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Why NCIS’ Brian Dietzen Helped Make That Emotional Return Happen For Jimmy Palmer

(Image credit: CBS)

 Warning: spoilers are ahead for the latest episode of NCIS Season 19, called “The Helpers.”

NCIS returned from its break with an emotional hour for Jimmy Palmer, as his impromptu “Take Your Daughter To Work Day” turned into a near-death experience after exposure to a deadly biotoxin. Luckily, both Jimmy and Kasie survived, and Victoria didn’t have to say goodbye to her dad so soon after the death of her mom. The episode revisited Breena’s death, however, when Jimmy dreamed about her while unconscious due to the toxin for an emotional (albeit imaginary) reunion. Actor Brian Dietzen explained how he helped make it happen. 

Brian Dietzen co-wrote “The Helpers” in addition to starring, and was able to deliver the reunion with actress Michelle Pierce despite Breena’s death due to COVID during Season 18. Dietzen spoke with TVLine about the episode and Pierce’s return, saying:

One of the big reasons why I wanted to put this [scene] in there was because Jimmy never got to say goodbye to his wife on-camera, and the audience never got to see her and say goodbye either. The reasoning behind that is not just to give a cool cinematic opening, [but also because] I wanted to have Michelle back to the set, and she wanted to come as well. The fact that we were able to have Michelle come back was just such a blessing, as she definitely has been one of my favorites to work with on the show.

Breena’s death came as a shock in Season 19, since it happened off-screen and without a big dramatic episode dedicated to it. NCIS dealt with Jimmy’s grief over the course of a case, and it was an emotional storyline… but not one with a lot of closure, and Michelle Pierce’s dream appearance as her character helped deliver on that front. Even though NCIS isn’t the kind of show that brings people back from the dead if there wasn’t a loophole in the first place (see: Ziva), this was a way to revisit her life and make some peace with her death. 

“The Helpers” didn’t just bring back Breena for some key scenes, but became a Palmer family affair on the whole with an appearance from young Victoria. Although she spent most of the episode hanging out with Torres (and Brian Dietzen was full of praise for Wilmer Valderrama for his performance), she shared some poignant scenes with her dad, and opened up a bit about her own feelings regarding Breena’s death. According to Dietzen, featuring all three members of the family in the episode was a perk:

It also was a way for us to have the three of us — myself, our daughter and Breena — all in one episode, albeit we weren’t together all in the same scene.

It was touching to get all three Palmers in the same episode (if not the same scenes), and something that fans should probably hold onto, since it likely won’t happen again any time soon, if at all. After all, Jimmy probably won’t be on the brink of death from a biotoxin with his daughter on the other side of a glass wall on a weekly basis! NCIS did wrap up the case fairly neatly for Jimmy and Kasie, for better or worse. Both survived, and Kasie even decided that she would sign on to stay with the agency despite some earlier hesitation. 

The dream of Breena did affect Palmer in one way moving forward, however. He took his wedding ring off, and is ready to move forward in life. That’s not to say that he’ll be stepping into the dating pool by the end of Season 19, but it could certainly be good for his relationship with Victoria. For now, the focus seems to be moving on from the Palmer family. Take a look at the promo for the next episode:

Tune in to CBS on Monday, March 7 at 9 p.m. ET for the next new episode of NCIS, followed by NCIS: Hawai’i (which recently established its first connection to the parent series thanks to a Gibbs mention) at 10 p.m. ET. The two shows will cross over for the first time on March 28, so be sure to tune in, and check out our 2022 TV schedule for more viewing options moving forward. 

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.

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