Fall TV Preview

NCIS Preview: Gibbs' Shooting Triggers a 'Fundamental' Tonal Shift for Series

NCIS Renewed for Season 14

NCIS vet Michael Weatherly wouldn’t be the first to suggest that the CBS drama’s May finale perhaps didn’t leave everyone guessing as to the fate of team leader Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who in the closing moments got shot — twice — by a terrorist network’s very young recruit.

“I don’t think anyone thought that was going to be Cliffhanger of the Year, because obviously he’s coming back,” DiNozzo’s portrayer told TVLine earlier this week. “It’s more about how he comes back, how that impacts the team, and what the ramifications are.”

Rocky Carroll, who plays Vance, echoes that viewpoint, while raising another provocative question: “It’s funny, because people say, ‘If Gibbs goes, so goes the show. So he’s got to survive.’ To which I say, ‘Yeah, but will he be the same?'”

Because make no mistake, that second bullet from The Calling’s Luke hit Boss bad. That was no through-and-through, no mere flesh wound. (“He got popped,” Carroll asserts.) And Season 13 will pick up on Sept. 22 mere moments after that gun shot, with no less than Alan Harper aka Jon Cryer ultimately summoned to save the day, as a badass Navy surgeon.

“It’s really all in the hands of one of the Two and a Half Men,” Brian Dietzen observes. “He’s going to be doing his darndest to save Gibbs’ life!”

Six thousand miles away in D.C., meanwhile, Palmer, Bishop et al are “scrambling, trying to make sure everything’s OK, that Gibbs is solid,” Emily Wickersham reports. “We’re also trying to put a stop to [the larger terrorist threat] as soon as we can. The kid is stopped, but The Calling is no joke.”

Yet even in success, there may be limits to what Cryer’s Dr. Taft can pull off. “It’s going to be interesting to see what the hell happens with Gibbs this year, because that’s the type of thing that can change someone pretty significantly,” Dietzen notes. “Getting shot by a child is pretty nasty, and pretty momentous. But this season our writers have pulled together one of their most cohesive plans in a long time.”

And where might that plan take the original NCIS team?

“I think what we’re going to have this year,” Weatherly ventures, “is a fundamental shift in the show — and that’s a fascinating thing to see,” 13 well-watched seasons in. “I don’t want to give away too much, but I think the audience will respond with great interest to some of the tonal changes.”

There may be changes in responsibility within the big orange room, as well, depending on Gibbs’ condition coming out of the delicate surgery. “This plotline could serve a lot of purposes,” Carroll hints, “and really allow the characters to kind of come into who they really are, or who they’ve been working toward becoming.” Citing McGee, for one, as a “computer geek” who evolved into “a  very good agent,” he says, “All of those things are going to come into play, all spawned from Gibbs being shot.”

McGee himself, Sean Murray, joins in the tease-filled chorus, warning, “A lot of people are going to be surprised by what’s coming up.

“A lot of older shows tend to figure out where their ‘safe place’ is and stay there,” the actor continues. “We, though, like to keep things moving, so this is going to be a really interesting year.”

Want more scoop on NCIS, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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