NCIS Is Sending Gibbs On A Big Mission, And It Feels Like Goodbye To Mark Harmon

Spoilers ahead for the October 4 episode of NCIS, called “Road to Nowhere,” and light spoilers for October 11’s “Great Wide Open.”

NCIS picked up where the previous episode left off with “Road to Nowhere,” with Lemere surviving being shot by Gibbs to orchestrate a road trip with Gibbs and Parker, which took a turn when Gibbs unceremoniously dumped Parker as soon as possible and Lemere spent their time alone on the road together getting under Gibbs’ skin. Lemere killed himself via landmine after bringing Gibbs to the end of their trip, but not before tipping him off to head to Alaska for what will be a big mission. And I get the feeling that this mission will be NCISgoodbye to Mark Harmon as a weekly star after previous reports that he’d be around a lot less

The leads are pointing Gibbs toward a fishing community in southwestern Alaska where a copper mine is being built by Sonova Industries, a huge international conglomerate (and source of commercials with a catchy theme). Four of the people who Lemere killed on contract were standing in the way of Sonova accomplishing their goals, and Sonova CEO Sonia Eberhart hopped a flight to Alaska just about as soon as she could after being questioned by NCIS. Gibbs called up McGee and announced they’re both heading to Alaska, but Gibbs first went to a cemetery to visit the graves of his late (first) wife and daughter.

Now, the visit to Shannon and Kelly's graves (and shot of the plot that’s being saved for him) may seem like foreshadowing that Gibbs will be six feet under sooner rather than later as a way to write out Mark Harmon after the reports that he would appear in fewer episodes, but I still don’t think NCIS would kill off Gibbs until or unless there’s confirmation that the series is ending. It could be more of a sign that Gibbs is looking beyond what’s just in front of him now. Plus, there’s the not-so-little matter of Parker and the FBI wanting to go after Gibbs for his actions in “Road to Nowhere.” Gibbs seems doomed, at least career-wise. 

And it was really the promo for the next episode that gives me the sense that “Great Wide Open” will be Mark Harmon’s last episode before Gibbs goes MIA for a while. Take a look: 

Sure, the promo only previews 20 seconds from the next episode, but there are some clues that really feel like they’re pulled from a fond farewell rather than a case of the week. The footage reveals that it’s not going to just be the NCIS version of a buddy adventure between Gibbs and McGee, although the episode could well deliver plenty of that as well. There’s also evidently going to be a scene between Gibbs and Vance at the diner where they’re trading smiles, Torres will be driving Gibbs at some point with Gibbs assuring Torres that he’ll "be fine,” and Gibbs in Alaska alluding to his sniper history. 

Throw in what looks like Parker and the feds actively going after Gibbs for finally crossing one too many lines, and it feels to me like NCIS is giving Gibbs at least one final moment with each of the longtime characters while also closing some doors behind him. Even if not for the reports that NCIS would reduce Mark Harmon’s episode count for Season 19, I’d have my suspicions that the show was going to pull something with his storyline. 

The pieces are falling into place for him to at least take a break from the action, and I'm going to prepare myself for a potential goodbye to Gibbs as a weekly character with the next episode. Find out when “Great Wide Open” airs on Monday, October 11 at 9 p.m. ET in its new time slot on CBS (opens in new tab). The show is still thriving in the change from Tuesdays to Mondays, so it should be interesting to see where the show goes next, with or without Gibbs every week. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.