Season 19 of NCIS premiered on Monday with the episode titled “Blood in the Water,” answering the most pressing topic that has been on viewers’ minds all summer. Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), the suspended NCIS team leader, survived the devastating explosion on his boat despite being injured in the finale’s conflagration. Gibbs, who was drenched in blood and seriously injured, stood back and watched as the carnage unfolded at the lake.
After realizing there were no survivors, the remainder of the team – led by Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) and Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) and new “temporary” team member Jessica Knight (Katrina Law) – set out in a desperate search for Gibbs. Those who knew Gibbs well, like Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen), never gave up faith that he would make it out alive. When Torres and McGee discovered that Kasie Hines (Diona Reasonover) had equipped Gibbs with an electronic bug finder the day before the explosion and had secretly installed a tracking device, they knew they’d found the truth.
While he was recovering from his injuries, Gibbs made fast enemies (later friends) with an elderly couple suspected him of being less than legit. The only thing that mattered to Gibbs was that the serial killer he and journalist Marcie Warren (Pam Dawber) were tracking was brought to justice, their deadly mission to find the killer the cause of Gibbs’ near-death experience.
When Gibbs learned that Marcie’s life was in danger, he made his first connection with the team, who called him to inform him that Marcie needed to be protected. (The team also found Gibbs and Marcie’s relationship, but that’s not the point.) It was just a matter of time before McGee, Torres, and Knight intervened in Gibbs’ preparations for an unusual reunion with some suspicious individuals who were posing as sheriffs and buying drugs. With the foursome reassembled and Gibbs in control, the bad guys knew they were in for a fight.
Afterward, when the dust had settled for a brief moment, Gibbs and McGee sat down and talked about where things stood with the team — and Gibbs’ quest to track down the serial killer who was tormenting him and Marcie. Technically on administrative leave from NCIS, Gibbs hinted at McGee taking over the reins, though his protege wasn’t quite ready. At the very least, not yet.
McGee remembers one of Gibbs’ old rules: “Rule 91: When you decide to walk away, never look back.” McGee believes that the NCIS vet may not return until he finds the serial killer.
McGee tells Gibbs, “Rule 91 sucks,” “Rule 91 is bad because it violates Rule No. 1: Never screw over over your partner.”
“I’m not your partner. You see a badge?” Gibbs says calmly.
“The team is your partner and you not being a part of it is screwing us over,” McGee insists urgently, prompting Gibbs to respond, “You don’t need me.”
“You’re right. While you were on suspension, we did our job. We made it work, we did it well. But you know what, we’re better together,” McGee argues. “Boss, you know I’m right. You have to. You built this… Now we got a serial killer to catch, but in order to do that we have to be a team. We need to be your team…”
It’s at that split-second moment a hint of a smile appears on Gibbs’ face. “I’m proud of you… Keep pushing, McGee… You always keep pushing.”
“Does that mean you’re in?” McGee asks, hopeful that Gibbs is back. Sure enough, he gets his wish — for now.
“What do ya got?” Gibbs asks.
Emily Wickersham left NCIS last season, and the premiere episode dealt with her departure. Her character, Bishop, appeared to be planning her exit from NCIS for some time, but she kept her plans under wraps, only informing Palmer after she skipped town to wrap up any loose ends on her behalf. Torres is thrown for a loop when he learns of Bishop’s sudden disappearance and discovers that her phone number no longer works. This will have an impact on him for the foreseeable future.
NCIS airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.