‘NCIS’ Boss on Torres’ ‘Pretty Dark’ Arc & Ducky in Season 20

NCIS Season 19 may have just ended — on a cliffhanger involving Special Agent Alden Parker (Gary Cole), on the run after the Raven framed him for murder, and his ex-wife Vivian (Teri Polo) is somehow involved — but we’re already looking ahead to the fall.

After all, we know that for one agent, Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), we’ve only seen the first part of an arc so far; there’s more to come for the man who went undercover for a case involving cage fighting at a time when he was struggling. Plus, as executive producer Steven D. Binder shared with TV Insider while breaking down the May finale, there are some stories they didn’t have time to get to this past season. Read on for more.

You put more Torres through the wringer this season and we started to see that addressed with him in therapy, talking about drinking, Gibbs (Mark Harmon), not much about Bishop (Emily Wickersham) really though. What did you want to do with him this season when it comes to that?

Steven D. Binder: I think a lot of that stems from a conception Wilmer had early on about the character, which is that this guy is really locked away and he opened up for Bishop and she left, and he opened up for Gibbs and Gibbs left. I think we’ve seen him lock back up again and we’ve seen him struggle with drinking as a result of that. So it’s not that these things aren’t there, it’s that they’re really, really locked up tight, and at some point, it’s going to come out. We got a hint of that in the cage-fighting episode where you just saw some of his internal demons come out. I think that’s really part one. This is a guy who’s under a tremendous amount of pressure. Now he’s a professional and he’s getting the job done, but he’s got these internal pressures building up inside him, and at some point, you pop, and I think that’s in his future.

What can you say about that and how dark Part 2 might get?

It’s always a really fine line for this show. If you take someone like Leroy Jethro Gibbs on paper, that guy’s as dark as it gets. He killed Pedro Hernandez. He was in his basement drinking whiskey out of a nail-filled bottle. He arguably may have committed murder to protect Bishop a couple seasons ago, and there’s certainly a case to be made for that. I think we’re gonna go pretty dark with [Torres], but we try and do it in a way that doesn’t destroy what we love about the character, so always in service to something greater. It’s not just pure darkness.

ou played a bit with Kasie (Diona Reasonover) possibly leaving, then she decided to stay at NCIS. What’s next for her?

I sure hope she stays because she’s fantastic. We’re dabbling potentially with her having a significant other. We’re gonna see where that goes. We used to do Abby-centric stories relatively frequently or at least with a rhythm. It’s been a while since we’ve done a Kasie story. I think we’re gonna have something fun for her coming up that may or may not involve her relationship. We’ll see where the story takes us or where that character takes us. But I think Season 20 is gonna be a season where everyone’s really gonna get a chance to shine, have their own episodes and have them be pretty powerful. And Kasie is certainly overdue, I can tell you that.

Kasie did ask Knight (Katrina Law) about how many dates constitute a relationship.

She did. She did.

I loved seeing Ducky (David McCallum) back in the last two episodes. Do you know how much we’ll see him next season yet?

I think it’ll be probably about the same, possibly more. One of the things that was difficult last season was it wasn’t a regular season. It opened up with all of our energies devoted to, how do we get Gibbs off the show? How do we give him the exit, for now at least? And that takes a lot of energy and it takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of oxygen. Then we were cast with integrating two new characters into the show — [played by] Katrina Law and Gary Cole. And that also takes a lot of energy and a lot of oxygen.

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Plus, will Mark Harmon remain in the opening credits in Season 20?

What happens is other things don’t happen because of that. We didn’t have really specific [character episodes]. Well, Kasie was involved [in one that was] in so many ways a Jimmy Palmer episode, [written by] Brian Dietzen. But we didn’t get to do things with Knight as much as we would’ve liked, Kasie, as much we would’ve liked.

And David McCallum, I say to him all the time, “you are this magical pixie dust, wherever we put you, you’re just this magical being who elevates every scene he’s in with that David McCallum gravitas.” So we would love to have more. We’ll have a little more head space. At a bare minimum, you’ll see him the same amount and hopefully we’ll be able to, when we do see him, use him in a way that’s more effective, much like Mark Harmon. The fans can probably tell when we put him in things and he’s just another star on the show versus when we actually devote our energies to making a story more about him, and those are always fantastic. He’s never let us down in 20 years.

NCIS, Season 20, TBA, CBS

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