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'NCIS' preview: EP teases Parsa conclusion, season finale plans

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Cliff Lipson/CBS

After a brief break, NCIS returns on Tuesday night with the conclusion of an arc that has gotten very personal to the gang.

In the last string of episodes, we saw terrorist Benham Parsa fingered as the culprit who bombed a government-sponsored black-tie gala that left DOD agent (and NCIS friend) Delilah Fielding paralyzed and many others dead. And though the last new episode ended on a note that indicated NCIS had hit a wall in their investigation, in Tuesday’s episode, teases exec producer Gary Glasberg, we’ll see them band together for one final push to bring Parsa to justice. “It all comes to a head,” he says of the episode, which will reveal a connection between newbie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) and Parsa. “I’m really pleased with that episode. It’s action-packed, exciting, and fun.”

Also done is McGee’s (Sean Murray) struggles with guilt over the circumstances that led to Delilah’s injuries from the bombing, says Glasberg. “I think he’ll kind of come to terms with what it is, and it’s all about being supportive for her and helping her figure out what’s next,” he teases. Ultimately, he adds, it’s about getting the superstar defense expert “back to where she’s DOD Delilah.” But it won’t be easy — as in real life — and that’s why they wanted to tackle it, says Glasberg. “We’re an 8 o’clock television show, but I’d like to be able to tackle some of the complexities of what it means for people who are dating and who really care about each other to suddenly have something like that change in their relationship,” he says.

Change is something NCIS knows a lot about. Behind the scenes, the show has seen its fair share of it this season, but those who have followed the program in its 11 years know that’s not an anomaly for the long-running drama. It’s hard to ignore, however, the lasting fan backlash to the departure of Cote de Pablo, who played Ziva on the show, and that’s not lost on Glasberg. “Understandably, people have such a connection to that character — not everyone’s going to love who Bishop is,” he says, “but we also know that there were people who were unhappy when Kate [played by Sasha Alexander] left. And change happens.” However, he says, he hopes the chemistry of the cast remains something fans enjoy.  “The only thing I hope — and I know some people may not agree with me — I genuinely hope that people feel the chemistry of the group is still there. And yes it can change or adjust, but I like to believe the family element is still in place.”

For now, things remain busy at NCIS HQ behind the scenes. The show’s most recent spin-off effort, NCIS: New Orleans, continues to add players like Scott Bakula and Zoe McLellan. And Glasberg and the writing staff are well into their plans for the last stretch of the season, which he says will see the introduction of a new arc and not revolve around an existing storyline. “There will be something new,” he says. “That was a decision we made early on, where we figured between introducing Bishop [and] doing New Orleans, there was a lot of new stuff going on. We figured lets come up with something else.”