Season 17 of NCIS is only halfway through, but it has put Mark Harmon's Gibbs through a season's worth a drama. The team leader has been coping with the unexpected return of Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), and all the skeletons that were unearthed in her return. It all lead to a pretty insane reveal where his neighbor Sarah ended up being the mysterious Zahar Ziva had been hunting.
Gibbs was forced to put Sarah down, which now puts him in an awkward situation with her young son, whom Gibbs had been mentoring since he met them. Take that paired with the past drama of Fornell and his daughter, and Gibbs secret regarding Pedro Hernandez becoming common knowledge amongst Team Gibbs, and it wouldn't be surprising if Gibbs is close to a breakdown. As for whether or not we'd see that in the 2020 return, executive producer Steven D. Binder had this to say.
I would say in that regard, this is a general statement about humanity and specific to Gibbs, there's only so much one man can take. Like you said, he's taken a lot. He's getting close to redlining. What that looks like, tune in.
In the return episode "In The Wind," NCIS confirms that Gibbs must face the consequences of his actions following his helping of Ziva in the midseason finale. It's confirmed (via TV Insider) Gibbs will tell Phineas he's responsible for his mother's death. It's certainly going to be taken hard by the boy, who didn't even seem to know his mother was dead at the end of the episode prior.
Of course, there may be other fallout from the killing of the actual Zahar, which is why Gibbs is seen with Ziva and the rest of the team in photos for the January return. Gibbs has a far less focused face than Ziva and Torres in this photo, which may suggest his mind is on other things than what they're investigating.
Gibbs is looking out of it, but this is just an observation based on a single frame of an entire scene. It could be Gibbs is his usual hardened self, and he'll champion through this like he has many other past trauma in his life. Moving on is kind of Gibbs' thing, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him bounce back even when most others wouldn't.
NCIS still has a half season to get through, so one wouldn't think we should expect an abrupt retirement from Gibbs. Of course, few were expecting the sudden twist NCIS: New Orleans threw at viewers earlier this year, so it should always be noted that the unexpected could happen. Yes, Gibbs has gone through some tough times before, but as Steven D. Binder said, there's only so much one man can take.
Luckily, Gibbs has the NCIS team as a solid support system. What he lost in a secret terrorist neighbor he still has in his team, and I can't imagine the crew will just leave him hanging in this difficult time. If Gibbs does need a little bit of a break or time to figure out what's next for Phineas, then Bishop, Torres, and McGee will be there to pick up the slack.
NCIS returns to CBS Tuesday, January 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Stick with CinemaBlend for more on what's next for Ziva David, Gibbs, and for the latest news happening in the world of television and movies.