Maria Bello NCIS CBS

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the NCIS episode "The First Day." Read at your own risk!

NCIS had a lot going on in its last episode, so much so that audiences feeling sad for Jimmy Palmer may have overlooked the setup for a departure of one of the show's central cast. Jacqueline Sloane actress Maria Bello is set to leave the series, and Jack revealed where she might be headed next.

The scene opened with Gibbs going to see Jack, asking if she would be willing to speak to Jimmy about how best to cope with the loss of his wife Breena due to COVID-19. Jack ultimately told Gibbs he'd be the person best suited to talk to him about it, probably because he understands a loss that great himself, but also for another reason. Jack has decided it's time for her to move on from NCIS and find something new in life to latch onto.

Jack talked about "slowing life down" and even perhaps moving to Costa Rica. The move would give her some time to relax in life and be about as far away from things dealing with naval related crimes as possible. Well, I can assume anyway. Though McGee did have to deal with a case the last time he took a vacation to the Caribbean.

Jack's exit clearly hurt Gibbs, the pain in his face making it evident that he was losing someone he's had some casual flirtation with these past seasons on NCIS. With that said, Mark Harmon's character didn't do much to indicate to Jack that he thought there was a reason she should stay, and had an otherwise good poker face trying not to react to this sudden revelation.

It's been known that Maria Bello would exit NCIS for some time, as Bello's contract expired in Season 17. She came back in Season 18 partly because the prior season was cut short, and she wanted to ensure Jack got the proper sendoff the character deserved. Her leaving for Costa Rica (assuming it does go down that way) leaves the door open for Jack to return in the future, which is always a treat for NCIS fans. Hopefully, things all go down that way, and the CBS series isn't looking to burn fans with an unexpected and tragic exit.

Of course, just because Maria Bello's Jack may be alive at the end of NCIS doesn't mean the actress will return. Actors have come and gone from the franchise over the years, but some take longer to return than others. We've seen no signs to date that Maria Bello will be unwilling to return to the series for a guest-star role, and putting her character in Costa Rica would make for a good special episode of the drama so they can take the show on the road.

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NCIS airs on CBS, Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Will you be sad to see Jack go, or is her exit one of little consequence to your overall viewing experience? Sound off in the comments, and read up on my theory that something is going on between Bishop and Torres we don't know about yet.

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