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Why NCIS Might Need To Bench Torres Soon

Spoilers ahead for the January 24 episode of NCIS Season 19, called “Fight or Flight.”

NCIS has gone through a whole lot of changes since the events at the end of Season 18, with some key members of the cast departing, and now those changes have caught up with Nick Torres. “Fight or Flight” was a rough hour for him, both physically and emotionally, and it’s possible that NCIS will need to bench him soon if things don’t get better with him in the aftermath of losing Gibbs.

Torres already wasn’t looking so hot when he walked into the office to kick off the case of a dead man, missing laptop, and stolen eyeball, and his fellow agents established that he’s been blowing off plans with them for some time. He brushed off every effort from them to find out what was wrong, and it just became more and more clear that something was wrong. Even before he used an upcoming undercover op as a thinly-veiled excuse to try and punch the stuffing out of the night shift’s Agent Sawyer!

Still, it was possible that Torres truly did just need a good night of sleep and he was being honest that there was nothing deeper wrong… until he dropped some illuminating (and unnerving) comments to McGee. After taking a severe enough beating in the undercover fighting ring that the referee gave him a shot to tap out before things got worse, Torres took a few moments to have an exchange with McGee, who was more than a little alarmed at what Torres was putting himself through.

With Parker and Knight watching and listening from the surveillance van, and Sawyer trying to gather some evidence while everybody in the building was distracted by watching Torres taking a beating in the ring, McGee asked Torres what he was doing, saying that it looked like he was trying to get himself killed. Torres’ response was pretty much the opposite of anything that might have reassured McGee:

Yeah? So? Who’s left to care?

McGee of course immediately said that he cares and that he needs Torres, even after Torres tried to argue that McGee didn’t need him because he has his own family, and there’s certainly no disputing his family after a big episode earlier this season with a Home Improvement guest star. These comments would be troubling coming from him even if it was in the safety of a stakeout or back in the bullpen; considering that he was saying all of this through a mouthful of blood after being badly beaten and ready to go in for more, it’s no wonder that everybody looked scared for Torres.

Of course, Torres ultimately turned things around and won the fight, and he lost some of his self-destructive fire by the time they closed the case, but that was quite a speech to drop in the middle of an undercover operation. His conversation with Palmer did go well enough that it’s possible he’s on the path to healing, even though it might take more than a pep talk to really absorb that it’s not his fault that another one of his father figures left. 

The exit of Gibbs so early in Season 19 hit him very hard, even if it didn’t really show too much until some time had passed. Plus, coming so soon after the departure of Emily Wickersham as Bishop and Torres’ heartbreak on that front, it really seems like he needs a break from the job. 

Since Parker was on the line during Torres’ undercover meltdown – although Torres did take out his own earpiece – I honestly thought that he would at least mention Torres being forced to take some time or talk to Dr. Grace, but that wasn’t the case. With NCIS as a procedural show, it’s possible that this really will be the end of Torres’ suffering until the next Torres-centric episode. Still, if there’s even one more episode with Torres spiraling like he was this week, my vote will be for Parker or Vance to bench Torres long enough to get his head on straight again. 

Only time will tell if Torres gets better from here on out, so keep on tuning in to CBS on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET to see what happens next. A crossover is on the way with NCIS: Hawai’i to take Torres and one more character to the Aloha State, and plenty of other options are available in the 2022 TV schedule.

Laura Hurley
Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.