Season 18 of NCIS is officially on for fall 2020, having resumed production on Sept. 9. That means it won't be long before fans get some answers to big questions, including how Sloane (Maria Bello) will say farewell from the show. There's still much more to learn, though, with Season 17 cut a little short, and a huge milestone episode — Episode 400! — coming not long after the Season 18 premiere.
Back in April, TV Guide spoke with executive producers Frank Cardea and Gina Monreal to share some insight on what we can expect. Here's everything we know so far about Season 18 including what might be in store for Sloane, Gibbs (Mark Harmon), Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), and the rest of the crew. In the time since, more and more details about Season 18 have begun to leak too, helping to flesh out what might be on deck for the new season. Here's everything we know so far.
NCIS will jump back in time, to last November, and stay there a while. TV Line reports that after an intense cold open, the show will jump back in time to when Gibbs went off the grid in last season's Episode 8. Co-showrunner Steve Binder told the outlet that the initial episode will explore what happened in the previous episode "Musical Chairs," where Gibbs disappears from the squad room to go on a mission and returns at the end with a black eye. Apparently, that's going to take place over a number of episodes, because when that storyline wraps up, it'll bring the show up to current times, including COVID-19 narratives.
The cast is doing table reads. Wilmer Valderrama's shared a snap of the cast's first table read on his Insta. The man also known as Torres posted a screenshot on Sept. 5 that showed the bulk of the main cast, including Sean Murray, Diona Reasonover, Rocky Carroll, and of course Mark Harmon Zoomin' as they read a new script. That's a pretty unmistakable sign that some scripts are in the can, and the whole team is moving full steam ahead. Progress!
View this post on Instagram
After 6 months of our industry shut down.. the first table read to #NCIS’s season 18 feels like the beginning of a road to progression, as we get closer to bringing our show back to your homes. In many ways it feels like we, the cast and crew of our @ncis_cbs family.. are like astronauts embarking into the learning curb of a whole new world and reality.. here’s to a smooth lift off. (Thank you to our producers and studio for working so hard, and making this day real.)
Production resumed after Labor Day. Deadline reported previously that NCIS would resume shooting in Los Angeles on Sept. 9, just after Labor Day. These plans are dependent on the ever-fluctuating COVID-19 situation of course, but should all go to plan, the series should be back on the air in time to make CBS' ambitious fall schedule. Per the table read that Valderrama posted, that schedule seems to be still on track.
Gibbs will be a more emotionally open leader. As reported previously, Gibbs' experiences in the tear-jerking last episode will lead him to be more transparent about his emotions. Of course, emotional vulnerability is not something we've known Gibbs to be — and it's doesn't mean "weak" either. "One thing about the Gibbs character," Monreal said, "he's constantly evolving." Added Cardea: "I think he's going to be taking some risks and chances he never would have taken before."
Sloane is on her way out, but how remains a mystery. There's a longstanding theory among NCIS fans that Jacqueline "Jack" Sloane (Maria Bello) might be meeting her demise soon — and recent news reporting Maria Bello's departure from the show prove those theories may have merit. According to the conspiracies, Sloane's would-be death at the end of the season would've closed it on a dramatic note, keeping Gibbs in an unnerved state that's more interesting for the series. Of course, Sloane dying is just one way she could leave: she could move away, retire, or numerous other outcomes. When asked back in April if Sloane might die as the show moves forward, showrunner Frank Cardea laughed it off. "We never talk about what we're going to do," he said adding that if word got out that Sloane's death was in the cards, they wouldn't do it. That likely means the team is crafting a number of scenarios to avoid the death fans saw coming a mile away. Then again, maybe they're planning a death so shocking it'll even surprise the fans who've been waiting on it!
A big milestone episode will be a flashback. NCIS was set to air its 400th episode this season, a monumental achievement the producers, writers, cast and crew had obviously been looking forward to. Though plans were put on hold, that whopper of a birthday is going to be celebrated as soon as possible, and the plans are for that episode to be a flashback. "It's about how Gibbs and Ducky met," Cardea said. "It's a case that brings them back. There are wonderful moments and we see how Ducky and Gibbs met under strange circumstances."
NCIS aired its last episode of Season 17 before a hiatus on April 14. Past episodes are streaming on CBS All Access.