‘NCIS’ Says Goodbye to Jack — But How Does She Leave Things With Gibbs? (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 18, Episode 8 of NCIS, “True Believer.”]
NCIS has to do two things with March 2’s “True Believer”: say goodbye to Jack Sloane (Maria Bello) and address the sparks that have been simmering between her and Gibbs (Mark Harmon), which pretty much started when she showed up at his house, claiming to just be someone whose car broke down (her introduction in Season 15’s Skeleton Crew). And it does both, by sending the two to Afghanistan for a case.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team — McGee (Sean Murray), Bishop (Emily Wickersham), Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), Dr. Palmer (Brian Dietzen), and Kasie (Diona Reasonover) — understandably take a backseat in their support roles during the investigation. Director Vance (Rocky Carroll) gets a bit more to do, though it would’ve been nice to see more of him with Jack, given their history, since this is her last episode.
So did Jack get to go relax on a beach like she’d claimed she had planned? No, but there is sand and sun in her future. Read on to find out how her exit went down.
Change Is Coming
In Afghanistan, a bus is found deserted, the driver dead; four kids and their chaperone are missing. The only clue: “Sloane NCIS” written on a window. A hacktivist leaked their route to the Taliban, who don’t want the girls attending school.
Vance brings the team this case when he interrupts Jack trying to talk to Gibbs about her plans to leave (“I need a change,” she stresses) and him avoiding it. She knows the chaperone, Darya (Sara Emami), a captive who brought Jack food and water when the NCIS agent was held hostage in Afghanistan. It may not be NCIS’ jurisdiction, but Vance knows he can’t keep Jack away and has already arranged transport for her and Gibbs.
Before leaving, Jack drops her fish off with Torres, which surprises McGee. He helped her put in an automatic fish feeder, so how long is she planning to be gone, exactly?
Once in Afghanistan on their way to the bus, Jack comments on Gibbs’ silence, but she isn’t being very talkative, either. Is she OK being back there? “I made peace with this place,” she claims, but admits she’d rather not stay longer than they have to.
Once at the bus, they meet Nabi (Ismail Bashey), who helps run a local camp with Darya, and determine that the Taliban likely took the kids into the mountains. (They took their shoes, so it would be hard for them to run away on that terrain.) Jack wants to head out immediately, but Gibbs talks her into being smart and waiting until the next day since the Taliban shoots for sport along those roads at night.
Back at the village, they’re in the middle of checking in with Vance when one of the missing girls stumbles in. She didn’t escape, she reveals. They let her go. And Nabi knows why once a video auctioning off the remaining three is posted online: She has epilepsy, so she wasn’t “worth selling.”
The girl also shares that Darya changed their route halfway to the school, so the chaperone appears to be the only one who could’ve leaked that to the hacktivist, who sent it to the Taliban. Jack has trouble believing the woman who risked everything to help her would do that, and she’s right to: Darya’s body is dropped off at the village.
“This is why I want out,” Jack tells Gibbs. “We chase bad guys. We put them away. And nothing ever changes except for us. Darya risked her life to help me. And we’re all so twisted we couldn’t see that basic act of humanity for what it was. So call it what you want — quitting, running, I don’t care. I’m out. I’m done!”
She’s also ready to go out in a blaze of glory, following even the slimmest of leads in hopes of finding the girls. But Gibbs refuses to let her because, simply, “I want you to be around.” (In Gibbs-speak, that might as well be a declaration of love.)
That’s when the team comes up with the intel they need: The identity of the person who leaked the bus route. It was Nabi because in his mind, Darya was destroying their way of life by having the girls attend school. He didn’t know they would be sold, he claims, but that doesn’t matter. Gibbs is more than ready to leave him alone with a very pissed off Jack, unless he gives up the girls’ location. He does.
And once the girls are rescued, Gibbs knows Jack’s not coming home with him. She’s staying in Afghanistan to help the town. “I have loved my time with NCIS,” she says, but he doesn’t need her anymore.
“I’m not sure about that,” Gibbs protests.
“I don’t belong behind a desk. I never did,” she says. “And you’re right, I was running. I don’t want to do that anymore. I think I can make a difference here. I want to make a difference here. And I know you understand that. I’ll call everybody when I’m ready. And as for you, if you ever want to visit…”
He cuts her off with a kiss (finally!), and they say goodbye.
So Gibbs’ unlucky streak with love continues. But hey, at least Jack’s alive, so there’s always hope. And with that exit, the door is wide open for Jack to return (she can even just video in to MTAC) or for a case to bring the team back to Afghanistan.
NCIS, Tuesdays, 8/7c, CBS