The following contains spoilers from the Feb. 9 episode of NCIS.
Early into this Tuesday’s episode of the well-watched CBS procedural — the first in which we saw McGee, Bishop et al talking about pandemic life — a discussion about homeschooling alluded to Jimmy Palmer (played by Brian Dietzen) now parenting “solo” when he goes home each night. Moments later, Jimmy confirmed the worst by referring to having “lost Breena,” his wife.
In the name of Linda Reagan, I ask: Whaaat?
As viewers were left to wonder what happened, Kasie expressed concern to Gibbs that Jimmy had tripled his workload since losing Breena and also was being overly cheerful to an “unsettling degree”; Gibbs interrupted Jimmy’s exam room yoga session to talk about it, but got interrupted; Ducky asked Dr. Palmer, “Are you sure that you’re alright?” when Jimmy Skyped him with a very basic question; and McGee and Bishop said they too were worried about their colleague when he bounded through the orange room, raving about a masseuse reco.
Sloane shed a bit more light on the timing, saying that a grieving Jimmy wasn’t even able to give Breena a real memorial, due to the pandemic quarantine. Sloane nudged Gibbs to talk to Jimmy, saying, “if anyone knows what he’s going through, its you.”
Update: Viewers never were told how exactly thirtysomething Breena died (though portrayer Brian Dietzen told ET Online she died of COVID). Gibbs did finally pull Jimmy aside to make clear that no chiropractor or change in mattress will not make him sleep better at night. “The problem is here… and here,” Gibbs said, touching Jimmy’s head and heart, before observing his friend is “stuck” in the Denial stage of grieving. Jimmy then noted how “the hospital wouldn’t let me see her,” shortly before Breena passed. And at episode’s end, Gibbs asked the team back to the office, in suits and such, so that Jimmy could give Breena a proper farewell, reading the farewell letter he never got to share with her.
NCIS had spent the first five episodes of Season 18 in the “past,” by flashing back to a period of time from last season (the winter of 2019-20), during which Gibbs embarked on a secret mission with Fornell. This week’s episode marked the first time the show had basically “caught up” to the real world, as Bishop and Torres grabbed squirts of Purell upon reporting for work, after which the homeschooling discussion indicated that both Jimmy’s daughter and McGee’s twins were markedly older.
Michelle Pierce played Breena in about a half dozen NCIS episodes over the past decade or so, most recently appearing midway through Season 12, when she gave birth to daughter Victoria.
Also in this week’s eventful episode, the stage was set for cast member Maria Bello’s announced exit, when Gibbs gleaned that Sloane was packing her office. “I think it’s time I slowed my life down a bit…. maybe go to Costa Rica… just be,” Sloane shared. Asked what he thinks of Jack’s plan to leave NCIS, GIbbs… said not much.