of the best episodes. It was very flawed, but the very engaging story and good acting overcome those flaws. The finale is next!moreless
  • Almost every episode of NCIS is gold, but this one isn't. This episode was a CONFUSING.

    Almost every episode of NCIS is gold, but this one isn't. This episode was a CONFUSING. It was hard to follow the story line and what motivated characters actions. The flashback storytelling really took ALL the drama out of the episode and only added one genuine laugh to the show. Even as a regular viewer I didn't follow how Cort worked into the story right away. Cort is kind of a confusing character anyway. One thing that the episode did accomplish was getting inside Gibbs head. But, that didn't really add much to the story. Also finding out that the killer's back story was a real let down after all this build up. And the CIA wanting to clean up there own mess was a very weak excuse for not sharing info. I don't understand . .

    How Mike Frank had the box of info on Vance or why Gibbs needed it. Or why Franks thought he was dieing.moreless
  • Superb episode!!!!!!! Sad to see Frank gone.

    The episode kept me on my toes-a very ingenous plot with the very sad part of one of my favorite characters -Mike Frank - gone from the show. I strongly suspect that the port-to-port killer is NOT what he seemed to be. The clue is in Dr Mallard statement that the standard MO has been changed. The strong underlying CIA element of the story make me suspect that the "killer" is a decoy of the true p2p killer. This fact, if true, leaves Raymondo the leading candidate, since I am sure that we are in for another surprise about this on-going puzzle, which in the NCIS tradition will be revealed in S09E01.moreless
Michael Weatherly

Michael Weatherly

Special Agent Tony DiNozzo

Cote de Pablo

Cote de Pablo

Special Agent Ziva David

Pauley Perrette

Pauley Perrette

Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto

Sean Murray (I)

Sean Murray (I)

Special Agent Tim McGee

Rocky Carroll

Rocky Carroll

Director Leon Vance

David McCallum

David McCallum

Chief M.E. Ducky Mallard

Matthew Willig

Matthew Willig

NCIS Special Agent Simon Cade

Guest Star

Alimi Ballard

Alimi Ballard

NCIS Special Agent Gayne Levin

Guest Star

Kerr Smith

Kerr Smith

Navy Lieutenant Jonas Cobb

Guest Star

Brian Dietzen

Brian Dietzen

Asst. M.E. Jimmy Palmer

Recurring Role

Sarah Jane Morris

Sarah Jane Morris

Special Agent EJ Barrett

Recurring Role

Muse Watson

Muse Watson

Mike Franks

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • GOOF/Continuity error: When the team is in the squad room, E.J.'s hair is down around her face. At the crime scene, it is suddenly in a very tight French braid. Then later that day, back at the squad room it is back to being down, and perfectly straight, no waves from being braided. It is very unlikely that she would braid her hair in the car on the way to the crime scene, just to take it down a little while later.

    • GOOF: Early on the episode Cade mentions "Virginia PD". There is no Virginia Police Department, but there is Virginia State Police.

    • TRIVIA: Agent Barrett and her team were in Hawaii following up on a lead on the Port-to-Port Killer, who tried to kill a Sergeant Kevin Jerico. Until that point, "P2P" had only targeted naval personnel.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Gibbs: And you promote that rookie over me?
      Vance: That wasn't my decision.
      Gibbs: Promotions. He hates them.
      Vance: Who? Cobb or you?
      Gibbs: He thinks we have that in common. He-he stole a souvenir from my desk. He was at my house.
      Vance: But he uses bait to attract his targets. He has never baited you.
      Gibbs: No, not me. He feels a kinship with me, because I got skipped over.
      Vance: In favor of Barrett.
      Gibbs: There is no witness. He videoed himself. He is using it.
      Vance: Yeah, to bait the trap.

    • Gibbs: I study you, Leon.
      Vance: I know you do. I study you back, Gibbs.
      Gibbs: It feels wrong... digging into your life like that. But I do it because sometimes I can't understand why you make the god-awful decisions that you do.
      Vance: I feel the same way. The only difference is, you're not responsible for my actions, Gibbs, but I am for yours.
      Gibbs: I should'a been on this case from the beginning.
      Vance: I'm sorry about Mike Franks.
      Gibbs: Thank you.
      Vance: But you called him in. Figured I'd see him and I'd bend.
      Gibbs: You always do, whatever he's got on ya.
      Vance: There's nothing on me! I'm your boss, Gibbs. And we've been tight, sometimes tight like a damn noose. So, if I backed off on our friendship, maybe I had to step back take a deep breath, and do my job. I have other people I have to answer to.
      Gibbs: Maybe, maybe, when bodies were showing up in Europe. But when it's in my own backyard, and you promote that... rookie over me?
      Vance: That wasn't my decision.

    • (In the elevator. Ziva is crying)
      Ziva: There is always another monster.
      Tony: (Pauses) Yep.
      Ziva: I mean, we pursue them, but we just keep making targets of ourselves.
      Tony: Better us than someone who didn't sign up for it.
      Ziva: I don't think I can take anymore. (Tony hugs Ziva)
      Tony: Hey, we're gonna get him. OK? (The elevator door opens to reveal McGee and Abby hugging each other) Bring it in.

    • Kort: Of course, we maintain a pipeline of information within all our sister agencies.
      Tony: You referring to Ray Cruz?
      Franks: Great. Another name.
      Tony: The CIA agent who's been dating Ziva? Is he your "pipeline?"

    • (After he unzips Franks' body bag)
      Gibbs: Bye, Mike.

    • (Gibbs and Franks enter MTAC, where Vance and Barrett are talking with Trent Kort)
      Vance: Barrett, Kort. Meet NCIS legend, Mike Franks.
      Franks: Director. Alright if I stay for this educational briefing?
      Kort: (To Vance) This is, er, sensitive agency information.
      Vance: And this is my agency. I can't think of a better reason for him to stay, other than that it makes you so uncomfortable.
      Franks: (To Kort) I'll take this to my grave.

    • (Gibbs and Tony are walking with Trent Kort, who has lost his left eye.)
      Kort: Can you walk on this side, DiNozzo? Still getting used to the limited peripheral vision.
      Tony: You know, flounders only have eyes on one side of their head? I think that's typical of most bottom feeding mud suckers.

    • Gibbs: No coincidence you were in Hawaii with the Port-to-Port Killer.
      Kort: I wasn't with him. I was pursuing him.
      Tony: (Sarcastically) Bang up job you did there, Kort.

    • (Gibbs is telling the ghost of Mike Franks about the case. He imagines McGee, Tony and Ziva giving him a report on Agent Barrett's findings.)
      Tony: Sergeant Kevin Jerico was walking to his quarters at Pearl when a strange noise drew him to an alley way.
      McGee: It was a wind up teddy bear playing a drum. When Jerico examined it, he was attacked from behind.
      Ziva: He struggled, suffered lacerations to his hands and neck. As he lost consciousness, he saw a bald man drop into the ally.
      Franks: Much better!
      Tony: Crowd responded to the screams. Must have scared off the attacker or the bald man was admitted to the hospital minus an eyeball.
      Ziva: Admission forms give him name as Gavin O'Ryan. He disappeared without being discharged.
      McGee: There are no records of a Gavin O'Ryan residing in Hawaii. There are also no records of a Gavin O'Ryan on any flight, in or out of Hawaii, surrounding the date in question. I will go enlist Abby's help to pursue this further.
      Tony: I will pursue the same mystery using "archaic" and "old school" techniques.
      Ziva: While pretending to have a question for Ducky, I will follow Agent Barrett, and accidently overhear details in her investigation.
      (The three of them leave. Gibbs gets up, Franks follows)
      Gibbs: If only, huh?
      Franks: And what did you find so interesting in all of that?
      Gibbs: Well, the teddy bear. That was new.

    • Franks: They're reading!
      Gibbs: Barrett's report.
      Franks: You just wait for them to finish?
      Gibbs: Yeah... excrutiating.
      Franks: Skip this part!

    • (Discussing the Port-to-Port Killer's failed attempt to kill Sergeant Kevin Jerico in Hawaii.)
      Barrett: Jerico had just been transferred from Norfolk to Pearl Harbor.
      Tony: So he tracked him down and failed to kill him?
      Barrett: Someone intervened. Saved Sergeant Jerico's life, but lost his own eyeball for the trouble.
      Tony: You should tell the good Samaritan we're holding onto his eyeball for him.
      Barrett: Would if I could, but only Jerico was there when we got to the hospital.
      Tony: Failure for P2P. First sign this guy's human.
      Barrett: He's not human, Tony.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Canada: May 11, 2011 on Global
      Australia: May 24, 2011 on Channel Ten
      United Kingdom: June 3, 2011 on FX/FX HD
      Sweden: October 3, 2011 on TV3
      Finland: October 25, 2011 on Nelonen
      Spain: October 28, 2011 on LaSexta
      Germany: November 6, 2011 on SAT 1
      Slovakia: January 26, 2012 on Markiza
      Czech Republic: July 2, 2012 on TV Nova


    • Kort: You ever read that file I gave you on Vance once upon a time?

      Kort refers to the season six episode "Broken Bird", in which he gives Gibbs two CIA files; one on Ducky, and one on Director Vance. Gibbs uses the file on Ducky to prove his innocence when he is framed for murder, while keeping the file on Vance locked up out of respect for his superior.

    • Tony: If we can get her to come out of hiding. She probably thinks the killer's gonna turn on her, just like-
      Levin: Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.

      Rear Window (1954) is an American suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder." The film stars James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter.

    • (Mike Franks walks into the NCIS squad room. Tony shakes his hand)
      Tony: Hey, Mike! How are ya, Mr Franks? Ooh, that's a little weird, huh?
      Franks: Yeah, that nub kinda tickles a bit, don't it?
      Tony: Just a little.
      In the season seven finale "Rule Fifty-One", it is revealed that Mike Franks had his finger shot off during a gunfight with Paloma Reynosa's men.

    • Tony: Out of curiosity, your eyeball - we're holding onto your eyeball for ya, by the way - how come it opens up restricted areas at NCIS?
      Kort: If I recall, you once slammed one of those doors in my face.

      Kort refers to the season six episode "Dead Reckoning", in which Tony denies him access to MTAC because he is only a visitor to NCIS.

    • Tony: Did you tell the good samaritan we're holding onto his eyeball for him?

      The tale of the Good Samaritan is a parable that tells the story of a Jewish traveler who is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan comes by. Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured Jew. The parable teaches to be kind to those in need, even if they are your enemy.

    • The Amazing Spiderman

      McGee is seen reading a copy of The Amazing Spiderman, a comic book series first published by Marvel Comics in 1963.