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It was an episode of goodbyes.

Both Ziva and Phineas exited the series, at least for now, on NCIS Season 17 Episode 11.

It was a heartwarming episode that would have been a perfect place to break for the holiday hiatus.

Oops, too late for that.

Instead, it will be just the first during a January full of new episodes, robbing it some of lingering impact.

Rather than just picking up where NCIS Season 17 Episode 10 ended, the story of how Gibbs told Phineas about his mother's death was told via dark flashbacks pulled out of Gibbs by Jack, instead.

Of course, Gibbs blamed himself for Sarah/Sahar's death and Phineas's resulting disappearance.

And so did Ziva blame herself, for that matter.

At least we finally found out who Phineas was.

It was an interesting twist that he was actually Sahar's son. It seemed much more likely that she had just acquired an orphan while she was off the grid.

Poor Gibbs. He had gotten too close to Phineas (and Sarah) in too short a time.

That's why he was naturally raging at everyone around him who was trying to simultaneously help and console him as they searched for Phineas.

What was unexpected was how Torres was almost as intense about the missing Phineas as Gibbs.

It was effective having Jimmy, Ducky's successor as the keeper of office secrets, fill in Ziva about the impact busting a child-smuggling ring had had on Nick.

Torres insisting on teaming up with Gibbs was a great idea, as it kept both of them from doing something they might regret. 

Phineas had already showcased his intelligence on NCIS Season 17 Episode 9 when he helped out the team solve the murder of a Navy-related YouTuber.

Those smarts helped him stay one step ahead of Gibbs and company, escaping by bike, bus and almost plane.

And frankly, that stunt with the knife to help him escape from Victor was a beauty, especially after he quoted one of Gibbs' rules back at him.

We probably should have suspected there was more to Victor than just being a minor criminal and that he knew more than he was letting on.

For instance, he knew Sahar's whole story, including who Phineas's father is, which potentially meant a big payday for Victor.

Fortunately, the thug at Victor's club knew just enough to set the team on the right path to finding Phineas, even though in the end Phineas had his situation under control, using the TSA to take out Victor.

Gibbs and Jack continue to get closer. It appeared that an embrace was imminent, but no, that was just Gibbs hitting the elevator button so that he could escape and continue hunting for Phineas.

Jack knew she had to get in Gibbs' face to force him to get out his feelings, something that is practically anathema to him. But at least she was able to get him to understand that Phineas's situation wasn't his fault.

Then Jack took the extra step to locate Phineas's "aunt and uncle," the foster parents he had after he arrived in the U.S.

It was a nice touch having Aunt Micki played by Karri Turner, who played Harriet Simms on JAG, the series that spun off NCIS.

In fact, Turner as Simms was listed among the cast on the JAG "Ice Queen" episode which served as the NCIS pilot. But this isn't the first time that actors have played different roles within the same NCIS franchise, continuity be damned.

Was it the right call to send Phineas back to the only family he had known before Sahar re-entered his life? Definitely.

As close as Gibbs had grown to the boy, there was no way he could have worked out long term as Phin's guardian. It's better that Jethro Gibbs and Phineas pay occasional visits to each other instead.

Now on to Ziva's final appearance (who are we kidding?).

The four NCIS Season 17 Ziva episodes have proven that Ziva has become an anxious mess when it comes to her personal life.

She's still kickass in the field, though. That was a great clothesline she used as the suspect tried to flee on Phineas's bike.

Tony's cautiousness about responding to her text filled her with doubt.

But her father figure Gibbs was there to give her some tough love, to buck her up and quell some of the anxiety she had been having about heading to Paris to reunite with Tali and Tony.

Now, will fans ever get the Tony-Ziva-Tali reunion with NCIS that they want? Bull can't continue to limp on, can it?

Or will we have to wait for the series finale for that to happen?

The best part of the episode is when Ziva said goodbye individually to each character: speaking French with Kasie, praising her successor Bishop, urging Torres to tell Bishop how he feels, and quoting "The Wizard of Oz" to McGee.

Then came her final hug with Gibbs, during which he reassured her once again.

That last scene didn't feel like a final goodbye but rather an au revoir.

To review Ziva's return, watch NCIS online.

Are you sorry to see Phineas go?

Will we see Ziva again?

Will Gibbs and Jack get together?

Comment below.

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