Warning: The following contains spoilers from the NCIS Season 13 finale, aka Michael Weatherly's last episode. Read at your own risk.
After months of anticipation, nervousness and sadness, Michael Weatherly's final NCIS episode has both aired and come to a close. It's definitely surreal to think that the Season 13 finale was his final episode (for now), but I guess I have to come to terms with it.
I love you all ... and you gotta believe what you gotta believe! I'll miss those days with my great friends!— Michael Weatherly (@M_Weatherly) May 18, 2016
Anyways, I'm not going to lie when I say that Tony DiNozzo's goodbye was a rough one. I mean, did I expect anything less? Saying farewell to the beloved character who has been on since Season 1 was never going to be easy. As sad as I feel right now, "Family First" made for one bittersweet final episode. Not only was it quick-paced and dropped some huge twists (and I mean huge), but it also truly gave Weatherly time to shine. Before I get to his phenomenal final performance as Tony, let's talk what, why and how he made his exit.
The penultimate Season 13 episode left fans wondering if Kort killed Ziva in that farmhouse. Upon seeing the bombing footage, Tony decided he needed to get to Ziva, stat. While holding Ziva's Star of David he said to Gibbs, "I can't stay here. If that's Ziva, I gotta go." While packing his bags, and with some help from Anthony DiNozzo Sr., he was informed that Ziva did indeed die in the farmhouse. Unfortunately, this wasn't some kind of ploy or trick, but she did die. I know, it's devastating. I really didn't think that would happen. And as much as I hate that it did (especially without ever getting another appearance by Cote de Pablo), what Tony found out after Ziva's death either softened the blow or made fans angry.
Mossad director Orli Elbaz came to NCIS to give her condolences to Tony and to tell him that not all of Ziva was gone. That's right, Ziva gave birth to a daughter years ago, who, yes, is also Tony's. Her name? Tali, in honor of Ziva's late sister. Of course, Tony couldn't understand why Ziva didn't tell him she was pregnant (FYI, as he told McGee, Tony and Ziva had "a very fond farewell"). Orli explained that Ziva didn't want to disrupt his life more than she already had. She came to regret the decision, but didn't know how to tell him.
This revelation led to some of the most adorable scenes Tony has ever had. Imagine him playing with Tali and basically being the best father ever. Clearly, he was always meant for the job, because even with all of the emotions he was feeling, Tony took on his fatherly duties with such ease.
Did Ziva deserve better? Maybe. Did she and Tony deserve to end up together? I sure wish they had, because I've rooted for Tiva since de Pablo came onto the series in Season 3. However, her death opened the door for Tony to leave, make a new life for himself and focus on Tali. After finding Kort and killing him with help from his NCIS family, Tony went to Gibbs' basement and told him what will truly make him happy right now is taking care of Tali, going to Israel to find answers and then Paris because Ziva loved it there. As he told Gibbs, before giving him a heartbreaking goodbye hug, "I've never been anybody's everything before." Yeah, Tali, you have one great father. Then, Tony said the words I've dreaded for so long, "That's it. I'm done."
After saying goodbye to Gibbs, Tony made his rounds of goodbyes. He gave hugs to both Ducky and Palmer. Upon saying goodbye to McGee, Tony left him with five words: "Very Special Agent Timothy McGee." How perfect is that? As for Abby's goodbye, she pulled a Gibbs and stopped the elevator, where she told Tony that Ziva once told her how much she truly loved Tony and that he needed to know that.
With the goodbyes out of the way, Tony uttered his final words, "Well, I'm going home to see Tali." He turned and walked into the elevator. End scene.
Really, the entire episode feels like a dream to me. I'm still hoping I'll wake up and this is all something I imagined. Weatherly can't really be done, right? It's hard for me to accept. Plus, between Ziva dying, Tiva having a daughter together and seeing Tony beyond emotional and crying, it all seems like a dream sequence, doesn't it? Is this real life? Well, no, it's TV, but never did I ever think I'd see any of the above happen.
I think all NCIS viewers will agree with me when I say that Weatherly has never disappointed in his portrayal of Tony. However, tonight he took the character to a whole new level. Who's with me when I say that Weatherly gave his best performance ever in NCIS history? The tears, the anger and every other emotion Tony felt after learning of Ziva's death showed that Weatherly is clearly in the right profession. That squad room scene? Yeah, those who've watched the finale know exactly what I'm talking about.
As upset as I am over Ziva being killed, who knows if Tony would've ever left NCIS without the tragedy of Ziva pushing him to do so. Maybe that's what he needed to realize what would truly make him happy and that he really did need to make a change? Even though Ziva and Tony were clearly meant to be, and he would've like Tiva to be end game as much as every other fan, at least Tony still has a part of Ziva with him in their daughter.
I know, it's still not really the same as Ziva being alive, but the Tali story line makes me feel better about his departure. At least Tony has something and someone to live for now, right? Can you imagine if they had killed Ziva and there was no Tali? What would have happened then? Would Tony have walked away super depressed with uncertainty of where to go and what to do? That would've been horrible.
At least this way, Tony knows exactly what he wants and can do it with his daughter by his side. As Ducky told Gibbs, "family first." I'm sure fans are all over the map regarding Tony's exit and Ziva's death, but there's no doubt that Weatherly left a mark on NCIS that will never be erased. Thanks for the memories, Weatherly and Tony. You'll never be forgotten.
And if none of that makes you feel better, here are photos Weatherly tweeted of he and de Pablo watching the finale together.
Thank you and I love you all- Cote is here with me now! pic.twitter.com/RsmWInjMSl— Michael Weatherly (@M_Weatherly) May 18, 2016
Big kiss # NCIS pic.twitter.com/QzpLXrzlEA— Michael Weatherly (@M_Weatherly) May 18, 2016
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