NCIS season 16 episode 20 review: How Gibbs knew Ellen Wallace

NCISTonight, NCIS season 16 episode 20 brought you a story deep from Gibbs’ past … and also explored McGee and Bishop’s love for all things Comic-Con. They didn’t get tickets at first because of the case, but good news! Delilah may have been able to score them tickets instead. Or … at least that happened briefly. Torres ended up giving them away as a means of expediting a part of the investigation.


At the center of the case tonight was a woman named Ellen Wallace, someone who apparently was presumed dead back in the attack on the Pentagon on September 11. Yet, her body was found away from the scene, wearing a military uniform. This was a strange case largely because Ellen’s death seemed to have nothing to do with 9/11, and she had some blood on her uniform that seemed to belong to none other than Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

From the moment that Gibbs learned the ID of the victim, something was off — he was short-fused in a way that he isn’t typically, and he wasn’t cool with how slow Bishop, McGee, and Torres were to get information on what actually happened to Ellen. They learned that she was at a Hail & Farewell ceremony on September 10, and that was the last time someone close to her saw her. Gibbs, meanwhile, had to visit Ellen’s father, a General, to revisit some of what happened. We knew that he had a connection to her, but we didn’t know how connected.

As it turns out, Ellen Wallace is Gibbs’ former fiancee. We know that he has several ex-wives, but apparently, there’s a fiancee in there as well, one from right before the start of the series. This news befuddled everyone — while he’s often quiet about his personal life, this is a different degree of quiet. After a bit of blood was traced back to Gibbs on her uniform; that led to the team having to bring in Gibbs for interrogation.

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Nobody was accusing Gibbs of killing Wallace (we saw via flashback why there was blood on her uniform) — yet, they wanted answers, and he was the only person who could offer them. Sloane was able to figure out that she was the one relationship that he broke it off with rather than the other way around, but she wasn’t able to get much else from him. He wasn’t being open enough, and that’s when McGee threw him off the case. Tim was angry and understandably so — yet, Sloane reminded him that Gibbs leaving was him showing that he trusted McGee to take the reigns of this case.

McGee demands answers from Gibbs

Tim knew that Gibbs and Ellen had a conversation the night that she died, or at least there was a phone record. As it turns out, she had left a voicemail message to him saying that there was something important that they had to talk about. He didn’t call her back and because he didn’t pick up the phone, he felt responsible for what happened. He realized that he could’ve done more to help her and he didn’t … and he was holding onto that pain.

The investigation continues

Bishop and McGee ended up questioning a journalist who had a little bit of insight on what Ellen was working on leading up to her death — and apparently, it involved digging into some stuff on her own father’s military unit. Gibbs had to revisit him to talk with him about what happened, while Kasie and Torres went to work in order to figure out who in the Pentagon

Daniel Kent ended up being a primary suspect — he was a part of the unit that she was investigating. He figured out that she knew too much about what happened with his unit killing civilians, and with that, he killed her and disposed of her body close to where he lived. Because 9/11 happened the next day, he was able to get away without much of an investigation. Gibbs got Kent to confess.

CarterMatt Verdict

The good news is that thanks to Jimmy and one of his confidants, everyone got tickets to the convention! That was a fun little storyline throughout this episode, but at the center of it was something that was very much serious and had a lot of weight to it.

Ultimately, we still don’t quite know what happened to Gibbs and Ellen Wallace. We just know that she is dead and that whatever happened is something that he carried with him. Maybe he’d never let it go, but that element of pain is a part of what defines him as a character. He visited her at the end of the episode, he paid his respects and with that, he found himself an element of closure.

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