NCIS Proves: Agent Parker Won’t Ever Be Gibbs – Which Is A Good Thing!

Parker has done an admirable job filling in for Gibbs on NCIS. ‘Old Wounds’ reveals what distinguishes Gary Cole’s character from Mark Harmon’s fan favorite.

NCIS fans knew that Mark Harmon’s absence would define Season 20. When the long-running actor left his role as Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Gary Cole was tapped to take over as Alden Parker. While some fans will always be Gibbs-only fans, Cole has done an excellent job as Parker, and NCIS has remained a popular show. The show’s depiction of Gibbs and Parker as very different characters has aided the transition.

Except for ignoring one of Parker’s most important relationships, NCIS has done a good job of fleshing him out. Parker has had a lot of defining stories and unique character traits in Season 20. But the lack of comparison was highlighted in Season 20, Episode 14, “Old Wounds,” in which Parker tried to act like Gibbs – and it didn’t work.

NCIS made Difference of Parker from Gibbs

Parker’s approach is very different from Gibbs’ rule-following approach, which has added a new dimension to NCIS. Parker makes use of technology, whereas Gibbs was lucky if his flip phone worked at all. Gibbs was tough and down-to-earth; he would show up every morning with a cup of black coffee and get to work. Parker brings in pastries every morning and is a much better conversationalist. Gibbs enjoyed boat building, whereas Parker enjoys birdwatching. Except for this episode, they have completely different personalities.

Parker lost his cool in “Old Wounds” after seeing some familiar-looking drugs. He enlisted the assistance of Jeremy Wright, an old FBI colleague. When Wright arrived, NCIS revealed that he was in a wheelchair due to being shot in the back during his previous case with Parker. They eventually solved the case, but Parker revealed a side of himself that fans had never seen before. As he obsessed over the investigation, he was abrasive and antagonistic. It reminded me of Gibbs, and not in a good way.

Why Parker from NCIS should never imitate Gibbs again

Parker was obsessed for a reason: he was directly responsible for Wright’s disability. Parker had accidentally shot Wright during a fierce firefight with a drug lord’s hired muscle. They decided to keep it a secret so Parker wouldn’t lose his job, but Parker had been carrying that burden for years and had never forgiven himself. It made him rude and insulting to the rest of the team, and he went off on his own to catch the drug lord even after Director Vance benched him.

Parker’s obsession, rudeness, and go-it-alone attitude reminded me of Gibbs. Gibbs spent 18-and-a-half seasons frequently taking matters into his own hands or becoming obsessed with a case. The same approach, however, painted Parker in a negative light. While Cole delivered an excellent performance, “Old Wounds” demonstrated that Parker is more effective when he is calm and personable. His inability to be Gibbs is what makes him memorable and keeps NCIS moving forward.

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