The Unexpected Way NCIS Filmed That Big Season Premiere Fight

ncis gibbs mcgee cbs

(Image credit: Image courtesy of CBS)

Warning: major spoilers ahead for the Season 15 premiere of NCIS, called "House Divided."

NCIS has finally returned to CBS for Season 15, and fans got to see the payoff of the big Season 14 cliffhanger. When last we saw Gibbs and McGee in Season 14, they were left behind and stranded with a whole bunch of hostiles in Paraguay, and we could only wait until the premiere would explain if and how they could possibly both escape with their lives. Well, "House Divided" gave us our answer: the two could work together to outsmart and outfight their captors.

Before we got to see them working together to escape, however, we saw Gibbs and McGee get into an ugly fistfight, and it seemed pretty clear that neither man was pulling his punches. It was a shocking scene that seemed to indicate that they were both breaking down, as it wasn't obvious right away that it was a ploy they were in on together. Now actor Sean Murray, who plays McGee, revealed how he and Mark Harmon went about performing the big fight, saying this:

We had a lot of fun filming that scene. (Laughs.) I remember Mark and I talking to each other, and you know, there's the typical stunts that are filmed with the stuntman. But Mark and I put our heads together and said, 'You know what, let's just go for it. Let's just start wrestling. Try and get some punches in the stomach, around the shoulders. Let's just wrestle and grapple.' That's what we did and went for it and improvised a lot of it. You see later that there was a bit of a ruse to that, something that I think they had been cooking up a little bit.

There's a reason why the fight between Gibbs and McGee wasn't slick and choreographed and beautiful. Sean Murray and Mark Harmon actually improvised a great deal of the fight, and the result was a conflict that seemed pretty realistic both as something that would deceive their Paraguayan captors and as something the two characters would have planned together. They both got some good hits in, but neither crippled the other. It was reasonable for their captors that neither would be especially fighting fit after two months of minimal food and relative squalor, especially given that Gibbs had been recently waterboarded, and they wouldn't have wanted to damage each other too much considering they needed to escape. It was a somewhat sloppy fight, and it really worked. Sean Murray went on in his chat with ET to explain how Gibbs and McGee's dynamic will unfold in the rest of Season 15:

It absolutely has brought them closer and we reflect on that as we go on. There are things placed here and there; there are reminders. It's not just, "Oh, OK that happened and we're all good. We're back to normal." That's a scarring thing and there are things that both characters take from it that are troublesome and hard to deal with. You'll see some of that as the season goes.

New episodes of NCIS air on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. A big new character is on the way to mix things up for Gibbs, which should help compensate for the big departure. We can be sure that the effects of Gibbs and McGee's time in Paraguay will continue to be felt, as two months of captivity and literally counting beans to survive can't be forgotten just because of a happy homecoming and some heartwarming hugs. The odds are that NCIS won't be all gloom and doom from now until May, but nothing so major as their time in Paraguay can be done away with too quickly. Check out our fall TV premiere guide for your other viewing options.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).