NCIS Season 21 Episode 10 Review: Reef Madness


Was that for real?

Is Jessica Knight out the door as it appeared after NCIS Season 21 Episode 10?

And did the only intrateam romance in the current NCIS franchise go with her?

It’s been a wacky season for TV as the networks slash and cut, then slash some more following the new writers’ and actors’ contracts.

And it is conceivable that Katrina Law wanted out. She joined the Hawaii Five-0 cast for what turned out to be its 10th and final season, with its cancellation a surprise to many. Maybe she wanted to get a jump this time, in case Season 22 is it for NCIS.

That’s not out of the realm of possibility. After all, the show’s favorite characters are still featured on CBS/Paramount+, with NCIS: Origins (young Gibbs), and the unnamed Tony and Ziva project. Why pay for the Mother Ship as well?

Also, it’s not unusual to have surprise departures on NCIS finales, especially in recent seasons.

Even the character Jessica replaced, Emily Wickersham’s Ellie Bishop, left to become an undercover agent on NCIS Season 18 Episode 16. But at least there had been a buildup to her leaving throughout that season, even if Torres seemed oblivious.

But if there had to be a cast change made, logically, it would have been one of the longer-running characters, such as McGee or Jimmy. Much of their stories have been told. Also, the longer an actor is in a cast, the higher the salary, right?

Jessica is the second newest character, trailing only Parker. As this episode showed, they both have narratives left to be told.

Unfortunately, the seed of doubt about Jessica had been placed back on NCIS Season 21 Episode 5, when her father, Feng Zhao, recommended her for his position as Special Agent in Charge of the Far East.

She turned it down. But someone had to fill that spot, and it ended up being one of her old REACT buddies. This left the Chief REACT Training Officer position, for which Jess was a candidate after her REACT team got wiped out.

So, she had moved up the list and was the leading candidate now, which was why Director Vance offered her the job.

Sure, he blindsided her and then gave her next to no time to think things over. But it was understandable that he couldn’t leave that role open for any time.

Jessica got called out of that meeting to head straight to the ship with the bodies. She could have handled things better, quietly considering the opportunity without blabbing to his teammates. That way, Jimmy wouldn’t have been the last to know (other than Kasie, of course.)

It’s impossible not to feel bad for Palmer. He’s had a difficult few years.

As he detailed, he lost his wife, then Gibbs, then Ducky. Now, his daughter Victoria is pulling away, and Jessica may be leaving, too. It was understandable that his reaction was to pull away from her before he got hurt again.

Maybe he did overreact to a degree. And, yes, he’s over his skis when it comes to Jessica. However, Nick was correct in that he had to protect himself.

It was an enjoyable case of the week featuring the conflicted Jessica and Parker, the worst possible person to give her romantic advice now that Gibbs is gone. Not that Gibbs ever would.

Sinking the old ship and turning it into an artificial reef was a great idea, what with coral reefs threatened by climate change worldwide. We’ve got no end of expired nautical junk.

What was the owner of that ship thinking, not checking things over before leading ZNN on a tour? That was asking for trouble.

To begin with, there was a weird trio of victims, each slain differently and seemingly unconnected to each other.

It was evident that something terrible would happen when Parker and Knight returned to the spooky old ship.

After her talk with Jimmy, Jess was in the right frame of mind to race back without bothering to tell anyone about their sudden change of plans. Ultimately, the watch they recovered proved of little value to them since the rest of their team had solved the bizarre mystery by that point.

At least Jimmy and Kasie determined that something was amiss when they couldn’t reach either of the tech-friendly agents and alerted the others.

If Parker and Jessica had gone where they were supposed to, they would have discovered the crime scene instead of getting locked in the engine room and dealing with all the chaos that ensued.

The interplay between the two was hilarious, as she failed to recognize some of his references while still comprehending others.

Jess showed she was ready to lead as she did everything possible to keep Parker alive. Perhaps that’s what led her to accept Vance’s offer. Her acceptance is unexpected as time after time, characters turn down a chance to move up and stay with their team or lover.

Then again, Jessica could return next season with some weak excuse as to why she didn’t end up staying in her new position.

Were you surprised that Jess accepted the position?

Are you sorry to see her go, or are you ready for a change?

Do you feel sorry for Jimmy having to take another hit?

Comment below.

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.

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