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Post Mortems

Brian Dietzen Says That NCIS Alum's Dreamy Return 'Was Such a Blessing'

NCIS 19x13 Breena

The following contains spoilers from the Feb. 28 episode of CBS’ NCIS.

It was a little over a year ago when NCIS, with its first episode set during the pandemic, pulled a Linda Reagan on us and gradually revealed that Dr. Jimmy Palmer’s wife, Breena, had died of COVID.

Due to an imperfect storm of COVID protocols while filming plus the off-screen time jump, viewers didn’t get to see Jimmy say farewell to his wife. But that was rectified somewhat this Monday, when series alum Michelle Pierce reprised her role as Breena  in a dream-like sequence.

NCIS BreenaThe episode “The Helpers,” co-written by cast member Brian Dietzen (who plays Jimmy), opened with Jimmy resting his head on Breena’s lap, in the middle of an idyllic field. While Jimmy speaks of how much he has missed her, Breena is focused on getting him to open his eyes — meaning, we soon learn, regain consciousness after he fainted back in the NCIS lab, where he and Kasie had been exposed to a deadly biotoxin.

As both Jimmy’s portrayer and a co-writer of the emotional hour, Dietzen told TVLine, “One of the big reasons why I wanted to put this [scene] in there was because Jimmy never got to say goodbye to his wife on-camera, and the audience never got to see her and say goodbye either.

“The reasoning behind that is not just to give a cool cinematic opening” to the episode, but also because “I wanted to have Michelle back to the set, and she wanted to come as well,” Dietzen added. “The fact that we were able to have Michelle come back was just such a blessing, as she definitely has been one of my favorites to work with on the show.”

Plus, because the (did we mention it was emotional?) episode also re-introduced viewers to Jimmy and Breena’s SORASed, now-tweenage daughter Victoria (played by Elle Graper), “It also was a way for us to have the three of us — myself, our daughter and Breena — all in one episode, albeit we weren’t together all in the same scene,” Dietzen noted. Having mourned Breena for over a year (and still wearing his wedding band), it was important “for Jimmy’s sake to be able to say, ‘I’m moving on, and I can do that because my wife is telling me it’s time for me to not to live in the past with this anymore and be more present as a father,'” says his portrayer.

What did you think of “The Helpers,” including Jimmy and Kasie’s brush with death, Jimmy bonding in new ways with Victoria, and Breena giving her widower the nudge to “move on”?

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