Why NCIS Needs To Explore More Character Backstory In Season 19 After Losing Gibbs

katrina law as jessica knight ncis season 19
(Image credit: CBS)

Spoilers ahead for the fall finale of NCIS Season 19 on CBS, called “Collective Memory.”

NCIS delivered an unconventional case to the team with “Collective Memory,” and that’s saying something for a show halfway through its nineteenth season! The agents had to rely on the hologram of a murder victim that she created prior to her death to solve the mystery of what happened to her, and the plot was thickened thanks to the tense relationship between the dead woman and her estranged daughter. The case was closed by the end of the fall finale, but not before it motivated Jessica Knight to drop some clues about her backstory, and that’s exactly what Season 19 needs after Mark Harmon departed as Gibbs as a series regular. 

Admittedly, “Collective Memory” didn’t exactly feature Knight opening up and spilling all of her secrets to Torres just because he broached the subject. He noticed that she was affected by the case, prompting her to admit that she had a tense relationship with her mom. She shut the conversation down when he asked why there was mother/daughter drama between them, but said that she appreciated that he asked and it was complicated. Torres took a simpler view of the matter, by asking if they loved each other. When Knight said that they did, he suggested that maybe it’s not so complicated after all.

She was noncommittal, but when the case closed with the daughter of the victim learning the truth about her mom and coming to terms with their relationship, Knight called her mom. NCIS didn’t show the conversation – assuming there was one – or reveal what happened afterward, but the fall finale dropped some crumbs about her backstory that suggest the show is going to dig into her past more in the new year. And that’s a good thing, even if Knight isn’t the most popular member of the team compared to the agents who have already been around for many years. 

NCIS isn’t going back to the status quo that existed before the Season 18 finale that said what seemed to be a pretty definitive goodbye to Bishop and blew up Gibbs’ boat to set the plot in motion that would end Mark Harmon’s time as leading man and series regular. An era ended when Gibbs decided to retire to Alaska, and NCIS needs to move forward. Digging further into Knight’s background as a person rather than just what has become her tragic backstory as an agent is progress. Fans already got a peek at why she is the way that she is at NCIS; now it seems that fans will get to know her better.

And that bodes well for what’s to come. The characters can’t spend a whole season wishing Gibbs returns as a regular or hoping that Bishop will return, and I say that as somebody who was a fan of the Bishop/Torres dynamic and appreciated NCIS letting Torres take the time to mourn what he lost… or mourn what he almost had before she left. But NCIS is moving on with new characters, and dropping bits and pieces of background is a good way to do it. 

Whether or not NCIS intends to continue digging into Knight’s backstory remains to be seen, and fans have some time to wait to find out. The show is heading into its winter hiatus, and won’t be back with a new episode on CBS until January 3, along with plenty of other shows. Be sure to swing by our 2022 winter and spring premiere schedule to find what to watch and when to watch it in the new year.

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).