NCIS has done an admirable job of filling the void left by Michael Weatherly's absence in Season 14, introducing a handful of new characters for viewers to get invested in. And while "Philly" brought the return of the previously introduced Clayton Reeves (played by Duane Henry), the episode was most notable for adding some major context to the life of Jennifer Esposito's Alex Quinn. Sadly, there weren't many smiles involved.
As the episode's title so deftly implied, Philadelphia was the setting for part of tonight's drama, but the death being investigated was not the most important one. Quinn made it abundantly clear that heading to that city was as far as could be from her to-do list, and the source of that displeasure was more emotionally shattering than I might have expected, even after all of the episode's foreshadowing of the reveal. It turns out she was partly to blame for the death of a fellow cop.
Because this was the kind of story that not just anyone could hear about, Gibbs takes the trip to Philadelphia himself after a distressed Quinn succumbed to disturbing flashbacks and hit up a bar for liquid therapy. The agent confessed that while she was on a task force stakeout with Port Authority officer Emily Shaw, nearby gunmen shot at Shaw after she exited the police vehicle, and she died before Quinn could do anything about it. Why did she get out of the car in the first place? Because Quinn was arguing with her fiancé over the phone, and it was only polite for Shaw to give her partner some privacy.
Completely busted up over the death, Quinn chose to leave the fieldwork behind for a career change over to the instructing side of things. But now she's back in the game, and Gibbs got her more squarely on the road to self-comfort by offering sound advice, and she went to visit Emily's widow and son to further close that door. Or at least push it down to a small crack.
Quinn told Gibbs that she and the then-lover ended up breaking it off soon after Shaw's death, and that she became hesitant to hop back into a relationship. One has to assume that this relationship narrative path will cross with that of fellow new character Nick Torres, who is known to have shared some potentially lusty moments with Quinn in the past. Let's hope things were a lot happier for Quinn where Torres is concerned.