NCIS 2021: Gibbs and team tackle Covid pandemic as series confirms time-jump

NCIS: Bishop and Torres trapped in cells in episode promo

For pretty much all of NCIS season 18 so far, fans have been taken back in time to see the team tackle a number of cases, from Fornell’s (played by Joe Spano) war with a drugs ring to Bishop (Emily Wickersham) and Torres’ (Wilmer Valderrama) mysterious imprisonment in 1mm. But now thanks to a handful of promo images from episode seven, The First Day, Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and the team look like they’ll be back in the present day – with the CBS show addressing the coronavirus pandemic for the first time.

Ahead of its air date on February 9, CBS has teased what’s to come in The First Day.

The NCIS synopsis reads: “NCIS investigates the murder of a Navy officer who was killed while driving home a recently released inmate. 

“Also, Gibbs helps Palmer (Brian Dietzen) deal with a personal trauma.”

And in the accompanying promo pictures, both Gibbs and Bishop are shown wearing their face coverings (see below).

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In one snap, Bishop can be seen adhering to newly implemented Covid guidelines as she takes snaps of a crime scene wearing a face covering.

Gibbs is also seen donning a mask, albeit moved down from his mouth and nose to his neck.

A third shows Bishop now doing the same as her boss, sliding her mask down as she gets up close to the crime scene.

And the two are joined by McGee (Sean Murray) who’s shown taking down notes alongside his colleagues.

This looks like it will be the first time the CBS drama will address the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the world.

However, it’s not yet known just how long NCIS will continue to incorporate the real-life outbreak.

After all, sister show NCIS: LA is set in a post-pandemic world and the show’s leading star Eric Christian Olsen addressed ahead of the season 12 premiere why it wouldn’t be taking on the issue directly.

Speaking to ET Canada back in November, the Deeks star explained: “I know that people do not wanna deal with the pandemic all day long,

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“And then turn on the TV and have to watch their character deal with it.”

Daniela Ruah, who plays Kensi Blye in the LA spin-off, added: “We haven’t referred to the pandemic yet on the show as far as I know.”

The Kensi star added the show felt like 2020 “had a weight to it” without referring to the pandemic directly.

Given CBS bosses and NCIS: LA writers agreed to this way moving forward, it’s likely NCIS may do the same.

However, fans will have to tune in to the rest of season 18 to find out for sure.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other storylines to pique viewers’ interest.

Not least the fact Jack Sloane (Maria Bello) will be saying he goodbyes to NCIS in the next few episodes.

But will he departure be influenced by the pandemic? Whatever happens, it’s bound to be an emotional farewell.

NCIS season 18 continues on CBS on Tuesday.

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