Season 8 Episode 23

Swan Song

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 10, 2011 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (17)

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out of 10
363 votes
  • 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...?
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A recurring character will be missed **spoilers**

    Mike Franks will be missed. In every single episode his character was in, the NCIS story was fully enriched into a thrilling viewing experience, and now he's gone. I wonder if he had smoked too many ciggies, anyway, but I mostly recognise him as the maker of Gibbs rules, and in every episode he was in, a true rebel inside (or outside?) the team´s investigations, even the shadow behind Gibbs' agenda to take revenge on his (first?) wife and daughter killings.

    I was hence not surprised to get to watch Ziva, Abby, Dinozzo, and McGee's emotional reaction to his departure, along with Gibbs' mourning during the whole episode... it was truly heartbreaking.

    The episode was a near perfect set preparation for what I hope will be a magnificent season finale, unless, as in previous seasons, another troubling episode is set for us, emotionally charged at the end as the one that was given in the season 2 finale when Kate was killed by Ziva's half brother Ali.

    Can't wait to watch it.
  • Confusing first 10-15 minutes, but then we had a very enjoyable, interesting, and saddening episode!

    This was definitely a good one, even though I have to admit that I was a little lost over the course of the first quarter ofr third of the episode.

    The storyline was definitely a good one, as has been the whole storyline with this P2P killer! It was interesting, but admittedly confusing. I didn't see it coming, when the most shocking thing in this episode happened, and I will not spoil i t for you if you are yet to see it.

    I definitely was very sad with the events that transpired in this episode, and it was a littl e touching. Hopefully the nest episode (season finale) will be just as good, becaues this whole season was mostly great!

    I definitely recommend this episode, and I eagerly anticipate the season finale!
  • I feel quite conflicted about this episode and about the whole port-to-port killer story arc.

    Now that we know more about the serial killer, I can't shake the feeling that it seems far too scriped, written till it fits.

    First, there is this cliché, stereotype CIA-trained killer gone rogue. I all but groaned when this was explained by Cord.
    Next, there is this whole Barrett situation. It seems to me Barrett was brought in for the solo purpose to become the focus of the port-to-port killer. Gibbs had never given up the lead of an investigation on his turf and the same second someone takes from him, a psychopathic killer feels some kind of connection with Gibbs and targets his rival? Hard to swallow.
    And last but not least, Mike Franks. I can't shake the feeling that the only reason he was called to Washington, was to die there.

    The last thing I feel a bit ambigious about is Ziva's behaviour. Our battle hardened mossad agent and experienced ncis agent gets all emotional in the autopsy room and elevator.
    First, it felt wrong, out of character for her but then I thought how far she has evolved over the years and how open and emotional invested she has become towards her choosen family and I believe I can accept it.

    Since we are still short of the seasons final, the overall conclusion is still pending, but so far this seasons ending is not up to par to recent years.
  • A solid lead into the season finale!

    I found myself a little critical of the last couple of episodes for minor things. But this episode for me helped to put those criticisms to rest providing us with much needed answers.

    While for me anyway, it was fairly apparent who was in the body bag I still enjoyed the way in which it was handled and, thanks to the great character development, was able to actually feel an emotional connection to the team whose visible portrayal of grief was spot on. This in turn brought about one of the best team moments of the season, if not the entire series - the elevator group hug!

    Of particular note also, was Zivas' emotional response, and the comments she made in the elevator. This is a nice evolution from the character we were introduced to in season 3. Also of note was the definite moment between her and Tony - and judging by the trailer for next weeks episode, the on going chemistry between these two characters may very well be finally addressed.

    With the P2P killer gaining momentum and with Barrett and her team in immediate danger the stage is set for what's shaping up to be one hell of a finale.
  • 5/10

    Well, we know who the Port to Port Killer is. I am a fan of NCIS and I actually liked the fact that the show ventured into Dexter territory with this arc of a killer over a couple of episodes, it was a nice little way to shake things up, but frankly this episode was a little bit too dull. Too many sob scenes, too many forced arguments among the crew, and to be blunt, "Swan Song" just did not entertain me much.

    The season finale should be good when we see the aftermath and how everything plays out and the shootout was not bad, guns firing is never boring, but this episode just really did not entertain me. A rarity for NCIS, but it is true.
  • A 9 on the reliability scale!

    All in all, I felt this was a good episode of NCIS. From last week, I was super nervous about who would kick the bucket. Franks was somewhat of a surprise, and yes it was a little sad. The look on Gibbs' face at the beginning of the episode said it all. Somewhat of a slower episode, but most certainly not boring. It was so sweet to see Tony hug Ziva in the elevator when she broke down, and it was even better when the elevator opened up on Mcgee and Abby hugging it out. Awww... a bit of Tiva and Mcabby there. :) They found the ptp killer, now it's just a matter of tracking him down. Can't wit for the season finale next week, its gonna be epic!

    As for this episode, it was much better than the guy below said. Overall 9/10!
  • this is the real deal !

    I honestly don't care about any reliability scale or dullness or whatever. This episode was a 10, and one of the best this season. We got answer for everything we needed to know.

    It was sad to see Franks dead. He was a good character and Gibbs' mentor. It's also understandable to see Ziva cry over him. She was captured and tortured for months. A Mossad agent or not, anyone would be broken down. It's even more surprising that she hasn't shown any sign of ptsd (Posttraumatic stress disorder). Another most interesting scene was to see Tony hug Ziva. It's really not possible to comment on that. Love? Brotherly love? affection?

    However, the ending made me so happy almost like I have never been before. (spoiler) P2P killer puts the gun in her throat. The look on her face. Priceless.

    All in all, it was awesome.
  • The Port-to-Port Killer arc heats up with a sad yet wonderful episode.

    From the first few minutes I knew this was going to be a great episode. Though it was apparent who was going to be killed, the main focus was on the "how" and the events leading up to it.

    If I have to pick out one thing, among many, that made this episode great, it would have to be the way in which it unfolds. Having Gibbs telling the story to the ghost of Mike Franks was not only interesting and well-written, but also harked back to the two-parter "Kill Ari", where the team see and talk to Kate's ghost after her death. Though it was apparent that Franks was going to die from early on (at least, it was to me anyway), I still really enjoyed watching the story unfold and the subsequent reactions of both Gibbs and the team.

    But I can't just pick one thing that makes this episode great as there are many reasons. As always, we are reminded of some minor and major plot points from past episodes by means of subtle references in dialog. Now, I love these and I applore the writers for putting them in. Not only do they appeal to the long-time NCIS fans, but I think they enrich the overall story, making the NCIS world feel that much more real.

    Aside from this, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the tremendous character moments, most notably the scene in which Tony comforts Ziva in the elevator, before arriving outside Abby's lab to find McGee doing the same for Abby. A lovely and believable little moment that really shows the humanity of these characters. Furthermore, the aptly written scene between Gibbs and Vance near the end serves as a wonderful moment between these two men who, until now, have been at each other's throats. Again, a lovely moment.

    But, the major event in the story is, of course, the death of Mike Franks. A fantastic addition to all of the episodes he has been in since his appearance in "Hiatus", I will most definitely miss him. The writers/producers obviously wanted to give the P2P Killings more weight with the audience by killing someone they are familiar with, and for me at least, they certainly hit the spot. Though I may not like it, it is real and well-written and some brilliant television. His death was handled with care and respect for the five years his character has been a part of the series and for that, I thank them.

    To round up what is probably my longest ever NCIS review, it would be thoughtless of me if I didn't praise the wonderful acting from all cast members in this episode. In particular, Mark Harmon (Gibbs) never fails to deliver, and is able to convincingly convey seriousness or sadness, as he does here. For the second time in a row, we see how Tony is affected by the loss of someone he knows, which is again marvelously played by Michael Wetherley, with Cote de Pablo portraying a weakened, perhaps even defenseless Ziva, something I don't think we have seen before - certainly not in a while. Behind the scenes, I'm sure there was also a real feeling of sadness from the cast, as they parted with a recurring guest star that has been a part of NCIS for several years now. It certainly came across on-screen.

    We've got here a thoughtful episode that deals with a wide-range of emotions, from happiness to sadness. Yes, it was slow. But it had to be. And though one of my favorite recurring characters is now dead, I'm sure NCIS will continue the trend it has set recently and show us yet more interesting and exciting episodes. For the second time in a row, this one gets a perfect 10.
  • The Port to Port Killer begins to strike close to the team. A great episode, primarily because of the way it was told.

    This episode was probably one of the best all season. Even though I figured out pretty early on who was the one that died, it was still interesting watching as they build up to the moment he died. I also very much liked the format of the episode, flashing between present time and past time. Another thing that was great was how, woven in the character's dialogue, references were made to previous episodes. Doing this allows long-term fans, like myself, to actually connect all of the episodes and seasons together. "Swan Song" was also very real, and believable, as some of the episodes this season have been lacking that factor. The team's respect and sadness at losing Mike Franks is definitely potrayed correctly, as I could imagine anyone acting like that after losing a dear friend.

    And finally, who would I be if I didn't mention perhaps the greatest moment of this entire episode? At first, it was hard to believe that a tough Mossad agent like our Ziva would break down and cry over the loss of someone she didn't even know that well, but I got over all that as Tony went to comfort her. It was so cute, watching them hug in the elevator and then see Abby and McGee doing the same thing. When they all came together for a group hug, it showed how much they rely on each other as an unstoppable team. This also contributed to the episode being "real", as it shows the regular person side of the characters. Maybe it's not love, but there's definitely strong connections between Tony and Ziva, even as he is dating EJ. This episode ended with a cliffhanger, and going into the season finale next week, I'm definitely nervous as to what's going to happen!
  • Very good episode except for the slow beginning maybe

    Ok I have to tell this: surely the best episode of NCIS for all shippers in the world :)
    Come on, we have this great Tiva/ McAbby scene in the elevator and the imminent death of EJ, why ask for more?^^

    Ok so I knew from the first minute of the episode that Mike would be the one to die, it was so obvious even though they carefully not show Ziva at all during the entire first scene. I was a bit skeptical about the flashback scenes with Mike in them not really being there but it changes from usual flashbacks.

    Good job including trent Cort into the mix and I loved his interaction with Tony and all the jokes about his eye^^ Though we don't get a clear explaination of how exactly P2P got his eye.

    Good cast for the P2P with Kerr Smith. It's a bit weird to see nice Jack from Dawson playing a ruthless killer but he showed he could act on his dark side in his Charmed episodes. Moreover he is really handsome^^

    By the way, no link at all but what's whith the make up and the illusion that Mike is ill. Is it so we're not too sorry he is dead because he was going to die anyway? I didn't quite get that.

    Otherwise the team reaction to his death was huge, which actually felt a bit weird considering that I didn't have the impression that they cared so much for him except for Gibbs of course and maybe Abby.
    Though I can't deny that it gave us this AWSOME scene in the elevator between Tony and Ziva (really cute) and Abby and Mc Gee. I had to watch twice to be sure I wasn't imagining it^^ thank you dear NCIS writers. I really like the conversation between Vance and Gibbs about their relationship and why they do what they do. Then we see them act together which is very different from what we had during this season where they were constantly bickering at each other.

    And what to say about the last scene. First as one of the member of the "EJ go to hell" club ^^ I hope P2P will succeed BUT I have to say, who would think that EJ would be stupid enough to go on her own to chase P2P after he's got two of her men down? really? What about the big guy bleeding to death? She should have stayed with him and secure the perimeter while waiting for rescue and backup. I hope the two guys make it because I liked their characters and they could do nice appearance from now and then, as for EJ's future... I'll have to watch next episode.

    So on the whole a good episode with good basis for the finale and lots of emotional scenes with P2P striking the team so closely. I hope the finale will be even better than that!!
  • sigh....

    I loved this episode EXCEPT for the end... I agree with the other reviewers.
    It was obivous from the beginning that Franks was dead...which was a HUGE disapointment. I'll miss his character. I wonder if he had a terminal illness. Won't be surprised if Duckie breaks the news that he was dieing. It was so very sad...loved Zeva's reation and with Tony in the elevator...then the group hug. LOVED it!! So sad and sweet.
    Wish the writers would just let Zeva and Tony be together.
    I can NOT stand Barrett. Her character was irritating from the start and the pairing of Tony and her....made me NOT want to watch NCIS. It's gotten so old. The WORSE part was the last minute of the show....Pleases writers do something NEW...OMG they kill off Barrett's team members and think we're going to believe Barrett will be shot and die next week. It WON'T happen. Very silly cliffhanger. I'm sure she'll get the gun away from the killer and LIVE to be more irritating. I'm just hoping she will NOT be back next season. Hopefully she'll be transfered. So that's my only complaint about tonight. I would have given it a 10 if it weren't for the ending.
    LOVE NCIS and I'm looking forward to next week!
  • An amazing set-up to the season finale with great story-telling, editing, music, and of course, acting.

    This episode, though quite predictable in many ways, highlighted some of the many reasons why we love this show. NCIS show writers use the strength of their words to convey humor, depth, emotion, love and mystery while the actors take these words and bring them to life in believable characters. While the usual cast line up did an excellent job as usual, some may point out that Ziva's emotional scene seemed out of place or uncharacteristic. Initially, I felt the same. It seemed strange to see her suddenly so emotional about someone with whom she'd spent relatively little time. But there are many indicators to prove my initial assessment wrong. I think Ziva showed her true self for the first time in a long time. Because she is so good at compartmentalizing, I think we forget that she feels just as deeply as any of the other team members. Sometimes, all of those experiences create a cumulative effect that comes out at a less appropriate time. If you listen to the dialogue, she never says she is upset about Franks' death alone. She is upset about what feels like an uphill battle against monsters who keep coming out of the woodwork. After a lifetime (presumably, given that she joined Mossad at a young age) of fighting the bad guys, she feels the approach of her limits. It's like Rachel Cranston (A Man Walks into a Bar) said that when you keep locking things away, sometimes any response seems appropriate.

    She's been through a lot; granted it was a bit jarring to suddenly see her so emotional, but she chose her time/place to show her weakness. She chose to be comforted by a long time friend (Tony) and we're all glad she did.