Nick Torres in prison? He must be undercover! NCIS executive producer Steven D. Binder can neither confirm nor deny. In the Season 20 finale, someone behind bars holds information the team needs to stop a terrorist attack.
“We don’t necessarily know what shape Torres in prison will take,” Binder cautions, adding Wilmer Valderrama’s special agent “can be a little hotheaded and do things that aren’t necessarily appropriate for an agent that have consequences.”
Whatever brings him there, “his experience in prison is going to bring up a lot of demons from his past,” finale cowriter David J. North says. “The emotional baggage that he’s carried, going all the way back to before he even joined the show when he was constantly doing deep undercover work and his problems with alcohol, his journey in prison is going to be one that’s very emotionally taxing for him.” And while Torres might not have the team there with him — though there will be “fun moments” via a visit from Parker (Gary Cole) — they will be trying to help him.
The good news: Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard returns! “David McCallum is always great when he is on screen and one of the things that his character’s been great for is having a wild and varied history where he’s had his hands in all kinds of things and we’ve heard stories about some of the adventures he’s had in his past. Some of his history will help,” Binder says of the NCIS historian.
They’re excited to have McCallum back because they know “it’s just such a joy for the rest of the cast and how much it means to the audience,” adds North.
The bad news: A major cliffhanger may upend NCIS. It goes back to Torres’ past resurfacing. He “is put into a difficult position of deciding how to handle this demon: sweep it under the rug or take care of it,” the writer teases.
“We’re going to be wondering, is Torres about to break Torres? Is he going to destroy everything he’s worked for and done for putting to bed some old demons?” Binder asks. “He’s at an inflection point where he’s either going to go forward and continue to be a functioning agent, or he’s going to do something that maybe he can’t recover from.”
It’s a situation familiar to ones we saw with his ex-boss Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), who did cross lines. “Is [Torres] going to follow in Gibbs’s footsteps? Is he going to go even further than Gibbs did and wreck everything he’s built? Or is he going to find a way to manage this in a way that a professional would?” the EP continues.
As North points out, “before Gibbs went to Alaska, he warned Torres about trying to put himself in a better place emotionally and not letting the job be everything, that it can go bad. And then at the end of Season 20, we’re going to see that Torres has reached the point where things could go very bad.” But, to tie into the theme of family, the team will be “on his journey with him,” according to Binder.
Does this all mean that the team could look different in Season 21? Torres “may be making a choice that will end his time with us,” North reveals. Does that mean the team or the show? Recalling Gibbs’ time in Mexico (which we did see onscreen), Binder would only say, “this could go in any direction. He could be back, he could be gone, he could be gone for a little while. There’s a lot of big issues that we’re contending with right now on this subject, so I wouldn’t want the audience to think this is false jeopardy here. These are real stakes here for this character.”
NCIS, Season 20 Finale, Monday, May 22, 9/8c, CBS
This story originally appeared on TV Insider