NCIS EP Answers Burning Qs About Knight’s Big Move, Parker Mystery and Teeing Up the #Tiva Spinoff

With only a few weeks gone by since NCIS’ Season 21 finale aired — and with Season 22 more than three months away! — fans of the long-running CBS drama still are fretting over the career decision that Special Agent Jessica Knight (played by Katrina Law) made, as a crestfallen Jimmy (Brian Dietzen) looked on.

As a supplement to what Law herself already shared with TVLine, we now present co-showrunner Steve D. Binder’s detailed insight on Knight’s Season 22 fate, as well as the blast from Special Agent Alden Parker’s (Gary Cole) past that got teased in the same finale.

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TVLINE | What is Katrina Law’s status for Season 22? What are you saying?
Well, you know, we’ve set something up there, and I will point you toward our track record where “You never know.” We’ve had people look like they were going away and then it’s found out they weren’t going away, and then people who just disappear like Gibbs..

We’re really trying to follow what I call “the Tony DiNozzo departure” where, in his case he actually did leave the show, but you ask yourself, “What would it take to get a certain character away?” In the case of Tony DiNozzo, we thought he wouldn’t be going anywhere — except for a child, and suddenly that’s the motive that would make him leave. And to get [Knight] to leave this team, it’s a combination of a thing that she had applied for and wanted to do — she’s talked about the plan with her father — and then having this relationship with Jimmy where suddenly things are in flux in a way that it makes it easier for her to say goodbye.

So, I will say this. We do aim to please, and we think the audience will be satisfied with where they see this go. Sometimes that satisfaction is bittersweet and sometimes it’s just pure joy. You’ll have to wait to find out which one it’s going to be.

TVLINE | In Jessica’s last interaction with Jimmy before giving Vance her answer, she told him she realized that he had a point. What specific point of his was she conceding?
I think that with their relationship, you have to imagine there’s a lot more to it that we’re not seeing on the screen. And then I go back to this setup where [the relationship] is working but are they going to get married? They’re old enough now where they’re not just hanging around having fun. Jimmy’s a parent and he was married and that’s the sort of relationship he’s looking for. But is that the sort of relationship that she’s looking for? And are they going to move forward that way? If they’re not going to move forward that way, then maybe they should end it, and I think that’s kind of what she’s leaning into. “If Jimmy doesn’t think we’re going to go forward, then maybe it’s time just to end it.”

TVLINE | Talk about the decision to end the season with her answer to Vance, instead of her about to give her answer.
So, that was an ongoing conversation — and I don’t know that we pleased everyone on that conversation. If we had ended it with, “What’s it going to be?,” that felt artificial to those of us who won the debate. That’s what we’re going to hang our hat on? “Is she going to leave or not?” And if doesn’t leave, it’s going to seem like we cheated in a way. It seemed more mature and more honest to take that next step and let the audience be pining for, “What’s this look like now?” instead of “What’s it going to be?” We want people to be wondering, “What’s next year going to look like?” as opposed to, “Is she leaving or not?”

TVLINE | Indeed, the more interesting question is, what if she doesn’t actually leave? What would make that happen? Or maybe she leaves for a bit and comes back, because, “You know what? I’m so damn in love with you, Jimmy Palmer!”
Yeah. Well, people [on NCIS] can leave for a little while, too….

TVLINE | And that gives you a chance to bring in an interim agent, or make that sunlight-craving guy from the basement a probie.
Right, right. We sent Michael Weatherly away for a little while, when [Tony] was an agent afloat [at the start of Season 6].

TVLINE | Turning to Parker: This “Lily” person that he both hallucinated and had a memory of while wounded aboard the ship, do we have enough information to surmise what that was all about?
Well, we [the writers] do, but the audience definitely doesn’t. No, there are some things [to be revealed] that will be more meaningful after the fact once you look back, some little things that are planned. But there is nothing that you’d be able to put together with what you’ve been shown so far.

TVLINE | Lastly, do you think that NCIS at some point next season might tease or set up in a way the Tony/Ziva spinoff [which begins filming this summer in Europe]?
You know, that’s been a long-running creative process, going through several incarnations of things…. Let’s put it this way, I would love to. I would love to do that, and I don’t speak for Michael [Weatherly], but I have a feeling Michael would be up for anything like that. So, we’re all for it.

One thing that’s nice about [NCIS:] Origins [the other upcoming, “Young Gibbs” spinoff] is that it takes place in a different time period, so you’d need to get a little more creative if you want something to cross over from one episode to another. But that would be super-fun, too.

So, I’m absolutely open to any ideas anybody has. They are totally welcome to show them to me and see what we can come up with.

NCIS Tony Ziva Spinoff
NCIS Tony Ziva Spinoff

The Tony/Ziva Spinoff: Everything We Know

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TVLINE | Or, I’ve been thinking, between Cote [de Pablo]’s final [Season 17] appearance and Michael’s recent [Season 21] cameo, that’s your setup right there.
That’s certainly a jumping off point that can be used, if that’s what you’re referring to, like the way it starts. But we might be able to do a little more than that.

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