NCIS: Palmer & Knight’s Relationship Breaks A Huge Gibbs Rule
NCIS season 19 ended with Palmer and Knight entering a relationship. However, this breaks one of Gibbs’ most important rules: never date a coworker.
NCIS season 19 introduced a blossoming relationship between medical examiner Dr. Jimmy Palmer and Special Agent Jessica Knight, but their workplace romance breaks one of former team leader Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ long-standing rules. Gibbs, a former Marine gunnery sergeant turned federal agent, was known for having an extensive list of rules that all members of his team knew and followed. His rules, like his character, provided an underscoring structure to the show until he left the agency in NCIS season 19, episode 4, “Great Wide Open.”
Following Gibbs’ departure, NCIS season 19 focused on Special Agents Tim McGee, Nick Torres, and Jessica Knight adjusting to a transition in leadership with former FBI Agent Alden Parker as their new boss. However, the season finale’s twist ending—in which Parker is on the run with his ex-wife from the villain the Raven, without knowing she is secretly working with him—has encouraged theories supporting the possibility of Gibbs’ return. Season 19 also included a special crossover event with NCIS: Hawai‛i, the franchise’s newest spinoff.
Palmer and Knight’s attraction is hinted at first in NCIS season 19, episode 15, “Thick As Thieves,” after Knight asks Palmer to be her plus-one at a wedding. Romantic tensions were built up throughout the rest of the season, with them admitting their feelings for each other in episode 20, “All or Nothing,” and finally kissing and making it official in the season finale. It can be assumed that their relationship will continue to be developed as an important subplot in NCIS season 20. However, their relationship breaks Gibbs’ rule number 12: never date coworkers. Gibbs’ absence from the show may complicate whether this rule still applies.
Should Palmer & Knight Follow Gibbs’ Rule Even Though He’s Gone?
In addition to Gibbs’ retirement from NCIS to Alaska, other factors could possibly classify Knight and Palmer as an exception to the rule, especially since NCIS has had relationships and romantic tensions between agents before. Special Agent Tony DiNozzo’s relationship with Special Agent EJ Barrett caused a particularly tense discussion between Tony and Gibbs in NCIS season 8, episode 21, “D**d Reflection.” While Tony argued that he and EJ were not on the same team, Gibbs responded, “My team. My rules,” and made it clear that he believed relationships between his agents and any NCIS employee would negatively affect their ability to work. Therefore, while they technically do not work side by side, Knight and Palmer’s relationship would probably still be considered in violation of rule 12 by Gibbs.
In stark contrast to Gibbs’ stoicism and rigid structure, Agent Parker brought a fresh and laid-back perspective to NCIS season 19; some defining traits of his leadership were his habit of bringing pastries for the team and communicating with them via an app, much unlike the technology-averse Gibbs. He therefore might not have as strong an opposition, or any opposition at all, to Knight and Palmer dating. Similarly, McGee and Torres were supportive of the two of them getting together, even though they were both aware of Gibbs’ rule. The team’s approval of their relationship might be what sets them apart from NCIS’s other workplace romances that suffered from rule 12. While Gibbs may or may not return in season 20, seeing how Palmer and Knight’s relationship plays out in NCIS will test the lasting importance of Gibbs’s rules even after his departure.