CBS’ NCIS resumes Season 18 this Tuesday with back-to-back episodes — one which turns a vacation into a husband/wife caper, followed by another that (finally) sheds light on why sniper Gibbs shot McGee in the season premiere.
TVLine spoke with series vet Sean Murray about Tim and Delilah’s unexpectedly eventful escape to the Bahamas, and the actor’s action-packed role in the resolution of the mysterious airport shooting, which he says will have “heavy” ramifications.
TVLINE | Delilah (played by Margo Harshman) is back! What’s the occasion?
Well, we’ve got an episode where McGee and Delilah take off to the Bahamas, on a vacation… and fun ensues! [Laughs]
TVLINE | And playing the role of “the Bahamas” will be… what, Valencia, California?
We did our best with the beautiful Palm Trees of Oxnard Beach. I think we did pretty good, from what I’ve seen, as far as selling the Bahamas.
TVLINE | And it is a case of TV serendipity that a case falls in their lap?
Always. Always. It’s good, though, because it’s at least for a good reason. A case unfolds [back in D.C.] and it links to something in the Bahamas, so we get involved. But the original reason that Delilah and McGee go on vacation in the first place is because they’ve been married a couple years, they’ve got kids, so you hit that lull in the relationship. They’ve got to get their groove back. And this certainly helps!
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TVLINE | Now if I’m Delilah and Tim is on the clock during vacation, I’m going to want to join in and do some sleuthing of my own. Does she get that chance?
Absolutely. Delilah has her DoD skills, so absolutely. It’s been a little while since we had her doing her thing, and I love when we have Margo Harshman on. I love to play the domestic storylines for McGee, because it’s very different than what we usually do. It keeps it interesting, and it’s also fun to do.
TVLINE | On a far more serious note: We saw McGee get shot, by Gibbs, in the season premiere’s cold open — before the show time-jumped back to November 2019. I was frankly surprised by how many readers thought it would get resolved right away, who didn’t realize it would be a slow burn. Will we get more on that mystery soon?
This is a double header this week, two new episodes back-to-back, and the second one is where we basically catch up to the point in time we showed in the teaser at the beginning of the season. We saw an abbreviated part of that sequence, and now we get to see all of what happens. It’s pretty cool, and I’m not just saying that to tease it. It is pretty cool.
TVLINE | The synopsis for that second episode (airing at 9/8c) says, “Gibbs and Vance let the team in on a case with dangerous implications.”
Last season we show Gibbs going off on his own and disappearing for a bit, and the team didn’t know he was working with Fornell to infiltrate this opioid ring. This week the team finds out that’s what he has been up to, though we kind of figure it out at the same time he lets us in on what’s happening. So, we all are in for the big win on that, trying to resolve that.
TVLINE | Does the team’s debrief explain why Fornell suddenly had a hep ponytail?
[Laughs] You know what, I had the same question.
TVLINE | Maybe Joe Spano didn’t want to get haircut during the pandemic?
I don’t know — Fornell can be an odd character. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s him, I swear.
TVLINE | After the second episode, is the show set in the “present”?
We’re caught back up to real time once that episode airs, yes. And we do eventually at some point get into the COVID, it is acknowledged. I don’t think we’re heavily acknowledging it, but I think it’d be dopey to act like nothing happened.
TVLINE | What’s funny is that every CBS show, including each NCIS show, is handling the pandemic a bit differently. New Orleans got deep into it, on Los Angeles it’s in the past, on MacGyver it’s in the past but they’re about to flash back to it. I, for one, would like Los Angeles to share with us how it went away.
Right! I would like to know that as well.
TVLINE | In the two episodes coming up this week, was there anything new you got to do as an actor?
You’ll see the extended version of what happens at the airport, and story-wise it’s pretty impactful. But just as far as the shooting of it, it was awesome. I got to do all kinds of stuff I hadn’t done before, especially as McGee — quite a bit of action stuff. I remember showing up the morning we shot that sequence, and for the first shot they say, “You’re going to be in a sedan behind that tower, you’re going to peel out around there, going left. You’re going to stay at about 30 miles-per-hour. There will be four airplanes slowly taxiing, you’ll pull to the right at 60 miles-per-hour. When you get to the fourth plane, donut to the left, where you stop the plane and jump out of the car.” And then they handed me the keys! Like, “Are you good with this?” I said, Let’s go for it.” It was a helluva day.
TVLINE | I often wonder how much driving actors get to do. I’m always trying to stare past the windshield.
Obviously, you don’t want to put people in dangerous situations unless they are qualified to do that as their job, but there’s also this element of, “I don’t mind taking a couple of cuts and bruises if it’s going to look a lot better.” So as that sequence progresses, we were able to do a lot of really cool shots. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but I was so into it. Like, “If we can get this, let’s just do it.” We ended up not using stunt people in that sequence, whereas normally they would have. But I wasn’t in any real danger.
TVLINE | Before we go, give me one last tease about what’s coming up….
We’re going to talk about why Gibbs shot McGee, and that’s going to be a pretty heavy subject. It’s a ball that gets rolling.