‘NCIS’: How Gibbs Will Change in Season 18

Now that NCIS has ended the season early, you’re probably anxiously awaiting news about season 18. As of this writing, there hasn’t been an official announcement about a renewal, but NCIS producer Frank Cardea did share what might be in store if the series returns for another season. Here’s what Showbiz Cheat Sheet knows about Mark Harmon’s character Gibbs.

Gibbs meets an unusual suspect

Mark Harmon on NCIS | Eddy Chen/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon on NCIS | Eddy Chen/CBS via Getty Images

During NCIS Season 17, Episode 20, titled “The Arizona,” Gibbs and the team have an unusual encounter. Joe Smith, a man who claims he was on the U.S.S. Arizona when it was attacked at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, seeks help from the NCIS team. His last wish is to have his ashes interred on the Arizona. He had an unusual way of getting attention. He stole a purple heart so he could have leverage in his negotiations.

However, the team needs proof Joe was really on the Arizona. Gibbs asks Joe to tell him about the day he was on the ship. At first, Joe resists, because it’s too painful for him to talk about it. After some prodding, Joe gives a harrowing account of witnessing multiple fatalities and finding one of his friends severely injured.

Gibbs gets emotional

While Joe is recalling his memory of that day, Gibbs becomes visibly disturbed. His face is downcast, and he looks as if he’s about to cry during some moments. Gibbs isn’t easily moved, so this is a big deal for him. After telling his story, Joe later tells Gibbs he’s happy he did it. He says he feels lighter, and he’s happy he shared this part of his life.

“You know, I didn’t want to talk about that day,” Joe tells Gibbs. “But I feel like I did something that kept it from being forgotten.” He then asks Gibbs if he has ever spoken about what he saw when he was in the war. Gibbs didn’t answer, but it was clear from his facial expression he has never unburdened himself of the horrors he saw during his military service.  Joe told him to “give it a shot” and consider telling someone about the emotional pain he experienced. “It may make you feel lighter, too,” said Joe.

Gibbs opens up to McGee

Mark Harmon, Cote de Pablo, and Wilmer Valderrama |  Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon, Cote de Pablo, and Wilmer Valderrama | Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images

Although Gibbs is usually tight-lipped when it comes to his feelings, he decides to take Joe’s advice. He told him about the emptiness he felt after returning home from Kuwait. Here’s what Gibbs shared with McGee:

What I saw in Kuwait, before that I was different. It took something from me. That’s what war does. Sometimes, I think if my girls had been there when I got home, maybe they wouldn’t have recognized me. Maybe there wouldn’t have been enough of me left for them to hang on to. Maybe the best of me was gone.

 You come home and you’re like half a person. The other half is still back there where at least it made sense. Where, even with the bullets, and the blood, and the chaos, you knew what mattered. You knew that the guy next to you was willing to die for you and you for him. And you look around and think it shouldn’t take a war to make the world that simple.

‘NCIS’ Season 18 will continue to show us a kinder, gentler Gibbs

During an interview with TV Insider, Executive Producer Frank Cardea said viewers will continue to see a different side of Gibbs. NCIS Season 18 will show a much kinder, gentler Gibbs. He showed a vulnerable side during season 17, episode 20, and this vulnerability will continue into the next season, according to Cardea.

“The Gibbs this past season, maybe the past two seasons, is a character that’s been opening up, and [Gina Monreal, NCIS co-executive producer], took it to a whole new level in this episode, that he’s going to start talking about his feelings,” Cardea told TV Insider. “We’re seeing a softer side to Gibbs, for sure.”

Read more: ‘NCIS’: Why Is Gibbs So Mean Lately?

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