NCIS' Leroy Gibbs faced the consequences of bottling up his emotions long enough, leading to a heartbreaking decision that could change the team forever.
The CBS crime procedural saw the team investigate the gruesome death of a Marine Sergeant who was considered a war hero for his work overseas, as they also came to terms with last week's big reveal about their boss.
Spoilers ahead for NCIS Season 16, Episode 23 "Lost Time"
Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), Bishop (Emily Wickersham) and McGee (Sean Murray) discussed the subject of Gibbs (Mark Harmon) finally admitting to his team that he killed the man who murdered his family, just before embarking on their case of the week.
Bishop seemed uncomfortable with the whole situation, as McGee wondered how they should react next the news. Torres says there is nothing for them to do, as they all would have done the same thing if they were in the same moment.
Bishop brings up that admitting his secret left Gibbs a changed man, and he has been quieter and acted unlike himself. After Torres says the other two members of the team should stay focused on work, Gibbs comes in to let them know of their latest murder.
At the scene of the crime, where the body of Marine is found with two gunshots and impaled to a fence under the freeway, Gibbs appears to be distracted while trying to brief with the rest of the team.
Gibbs is a bit distracted. #NCIS— Fri3nd5funny△⃒⃘ (@fri3nd5funny) May 15, 2019
Gibbs looked like he was trying to escape, lol. Damn McGee. #NCIS— Sherry :) (@smackalalala) May 15, 2019
After bringing the Marine's wife in, Gibbs continues to seem distracted, as he finds himself silently relating to the victim: A complicated man, quiet to a fault.
When she began to speak about how the details about her husband's heroic act were left in secret, Gibbs uncharacteristically left the room in the middle of the interview. On his way to take some time for himself, Bishop and McGee get his attention to brief him on the victim's heroic actions.
The update seemed to annoy him and when the team seemed to keep working as usual, Gibbs just walked out of the room. He coincidentally runs into Palmer (Brian Dietzen), who does his typical update on the victim after his exam, but Gibbs grows impatient and lashes out at him and Kasie (Diona Reasonover). The whole time the team just wondered if there was something they were doing to annoy him. Later, after finding blood at another possible victim's home, Gibbs reaches his breaking point and drives away from the scene without saying a word.
What’s up Gibbs sassy ass. #NCIS— Fri3nd5funny△⃒⃘ (@fri3nd5funny) May 15, 2019
Only started watching #NCIS since Wilmar joined & have concluded Gibbs is a classic eg of toxic masculinity, in a workplace where no woman could get away with that kind of behaviour.— Zainab Amadahy (@AmadahyZ) May 15, 2019
As the team wonders what is going on with their typically fearless leader, Gibbs reunites with Doctor Grace Confalone (Laura San Giacomo) at a bar to talk through all the things he is feeling.
He eventually admits to the therapist that revealing the truth to his team left him in pieces, and he is unsure how to move on. After preaching people should face the consequences of their actions as he has spent decades avoiding his, he reveals to Grace he has to turn himself in for his crimes.
Gibbs says he does not regret killing the dangerous man, but now that the secret is out in the open he has to set a good example for his team. The doctor tells him she believes he was justified with his actions, but that could be true of many criminals.
Once he shares of all the hurdles he's been through over the past few months, the doctor tells him that choosing to get more emotionally involved in cases might be causing him to feel pressure to retire after so many years on the job. The breakthrough leads Gibbs to admit he fears who he might become if he let go of his job.
If Gibbs retires ..... 😡 #NCIS— Frolicious (@candygirl816) May 15, 2019
In the end, the doctor tells Gibbs he is not allowed to retire or turn himself in to the police until they talk further the next day. On his way home, Grace asks Gibbs what his end game looks like, the moment he will finally let go of his job and his mission to save everyone around him. She predicts he will end up having a heroic exit.
Why are we talking about gibbs endgame can we stop omg #ncis— steph (@hotchniss0302) May 15, 2019
The episode ends with the team agreeing not to speak about his big confession, at least for now.
Can we even imagine the team without Leroy Gibbs? The NCIS season finale airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.