‘NCIS’ EP Confirms Season 18 Will Time Jump Back to Gibbs’ Secret Mission

When NCIS returns this fall for season 18, they will begin the new season by jumping back in time. Fans will remember that the powerful makeshift season finale featured the hardened Gibbs (Mark Harmon) revealing a more vulnerable side to McGee (Sean Murray). Now, it’s been revealed that the new season will jump back to November 2019 when Gibbs mysteriously disappeared. Could the time-traveling storyline give fans more insight into Gibbs’ recent character change? Here’s everything we know so far.

NCIS Mark Harmon
Mark Harmon as Agent Gibbs on ‘NCIS’ | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

‘NCIS’ is still dominating on CBS heading into season 18

NCIS has been a staple of the CBS primetime lineup for 17 seasons. And, heading into season 18, the show continues to dominate on the network. Very few shows have achieved the same longevity. Ahead of its 400th episode, the CBS procedural is scoring bigger ratings than ever before.

According to Cinema Blend, NCIS has been at the top of the network primetime viewership for 52 straight weeks. For a little bit of context, the season 29 premiere of Dancing With the Stars scored 8.28 million viewers. That same week, the NCIS rerun received nearly twice as many eyeballs, with 15.3 million viewers.

What’s more, when the country went into lockdown in March, NCIS ratings increased 21 percent. There is no doubt that NCIS continues to be TV’s most-watched show.

Due to the pandemic, the network was forced to shut down production on season 17 without shooting the final four planned episodes. This resulted in a new plan for the start of season 18.

What will the ending be for Maria Bello’s Jack Sloane?

Fans who were hoping for a romance to begin this season between Gibbs and Jack Sloane (Maria Bello) will not get what they wished for. As Cinema Blend notes, the news broke this summer that Bello is saying goodbye after three seasons. However, she will appear in eight episodes before her departure.

Co-showrunner Frank Cardea says that whenever they are trying to figure out how to exit a character, the writers always ask a few questions. First, they ask what the character deserves.

RELATED: ‘NCIS’: Everything We Know About a Season 18 Premiere Date, Plus When Will Maria Bello Make Her Exit?

“And the character of Sloane is a very strong character, and a passionate character, so we’re going to really have her go on something worthy of that,” Cardea revealed.

It’s still not clear if Bello’s eight episodes will be part of the time jump, or if they will take place in the present day. Either way, there is a possibility that something could happen between Gibbs and Sloane before Bello is gone. But, sadly, a full-blown romance is off the table.

‘NCIS’ will stay in a ‘pre-COVID’ world for a few weeks

According to TV Line, the start of season 18 will feature a “big and intense” cold open. Then, it will jump back one year to when Gibbs mysteriously disappeared. Fans will remember that in Season 17, Episode 8 titled “Musical Chairs,” Gibbs left to go on a mission and returned with a black eye.

The first few episodes of the new season will jump back to that mission so fans can see what really went down. Co-showrunner Steven Binder says this will be a multi-episode arc that will take place “in a pre-COVID world.” While Gibbs is on his mission, the team will be back in Washington DC.

They will eventually make it into the present day. But, with the premiere most likely happening in November, those episodes probably will not air until February. Also, episode 400 (the second episode of the seasons) will be a special episode. It will jump even further back in time to when Gibbs and Ducky (David McCollum) first met.

CBS has not yet announced the premiere date for NCIS season 18.