It was only appropriate that the 1,000th episode of the NCISverse aired on the Mother Ship.

While NCIS Season 21 Episode 7 didn’t live up to all the hype (what could have?), it was still enjoyable and well-constructed.

It also skillfully drew upon NCIS’s long history, going back 21 seasons.

The spotlight fell on Rocky Carroll’s Director Vance, who has been too close to becoming a recurring character in recent seasons.

The storyline hearkened back to one of Vance’s shining emotional moments when his wife Jackie was killed during an assassination attempt on Eli David on NCIS Season 10 Episode 11.

Mendng Fences - NCIS Season 21 Episode 7

As expected, that event had lasting repercussions on the Vance family.

Kayla followed her father’s lead and became an NCIS agent afloat.

Jared, who was closer to Jackie, had been adrift since then, never committing to anything in Leon’s mind.

For his part, Jared didn’t understand how Leon could stay with a job that had taken so much from him.

Estranged Son - NCIS Season 21 Episode 7

The latest version of their ongoing disagreement abruptly ended when Leon crumpled to the ground after being shot, beginning this adventure that would take the franchise back to its roots.

The complex mystery that started there soon would draw in the most important recurring character in NCIS history.

That would be Joe Spano’s Retired FBI Agent Tobias Fornell, who has appeared in 58 episodes (even one on NCIS: New Orleans). He goes back further than McGee, the longest-running member of the current squad. 

Most of those came with Gibbs, as he provided the humor that Jethro kept so well hidden. Fornell proves that snark is ageless.

Guest Investigator - NCIS Season 18 Episode 9

Tobias showed up after an explosion had damaged his “forever home,” as he later pointedly reminded Parker and McGee.

I support any excuse to bring in Fornell. Like Robert Wagner’s Anthony DiNozzo Sr., these timeless recurring characters belong to the franchise, not to any particular departed team member.

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With NCIS historian Ducky gone as of NCIS Season 21 Episode 2, Tobias provided some much-needed institutional memory that ultimately cracked this case.

Another nod to the franchise that wasn’t nearly as successful was Nick’s video chat with Kensi Blye of NCIS: Los Angeles and Jane Tennant of NCIS: Hawaii.

NCIS Attacked Season 21 Episode 7

Sure, the main squad would have warned the other branches about the attacks. But the video chat added nothing to this “special” episode other than being a nod to two of the spinoffs. It was no NCIS crossover.

Sadly, Jared was the person who let in the person with an axe to grind with NCIS: His online girlfriend, Lindsay. You wouldn’t expect a veterinary tech from Oregon to be the mastermind.

Poor Jared. First, his father goes down amid an argument they were having at Jackie’s grave.

Then, by the way, he gave access to the person who shot his father and planned the attack on NCIS.

Enemy Returns - NCIS Season 21 Episode 7

However, the whole experience proved to Jared that he was more like Leon than he wanted to admit, starting with the detailed diagram of the shooting scene he gave to Parker and McGee.

More importantly, he got to see his father’s team in action, which helped him understand how much like a family NCIS was.

The team had located and taken Lindsay into custody fairly early on. Then came the hard part: Getting her to spell out her dastardly plan.

Even more interesting was the choice of the actor playing her tool: T.J. Thyne, who portrayed the brainy Dr. Jack Hodgins for a decade on Bones.

Blast From the Past - NCIS Season 21 Episode 7

Thyne joins a not-so-exclusive club, making two appearances as two different characters on the long-running procedural. He portrayed Carl, an assistant warehouse manager, back on NCIS Season 1 Episode 13.

This time out, he played a character unlike Hodgins: Fletcher Voss, the egotistical but seemingly absent-minded owner of Bandium, Parker’s favorite communication app that he imposed upon the team when he took over on NCIS Season 19 Episode 6.

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It turned out that Bandium was losing value faster than Truth Social if that’s possible. He needed NCIS to renew its contract with Bandium.

So he thought he’d found a sucker in Lindsay, who had an unspecified grudge against NCIS, on a message board, trying to use her to precipitate a crisis to reinforce Bandium’s importance to the agency.

Wants to Move Up - NCIS Season 21 Episode 7

Instead, she used him in the hopes of completing her late father’s long-ago objective by injecting his phone with a virus. Some genius, huh?

It took the unlikely combination of Curtis from Cyber and Fornell to assemble the pieces.

Curtis determined it was a virus causing the power to fluctuate at NCIS headquarters.

Maybe Vance should grant his wish and let him out of the dungeon more often, even though new additions to the squad don’t have a great survival rate overall.

Mysterious Enemy - NCIS Season 21 Episode 7

Then Tobias recalled where he had heard Lindsay’s quote in her rant. It was used by a man who wanted to assassinate the President way back on the series’ first episode in 2003.

That was also when Gibbs recruited Caitlin Todd, who would become the second member the team lost (following Vivian Blackadder from the backdoor pilot on JAG).

Naturally, the Secret Service wouldn’t believe the virus threat and the team had to make a dash for a much-needed confrontation at the airport to save the President from Lindsay and his protection detail.

Fortunately, Leon and Jared enjoyed that heartwarming flashback and discovered they’re now on the same page about NCIS. Who knows, maybe Jared will be a probie down the road.

Past Enemy - NCIS Season 21 Episode 7

Did this qualify as a “special episode”?

What was your favorite Easter egg?

Had you put everything together by the time Fornell did?

Comment below.

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.

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