‘NCIS’: How Gibbs’ Exit Has Affected McGee’s Work as Thom E. Gemcity (RECAP)

Sean Murray and Margo Harshman in NCIS
Spoiler Alert
Sonja Flemming/CBS

NCIS

Higher Education

Season 20 • Episode 9

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for NCIS Season 20 Episode 9, “Higher Education.”]

Thom E. Gemcity, now there’s a name we haven’t heard in a while — and a name Jessica Knight (Katrina Law) never has — on NCIS. That changes with “Higher Education.”

When Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) and Knight come into work, and Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) is seemingly distracted, he reveals that he’s busy with a “personal project”: Thom E. Gemcity is back! That’s how Knight finds out McGee’s a novelist, the “John Grisham of NCIS,” as she puts it (he’d say Tom Clancy), and just who exactly is in his books.

“What mystery is Special Agent Tibbs embarking on next?” Torres asks. “Your lead character’s name is Special Agent Tibbs?” Knight asks in disbelief. “Because Gibbs couldn’t clear legal?” But “Gibbs and Tibbs are wildly different people,” McGee insists. As for the story, “since Gibbs is off doing his thing, I figured that LJ Tibbs deserves a little R&R. You’re just going to have to wait and see what comes next.”

Torres does suggest he add a new character: badass Miami detective Rick Sorres. He’ll first be seen in a seedy downtown bar, undercover, and randomly a mysterious woman will start making out with him. He pitches his idea all the way to the crime scene, which is how Dr. Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) finds out McGee’s planning to write again. McGee explains that now that the kids are a bit older, he and Delilah (Margo Harshman) are doing whatever they were before. Alden Parker (Gary Cole) only chimes in to ensure that there won’t be a thinly-veiled version of himself in it.

Later, after a brief disagreement about a student, Delilah was having weekly meetings with (and who was the team’s victim), she shares that she feels terrible watching him torture himself over his novel. “Novel’s going great,” McGee says before admitting, “I’m just having some trouble getting started.”

That’s not entirely accurate. He’s been stuck on the third page for weeks and has “barely written a word since Gibbs left for Alaska,” Delilah notes. “Gibbs is not what makes you great.” But McGee worries that “Thom E. Gemcity may never have another idea without him.” Delilah doesn’t think that’s true and suggests that he just needs a new muse.

It turns out, of course, that she’s right — and by the end of the episode, he’s found one. He was up all night writing more than he has in months. “Your fans will be so excited to read a new Deep Six mystery,” Delilah remarks, but McGee reminds her, “LJ Tibbs is retired, remember? So I have a new main character I think fans will love just as much as I do. She’s a beautiful, brilliant cryptologist by the name of Delena Flemming.”

“And does Delena get to solve cases with her equally brilliant husband?” Delilah asks. “You just have to wait and see,” he says.

NCIS, Mondays, 9/8c, CBS