'NCIS' Season 18: Will coming episodes avoid pandemic plotlines completely? A look at show's ingenious timeline
After two weeks, 'NCIS' has a new episode for December 8. But it is also the last episode to air before Christmas. There will be no new episodes as the show goes on its winter hiatus. Tentatively, the show won't be back till January next year, in 2021.
We can expect a new episode to air on January 5, 2021. Thanks to interviews by the show's producers, we know that when the show returns it will center around Tim McGee's (Sean Murray) marriage troubles. Not only will we see McGee's wife, Delilah Fielding McGee (Margo Harshman), the episode will be set in the Bahamas. Murray had tweeted an Instagram picture from the shoot titled "The Bahamas" with the caption "greetings from the islands!"
The title of the episode 'Sunburn' suggests that there will be some uncomfortable moments for the two on the episode. The vacation, the first McGee has taken in a while, could definitely be because they are trying to repair the cracks in their marriage and address the distance that might have developed between the two.
We also know that Episodes 4 and 5 will both be set in the pre-Covid-19 timeline and will be set in the November/December 2019 period. Episode 6 will see us back, timeline-wise, exactly where we left off in the Season 17 finale.
Speaking about the complicated timeline of Season 18, one of the show's executive producers, Steven Binder, said: "We’ll use that [Pearl Harbor] episode as sort of a very strong memory point in the audience for when we pivot to the present. The really bad version of that is 'Gibbs comes back from Hawaii in sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt!', but of course Gibbs would never wear something like that. But we’ll use that to sort of jump us back to the present, and we will be in a Covid-19 world at that point."
But here is the thing, the Season 17 finale episode was still in the pre-Covid-19 time frame. So even if Episode 6 brings us to the "present" 2020, it could still be before the pandemic-related lockdown where masks and other visual markers became commonplace. So Episode 6 could also be a relatively non-pandemic episode, though we might hear some characters talk about it.
It could primarily focus on the story teased in the Season 18 opener of Gibbs, in a sniper-position, shooting his loyal colleague McGee as he tries to stop an airplane from taking off.
Which brings us to Episode 7. In another interview, co-showrunner Frank Cardea said: "The first five episodes take place in the period of [pre-coronavirus]. Episode 6 wraps that up, and episode 7 will bring us up to a post-Covid-19 world." By skipping to the post-pandemic world, all of the 'NCIS' truncated Season 18, with just 16 episodes in total could skip pandemic plotlines completely.
This might be the smartest move for the show to make because fans of the show are looking to escape from real-world pandemic problems. So if 'NCIS' provides that escapism, viewers will be overjoyed. Most other shows which have incorporated Covid-19 in their plotlines have seen numbers drop and tweets from disgruntled fans. So here's hoping for a pandemic-free 'NCIS'.
'NCIS' goes on a winter hiatus after tonight's episode and returns on January 5, 2021.