NCIS Boss About ‘Pretty Dark’ Arc of Torres & Ducky in Season 20

NCIS Season 19 may have ended on a cliffhanger, with Special Agent Alden Parker (Gary Cole) on the run after the Raven framed him for murd3r, and his ex-wife Vivian (Teri Polo) somehow involved, but we’re already looking forward to the fall.

After all, we know that we’ve only seen the beginning of an arc for one agent, Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), who went undercover for a case involving cage fighting at a time when he was struggling. Furthermore, as executive producer Steven D. Binder revealed to TV Insider while deconstructing the May finale, there are some stories they didn’t have time to cover this season.

This season, you put Torres through more wringer, and we started to see that addressed with him in therapy, talking about drinking, Gibbs (Mark Harmon), but not much about Bishop (Emily Wickersham). In that regard, what did you intend to do with him this season..?

Steven D. Binder: I believe a lot of that stems from Wilmer’s early conception of the character, which is that this guy is really locked away, and he opened up for Bishop and she left, and he opened up for Gibbs and Gibbs left. I believe we’ve seen him lock up again, and as a result, he’s struggled with drinking. So it’s not that these things aren’t there; it’s just that they’re really, really locked up tight, and it’ll come out at some point. We saw some of his internal demons come out in the cage-fighting episode. That, I believe, concludes Part One. This is a man who is under a great deal of stress. He’s a professional now, and he’s getting the job done, but he’s got these internal pressures building up inside him, and you pop at some point, and I believe that’s in his future.

What do you think about that, and how dark Part 2 could get..?

This show always walks a very fine line. On paper, someone like Leroy Jethro Gibbs is about as dark as it gets. He assassinated Pedro Hernandez. He was drinking whiskey from a nail-filled bottle in his basement. He may have committed murd3r to protect Bishop a few seasons ago, and there’s certainly evidence to support that. I believe we’ll go dark with [Torres], but in a way that doesn’t destroy what we love about the character, so always in service to something greater. It isn’t just complete darkness.

You teased Kasie (Diona Reasonover) about leaving, but she decided to stay at NCIS. What is her next step..?

I really hope she stays because she’s amazing. We’re experimenting with her having a significant other. We’ll see where that goes. We used to do Abby-centric stories fairly frequently, or at least on a regular basis. We haven’t done a Kasie story in a long time. I believe we’ll be doing something fun for her soon, which may or may not involve her relationship. We’ll see where the story or that particular character takes us. But I believe Season 20 will be a season in which everyone will have a chance to shine, with their own episodes that will be quite powerful. And Kasie is definitely overdue, I can tell you.

Kasie did inquire of Knight (Katrina Law) about the number of dates that constitute a relationship.

She did it. She did it.

Ducky (David McCallum) was great to see in the last two episodes. Do you know how much of him we’ll see next season..?

I believe it will be roughly the same, if not more. One of the challenges last season was that there was no regular season. It began with all of our attention focused on how to get Gibbs off the show. How do we get him out for the time being? And that requires a lot of energy, a lot of time, and a lot of oxygen. Then we were tasked with introducing two new characters to the show: Katrina Law and Gary Cole. That also requires a lot of energy and oxygen.

Other things do not happen as a result of this. We didn’t have a lot of [character episodes]. Kasie was involved in an episode that was very similar to a Jimmy Palmer episode, [written by] Brian Dietzen. But we didn’t get to do as much with Knight as we would’ve liked, Kasie, as much as we would’ve liked.

“You are this magical pixie dust, wherever we put you, you’re just this magical being who elevates every scene he’s in with that David McCallum gravitas,” I tell him all the time. So we’d like to have more. We’ll have a little more breathing room. At the very least, you’ll see him the same amount of times, and hopefully, like Mark Harmon, we’ll be able to use him more effectively when we do see him. The fans can probably tell the difference between when we put him in things and he’s just another star on the show and when we devote our energies to making a story more about him, which is always fantastic. In 20 years, he has never let us down.

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