NCIS is back, and so are the EW recaps! Yes, the cast is a little different, and the show's now airing on Monday, but what are a few changes when there are crimes to solve?
When we left him at the end of season 18, Gibbs' boat got blown up good. Thankfully everyone's favorite agent survives, although he's got a chunk of boat sticking out of his side.
When he comes to, he finds himself padlocked inside a barn by a feisty older couple who suspect him of being mixed up in the North Shore gang that's been giving them trouble. But hey, at least the husband's a retired veterinarian, so Gibbs has been patched up as well as a horse would've been.
His team doesn't know this, of course, and they fear the worst, particularly when there's no trace of Gibbs after they determine that it was a pipe bomb that destroyed Rule 91. (Truly, imagine spending seven years building a boat in your basement only to have it blown to bits on its maiden voyage.)
Although Palmer wonders if Gibbs was absorbed back into nature, the presence of a woman's body in the lake makes them think there's more happening here. Between that and Bishop's sudden departure from the team (and the show), nobody's handling things very well.
At least Casey LoJacked the electronic bug-finder she lent to Gibbs, so off they go to the last location where it was used. Although Vance threatens to saddle them with a bright-eyed probie, McGee and Torres agree that they'd prefer an experienced agent like Jess Knight (Katrina Law, who made her NCIS debut last season). Naturally, this is a Vance trick to get them to think that they have a say in their new teammate.
The LoJack location leads them to Marcie Warren (Mark Harmon's real-life wife Pam Dawber, for those not in the know), who's worried sick about Gibbs. Conveniently, he calls her while she's standing in the big orange room, and when she hands the phone to McGee, he demands round-the-clock protection for Marcie, then hangs up. Rude!
Then again, Gibbs has been dealing with the cantankerous couple. They'd only agreed to stop holding him at gunpoint and let him borrow their phone when he identified the sheriff's deputy sniffing around their property as an imposter.
That's enough for the couple to enlist his help in finding Sandy, the woman who delivers their groceries and whose no-good boyfriend's mixed up in the North Shore gang. She's gone missing, so they give him the rifle and their old Harley so he can investigate.
Meanwhile, the team's running a parallel investigation with Marcie's help, as she deftly dodges their questions about the nature of her relationship with Gibbs (she's seen him in his socks!) while also filling them in on their serial killer investigation. Clearly, Marcie and Gibbs were on the right track; the woman pulled from the lake matches the killer's MO: bludgeoned with a claw hammer and bound with red duct tape.
Casey pinpoints the spot where the woman was likely dumped, and McGee, Torres, and Knight head out to the abandoned ranger station nearby. There, they burst in on Gibbs, who's not at all grateful for the rescue.
And okay, I'm just going to say it: Gibbs is being a bit of a jerk here. His found family were all worried that he was dead, and now he's being brusque and uncommunicative. He's never the warmest of guys, but geez, man, have some empathy.
Well, not too much empathy because it's time for a gunfight. The cabin, which is full of meth hidden in cans of gasoline, is quickly surrounded by the fake deputy and his gang, including poor Sady who's been dragged along for the ride.
Out goes Knight in full flustered-woman mode, apologizing that her car ran out of gas. Her performance gives the rest of the agents time to get themselves into place to get the drop on the gang, who quickly surrender.
During questioning, the fake deputy swears he's just a drug dealer protecting his business, not a murderer or boat-destroyer. So the drug dealers are off the street, but a serial killer remains on the loose. The team is rightfully concerned that Gibbs will get himself killed working solo to solve the case, particularly when McGee figures out the meaning of Rule 91: when you decide to walk away, don't look back.
When he tracks Gibbs down back at the barn, McGee reminds his boss that the team can operate without him, but they're better together.
Gibbs' typically enigmatic response is to tell McGee how proud he is and to encourage McGee to keep pushing. When McGee does just that, asking if Gibbs is still part of the team, Gibbs responds with a tiny smile, asking, "What do you got?"
Looks like the band's back together, for a little while at least.
Season 19, friends! Can you believe this is the show's first-ever new timeslot? This season may look a little different with Mark Harmon reportedly taking a major step back and new characters coming on board. Speaking of, Katrina Law's Jess Knight is already off to a fine start as an agent with a sense of humor who can go with the flow but drop baddies with the best of them. Bonus points when she considers using throw pillows to cover the stains on her couch.
For the record: Casey has Sloan's elephant painting hanging in her lab. I'm glad it found a new home at NCIS.
Poor Torres. Whatever his relationship with Bishop was, he was comfortable enough to stash a gun in her air vent. In NCIS terms, that's a step away from picking out china patterns together, no? Or as Palmer puts it, "Guess you guys just blew right past the toothbrush phase." Whatever their situation was, it's pretty crappy of her to vanish on him like that. Here's hoping his heart's just bruised, not broken.
Okay, so how did Gibbs get that boat out of his basement?