CBS’ NCIS – aka TV’s most-watched scripted series – premieres its ninth season this Tuesday at 8/7c, picking up a titillating thread from last May’s finale: On the heels of the Port-to-Port Killer’s reign of terror, Agent Tony DiNozzo was tasked by the new SECNAV with a top-secret mission to take care of an NCIS mole who’s selling secrets. The wrinkle: Tony recognized his target from a photograph supplied him, meaning that familiar face is now in his crosshairs. Meanwhile, given how Season 8 ended, will Gibbs be more protective of his team than ever?
Series boss Gary Glasberg shared with TVLine a look at those storylines and other Season 9 twists to come.
TVLINE | How much time has lapsed since the finale?
On screen, we’re going to start the show in real time, in September, look back all the way to May, and then sort of jump through the mission that Tony (played by Michael Weatherly) was on, and carry us all the way up to present day.
TVLINE | That was quite the potential bombshell you literally handed him there.
Yeah, and I have to say, people are going to see a side of Tony that they’ve never seen before. I highly, highly, highly recommend that you not miss the first five minutes of the show, because it’s going to start with a bang.
TVLINE | Tony obviously recognized his target. Would we?
Absolutely. And in this [premiere], a lot of that is going to get tied up. We’re going to learn what the microchip was that EJ found [in Agent Levin's arm]; we’re going to learn who’s in that photograph; and someone is going to die – someone near to NCIS. It’s a roller coaster ride, and the nice thing is that while Tony’s aspect of the mission will wrap up, a whole other door will open at the end that sort of keeps the whole thing going. It’s not quite over.
TVLINE | And Sarah Jane Morris is back as EJ….
She’ll be back in this episode, and then we’ll see….
TVLINE | Is EJ back on her own volition, or does somebody pull her back?
It’s all part of the story. She has close ties to Tony, she’s got that microchip, and it alllll comes together.
TVLINE | With everything that went down at the end of last season – the Port-to-Port killings, that Gibbs (Mark Harmon) was basically hoodwinked by EJ’s connection to the SECNAV – will Gibbs even more protective of his turf, of his NCIS family?
He’s always protective of his team, and he values the way they function as a group and how one part is just as important as the whole. If anything, we’re going to try and do some storylines this season where the group has to function as a unit, and it’s been working really nicely. You’ve got this new SECNAV (played by Matt Craven) that has an agenda of his own — for better or for worse – and that’s something that they’re not used to. In some ways, it unites the team even more because you’ve got Vance (Rocky Carroll) now sort of working with them in trying to figure out how to deal with him.
TVLINE | “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.”
Yeah, and interwoven in that we’ve got all these individual stories for our characters, as we always do. We’re going to reopen the “NCIS Family Album.” Were just wrapping up with Lily Tomlin as McGee’s grandmother. That’s a really fun storyline, and a big, McGee-centric episode that’s not just about family; there’s a procedural aspect to it as well. RJ Wagner is coming back [as Tony's father], Ralph Waite will come back [as Gibbs' dad]…. And in the first six episodes we’re going to learn something about Abby’s (Pauley Perrette) family and background that no one is going to see coming.
TVLINE | They’re, what, Amish?
There you go. [Laughs] That’d be fantastic. I want to write that.
TVLINE | And how long until we see “CI-Ray” (played by Enrique Murciano) again?
He’ll probably show up about midway through [the season]. That storyline is alive, and he’s off doing his thing…. We look forward to getting back into it again.
TVLINE | I was telling Cote [de Pablo] that she deserves more than an empty box, man.
Tell me about it. I agree. What was that about? Oh, and then we have a really interesting Ducky story that we’re going to do. I hope it’s going to have people on the edge of their seat because it gets into his personal life, then dovetails into a case as well. It’s going to be a really special episode for David McCallum, so we’re excited about that.