[Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for Tuesday’s episode of NCIS.]
Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) has had a rough season so far on NCIS. Her boss, Gibbs (Mark Harmon), is still recovering from being shot in last season’s finale, and her husband, Jake, narrowly missed dying in a terrorist bombing — and he has confessed to an affair. EW chatted with Wickersham about how her character will handle the emotional fallout and what it means for the rest of the season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Bishop took an ax to her phone when Jake wouldn’t stop calling. Are they done for good?
EMILY WICKERSHAM: At this point, we don’t know if they’re going to continue or not. I feel like deep down inside, she has made a decision at the end of this episode, and I don’t think they’ll continue. I don’t think it’s just the affair that’s the kicker here. … [From both Jake and Ellie] working at the NSA and being able to talk about everything all the time, to then [Ellie] going to NCIS and not being able to talk to Jake about his day-to-day stuff … in reality, that shouldn’t end a marriage, so I feel the marriage, the foundation, wasn’t strong enough to begin with.
In this episode, it seems like Bishop and Gibbs react to emotional turmoil in the same way.
They’re both pretty private people and don’t really let that out, especially in the workplace. … He’s just there to listen and talk about things. And I think for Bishop, at first, she’s like, “Gibbs is at my home,” but then it’s like this whole different level of friendship. It’s not just a work relationship.
Do you think they’ll help each other heal as the season progresses?
In the past few episodes, we really have seen that all of the boys and Abby are totally there for Bishop, which was really neat. You get the full sense of the family thing about NCIS. Although this team works well together and they’re professional and they do their jobs day to day, they also are really there for each other as family and as friends.
How was it having Lindsay Wagner play your mom?
It was awesome. She’s really wonderful, and we had a great time in Oklahoma together. No big deal, the Bionic Woman is Bishop’s mom.
You joined the cast in the wake of Cote de Pablo’s departure from the show, and Bishop and Ziva are incredibly different characters. Do you think Bishop’s gotten a fair shake as a character from some of the fans?
I know that people are very attached to the Ziva character and always were and always will be, which I get. You get invested in these shows and you get very invested in the character. And Ziva is such a wonderful character — and Cote did such a great job with her.
At first I know the fans were very skeptical of Bishop, but as I’ve been here and as the seasons have gone by, I have just seen more and more positive reactions to Bishop, especially as we get to know her more and we see more and more faults in her. … I know there are people who still don’t like her, and I think that’s always going to be the case, but for the most part, it’s gotten more positive.
What should we look forward to for the rest of the season? Will we see more changes? Will we see Bishop start to react to things differently as she struggles with the marital challenges?
There’s some fun stuff with Jeanne Benoit coming up with Tony, and the Delilah and McGee stuff. But as far as Bishop, this is the story line I know so far, and I’m so curious to find out where they go with it. It’s a big life change, going through a divorce, and that doesn’t just affect Bishop in her relationship. It definitely affects her work, everything in her life. I’m sure it’ll take her to some dark places, maybe, and I’m sure we’ll see her working through things, which is always fun for me to play.
Well, if it’s the end of Bishop’s marriage, that means no more Jamie Bamber?
Oh, that Jamie Bamber. He’s so hard to look at; he’s so hard to be around. It’s just so tough acting with that Jamie Bamber. [Laughs] I am going to miss him, but I don’t think that’s the end of him on the show. We’re always working with the NSA, so I’m sure we’ll cross paths with him. And he’s so wonderful.
And finally, a suggestion: Ellie gets a makeover courtesy of Abby and the two of them hit the town. Do you see potential there?
Wow, that would be really fun. I’m just imagining my outfit right now. I would be so tall. I’d wear those big shoes with the platforms on them, the tall boots, and some leather and darker clothes. It would be pretty good. I’m into it. I’m gonna suggest that.
NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.