For its 200th episode, "NCIS" (Tue., 8 p.m. EST on CBS) took a more unconventional approach to its usual procedural format. While there was still a case at the heart of the episode, the rest of it saw Gibbs taking a rather unexpected look back at his life and some of the tough choices he's had to make along the way. And it all happened in that flash before he was hit by a bullet.
What it really explored was Gibbs wishing that he could have it both a career saving lives, and a wife and kids. His old buddy Mike Franks came back, along with several other familiar faces, to help walk Gibbs through this realm of alternate possibilities, set in his favorite diner.
There he saw the family he didn't get to watch grow and flourish, the man he killed for revenge alive and well -- and the downward spiral sparing him would have sent Gibbs into -- as well as his mother and father and all the guilt and resentment wrapped up in those relationships. It was a family gathering filled with plenty of Easter eggs for longtime fans of the show. Newer fans likely missed many of the nuances or cameo appearances, or the emotional significance of many of the scenes.
But there was no denying the scene of Gibbs with his wife and daughter, as well as the pain they'd have gone through had they not died. Apparently, he would have died instead. All in all, it looks like the near-death experience taught Gibbs to let go of his guilt and learn to accept the decisions he's made. It should be interesting to see how his new outlook on life impacts his work on future cases.
Find out as "NCIS" continues Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.