NCIS fans haven’t caught a glimpse of Leroy Jethro Gibbs since October when Mark Harmon bowed out of the show.
But Monday night’s new episode — Pledge of Allegiance — gave NCIS fans a sweet, sentimental reminder of Gibbs with a possible tease of his return. It’s TV, so you never know when something is concrete or simply a wisp of hopeful thinking.
The Gibbs plotline Monday was only a sidebar to the main action. The plot revolved around whether a missing Navy pilot stole the software to a master key that controls combat and surveillance drones. The case was such a high priority that the Secretary of Navy made an appearance, albeit via Zoom. An enemy with the master key could turn dozens of combat drones against U.S. forces. The pilot needed to be located, ASAP, because it takes 36 hours to disable the key.
So how did Gibbs figure into this plot? McGee was on the phone with his bank, waiting to speak to the manager, as the episode started. He checked his bank account and there was a mystery $10,000 deposit. Torres told McGee to get off the phone — don’t ask the bank to take your money. Then Vance came into the office with news about the case.
Later in the episode, Jess tells Torres that Jimmy also received a $10,000 mystery gift. Yet no one else in the NCIS office had a similar find in their checking account. And Torres admitted to checking his account three times. Jimmy said the bank wouldn’t reveal who made the deposit, only that it was for his daughter, Victoria.
After the case was solved, Vance called Jimmy and McGee into his office for a closed-door meeting. He explained they were the beneficiaries of the Leroy Jethro Gibbs college scholarship fund. Gibbs had been making similar donations to other agents for years.
So why would he do this? Vance explained. Gibbs did it in memory of his daughter, Kelly. If you know your NCIS history, you’re aware of the Gibbs back story. While Gibbs was deployed to the Middle East, his wife, Shannon, witnessed a murder of a Marine. She testified against the leader of a drug cartel. Both Shannon and Kelly, the couple’s only children, were placed in protective custody. But the cartel got to them anyway. Both Shannon and Kelly died in a car crash.
Vance told McGee and Jimmy that Gibbs never closed the college fund he set up after Kelly was born. Even after her death, Gibbs kept adding money to the college account.
“Kids all go to college in Kelly’s honor,” Vance told the two, giving this NCIS episode a feel good ending.
It turns out that Gibbs gave Vance a similar amount when Vance’s children were younger. Both wished they could thank Gibbs in person.
“Hopefully, one day you will,” Vance said.
So NCIS, you’re telling us there’s hope for a Gibbs return. Stay tuned.