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NCIS is going to look very different when it returns for its sixteenth season on CBS next week, and not just because the team will be dealing with the kidnapping of Director Vance. Pauley Perrette left the series after playing a key role from the very beginning (and even the JAG backdoor pilot that launched it) in one of the final episodes, and there wasn't a whole lot of time left in Season 15 to really face what the show would be like without Perrette as Abby. Season 16 will give the characters the chance to get used to work without Abby on board as well as carrying on with her replacement in the mix. Diona Reasonover, who plays Abby's replacement, shared this about how the characters will struggle with Abby's absence:
We get a chance to see McGee [Sean Murray] accidentally call Kasie Abbs and it's not about warming up to her so much as it's a shift, it's a new person. We're going to have to watch the team, just like we saw Sean have that really beautiful moment where he realized that his friend wasn't necessarily working there anymore.
The good news is that it sounds like the NCIS team won't give Kasie a hard time just because she's not Abby. They're just all very, very, very accustomed to Abby as the forensic scientist on board. Characters like Gibbs and McGee have also been on NCIS from the very first episode, so it's to be expected that they might fall back into old habits of treating their forensic scientist like Abby. Diona Reasonover's comments to Newsweek indicate that the team will struggle with the shift from one era to the other.
At this point, I have to wonder if the manner of Abby's departure will make the transition even more difficult for her friends and former coworkers. She wasn't killed off like other characters have been or written off as seemingly definitively as Michael Weatherly was a couple seasons before, and it's entirely possible that she could one day return to her old stomping grounds. That's not to say that returning to the U.S. would mean that she wants to jump back into NCIS action, but the characters may have the possibility of her return constantly in the back of their heads.
So may fans, for that matter. We can only hope that NCIS handles transitioning Kasie into the ensemble in a way that endears her to fans. She should be helped by the fact that she debuted last season, so viewers won't be expected to accept an altogether new person in Abby's new position when the show returns. We do already know that the set on Season 16 is different without Pauley Perrette, although at least one member of the cast has nothing but good things to say about working with Diona Reasonover.
Fortunately, fans don't have too much longer to wait before NCIS returns for Season 16. The premiere will air on Tuesday, September 25 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. NCIS: New Orleans and NCIS: Los Angeles will both debut slightly later in the fall TV lineup.