NCIS Season 20 Just Set up a Trajectory-Changing Plotline
NCIS has prioritized filling the void left by Gibbs’ departure, but it seems like the show will end Season 20 with an exciting multi-episode plotline.
Being a police procedural, NCIS has a pretty set formula. Someone d**s in the cold open and then the NCIS team spends the rest of the episode investigating their mu****r. By the end of the hour, they’ve found and arrested the k***r so that things are back to the status quo. That way, the group can do it all again in the next episode. While there’s some ongoing characterization mixed in, the series prioritizes its episodic approach.
However, NCIS is at its best when there’s an overarching plot that’s looming over the regular cases. Gibbs getting in trouble during the back end of Season 18 and leaving the team early in Season 19 was the last large-scale plot. Since then, replacing Gibbs has been the series’ priority. There simply hasn’t been time for an ongoing story arc. However, that started to change in “Butterfly Effect,” which introduced a new plotline which could overshadow the rest of the season.
Butterfly Effect’ Introduced Multiple Russian Spies
“Butterfly Effect” started with multiple people collapsed inside a parking garage. Investigators suspected that it was a trial run for a terrorist at**k, but it was just an elaborate scheme to steal a contractor’s key codes and break into Senator Constance Miller’s house. When the team arrived, they found the Senator’s maid had been gassed — and one of the earlier victims was the culprit. She was trying to steal a hard drive from the house’s safe in order to save her father, who was himself a notorious c*****al, from a Russian spy.
The only things on the hard drive seemed to be pictures of Senator Miller’s travels and her favorite desserts. But at the end of the episode, Kasie Hines looked closer and discovered that the Senator had also taken pictures with some of the people who had volunteered for her campaign. And the NCIS team had previously proved that three of those people were also Russian spies. They were Delilah McGee’s former teaching assistant Evelyn Shaw (from NCIS Season 20, Episode 9, “Higher Education”), and John and Renee Watts, who had helped steal Alden Parker’s identity (from NCIS Season 20, Episode 11, “Bridges”). These callbacks suggested that the season is building to a larger story in its remaining episodes
NCIS Is Setting up a Russian Collusion Plotline to End Season 20
Parker could see that four Russian spies connected to a single Senator’s campaign was not a coincidence. Maybe the four spies had tampered with Senator Miller’s election, or maybe the senator was involved with the spies. Kasie and Parker wanted to do something, but NCIS Director Leon Vance knew that their evidence was only circumstantial. At that point, there was no way to incriminate Senator Miller or know if she was involved with something illegal. The team decided they would watch from a distance and see if Miller or someone connected to her made a wrong move. Thus, it looks like NCIS is setting up a Russian collusion subplot that could run for the rest of Season 20.
Referencing the spies from the previous episodes was a great reveal on its own, but watching how the plot unfolds in future episodes will be even better. Parker and Senator Miller had bonded over their love of pastries, and she even gave him her phone number. Parker could be going on a date with someone that he’s scoping out as a possible criminal — which could get awkward if his ex-wife Vivian shows back up. Those kinds of long-term plot developments and the intrigue they provide are necessary for NCIS to keep moving forward. Being able to set up an ongoing plot centered around Parker would be proof that the series can start building new mythology in the post-Gibbs era.