NCIS Boss, Mark Harmon Tout 'Heart-Wrenching' Two-Parter That Reveals More Of Gibbs' Past

As November sweeps rolls on, CBS’ NCIS next Tuesday at 8/7c will kick off a two-week arc that involves the crash of military plane that was carrying caskets filled with the remains of felled Marines. When the case takes a curious twist, it will prompt Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) to flash back to his days as a young Marine.

“There’s a huge crime scene, and an investigation takes part in trying to identify those remains — with in some cases the remains not being what they were supposed to be,” Harmon told TVLine during a conference call to promote his USA Network movie, Certain Prey (airing this Sunday at 9/8c). “The case kind of births with that, and forces Gibbs to remember a couple of things from his past that connect him toward this current [mystery].”

Says NCIS showrunner Gary Glasberg, “We’re very proud of ‘Engaged,’ Parts 1 and 2 because of the complex, heart-wrenching story they tell, our attempt to depict and honor the bravery of the Marine Corps, and the insight viewers will gain about Gibbs and his early days in the military.”

Exclusive: Eureka‘s Jaime Ray Newman ‘Collars’ NCIS Role Starting Nov. 8

As Harmon points out, the ongoing opportunity to revisit characters’ pasts is what helps keep NCIS fresh, even nine seasons in. “So much of what we do — and certainly when we do the flashback stuff — is meant to give more definition to the characters,” the actor says, “and answer some of the questions people have.”

Once again playing the younger Gibbs in flashback is Harmon’s real-life son. “It was especially fun bringing back Sean Harmon,” says Glasberg. “He shares a certain sparkle in his eyes that must be in the Harmon blood.”

All told, Glasberg reports, “Everyone involved brought their ‘A’ game to this two-episode arc and we hope people enjoy it…. This storyline had us globe hopping from Afghanistan to Arlington Cemetery. Consider it a tribute to our brave men and women overseas who put their lives on the line every day.”

Looking further ahead, NCIS will close out sweeps by shedding another bit of light on a different agent, thanks to an encore by a familiar face. “[After the two-parter] is the return of Robert Wagner, as DiNozzo’s dad,” Harmon says. “And we all look forward to that.”