Is 'NCIS' About to Revisit the Counterfeit Opioids Case in Season 17?

Meredith Jacobs
Spoiler Alert Greg Gayne/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 17, Episode 8 of NCIS, "Musical Chairs."]

"It's sturgeon season." Or, at least, that's the official story to explain Gibbs' (Mark Harmon) absence. But everyone knows there's more going on.

In "Musical Chairs" on NCIS, Gibbs puts McGee (Sean Murray) in charge and takes a couple days off after receiving a text. Jack (Maria Bello) doesn't buy his fishing story — why would he receive a text about "sturgeon season" anyway? — and he tells her Fornell needs help because Emily left rehab. Simple, right? He's just going to be a good friend and uncle.

However, the rest of the episode is filled with moments that suggest there's much more to the story. His team discovers that he left his phone, wallet, and badge in his desk. (Did he take his gun?) If he just went to help Fornell with Emily, why wouldn't he bring his phone and money with him? Are he and Fornell up to something and don't want their whereabouts traced?

When Gibbs reappears at the end of the episode, in time for a concert by the Navy's most elite band, he tells Jack that Emily is "okay, for now." He doesn't share any other details, even when she asks what happened.

There may be at least some truth in Gibbs' explanation. Emily could have left rehab. Fornell could need his help. But there's clearly more going on and Gibbs is keeping everyone in the dark, at least for now. And we can't help but wonder if it's tied to the ongoing storyline from last season's finale: the counterfeit opioids coming in from Canada. After all, it was just mentioned a few episodes ago in the same conversation that included an update on Emily.

(Sonja Flemming/CBS)

In Episode 5, McGee told Gibbs he found a lead on the case, but Gibbs had him pass it along to the DEA. Fornell "wants to move on," Gibbs claimed, with Emily "making progress."

But if that has changed since, if Emily did leave rehab (possibly earlier than Gibbs claimed?), perhaps Fornell has changed his mind about moving on and has been doing some of his own investigating. Maybe that text was Fornell bringing Gibbs in on a lead. We'll have to wait and see just what's going on there, but that mystery is far from being solved at the end of "Musical Chairs."

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NCIS, Tuesdays, 8/7c, CBS