[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the NCIS: Sydney series premiere “Gone Fission.”]
The premiere introduces viewers to NCIS Special Agents Michelle Mackey (Olivia Swann) and DeShawn Jackson (Sean Sager), working alongside AFP’s JD Dempsey (Todd Lasance), Evie Cooper (Tuuli Narkle), Bluebird “Blue” Gleeson (Mavournee Hazel), and Dr. Roy Penrose (William McInnes), as well as the members of the two agencies to each other. And let’s just say that at least one NCIS character is name-dropped in one scene and a certain set of rules strongly hinted at in another.
Below, showrunner Morgan O’Neill breaks down the Easter eggs in the series premiere and what’s next in that not-so-wrapped case.
Penrose asks Mackey if she’s “of the CSI,” which reminded me of the TSA agent in the NCIS series premiere asking if NCIS is anything like CSI.
Morgan O’Neill: Yeah, that’s a direct nod. When it first came to me that people were interested in creating an NCIS: Sydney and they came to me and said, “How would you do it?” I basically cleared my couch and watched hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of episodes, most of ’em watching them again because I was a fan of the show already. I realized that the template for the show was really established so early on in the very original mothership show, that combination of kind of plucky, scrappy outsiders, the smallest of the 17 US acronyms for military intelligence, the least known, the least resourced, and that’s exemplified in the very first scene where they’re confused with CSI.
For me, that sounds like Australia. We are, as a nation, that scrappy, plucky, smallest of the 17 acronyms-type countries, and a little bit like NCIS, we tend to bat out of our league a lot. So it really felt like that essential quality of NCIS as a show felt like the essential quality of Australia as a country. So it really did feel right to pay homage to that and to make sure that the audience understood that we’re, as a nation, scrappy like NCIS is scrappy in a good way.
Mackey says it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission — Gibbs’ (Mark Harmon) rule 18. Should we be thinking that she knows Gibbs?
Interestingly, there’s a backstory that we’re going to be delving into as the show progresses about how Mackey came to be NCIS, and it’s a rough road, let me tell you that, and it involves her formal career as a Marine Corps chopper pilot and how that didn’t end up great. As we’ll see, there was a certain former NCIS agent who reached out to her at her lowest moment and dragged her back into the organization. And that agent may or may not be Jethro Gibbs, but certainly strap in and we’ll find out.
There’s the Director Vance (Rocky Carroll) mention and he’s probably the easiest character to name drop multiple times, right?
Right, for sure. The great thing about NCIS is that the show is this universe, isn’t it? And you don’t have to have the characters in the other iterations of the show to know that the show feels like it’s stitched from the same cloth. So it was really important for us to make sure that NCIS: Sydney is part of that universe and Director Vance calls the shots. It makes sense that those shots are being heard from all the way down here.
The theme is a remix of NCIS, right?
Yeah, it is. Good pick. We got a bunch of cutting-edge Australian musicians to remix that tune, give it a slightly more contemporary, slightly more Australian feel. But yeah, it’s definitely a nod to the original theme because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The case isn’t neatly wrapped up for Mackey and JD with the boat being rigged to explode so those guys couldn’t be interrogated and that woman possibly still out there. Is that a thread that you’ll be following throughout the season?
Yeah, 100 percent. We will be trying to unpack exactly what happened at the end of Episode 1 across multiple episodes in the first season. And it will actually culminate in the climax to the first season. You’ll see it’s a doozy. It’s an absolutely cracking climax to the first season. And it definitely involves unpacking what happened in that first episode, where that blonde woman ended up, who she is, maybe who she’s working for. So we’ve definitely set up the overall thread for the first season, and the end of the first episode leaves a lot of questions unanswered, which we will go on to answer in the first season.
Are there cases throughout the season that we may not realize are connected to it until later on?
Yeah, interestingly, there are.
Will all open-ended cases be part of that one bigger one, or could there be multiple multi-episode cases?
They all basically flow into the same river. And then the climax of Episode 8, which is the final episode of the first season, will really bring all those things into the exact same world and you’ll have to wait and see what happens. But it definitely takes a whole bunch of loose strands and knits them into the same knot.
NCIS: Sydney, Tuesdays, 8/7c, CBS