Credit: Richard Foreman/CBS

The 2o0th episode of NCIS easily dominated the competition in ratings last night with an episode that honored nine years of triumphs and tragedies with Gibbs and his team. But it was no small task for executive producer Gary Glasberg.

“It was really an homage to fans. I hope it works in that respect. It’s very hard to encapsulate nine seasons of television into 42 minutes and I hope that I was able to pull off even a little bit of that,” he says. “I just wanted to touch on not only the heart and pathos and history of what NCIS has accomplished but also give people a little more insight into who Gibbs is as well.”

Doing so, however, required a few tricks, a lot of thought, and many tough decisions — for example, which moments from Gibbs History to highlight. Glasberg spoke with EW today to give a little behind the scenes insight:

+ How were the “what-if” scenarios chosen?

GLASBERG: “Well, it’s hard to look back over nine seasons and pick particular moments and things that we wanted to touch on. But there was lots of discussion about the writers and the other producers of the show and we tried to hit moments that we thought were relevant to him and his life — not only looking back but as he moves forward as well.”

+ Were there Easter Eggs?

“Watch the episode again, and if you’re at a computer, really frame through the 30-second montage that he first experiences when the gun shot happens. Greg Gontz, our editor, put in at least 100 cuts in those 30 seconds. And it’s really an extraordinary display of imagery he pulled. There were weeks and weeks of time that went into those 30 seconds alone. It’s kind of a little photo album. So people should take a look at it if they can.”

+ Did Sasha Alexander REALLY return as Kate?

“Sasha was out of the country at the time and couldn’t come up and play with us. So she very graciously let us use her image, and we recut things into the episode. The sequence in the hospital room, there were hours and hours of opticals that went into that. And we basically took her from a sequence in “SWAK,” when they got the plague, and repositioned the colors and re-jiggered and recut. This is what we came up with. I’m very proud of it. It’s a challenge to do something like that and I think it worked pretty well.”

+ …same goes for Lauren Holly’s Jenny Shepard?

“She wasn’t able to come and hang out with us either. It’s the nature of filming an episode around the holidays — it’s very tricky to get people. And we were very happy with how that came out.”

+ Will we ever see Gibb’s mom again?

“That’s a character we’ve never had a chance to meet. She left him very early in his life and this was a unique opportunity to do something. So it gave us some insight….I don’t know. Anything is possible on NCIS — that’s what I’ve learned. People said, ‘OMG we’ll never see Muse Watson again,’ and I was so glad that he was the glue that held this episode together. So I’ll say you never know. If we can come up with a way to do it that informs our story and our characters, why not?”

+ When Mike Franks (Muse Watson) died, was the plan always to bring him back?

“Yes. I had a sense of something I wanted to do with him at the time and he (Watson) kind of laughed at me about it. But at the end of the day, he was really pleased with the way that unfolded.”

More scoop on what’s to come on NCIS in this week’s Spoiler Room!

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