McGee and Gibbs in Peril! Sean Murray Tells All as ‘NCIS’ Roars Back for Season 15

NCIS, mark harmon, returning favorites
Michael Yarish/CBS
Mark Harmon and Sean Murray

What’s the last thing you want to see during a rogue mission in Paraguay? The back end of your rescue chopper. NCIS’s 15th season picks up two months after Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and McGee (Sean Murray) were abandoned in South America, where they’ve been taken hostage by machine gun-toting guerillas. We’d joke about a rebel militia not being the best hosts, but this is no laughing matter.

“They’re situation is pretty dark,” says Murray “They’ve been living on scraps in cells. They don’t know how long it’s been and they have no idea if they’ll get out.” To add to the stress, McGee’s wheelchair-bound wife, Delilah (Margo Harshman), is pregnant. Murray told us more about what the show’s executive producers have called NCIS’s most emotional episode ever.

Does captivity change Gibbs and McGee’s father/son relationship?
They’ve been imprisoned for two months together. That does a lot to a person. The father/son dynamic will definitely always be there, but you’ll see a little more of a partnership between them.

It doesn’t turn McGee into a hard-a**, does it?
McGee is always going to be McGee. There’s a part of every person that won’t change, no matter what. McGee’s goofiness is in that category. But you’re definitely going to see a more of an edge to McGee than ever before—and it’ll last way beyond this episode. Gibb is different, too. It’s not an experience that you leave behind easily.

Is McGee worried about Delilah?
You’ve seen the way he fawns over her and puts her on a pedestal. He feels so removed from his wife now that he’s talking to McGee about missing baby classes. It’s McGee, he wants to be involved in all that.

Side question: Are you stoked for the birth episode and his impending fatherhood?
I am absolutely excited. He’s going to have a lot of fun with that stuff. McGee’s life has slightly mirrored my own in terms of getting married, having kids, and so on, which has been pretty interesting for me.

Will Gibbs and McGee make it home in time to welcome the team’s new addition, forensic specialist Sloan (Maria Bellow)?
She doesn’t appear until episode four. I’ve filmed a couple scenes with Maria already. Her character helps McGee out with something involving ham radios. We’re getting to do meatier stuff next week. I’m so excited. You’ve seen her work: She’s amazing!

When you were shooting the finale, did you know this is what the writers had in mind for Gibbs and McGee?
Not really. We had a general sense of where things were headed, but that’s it. Then they called us about a month before production started back up again and said, “Don’t shave. We have an idea. We think we know what we’re going to do. Don’t shave.”

Filming the episode must have been like doing CrossFit on fire.
Both last season’s finale and this season’s premiere were extremely, extremely physical. I’ve never worked that hard before. Each sequence had an element that was hard to deal with—not just physically or in terms of production, but emotionally, as well. That kind of grueling stuff stays with you. I guess you could say we felt like we earned our money on those days.

NCSI, Returns Sept. 26, 8/7c, CBS