CBS was very wise in announcing NCIS' Season 17 renewal earlier than some of its other fall schedule decisions, as it allowed more anxious fans to stop being quite as paranoid about potentially cancellation news. Still, though, it's hard to imagine that viewers won't be more than a little disturbed to hear about how Gibbs' storyline is evolving in the immediate future.
First, Gibbs will be taking on a decades-old cold case that unfortunately allows the perpetrator to skate as a free man, at least until he gets murdered. Gibbs and Vance discover that the death is connected to a Star Chamber-esque group of powerful people taking out self-authorized vengeance on various morally wavering people. That group is being financed by Secretary of Defense Wynn Crawford, played by X-FIles vet Mitch Pileggi. Let's just hope none of the group members wear bat ears and utility belts.
It's on May 14, however, where Gibbs really starts to crack under pressure. Remember when Gibbs literally burned one of his biggest guiding directives, Rule 10, back in the episode "She," which first clued audiences in on Ziva David's survival? It appears that choice is weighing heavily on him in "Lost Time," and executive producer Steve Binder told TVLine that Gibbs reaches the point where he has an "inability to function properly." Yikes.
Knowing Gibbs, he likely won't accept that he's having any kind of an emotional breakdown. However, he still needs some help, which will come in the form of Laura San Giacomo's return as Dr. Grace Confalone. At some point during this process, Gibbs will drop some kind of a "large reveal" that shakes things up, and his NCIS family will have to adjust their own mindsets to allow for a side of Gibbs that they've never experienced before.
If that wasn't already enough, Gibbs continues fighting with himself over Rule 10's hard suggestion that agents should "never get personally involved in a case," which he's been guilty of a time or two. While he's struggling with all that in the season finale, a so-called "younger member of the NCIS family" will find themselves in serious trouble. This leads to an appearance from Joe Spano's Fed-turned-P.I. Tobias Fornell, but he's not the only one.
It appears as if NCIS' Season 16 finale will also somehow feature a return from Diane Sterling, an ex-wife of both Gibbs and Fornell. That kind of situation would already be complicated enough just from an emotional perspective, but it's also a bit of a logical conundrum, considering Diane has been dead for years.
Fans will remember that Diane was shot through the head back in Season 12, and she died in a parking lot as part of a scheme perpetrated by mercenary Sergei Mishnev, who believed that Gibbs had killed his half-brother, the terrorist Ari Haswari. In reality, it was Ziva David who had physically killed Haswari, while Gibbs took the blame for it.
It can't be a coincidence that all (or most) of these past elements are coming back to NCIS in the same span of time, right? After all, Gibbs had burned up Rule 10 in the episode where it was revealed that Cote de Pablo's Ziva has shockingly been alive all this time, even though the actress hasn't been around in years, and Gibbs knew about it without telling anyone. (It's still rather unclear just how much Anthony DiNozzo knows.)
NCIS co-showrunner Steve Binder recently confirmed that the show's recent focus on Ziva reveals won't go unfulfilled by the creative team. There are no guarantees that Cote de Pablo will return, given she left under unhappy circumstances, but Binder says that something interesting is coming, and also claims there's a lot the show can do with this developing storyline even if de Pablo sticks to her guns about not coming back.
One might think that getting Ziva back would be a great thing for Gibbs, but there must be something else at stake in his life that's making him overly stressed out. Considering Mark Harmon recently signed a new contract extension with NCIS and CBS, it's not likely that his emotional hiccups will lead to anything permanently debilitating. That said, it's within the realm of possibilities that Gibbs might need to take a long vacation, or to get "promoted" to a desk job in the future.
NCIS airs Tuesday nights on CBS at 8:00 p.m. Note there will be a week's gap between new episodes airing on April 30 and May 7. For anyone who didn't see, check out the other recent good news for the NCIS franchise.