At the end of the CBS procedural's 12th season, Gibbs (Mark Harmon) was shot twice by a boy whom he had befriended named Luke (Daniel Zolghadri). As it turned out, Luke had been recruited by The Calling to become a terrorist, and Gibbs' fate was unclear as the finale ended.
NCIS showrunner Gary Glasberg talked with The Hollywood Reporter about how the shooting impacts the season, what Jon Cryer brings to the cast and a potential shocking change in Tony DiNozzo's (Michael Weatherly) love life.
Season 12 wrapped up with quite a shocking cliffhanger. What's to come for Gibbs?
When you leave your main character shot twice on the ground in the Middle East, you have to pick up where you left off. So we pick up right on the heels of that, and Gibbs is rushed into surgery, where he connects with a Navy surgeon, played by Jon Cryer. We're very excited to have Cryer join the group for these episodes — there are a couple of more coming down the road. He plays the role brilliantly in an old-style M*A*S*H fashion. He and Gibbs really connect, and then when Gibbs comes out of there, fans will really notice a change. You can't go through something this traumatic and not have it affect you, and it affects Gibbs emotionally and psychologically and physically, and that change will trickle down to the rest of the team. There's a tremendous amount of emotional stuff that's going to go on between our team members throughout the season.
How does the shooting affect the tone of the premiere?
It absolutely has an effect on Gibbs as he comes back and his view of things — his perspective on the job, his perspective on how much longer, how many more lives does the cat have. And that really start to eat away at him as the season progresses.
Will we see its ramifications play out through the rest of the season?
Mark Harmon has been doing a beautiful job of arcing that out for us, and we've got some exciting stories that go along with it as the season progresses. An episode that teams him up with Rocky Carroll's (Leon Vance) character in a Butch and Sundance situation, an episode where he and Michael Weatherly really come to terms with their relationship and the fact that DiNozzo looks to Gibbs as a mentor. And then a terrific undercover storyline that sends our whole group undercover that is lighter and more fun. So we've got a bunch of stuff on the horizon that takes us all the way into the fall and continues this storyline of where Gibbs is in his career and in his personal life.
Will the events of the finale harden Gibbs at all or make him less trusting?
I think there's some truth to that. I think it's about trust. I think it's about looking at this family — and he does view it as a family — and wanting to make sure that, in the event that something happens to him, that someone has their back. It's looking ahead and really looking beyond the immediate and looking at the way that the job has changed and the types of cases that they face and the world of terrorism. It's sort of adjusting to change in general and how that affects NCIS as well.
What romantic storylines can viewers expect this season, especially for DiNozzo?
A really significant story is Emily Wickersham's character, Bishop, and how this job with NCIS is affecting her marriage. That will continue to arc out and really take her on a a bit of a journey, and she's been doing a beautiful job, and we're excited about where that's headed. Down the road, we'll continue to delve into the love life of Tony DiNozzo, and there might be some surprises for people a little further down the road into the season on that one, especially for our diehard fans.
Uh-oh! Might this involve the return of a certain familiar face?
I don't know! We'll have to see what unfolds. I'm not going to say a word — I'm just going to say we'll definitely be getting into DiNozzo's love life. Across the board, Margo Harshman will be back playing Delilah, and McGee (Sean Murray) has moved in with her, and that relationship will continue. She's been a wonderful guest for us, and we're excited to have her back.