NCIS fans didn’t know what to think of Alden Parker when the character joined the show two episodes into season 19.
Gibbs (Mark Harmon) had yet to leave NCIS. But fans suspected Gary Cole’s appearance as Parker, an FBI agent, in “Nearly Departed” meant that he likely would be special agent in charge sometime soon. It was all a matter of details of how and why Gibbs decided to leave.
So now, flash forward 19 episodes. It’s the NCIS season 19 finale. And according to the CBS plot summary, tonight’s final hour will be all about Alden Parker. The logline for “Birds of a Feather”: “When Agent Parker is framed for murder, the team puts their jobs and lives on the line in order to buy time and uncover the truth.”
NCIS Agents Have Embraced Parker. Tonight They Meet His Ex-Wife
The agents have evolved from being hesitant to embrace Parker to going all-in for their boss. Plus. NCIS is introducing a recurring character in tonight’s episode. She’s Vivian Kolchak (Teri Polo), Parker’s ex-wife. Both are former FBI agents. Vivian now investigates paranormal activity for the Defense Department. She’ll be around more in season 20.
Through the season, what have we learned about the guy who replaced the iconic Gibbs with all his job and life-specific rules? Also remember, Gibbs picked Parker as his successor. Did he make the right choice?
Writers Love to Give Nods to Gary Cole Cult Movies
Well, Parker likes international breakfast pastries. He brought them as a peace offering his first day on the job. And like a caring boss, he continues to bring them to the office because he knows every tasty bakery around town.
He’s big on high tech and his music tastes trend old school. Parker’s first episode as NCIS boss was “Face the Strange.” After all, he’s a self-described Bowie guy, so why not name an episode after a David Bowie classic?
Parker dropped some personal background in a conversation he had with McGee (Sean Murray) in “Docked.” Parker told McGee: “I came from a big family. Like Brady Bunch big. You can’t play Switzerland forever.” Of course, that line from the NCIS writers also played to the Gary Cole fan base. He starred as Mike Brady in three Brady Bunch satire movies.
That wasn’t the only time NCIS writers had fun with some of Cole’s movies that have evolved into cult classics. In the episode “Starting Over,” there was a wink to “Office Space” and Bill Lumbergh. Parker talked boring office tasks with McGee and Jess (Katrina Law).
Parker said: “Yeah, what I’d give to never have to file another TPS report.” McGee corrected him. “You do know it’s a TBS report, right? A Trans Bureau synopsis?
“What’d I say?” asks Parker. Knight spells it out. “A T-P-S.” Parker shrugs: “Ah, old habits. Weird.”
Parker Evolved from Juvenile Delinquent to Elite Law Enforcement
There were other scattered bits of Parker’s backstory. Turns out, he was a juvenile delinquent while growing up in Philadelphia. He got himself straightened out.
And in “All Hands,” Parker revealed that he was a hard-core Trekkie as he helped save his fellow agents who’d been captured by a group of mercenaries. Parker stowed away on a helicopter, then when it landed, he crawled into a Humvee. He needed the agents to know where he was without giving away the plan to the bad guys. So he tuned the radio to the International Distress Frequency. And he turned on the theme from the original Star Trek. Clever man.
How much more will we learn about Parker in the finale? Stick with Outsider for a recap of the episode.