This Tuesday on NCIS (CBS, 8/7c), director Leon Vance risks setbacks both professional and personal as he readies to return to duty in the wake of wife Jackie’s shocking death.
But is it all too much, too soon?
“Vance has been ‘out to sea’ a bit, emotionally and in other ways,” Rocky Carroll tells TVLine. “Here’s a man who at NCIS represented the ‘nuclear family,’ and all of a sudden an avalanche of things happened. Now he has the responsibility of trying to keep things together for the sake of two young children, and at the same time try to investigate this murder.”
Though Carroll says Vance is “champing at the bit” to get back to work, he receives a tenuous welcome upon resurfacing at NCIS HQ, “because the feeling is that he’s probably not emotionally ready to be there. Vance is going to put up a good front and say, ‘No, I’m fine. I can handle this,’ but it’ll be very clear that he’s far from being his old self.”
Not helping with the widower’s composure is what Carroll describes as a “multidimensional series of discoveries” Vance makes while going through Jackie’s things. “He learns his wife’s true feelings and true assessment of what Vance does for a living, what the pitfalls of being the wife of an NCIS director are, what she felt she needed to do in order to live,” the actor shares. “You see where Jackie had to take matters into her own hands.”
Putting Vance through this crucible, Carroll feels, is the writers’ way of taking the great love that NCIS fans oft profess for TV’s most watched drama and saying, “Let’s put it to the test.”
“When you love somebody and they go through a real adversity, you don’t back away from that relationship,” he notes. “You don’t say, ‘When you’re better, call me.’ The opposite happens. Your bond strengthens, and you become even more vested.”
Speaking of stronger bonds, Carroll says you can probably expect more scenes like the one between Vance and Gibbs in the episode “Shiva,” where the NCIS director opened up to acknowledge the new, deeper understanding he has of his No. 1’s own personal tragedies.
“In one fell swoop, they’ve created this incredible parallel of lives between Ziva, Vance and Gibbs — all through death,” Carroll says, alluding to Eli David (who was killed with Jackie in Mossad boss Ilan Bodnar’s assault on the Vance home). “Now that Vance has lost his wife, he begins to see Gibbs in a different light.”