‘NCIS’: Vance’s Poem Was Heartbreaking and Haunting

by Lauren Boisvert

There was a moment in season 18 of “NCIS” that hit us all where it hurts. When Fornell finds out his daughter has died, Director Vance shares a poem with him and the team that pulled at all our heartstrings. According to Vance, a friend sent him the poem when his wife died. There’s a moment where he reads it aloud in the NCIS offices, cut with different instances of the characters expressing their grief.

The poem itself is “Epitaph” by Merrit Malloy. It explores death as a stripping away of everything except love, that death leaves us as nothing more than what people love about us. The memories keep us alive, while our bodies die. The beginning of the poem starts with the act of giving things away, but living on in the eyes of our loved ones. Not as memory in the mind, but as physical reminders. We can remember those who have left us by letting go, and by loving others purely and wholly.

Admittedly, there’s nothing truly remarkable about this poem, style-wise. It uses simple language and images, but the impact that it has on its readers is astounding. It packs a lot of punch in those short lines and stanzas. The poem was powerful enough in the moment, that “NCIS” fans took to Twitter and Reddit to praise the writers. Two even claimed that they would read the poem at their loved ones’ upcoming memorials.

That’s the kind of impact that poetry can have on a community. It brought the characters together to mourn, and it also brought “NCIS” fans together. As a poet, the best thing in life is when your work touches people like this, helps them heal, and brings them closer to those around them.

Will ‘NCIS’ Be Renewed for a 20th Season?

While we’re all coming together over this heartbreaking “NCIS” scene, I guess it’s a good time to ask: are we going to get a season 20? There’s been no word yet, but the current season isn’t over quite yet. So, we may have more time to sit in renewal limbo.

CBS usually waits until the last minute to announce their renewals, anyway, like they did with “CSI: Vegas.” I’m hoping they break tradition for, arguably, their most successful franchise, though.

Additionally, the ratings have been holding steady, with an average of 7.3 million viewers since the last Gibbs episode. That means “NCIS” will likely be renewed unless the ratings dip astronomically in the last episodes. Which, I don’t predict, so I think we’re good. Hopefully, no one else leaves at the end of this season, or else the viewership really will decline. It’s obvious that some people stopped watching after Mark Harmon’s exit, but that hasn’t gotten the flagship down. The ratings are still high, so we’re looking forward to season 20.