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Spoilers ahead for the March 26 episode of NCIS, called "Silent Service."
NCIS has teased the possibility of a member of the team leaving a couple of times this season, and it became pretty clear that the show was going to follow through with one of them leaving. Ducky announced his intention to retire from NCIS in the previous episode, and "Silent Service" revealed how the longtime Chief Medical Officer was leaving the crime-fighting game. The bad news is that he really did retire from his post; the good news is that he's not gone for good.
Ducky's retirement was a subplot running throughout "Silent Service," as even he wanted to keep it on the back-burner in light of what happened to Gibbs and Bishop. (Torres in particular was concerned.) While trying to investigate a mysterious death on board a submarine, the NCIS agents wound up deep underwater when the submarine went on an unscheduled dive.
The members of the team on dry land had to help solve the mystery while Gibbs and Bishop did what they could from the vessel. Ducky was happy to give up karaoke night with the motor pool -- apparently, with a rendition of a Gloria Gaynor number -- if it meant helping save the day one more time.
Ducky was just about the only one dealing with his looming retirement well, and the rest of the team wanted to find a way to keep him around without needing him to give up his dreams of a quieter life of retirement. Fortunately, by the end of the episode, when Bishop and Gibbs were safely back on dry land, Vance and Co. realized the perfect way to keep Ducky:
Despite Ducky claiming that he "would rather shave my eyeballs" than be thrown a surprise party, his friends and coworkers had a surprise in store for him. They showered him with praise for how his knowledge of all things NCIS had helped them save the day, and while he appreciated their words, he maintained that he needed a change.
Luckily, Vance and Co. came up with a solution as they led Ducky through hallways far from the labs and bullpen. Vance reminded Ducky that the FBI and CIA both have agency historians to "insure that the collective knowledge of those institutions live on for future generations." When Ducky asked what that had to do with him, Vance stepped aside to show the nameplate on a door: "Donald Mallard, MD. NCIS Historian."
Vance assured Ducky that he could come and go as he pleased, and Ducky sounded pretty excited at the prospect of paid part-time work with his pals. Ducky is sticking around! He's just not going to be the medical examiner. This is arrangement that should presumably give actor David McCallum a break from the rigorous filming schedule and still allow the agents to drop by and take advantage of his extensive knowledge from time to time. The friendship won't hurt either!
Tune in to CBS on Tuesday, April 2 to see what's in store next on NCIS. Called "Mona Lisa," the episode promises to put Torres in some serious danger when he wakes up covered in blood and unable to remember the last 12 hours. NCIS won't end any time soon, if Mark Harmon has anything to say about it, so be sure to keep up on what goes down.