NCIS fans everywhere are already jazzed for the long-awaited return of Cote de Pablo's Ziva David, which is happening in the Season 17 premiere, but not everyone was aware that another big return of sorts is in the works. David McCallum's Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, who vacated his medical examiner position deep into Season 16, is making a return to the field for an upcoming episode, and CBS has already put out first-look images.
Just look at how much Ducky is going to enjoy returning to the kind of life where he tagged along when visiting crime scenes. Somebody pull out the cake and streamers!
Okay, maybe not so much about the cake and streamers. Ducky actually looks like he'd rather be in a quiet library somewhere, or perhaps a morgue, as opposed to any location where he's having to lock eyes on a freshly discovered corpse. He did switch to the job of "NCIS Historian" back when he passed the Chief Medical Examiner job on to Palmer back in Season 16. Has he already been out of the action long enough to be shocked by the state of some of the NCIS crime scenes?
The photo doesn't reveal what exactly Ducky is looking at, so we can't say for sure at this point what prompted that look on his face or what brought him back out into the field. After all, he did kinda sorta retire for a quieter life, and NCIS does have a new Chief Medical Examiner with a little bit more skip in his step who could handle these things.
At least Ducky won't be alone when back in the field! Another photo shows Ducky on the scene with McGee and Torres:
All things considered, McGee and Torres aren't looking too stoic about the crime scene and what I can only assume is a grisly body, so Ducky can probably be forgiven for looking troubled in the previous image. According to the description of the episode, called "Going Mobile," the body of a Marine Lieutenant will be found hidden under an 18-wheeler, prompting the team to track the vehicle's previous locations.
It's probably safe to say that Ducky is present where the body was found, which will presumably be quite early in the episode. The episode will be the third to air in Season 17, so Ziva shouldn't be around. Still, it's clear that NCIS will have plenty to keep them busy even without the very-much-alive Ziva in the mix.
In fact, another image both reveals Gibbs showing signs of injuries teased in the trailer and raises another question about Ducky in the field. Take a look!
Gibbs has some scrapes and scratches along the side of his face, but the important thing about the image is really that Palmer is underneath the 18-wheeler, and it looks like he's either examining the remains or figuring out how to get them out of the vehicle. While I'm glad that Ducky isn't being asked to get down under there to do some medical examining, why is he on the scene if Palmer is present as well?