As the new kid on the block on NCIS, Ellie Bishop is starting to find her footing with her new job assignment and colleagues — and the same can be said for Emily Wickersham, who portrays the quirky NSA agent.
"I love her awkwardness, and I love how smart she is," Wickersham tells TVGuide.com about her character. "She totally lacks self-awareness, because she's so wrapped up in her own thoughts that she's kind of absent-minded. She's so used to working by herself and thinking things through in her head alone. And so socially, I think sometimes that can kind of come off in an odd way, but it's just that this is how she works."
NCIS boss on Emily Wickersham's character: "She brings something new to the party"
On Tuesday's episode, "Kill Chain" (8/7c, CBS), the NCIS crew teams up with the Department of Defense to track down a stolen drone that links back to the terrorist cell Parsa. In doing so, Bishop crosses paths with Gibbs' (Mark Harmon) ex-girlfriend, Hollis Mann (Susanna Thompson). "Bishop learns a lot about Gibbs' ex-loves in this episode," Wickersham teases. "It seems to be a recurring theme. There's also a big moment that happens at the end that I can't really talk about ... that'll have a long-lasting impact on the team members."
Wickersham admits she was intimidated to come in as a replacement for Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), whose departure from the show earlier this season left many fans reeling. "Her work here was amazing, and I think they're big shoes to fill," Wickersham said of her predecessor. "So I was totally nervous. I still am nervous about it. But I'm excited to be here and to be a part of this team, and excited to work with them all."
And as for Tiva 'shippers who were rooting for a romance between Ziva and Tony (Michael Weatherly), Wickersham says they shouldn't expect to see any sparks flying between Bishop and DiNozzo. "It's definitely a very different relationship," she says. "With Tony, it's pretty brotherly. ... There are some jokes cracked between the two, just like a brother and a sister would have. There's sibling stuff happening." (It's also worth noting that Bishop is happily married, and her husband will be introduced in a future episode.)
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Though Bishop is still working with NCIS on a temporary joint assignment with NSA, it's a safe bet the character will be sticking around for a while, as Wickersham was upped to a series regular before she even made her debut. "We'll see if she gets to join the team," the actress says coyly. "I think it's something that really excites her, being able to work as a team member. Growing up with three older brothers, she's used to being around guys. And in terms of her relationship with Gibbs, I think he's really a mentor and a fatherly figure to her. She really looks up to him in a lot of ways, and wants to do good in his eyes."
Some fans are taking a while to warm up to Bishop, but Wickersham is confident that she'll win them over eventually. "I totally get it," she says of viewers who are still struggling with the new dynamic. "I think it's kind of a weird thing when a new person comes in, but in terms of how Ellie Bishop is, I think she just wants to do well and she's very driven, and she's excited just to be a part of the team. I hope the viewers will embrace that and appreciate that about her."
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NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)