Warning: SPOILERS for tonight’s NCIS episode, “Once Upon A Tim,” are ahead!
Timothy McGee has been a part of NCIS since nearly the beginning, having debuted as a recurring character in Season 1 and being upgraded to the main cast the following season. Although we learned bits and pieces about Tim’s life before joining NCIS in the past, tonight’s episode, “Once Upon A Tim,” marked the first time we actually flashed back to his younger years, specifically his time in high school. When I spoke with Sean Murray about the McGee-centric NCIS episode, he noted that he was surprised to learn about Tim’s past romantic history and his dancing talent. In the actor’s words:
I was interested to learn about his first semi-girlfriend. I mean, I had my own ideas about McGee growing up. And actually, I’ve been real happy with, with what we've shown of the character in his past. We've seen the relationship with his father in the past as well. So it kind of seemed more of that I think was nice. And seeing the tap dancing portion of it was, was I think a lot of fun. And it was fun to tap dance throughout autopsy, even though I had no idea how to tap dance, I just kind of flail my arms around.
We’ve known ever since he was brought on to NCIS that Tim McGee knows his way around a computer, so it didn’t come as any surprise to learn he was already quite the computer whiz kid in 1994. What was new was learning that he had a fellow computer enthusiast as a friend: Chloe Crane (played by Sammi-Jack Martincak in the flashbacks and Audrey Moore in the present day). The two of them were clearly close, as Chloe kept encouraging Tim not to join the Navy like his father wanted and pursue his own dreams, but some romance was also sparking between them.
Alas, because the McGee family moved after the events of the flashback, Tim and Chloe never got to explore becoming something more than friends. However, the two did reunite in the present day when it turned out that Chloe was connected to NCIS’ case that involved a murdered Department of Defense contractor knowing information about Tim’s first PC, and that computer subsequently being nearly stolen from his home. Tim is now married to Delilah Fielding and has two kids with her, but perhaps future NCIS episodes could bring back Chloe and see her resuming her friendship with Tim.
As for the tap dancing, while Tim showed off his moves for the first time in over two decades in the autopsy lab, Sean Murray told me that he wasn’t quite as swift on his feet when shooting that scene. He explained:
Well, you know, they have brought in… this overly qualified tap master to come in and do his thing. We had kind of done a quick little training section. He learned pretty quickly that I wasn't the best dancer in the world. So I think we kind of came up with something sort of not too complicated to do, but it's a good thing you don't actually see my feet and the scene.
Unfortunately for teenage Tim McGee, his father, Navy Commander John McGee (played in the flashbacks by Matthew Glave) did not approve of him focusing so much of his time on tap dancing, to the point that when Tim stood up to his father and told him that he didn’t want to join the Navy, John took Tim’s tap-dancing shoes and burned them. Ironically, it was later revealed that John was also a tap dancer in his youth, and gave Tim his own tap shoes after he realized he couldn’t force his son to join the Navy. Working at NCIS and raising a family takes up a lot of time, but I wonder if this marks Tim resuming his tap dancing as a hobby.