It's refreshing to know that even NCIS Headquarters isn't free of interoffice pettiness.
Enter Special Agent Dale Sawyer on NCIS Season 18 Episode 11.
For those wondering what happened to Gibbs' team after he went vigilante on NCIS Season 18 Episode 10, nothing good was the answer.
This is a shame because all they did was to try to protect Gibbs from his worst instincts.
Unfortunately, in a litigious society, even a scumbag running a dogfighting ring can take his captor to court if he's been beaten into hospitalization.
Stana got what he deserves, but the courts won't necessarily see it that way.
This is why Vance felt he had to suspend an unrepentant Gibbs (is there any other kind?) and demote his team for covering for Gibbs.
Gibbs appeared to be handling his situation better than McGee, Torres, and Bishop. They are accustomed to being the "cool kids," as Sawyer scornfully called them.
And now the rest of the office was treating them like lepers, except Palmer. Even Kasie seemed just to be offering tough love.
Then came the ultimate punishment: Covid compliance duty for SecDef's summit with the Yemeni delegation.
As Jimmy icily pointed out to a pouting Torres, COVID mitigation practices are important and save lives.
Still, was doing something that could be handled by fledgling medical personnel really the best use of a skilled squad of NCIS investigators? Undoubtedly not.
Nor was it realistic to expect them to sit back and take their punishment like good little boys and girls. Just preparing for their COVID duties, they picked up details about the case of the week through osmosis (and eavesdropping).
They respected Ronnie Tyler, last seen on NCIS Season 18 Episode 1, to handle her role. But it was hard to put much faith in that smirking frat boy Sawyer, who was being a dick, as Ronnie noted.
McGee attempted to follow Vance's orders and leave the case to Ronnie and Sawyer. But Bishop not so much and Torres not at all.
So, of course, they checked out possible leads before turning them over, only to discover that the lead duo mostly had gotten there before them.
If they had all worked together, likely the case would have gotten solved a whole lot quicker. But where's the fun in that?
Also, as Gibbs had taught them, they were running off their guts instead of any tangible evidence, which is a hard thing to sell to people who don't understand hunches.
As was to be expected, those syringes from the painter's van that Kasie had to back burner ended up being the clue that broke the case wide open.
Of course, the likable, quirky Yemeni ended up being the piece's villain instead of the online conspiracy nut, which felt more relevant.
The trio did the right thing and let Ronnie and Sawyer take their somewhat deserved bows in the end. They seemed to get that, for now, they're the little people.
Now how is Gibbs' latest maneuver going to impact them?
Having Mark Harmon's wife, Pam Dawber, come on for a four-episode arc as investigative reporter Marcie Warren sounded like stunt casting.
But like with Scott Bakula and Chelsea Field on NCIS: New Orleans, the comfort of being a longtime couple shone through.
Gibbs and Marcie appeared to be a good match, as both were stuck in the last millennium.
He determined who she was from her picture on her column in a newspaper. She came a-courtin' to his house and tried to convince him of her earnestness with her clipbook, likely because she gauged he wouldn't know how to use a flash drive.
He ultimately gave her the interview because she could identify the type of carburetor he was working on. It's doubtful any of his team could identify a carburetor, period.
Why did Gibbs do the interview? In part because he's gone through a rough period, and he's tired. He's content to hang out at home with Lucy and work on some of the projects for which he's had no time. That will get old for a man of action but not yet.
Gibbs is also growing weary of the politics, of considering the optics of whatever he does. As far as he's concerned, he did the right thing putting a beatdown on a dog abuser and killer, regardless of what policy says.
So he's taking his case to the court of public opinion, where politicians and bureaucrats fear to tread.
While what Gibbs did could be painted as police brutality, Stana hardly makes for a sympathetic victim. Try to find a jury that would take him over the war hero.
Vance worried that he couldn't protect Gibbs any longer now that the news was out. The laconic Gibbs has surely learned something about what appeals to the public over the past several decades.
Also, he's made a lot of friends in high places through the years. So when he's ready to come back, he'll be back.
Unless Harmon doesn't re-enlist, then all bets are off for the series' future. No offense to Sean Murray, but no one wants to see McGee permanently leading the team.
To follow Gibbs' descent, watch NCIS online.
Who guessed that Vance's buddy, the SecDef was in danger?
Will Gibbs return by the shortened season's end?
Should Sawyer just disappear?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.