The good news: Leroy Jethro Gibbs is indeed alive and well. But is he ready to rejoin his NCIS team?
When last we tuned into TV’s most watched drama, Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) was tooling around in his newly finished boat when the vessel suddenly went boom, with him behind the wheel. In the wake of the fiery explosion, we saw Gibbs doing the Dead Man’s Float for a bit… before he suddenly and surreptitiously swam off, underwater.
“We shot a lot of different things for that [sequence], and there were a lot of different ways to cut it,” showrunner Steven D. Binder told TVLine during our in-depth Fall Preview Q&A. “And what we left with was something that we felt left all possibilities open. We know he’s not dead right there, and we know he’s able to swim well enough…. All things are still possible with Gibbs.”
Binder said that Season 19 — which premieres Sept. 20, and will occupy the long-running procedural’s first new time slot ever, Mondays at 9/8c — picks up not long after that explosive twist.
“Gibbs has been hunting down this serial killer,” Binder reminded, “and he’s doing it alone,” save for the help of investigate journalist Marcie Warren (played by Mork & Mindy alum/Harmon’s real-life wife, Pam Dawber). “He’s cut off from his team… but in the beginning episodes, that’s going to change.”
But will things change so much that Gibbs, who spent the latter stretch of Season 18 suspended from NCIS (after assaulting a dog-killing POI), finds his way back to his desk in the big orange room?
After all, TVLine reported in June that Harmon would appear in a relatively small number of episodes this season, ranging from “the low single digits” to “a few.” (The actor’s allegedly reduced presence came in the wake of a report that he was poised to exit NCIS altogether, until he learned that doing so might get the plug pulled on the show.)
Binder told TVLine that “a lot of things are reported on this show that aren’t necessarily true,” and that while filming/production continues to be “a bit more complicated” due to ongoing COVID safety protocols, “What we’re trying to focus on right now is telling the best stories we can with the characters we have — and Gibbs is a part of that world. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job with that.”