The agents were assigned to the investigation of a Navy reservist’s murd3r after his body was discovered in the back of a beat-up old automobile… at a gun range, which meant narrowing down the bullet that k1ll3d him would be difficult. For “Peacemaker,” the crew required all hands on deck, and the outcome was a case that truly confirmed to me that the show is doing just fine after going back to business as normal, and doesn’t need Gibbs back just yet. In fact, bringing Gibbs back anytime soon could be detrimental to the show.
Parker has accepted into his job as Gibbs’ replacement at the helm of the squad, and even Torres has come around to embracing him as a member of the group in Gibbs’ absence. Knight is young and hasn’t had as much to do with in terms of the new power structure, while McGee has been mature and pragmatic since his longstanding boss decided to stay in Alaska. Palmer and Kasie appear to get along perfectly with him, and Palmer and Parker even had some nice bonding moments in “Peacekeeper.” Vance was absent from this episode, possibly because actor Rocky Carroll was busy directing rather than acting.
And it was the mentions of Gibbs in “Peacemaker” that convinced me that NCIS doesn’t need to rush to bring Mark Harmon back into Gibbs mode for Season 19. Kasie asked his advice on whether or not she should acquire a gun, but she worked it out on her own. In reality, it was via interactions with the team’s newest members that she came to the correct conclusion for herself. Knight and Parker helped her get her mind off things, and I’m actually looking forward to seeing more of Kasie and Knight hanging out together, even if their friendship continues to involve unusual trips like going to the gun range.
Gibbs is gone, but he is not forgotten or neglected. The presentation continues to pay tribute to his legacy and the impact he had on those he left behind. He still feels like a regular on the show, and not just because Mark Harmon is still listed first in the opening credits, with Gary Cole getting the “and” credit. Unlike in the case of Bishop, NCIS isn’t treating him as if he’s gone for good. And the program is doing just well without Gibbs, and I don’t just mean in the ratings, where it remains one of television’s biggest scripted blockbusters.
The fact that the show is performing so well at this moment suggests that if Gibbs appears again anytime soon, it may cause more harm than good. NCIS has recovered from perhaps the most significant loss in the show’s nearly two decades on the air, and bringing him back now may ruin all of the ways it has moved on while the loss is still raw. Gibbs can and should return to shake things up; just not until he has had time to enjoy his retirement off-screen and fans have gotten used to the squad without him. I’ll be glad to see him in the episode that eventually brings him back, but he wasn’t missed in this one. That’s a good thing, because there’s no sign of Mark Harmon returning as a series regular.
However, there aren’t many new episodes of NCIS in 2021. The fall finale airs on CBS on December 6 at 9 p.m. ET, and the show won’t return until January 3. However, it appears like NCIS will conclude 2021 on an exciting note, with the murd3r of a financial adviser at a naval post leading the team to an interview with a three-dimensional hologram of the v1ct1m from before she d1ed. To be honest, it’s probably a good thing Gibbs won’t be available for a tech-heavy case!
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