NCIS Just Added A New Character To Give More Backstory For Gary Cole's Agent Parker

Although Mark Harmon’s name is still shown in the NCIS Season 19 credits, he hasn’t appeared on the hit CBS series since the episode “Great Wide Open.” Following Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ departure from a life of law enforcement, Gary Cole’s Alden Parker took over as team leader, and viewers have picked up bits and pieces about both his pre-NCIS life and what he’s like outside of the workplace. Now word’s come in that another key corner of Parker’s backstory is being opened up, as his ex-wife is being introduced.

The Fosters actress Teri Polo has been cast to play Vivian Kolchak, a former FBI agent who left the Bureau after she and Alden Parker divorced, and now she works at the Defense Department as a paranormal investigator. According to Deadline, Polo will guest star in the NCIS Season 19 finale and recur in Season 20, which was officially ordered in April along with new seasons of NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: Hawai’i.

As noted, Teri Polo starred for the entirety of the then-ABC Family series The Fosters as Stef Adam Foster, a role she’s reprised for the spinoff series Good Trouble. Her TV resume also includes Northern Exposure, I’m With Her, The West Wing and Law & Order: LA. The actress most recently led the Fox series The Big Leap, which was cancelled after just one season. Film-wise, Polo is best known for co-starring opposite Ben Stiller in the Meet the Parents trilogy.

Gary Cole debuted as Alden Parker in the NCIS Season 19 episode “Nearly Departed,” when he was still working with the FBI and in the midst of an undercover operation looking into a suspect NCIS was also interested in. By the end of “Face the Music,” he officially inherited the team’s leadership reins after Leroy Jethro Gibbs recommended him for the job to NCIS Director Leon Vance, and in the months since then we’ve learned various tidbits about Parker, including his love of pastries and Star Trek. We even got a masterful reference to Cole’s role in Office Space when Parker mentioned a “TPS report.”

As far as Alden Parker’s personal life goes, so far our biggest exploration of that has been in “Thick as Thieves,” when Timothy McGee, Nick Torres, Jessica Knight and the rest of the gang learned he spent some time in juvenile detention. This was enough of a jolt to turn his life around, whereas his childhood friend, Billy Doyle, kept going with criminal activities for many years afterwards. I always assumed that Parker was a ‘work always come first’ kind of guy, but now we know that he and Teri Polo’s Vivian Kolchak were married for a number of years. Ideally the NCIS Season 19 finale explains why they separated rather than save that information for Season 20.

New episodes of NCIS air Mondays at 9 ET on CBS. You can catch up with old episodes of the long-running CBS series with a Paramount+ subscription, or look through our 2022 TV schedule to both learn what’s currently airing and what’s arriving later in the year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.