'NCIS' Season 18 Premiere: How will Jack Sloane and Gibbs' budding romance unfold?

After a slow burn of nearly three seasons, the Jack Sloane and Gibbs romance could fire on all cylinders, burning bright before it is extinguished, because of Maria Bello's expected exit


                            'NCIS' Season 18 Premiere: How will Jack Sloane and Gibbs' budding romance unfold?
(IMDb)

We are all for mature romances and it seems Season 18 of NCIS could give us just that. Any long-term romance possibilities between Maria Bello's Jack Sloane and Mark Harmon's Gibbs is dicey because Bello is slated to leave the series eight episodes into this season, according to reports. Unlike Cote de Pablo's Ziva, her arc will supposedly have a definite end and conclude her story as Jacqueline "Jack" Sloane on the show. This is the reason why the show's producers have decided that this 'will-they-won't couple' that fans have been speculating about forever will see a romantic resolution of sorts. "Sloane is of course leaving, so there’s been an ongoing wonderment of what’s going on between her and Gibbs — and I think we’re going to find that out. If it’s not now, then never, so I think it’s going to be now," said NCIS executive producer Steven Binder about the couple's arc in Season 18.

Of late, things have been heating up between the two with Nick Torres even calling Sloane out on her and Gibbs having a "thing" to which Sloane reacted like a blushing schoolgirl. They were definitely far more comfortable around each other in Season 17, and advance pictures from Season 18 Episode 1 show Sloane and Gibbs smiling at each other.

(CBS)

Given all the bonhomie, we can, fingers crossed, expect the couple to have an accelerated, all-in romantic plotline in the first half of the season followed by something life-changing happening to Sloane that will require her to cut the romance short. If that is the case, then we can expect a whirlwind romance after several seasons worth of slow burn. Fans will definitely want the two to come together to up the romance drama of the show before a bitter-sweet end where the couple will have to go their own ways.

But that said, there is also speculation that the two might get to the verge of saying or doing something concrete when Sloane will get some news that will nip the romance even before it has bloomed. This news could be something related to her daughter who she wants to reconnect with. This is the second-most 'worse case scenario'. But the absolute worst-case scenario would be Gibbs realizing he loves Sloane but Sloane dying tragically before he tells her this. If this happens, Gibbs could push away all the growth he has had in Season 17, becoming shuttered and withdrawn. Sloane's death will confirm his worst fears - anyone he loves will die or disappear from his life. 

However, Sloane's death is a highly unlikely scenario since producers will want to keep the door slightly ajar in case Maria Bello, who is a fan favorite, wants to come back to the show at a later date. Nevertheless, what we can expect is that her departure, whether for some personal crisis or death, will affect Gibbs adversely. He already has a rule against work-place romance - her leaving will give Gibbs another excuse not to put himself out there. Sloane is the closest he has come to any female in a romantic sense, in quite a while now. Gibbs doesn't have the best luck in love so it would be nice if he could explore that side of him before Sloane leaves.

'NCIS' Season 18 will premiere on November 17 at 8/9c only on CBS.

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