‘NCIS’: Gibbs’ Sudden Absence Leads to ‘Fun Sparring’ on the Team

by | November 5, 2013 at 7:35 AM | Interview, NCIS, TV News

Mark Harmon, left, and Ralph Waite on "NCIS" (Photo: CBS)

Back when “NCIS” started, Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) seemed to be estranged from his father Jackson (Ralph Waite). That is until the episode where a case require Gibbs to return to his hometown — and the two men came to a better understanding.

On tonight’s episode, things have progressed to the point where Gibbs actually leaves an NCIS investigation in the middle of solving the murder of a dead Marine Sergeant to help his father, who needs to reconnect with a former war pilot.

“He doesn’t walk away from the case,” executive producer/showrunner Gary Glasberg tells xfinityTV in this exclusive interview. “He stays in touch. He is on the phone with them the whole time. The thing that is going on here is there is something that is very significant to his father, and it is made clear that it is significant, and that Gibbs has to help with it. He recognizes how important it is to Jackson and ends up doing double duty.”

Another interesting event is that despite the fact that Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) has seniority over Tim McGee (Sean Murray) — and was considered competent enough by NCIS Director Jenny Shepherd (Lauren Holly) when she was in charge to be offered a promotion to head his own team — the two men bicker over who should lead the investigation in Gibbs’ absence.

Emily Wickersham Joins the Cast of “NCIS” as Series Regular

“There is some really fun, brotherly sparing that goes on in this episode,” Glasberg says. “One of the things that Ziva’s (Cote de Pablo) absence has allowed us to do is have fun with the two of them, and let them run with some storylines and the way their characters behave. This was an opportunity to embrace that, have fun with it, and let McGee and Tony go at it.”

Watch a Sneak Peek of Tuesday’s New Episode “Better Angels”:

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is that McGee has doubts about Tony’s competence because of the latter’s current issue with sleep deprivation. But Tony finally fell asleep at the office at the end of last week’s episode, and hasn’t had an issue since. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t still display some complexities of character caused by Ziva’s departure, but that will figure more into next Tuesday’s episode, according to Glasberg.

The last few weeks have seen temporary additions to the team — Vera Strickland (Roma Maffia), Agent Borin [Diane Neal] from the Coast Guard, and even McGee’s girlfriend Delilah Fielding (Margo Harshman) have all helped with cases, but this week, it’s just the boys.

Watch Full Episodes of “NCIS” Here on xfinityTV:

Which means we will have to wait until the Nov. 19 episode, “Gut Check,” for the new, permanent addition to the team, as that is when Emily Wickersham will come aboard as NSA Analyst Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop, who is similar to a Carrie Mathison in her brilliant deductions — but without the bipolar disorder.

Glasberg also revealed that there will be a special Christmas episode, entitled “Homesick,” airing on Dec. 17, which will revisit what is going on with NCIS Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) since the death of his wife.

“Then there is an interesting, really solid, good story about a virus that is getting military families sick,” Glasberg says. “It sounds really dark, but it makes for a good backdrop for the Christmas episode and focuses on Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) working with her friend Meredith Eaton, who plays Carol Wilson, and Palmer (Brian Dietzen). They are all putting their heads together in the lab to try to get to the bottom of what is happening.”

“The Better Angels” episode of “NCIS” airs Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 8/7c on CBS.