Spoilers ahead for the April 6 episode of NCIS, called "Gut Punch."

NCIS isn't backing off from the twist that saw Gibbs get himself indefinitely suspended after beating a man half to death, and he used his time off from work to work on his boat, feed his dog, and spill the whole damning story to a reporter (played by Mark Harmon's real-life wife Pam Dawber) to the point that Vance dropped by for a visit to tell Gibbs that he's more or less on his own in the aftermath.

Gibbs spilled the details of the case that got him suspended (complete with confession) to Pam Dawber's Marcie not long after the episode made it clear that nobody at NCIS was to speak to the press, and he really only opened up to her after she showed some familiarity with boat engines. As one does.

The newspaper story was seemingly the last straw for Vance, who had been willing to go the extra mile to help Gibbs out of his mess up until this point, if only Gibbs had showed any inclination to recover his career. In the final scene of "Gut Punch," Vance told Gibbs:

I came here to tell you face-to-face, whatever comes of this story, whatever happens next, Gibbs, I can't save you.

Now, if Gibbs spilling to the reporter and Vance telling Gibbs that he can't save him from any repercussions had happened at pretty much any other point in NCIS' run, I'd already be speculating about ways that NCIS could save Gibbs from this story and reinstate him at the head of his team within a few weeks.

Now, with Mark Harmon's future on NCIS uncertain, and in fact no guarantee that NCIS will be renewed for Season 19, it's actually possible that this could be NCIS setting up Gibbs' departure without killing him off or sending him off to reunite with Jack.

After all, Gibbs has crossed lines before, but this was crossing a very big line very publicly, and spilling to a reporter to make it happen. Throw in the fact that he seemingly went out of his way to avoid mentioning McGee, Bishop, Torres, or any of the others in his confession, and it really feels like Gibbs is deliberately sabotaging himself to get thrown out of NCIS.

None of this is to say that NCIS brass is going to fire Gibbs for this or that he'll face anything other than his suspension continuing until the future of NCIS is settled, but it does look like Gibbs won't be back at NCIS any time too soon. Pam Dawber, who is slated for another three episodes of NCIS Season 18, told TV Insider this:

Marcie pulls Gibbs into something she’s working on. It’s just the two of us in my storyline, I’m not with the rest of the cast.

While Pam Dawber didn't say that Mark Harmon isn't working with the rest of the cast, it sounds like a fair amount of Gibbs' story will be spent with Marcie for up to three episodes. With NCIS only scoring an order of 18 episodes in Season 18 and "Gut Punch" airing as Episode 11, there's not that much time left for NCIS to throw in some twists to save Gibbs if he's going to be spending a few of those episodes with Marcie.

For now, though, we can only speculate, and it's entirely possible that no decisions regarding this story's conclusion have been made just yet. This is TV, so we can't rule out a last-minute save for Gibbs' career, and it's hard to imagine a future without Mark Harmon and NCIS on CBS after nearly two decades. Catch the next new episode on Tuesday, April 20 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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