Abby was one of the few original characters left on the show, and a mugging last week put her in grave danger.
Fans of N.C.I.S. need not worry: Abby is not no longer alive. Abby’s life appeared to be in danger after she was mugged outside an upscale restaurant last week—and this week, she did indeed roll into the hospital on a gurney with a gunshot wound. Fortunately for her, it was not fatal. Unfortunately, Clay Reeves, who was with her at the time of the incident, cannot say the same.
For a brief moment, as Ducky and Jimmy prepared to perform an autopsy on an unidentified fallen colleague, it appeared that Abby was inside the body bag. Instead, the corpse was Clay, who had no living family other than the N.C.I.S. crew. And, while Abby did not d1e, that last detail did pave the way for her departure.
We knew it was coming; actress Pauley Perrette, who has played Abby since the show’s inception in 2003, announced her departure from the show last October on social media, writing, “I hope everyone will love and enjoy EVERYTHING ABBY not only for the rest of this season but for everything she has given all of us for 16 years.” All the love, laughter, and inspiration… I adore her as much as you do.”
Perrette was one of the few original cast members still on the long-running series; stars such as Michael Weatherly, who now stars in his own CBS series Bull, have left the show one by one over the years. Fortunately, it appears that the series’ writers, like its fans, adore Abby and would not want to see her k1lled off. “This is the indomitable Abby Sciuto we’re talking about,” Jimmy assured a worried McGee. I’m not concerned with the odds. “You should never count her out.”
From the beginning of the series, Gibbs’ paternal relationship with Abby has been an emotional core of N.C.I.S. Gibbs sees the goth lab lurker as the plucky child he never had, and he’s been especially protective of her over the years, both emotionally and as various outside threats have jeopardized her life. Abby and McGee have a particularly close bond, as their “will they, won’t they” dynamic was both geeky and endearing for several seasons. (They even dated for a short time before McGee fell in love with his current wife, Delilah.) Longtime fans will find it difficult to accept Abby’s departure from the show because of these ties, as well as her boundless charisma.
Early in the episode, it became clear that last week’s mugging outside the restaurant was no ordinary mugging; as Gibbs and his team discover when they discover the mugger d3ad, along with a file containing Abby’s photograph, this was a failed hit job. Soon after, the team locates the perpetrator of the violence: Robert King, a black-ops soldier who once duped Abby into creating a bioweapon. Abby had stopped him before he could use it, and he’d been in prison ever since—until he allegedly coerced a guard to assist him in escaping. King was eventually apprehended by Gibbs and his team, but not before Abby confronted him.
Despite the fact that Abby survived, the incident clearly had a profound impact on her. She took an emotional look at Clay’s body, vowed, “I’m not going to let you down,” and then announced her intention to leave not only the N.C.I.S., but the country as well.
“I’m not coming back,” Abby stated emphatically. “I’m departing from N.C.I.S.” Clay d1ed to save my life, and I owe him a debt that I intend to repay. Clay always wanted to start a charity in memory of his mother, and since he isn’t here to do so, I will. I know you don’t understand, but it’s something I have to do—not just for him, but for myself… It wasn’t an easy choice. You are my family, and this is my home, but you must follow your instincts, and my instincts are telling me that I must leave.”
This was never going to be an easy goodbye, as longtime fans knew going in. And, indeed, some of the farewells were heartbreaking, such as McGee’s tearful admission that he wasn’t sure he even said goodbye to Abby. “It’s not a permanent goodbye,” Abby explained. “For the time being, it’s goodbye.” (Given that line, it’s hard to blame hopeful fans for misinterpreting this as a hint that Perrette might return in a guest-starring role.) Then there’s the note she taped to Gibbs’ door, which said, “You’re probably wondering what’s up with the retro communication.”
The truth is that I backed down. I was worried that if you asked me to stay, I would hesitate because there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you. When things got tough in my life, you were always there to reassure me that everything would be fine. And it’d be because you’d make it okay. But, Gibbs, Reeves is no longer with us, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Nobody, not even you. Gibbs, I hope you understand how much you mean to me. I’m grateful for every moment, every lesson, and every hug. Whatever we went through over the years, there was always one thing I needed to hear from you.”
Gibbs notices Abby standing outside at that moment. From the doorway, he says, “I love you.” The Fray’s “Be Still” hummed in the background as Abby packed up her belongings from the lab, leaving behind her guide, “Abby’s Lab for Dummies.” She finally picked up Bert, her stuffed farting hippo, and took one last look around the lab she’d called home for nearly 15 years before turning off the lights.
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