NCIS season 21, episode 2: Who appeared in the Ducky tribute episode?

NCIS season 21, episode 2 featured the tribute to Doctor Ducky Mallard. Find out who made an appearance in the episode.

“The Stories We Leave Behind” – As NCIS mourns the loss of Ducky, the agents find comfort in working on one of his unfinished cases involving a woman whose father was dishonorably discharged from the Marines, on the CBS Original series NCIS, Thursday, Feb. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the episode airs)*. Pictured
“The Stories We Leave Behind” – As NCIS mourns the loss of Ducky, the agents find comfort in working on one of his unfinished cases involving a woman whose father was dishonorably discharged from the Marines, on the CBS Original series NCIS, Thursday, Feb. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the episode airs)*. Pictured /
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Warning: The following post contains spoilers for NCIS season 21 episode 2

NCIS aired the tribute to Ducky, which was a fitting tribute for a long-time beloved character. Even the title credits carried a somber tone, using the same music from Bach that Ducky was listening to when Palmer found him. Along with flashbacks to mark moments he had with all the characters, there was a surprise appearance from someone the fans are surely excited to see.

While we did not get to see Gibbs come back, the episode alluded to Gibbs having received the news. McGee got a package postmarked from Alaska. Inside, Gibbs had sent McGee a photo of the two of them with Ducky, and the entire office was filled with flowers, from LA, Hawaii, Sydney, and New Orleans to name just a few.

While the team lamented over the loss of Ducky, Palmer was in his office when a young woman, Serena, showed up looking for Ducky. He had been helping her with information about her father, Daniel Zawadski, whose name was brought up by Councilman Allan Berger in a disparaging manner. 

Zawadski was found at a brothel in Afghanistan in 2013. He had been shot and killed, with heroin being discovered in his body. However, his daughter wanted to clear his name and Ducky had offered to help since he performed the original autopsy. Unfortunately, Ducky passed away before he could investigate more. It was up to the team to go through his notes to find information.

They learned that in Kabul, Berger’s company was assigned to work on their power grid and Zadawski was supposed to be his bodyguard before he passed. He claimed that Zawadski was always high, but there’s no proof without the autopsy records, which have been redacted. They can only prove otherwise by finding Ducky's original report.

Michael Weatherly makes surprise return to NCIS

When Serena came to NCIS with a voicemail from someone who knew her dad, she recognized that he had always sent her Christmas cards. Through the phone call, they were able to find one of his closest friends, Jonesy, who is not only homeless but paranoid that Berger is after him.

With Knight and Palmer’s guidance, Jonesy admitted to them that Berger was involved with moving money in a heroin operation. Zawadski had gotten wind of it and left the base in order to look for evidence. The next day when he didn’t return, Berger had ripped out the page in the logbook that Zawadski used to sign out.

Despite the fear he held, Palmer and Knight encouraged Jonesy to help put Berger away. Zawadski’s dishonorable discharge was overturned and his daughter got a scholarship to help her with college.

As the team prepared to go to Ducky’s funeral, they gave Jimmy a moment alone, when a figure approached. It was Tony DiNozzo, who had arrived in order to come to the funeral. He made Jimmy laugh with a Ducky impression before teasing McGee when he came to get them to prepare to leave.

This was such a beautiful tribute episode to Ducky, and we got various Easter eggs from other characters, including a memorial that was sent via Abby Sciuto. All in all, it was amazing and was a true tearjerker. The surprise at the end allowed for a little bit of humor in an otherwise somber episode.

We will certainly miss Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard and David McCallum. But, as said in the episode, they will continue to live on through the stories the team tells.

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NCIS airs Mondays on CBS at 9/8c. The episodes are available the next day on Paramount+.