NCIS Exclusive: Gary Glasberg on a "Different" Kind of Finale, An Emotional Goodbye

at . Comments

The end is near for NCIS.

Calm down. Not the end, but the end of a stellar 11th season that started out with a major cast member (Cote de  Pablo) departing, eventually added a new regular and, to makes things even more challenging, included a two-part backdoor pilot that could extend the NCIS franchise to New Orleans.

Executive Producer Gary Glasberg and his creative team are focusing on the last four episodes of the season at the moment, including a finale that focuses on the death of Leroy Jethro Gibb's father, played by actor Ralph Waite, who passed away earlier this year.

In the following Q&A, Glasberg gives us a peek into not only NCIS Season 11 Episode 21 - which features a guest turn by Kelli Williams - but also what we'll see in these final episodes, along with what makes the concluding one so very different...

Kelli Williams Guest Stars

TV Fanatic: In general, how do you feel this time of the year moving into another season finale? Does it get easier since you've been at this place before?

Gary Glasberg: It never gets easier because in the nature of 24 episodes a season it’s exhausting. But I’ll tell you what we’ve done this year, which is a little different: we made the decision not to do a cliffhanger and we did that intentionally because this year has been challenging.

NCIS Season 11 was challenging with Ziva’s departure, the arrival of Bishop and then we did the New Orleans episodes... so there’s been a lot going on. We decided to not go the route to leave everyone hanging because enough has happened this year already so we wanted to focus on our team and the strength of our team. This was a unique situation that came up and we decided to focus on the passing of Ralph Waite.

TVF: Let’s talk about that and how that affected where you’re going with the last episodes of the season.

GG: It was significant enough for us to step back and say that we wanted to say goodbye to him properly. So we put our heads together and decided we wanted to do a story about Leroy Jethro Gibb and Harmon’s character. We do some flashbacks, we get to see him as a child and we get to see him with a young Ralph Waite, who we’re in the middle of casting right now.

I think it will mean a lot to the audience and it’s definitely meant a lot to us from a storytelling standpoint. It’s a nice episode, it’s an emotional episode, it’s an informative episode and it gives people some closure.

TVF: Will we see a different side of Gibbs that we don’t typically see? He’s usually such a rock for everyone else.

GG: Well, It’s definitely new territory for him and, honestly, I’m really anxious to see how Harmon plays it. We’re prepping it right now and we start shooting in a few days and I’m really excited about it.

TVF: I know this week’s episode involves the guys on a cleanse so I’m wondering if you went on a cleanse to inspire the story?

GG: I did not. I need to cleanse but we gathered around the [writers’] room and joked about it and thought it would be a fun thing for Tony and McGee to bond over. It’s really just to do something that was light and entertaining to counterbalance a very serious storyline that involves sexual assault so we were looking for something that was minor that we could handle in a superficial way and still have fun at them and it wouldn’t detract from the bigger story.

TVF: You already have consultants on the show but did you approach this week’s case differently? Is it a true story?

GG: The story that we tell specifically isn’t true but the Navy did come to us and say that this was an arena that they wanted us to try. It’s very delicate, very sensitive subject matter and a very serious subject matter so we really wanted to do it justice.

Scott Williams, who wrote the episode, spent a lot of time researching and the real NCIS has a real significant number of agents who specialize in this so he talked to them so we really tried to approach it as realistic a standpoint as we could.

TVF: I know in the “Shooter” episode (airing April 29), Abby has a story so I was curious since we usually see her in a more comedic light does that episode give Pauley [Perrette] a chance to do a little heavier dramatic work?

GG: Absolutely! We’ve got some really talented, gifted actors on this show and anytime we can put them into situations that stretch them a little bit, we look forward to doing that. These last episodes for the entire cast gives them the opportunity to use some muscles that they don’t get to use all season long. My goal with these last episodes, and this is true of Season 12 as well, is to really focus on the team and get back to the basics, as they call it, of the stories and why people watch NCIS. The emotion, the characters…that’s what these episodes will focus on.

TVF: Tony has a big story in the penultimate episode, which I saw in the press compared to the movie, Three Days of the Condor. Is that a personal story or a case story or a little of both?

GG: No, that’s more of a case-driven story and it was something that I’d been talking about and playing with for a few months now. I wanted to send Tony off on an assignment that lands him in Marcé and Tony has some experience in France and it’s always fun for us, and a challenge for us, to try to recreate it. We’re in the middle of filming that now and I’m pleased with what I’ve been seeing and I think it’s going to be fun. it’s a lot of action and intrigue and Michael is doing great.

TVF: Is DiNozzo by himself or is there another team member with him?

GG: He’s the only one who goes and everyone else is involved but from back home.

TVF: What about the Jimmy and Breena's adoption story. Will that progress anymore this season?

GG: Yes, it does come up again and people will hear some things and learn some things and it will continue.

TVF: In terms of McGee, Delilah is in Dubai but will she pop back up or at least hear about her?

GG: There’s more discussion of Delilah. You won’t see her but I certainly hope you might be seeing her in Season 12.

TVF: What’s Bishop’s piece in these last episodes? She’s been such a great addition to the show and the NCIS team this season.

GG: Like I said, I really wanted to emphasize the group and emphasize the team and emphasize the strength of NCIS in its entirety. I like to think that Bishop is finding her niche and the team is relying on her and her expertise when it comes up and that’s really the extent of it. I look forward to giving her other stories and other moments as we move into season 12 but right now it’s all about the group.

TVF: If the New Orleans spinoff moves forward, how are you going to be able to juggle all this, Gary? I know NCIS keeps you very busy by itself!

GG: [laughs] You know what? I’ve learned the power of delegating and if New Orleans moves forward I will continue to stay very focused on the Mothership and then we’ll find some fantastic people to help me out but we’ll have to see what comes of it.

NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of Follow him on Twitter.


The Bishop character is disgusting. Now there are plans for her to
monopolize Ducky?! And meet her husband?! I want to scream. I was
hoping that Mr. Glasberg would write her out of the program. This
character has totally ruined NCIS. I've been a long-time, passionate
fan, but that has all changed. I no longer watch it because of the
Bishop character. Please get rid of her!


Marcé is a commune in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France.


>an assignment that lands him in Marcé and Tony has some experience in France Seriously ? You write articles but can't spell Marseilles ?


Bishop sucks. I think the actress who protrays her isn't very good. I wish they wouldn't bring her back. She gets more screen time than the regulars...and I hate that. If she is back for the next season..I won't watch.

@ lily

Your mom sucks and she loves to lick too.


need to replace bishop...


Bishop is everything the fanbase been asking for


Bishop is so miscast as an NCIS operative. I honestly fast forward her parts. And why is she "stuck" to Gibbs? Yes, I do miss Ziva. But, with the very capable and strong female characters on other CBS shows, such as Person of Interest, why you would focus on an immature, poorly acted childish character, I have no idea.
Not just bad, but turns your stomach that you have harmed the synergy of this fantastic cast by this miscast, in-our-face, totally unbelievable character.

@ Bishop

Then go kill a baby in the name of Cote's return if you miss her so bad.

@ Bishop

Bishop as a realistic character? No way. Really obnoxious "acting".
Would not have believed the harm one actor can cause. Agree that the same lines and situations done by a competent, believable actor would not be so horribly offensive. Is this some girlfriend or family member you gave a prime job to? Yuck! And, agree, get her out of every scene with Gibbs. Get back to the main cast that we love to watch.You are hurting your own ratings.


Sorry but we do not like Bishop. Has nothing to do wirh Ziva leaving. The team needs another member but the charactor Bishop is not it. Dump it or else change it.


So nice to Have NCIS back to being about the team and not Ziva that woman could only do one emotion and was clearly taken the show down hill


I agree--Bishop has got to go. New story lines for her next year?
Sorry but if she is still "part of the team" then I will no longer be watching NCIS which will be a shame since I've been watching
from the start. Wake up writers----she just isn't a good fit and never
will be.

@ Debbie

Then why have you and others stuck around this long? Honestly you would kill new born babies just to get your point across.

@ Debbie

Are you sure So why should I have to lose my favorite characer

@ Michael

Every lose has favorite charactor. Bishop needs to go.

Tags: , , ,

NCIS Season 11 Episode 21 Quotes

Gibbs: You've been saving that one, Mo!
Cabot: You have no idea.

Tony: How long?
McGee: Just this once? Okay it's been the whole time. We've been working late. I was weak.
Tony: I don't even know who you are anymore.
McGee: Wait, please, I have another one. Here. Take it. It's yours.
Tony: You can't buy me with your pepperoni. I want steak. Creamed spinach. French fries.
Bishop: Can I get in on this?
McGee: Yes. Absolutely. Steaks all around, my treat. Let's go.