The team’s resident profiler finally found the reason that compelled her to move on to her next chapter on NCIS Season 18 Episode 8.
The development (or the lack thereof) of Jack over the past four seasons should have been reason enough.
The forensic psychologist was one of the later additions mishandled as TPTB floundered while moving the NCIS flagship past Tony, Ziva, Abby, and Ducky.
It was exciting news that Maria Bello decided to come to NCIS in a supporting role. But Jack, along with Clayton and Alex, were thrown at the wall by producers to see which ones would stick.
None, it turned out.
The storyline featuring Jack locating her biological daughter Faith should have gone somewhere but didn’t.
Jack also appeared destined to be the latest woman of a certain age to enter into a romance with Gibbs. They had chemistry but fell into a sibling-type relationship instead.
She was also the only member of the team who would call Gibbs on his shit, which was refreshing.
There was a need for a profiler on the team after David McCallum cut back on Ducky’s appearances. And yet there didn’t seem to be any way to work in Jack organically.
Instead, it was Gibbs dropping by her office with a suspect’s file and asking, “Whatya think?” Jack would offer up a snap analysis then disappear for another episode.
Maybe that’s why Gregorio profiles on the side on NCIS: New Orleans while being a field agent and team sniper. Her double duty means more screen time for everyone.
Bello’s talents were wasted on NCIS, so there was little surprise when she announced late last year that she was leaving the series.
It’s a shame, but that’s the case.
Her final appearance mirrored her time on the show. There was a good setup that resulted in no lasting resonance in the end.
“Let’s send Jack back to the land of her own personal hell” was a great place to start.
Follow that up with having Gibbs by her side as she attempted to rescue a group of innocent girls, including Darya, the Afghani woman who had helped Jack survive her incarceration by the Taliban.
Vance knew enough not to get in Jack’s way in a mission that was as personal as this one. She could be absolutely Gibbsian when she was of a mind to be. And once she found out Darya was one of the kidnapped girls, she would go full throttle.
You could tell Jack wasn’t of sound mind when she left her goldfish Carl with Torres, who can barely take care of himself.
Sending Gibbs along with her (like he had a choice in the matter) meant that Vance would have zero control over the mission other than supplying whatever resources he could scrounge up for them. When Gibbs was the voice of caution, you just knew trouble was coming.
Gibbs and Vance were right to be concerned about Jack being back in Afghanistan. She was acting first and thinking second. But they were in no way equipped to shrink the headshrinker.
The Afghanistan portion of this adventure was a lot of wheel-spinning, with Jack and Gibbs having few clues to go on and even less support.
Darya’s violent death appeared to send Jack past her breaking point.
Unfortunately, back in D.C., the rest of the team was making even less progress.
The once-fabled hactivist who was now working with the Taliban was murdered, and his computer was beyond even the combined hacking skills of McGee, Kasie, and Bishop.
Incompetent murder by ketchup was an interesting touch, however.
It didn’t help that no one could agree who Albatross was anymore, not his ex-partner and not his fellow hacktivists.
And how predictable was it when McGee’s attempts led to the NCIS network being crashed?
The only person who had any success was reluctant undercover agent Palmer, who correctly identified the fake mother as the hacktivist he was supposed to meet.
Fortunately, McGee was able to badger the accidental murderer into revealing the crucial clue they needed to break this case wide open.
That allowed Gibbs and Jack to play indifferent cop/insane cop to gain the missing girls’ location, after Leon arranged for some spare Marines as a backup, of course.
Should we have been more suspicious of the helpful male NGO official? Probably since all males in Afghanistan are Taliban sympathizers, either overt or covert. We don’t watch NCIS for nuance.
This draining adventure at least gave Jack the new direction she so badly needed, even though that beach house in Costa Rico sounded a lot more enjoyable.
But she now can do meaningful work for those desperately in need. It beats snap diagnoses of potential criminals.
That last passionate kiss with Gibbs just left viewers with a wistful taste of what could have been.
Jack deserves more of a sendoff. It even seems like the next episode may allow her teammates to say their goodbyes from afar.
Better than nothing but less than Jack should have gotten for her contributions.
To revisit the highlights of Jack’s time on NCIS, watch NCIS online.
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Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.