NCIS Showrunner Explains How Jimmy And Jessica’s Relationship Will Differ From Past Pairings On The CBS Show

Katrina Law and Brian Dietzen in NCIS
(Image credit: CBS)

As NCIS Season 19 was winding down earlier this year, a new romance started blossoming. After previously attending a wedding together, Brian Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer and Katrina Law’s Jessica Knight eventually acknowledged they shared feelings for one another, and by the Season 19 finale, they were committed to exploring this new dynamic. This certainly isn’t the first workplace romance NCIS has delivered, but showrunner Steven D. Binder has explained how this relationship will differ from what we saw between Tony DiNozzo and Ziva David, and Nick Torres and Ellie Bishop.

Tony and Ziva infamously channeled the “Will they, won’t they” trope during their seasons together on NCIS, which Steven D. Binder acknowledged to TV Line “became a thing that externally was more of a thing than it was in our heads.” Then with Nick and Ellie, the NCIS writers sensed some sparks between the two and “took the football and ran with it.” As for Jimmy and Jessica, Binder made it clear that this romantic relationship will unfold a lot differently, saying:

This one is something that we birthed ourselves, in a vacuum. We didn’t want to go down the same road we went down before. Instead, we wanted it to play out more realistically — two people at work, who actually having feelings towards each other, and they’re not being so coy about it.

Steven D. Binder continued by saying that the reason that #Tiva and #Ellick, for the shippers out there, were stretched out across multiple seasons was because the NCIS writers were “in denial,” resulting in them playing around with these respective arrangements, but never really doing anything with them. In contrast, Binder and his team are looking to explore a realistic workplace romance with Jimmy Palmer and Jessica Knight that’s still entertaining. The executive producer continued:

There are hesitations that they’re going to have, based on their personalities per se, [but] there’s a lot to explore when you get down with a microscope and look at the minutia of how a relationship develops — the tentativeness, the awkwardness, how Jimmy’s been out of the game for a while, how you imagine Knight has been all over the game. We’re really trying to break it apart and explore the fun of each moment.

Jimmy Palmer was previously in a loving marriage with Michelle Pierce’s Breena, and in NCIS Season 12, their daughter Victoria was born. Sadly, in the Season 18 episode “The First Day,” it was revealed that Breena died after contracting COVID-19, and Jimmy struggled with this loss for a long time (we later saw him say goodbye to a vision of Breena in “The Helpers”). However, when the Season 19 episode “Thick as Thieves” rolled around, Jessica invited Jimmy to be her date to her cousin’s wedding, and he accepted. Granted, it took a few months for these two to take the official step forward from friends to something more, but with that out of the way, NCIS Season 20 is free to officially show these two off as a couple and see where life takes them in the midst of the crime-solving each week.

NCIS Season 20, which Steven D. Binder called the “season of love,” will kick off on September 20 with an NCIS: Hawai’i crossover event. Scan through our 2022 TV schedule to learn what other shows are premiering in the coming weeks.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.