“It’s not goodbye for good. It’s goodbye for now.”
“Come on, we’re losing her!”
It was a fitting way to start an NCIS episode that is meant to say goodbye to Pauley Perrette (forensic scientist Abby), who announced last October that she was leaving the CBS drama. At the end of last week’s episode, Abby was shot in a “mugging gone wrong,” which (naturally!) led folks to assume that she was about to be killed off. And for a moment in Tuesday’s episode entitled “Two Steps Back,” it looked to be the case. Ducky (David McCallum) is busy consoling a fellow coroner for having to do an autopsy on a colleague. (Warning: Spoilers ahead)
It has to be Abby, right?
But when the body bag is unzipped, it’s … not her! It’s a dead Clay (Duane Henry), who was with Abby during last week’s shooting.
Cut to the hospital where we find an unconscious Abby, all tubed up in bed with McGee (Sean Murray) lamenting, “I just wish I can help her.”
Maybe talking to her would do the trick. “Somebody wants you dead!” he says to Abby’s seemingly lifeless body. “I need you to stop sleeping and wake up! Please wake up!”
Meanwhile, the team has figured out that it wasn’t a garden variety mugger who put a bullet into Abby and Clay. It was a contract killer who was actually sent to kill Abby. The challenge is finding the person who put out the hit, a further frustration for Gibbs, who is already racked with guilt for not protecting his beloved goth charge.
But all is just fine: Abby wakes up and the next thing we know she’s sitting in her trippy home (EW had the exclusive first look!) with McGee doing her hair. She’s lamenting that she can’t help with the investigation, though.
“How are we supposed to solve this case if I can’t fix my own hair? ” she says. It would help if she could remember the shooting. At least she recalls how to use the computer; after a few clicks, she figures out how someone hacked into a restaurant reservation line and was able to figure out where Abby would be before the shooting.
That (inexplicably, and oh-so-quickly) leads her to the man who wants her dead — a bio-weapons terrorist named King who’s been looking to punish Abby after he was put behind bars. She gets him to admit his crime. Thankfully, the team shows up to arrest him.
Abby goes back to the morgue and gives a teary goodbye to Clay’s corpse, the stitches from the autopsy still fresh. “I’m not going to let you down Clay,” she says.
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In fact, she’s planning on taking his body to London, where he will be buried. She returns to work to share her plans with the team.
“I’m not coming back,” she explains. “I’m leaving NCIS. Clay died saving my life and I owe him a debt and I intend to see it through. Clay always wanted to start a charity in honor of his mom. Since he’s not here to make that happen, I will. I know you may not understand but it’s something I have to do. Not just for him, but for me.”
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” she continues. “You guys are my family and this is my home. But you have to go with your gut and my gut is telling me that I have to go.”
But good news! She tells the team, “It’s not goodbye for good. It’s goodbye for now.” (Does that mean she’s coming back for the finale, whenever that happens? But we digress. Back to the episode.) Everybody gets a hug goodbye.
But not Gibbs. He finds out about her departure via a note taped on his door at home. But he looks out onto the street and he sees an emotional Abby flashing her own quiet goodbye.
And with that, she goes back to work to pack.