Tuesday's delightful episode exposed a new side of the computer wizard while serving up a fun-filled hour of murder, mystery and earnest '90s nostalgia. It all went down when the squad encountered a fresh corpse with a password to one of McGee's old accounts. The baffling case forced McGee to visit his former high school to figure out why someone desperately wanted access to his old computer.
It turns out that in his youth, an angst-filled McGee wrote a complex code that targeted the Department of Defense and sent spare change to a secret account. Unbeknownst to him, the hack he never intended to release actually worked, and the account had accumulated millions of dollars over the course of several decades. Discovery of that unclaimed cash led to a string of dead bodies, kicking off a thrilling pursuit of the truth.
Through flashbacks, the episode also delved into McGee's background, revealing a surprising love of tap dance and uncovering more layers in his complicated relationship with his father. It's a delightful episode with plenty of heart, and according to Sean Murray, it allowed McGee to tap into his more fun side. We hit up the NCIS star to dish on the McGee-centric episode as well as whether or not Murray would be down for a Hocus Pocus reboot.
What was your initial reaction when you read the script and realized you'd be digging into McGee's past this way?
Sean Murray: I was really excited about it. I like whenever we dive deep into any of our characters' past or learn more about them. Knowing that we were going to see a young McGee in high school, that was really interesting to me.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about McGee in this episode?
Murray: It was interesting to see his first semi-girlfriend. That, to me, was something that was a lot of fun to play with. And even though he continues to say that's not his girlfriend, that probably was his first girlfriend.
"One Upon a Tim" delves more into McGee's complicated relationship with his father. What did it mean for you to explore that on a deeper level?
Murray: We've flirted with, in episodes of the past, McGee's relationship with his father, and now his father has passed. But getting to see more of that strained relationship, it's something that I think is a huge part of McGee and the way he is. It's funny enough, I have a father who was a captain in the Navy who retired after 30 years maybe 10 years ago. But I had the non-strained relationship with him. We have a great relationship. I really like that as tough as McGee's father was on him, he had these moments of understanding McGee. And I think part of why McGee's father was tough on him is because he sees parts of himself in McGee that he may not necessarily like or want to steer his life in the way of.
How different do you think McGee's life would be if he chose to join the Navy the way that his father initially insisted?
Murray: Oh, I don't know if he would have made it in the Navy. In the episode, there's a moment where he's questioning what he does a little bit, but he comes to the realization that he's in the right place doing the right thing. And he's comfortable where he's at.
Still, there's clearly this huge love of dancing. Since he was allowed to follow his own path in the end, why didn't he pursue dancing?
Murray: (Laughing) Maybe he wasn't that good at it. Maybe it was a pipe dream. Who knows? At the end of the episode, we get to see McGee tap dance through autopsy a little bit.
That was fun.
Murray: Thank god you didn't see my feet, though, because that was a mess. They brought in a professional to try and do a thing. I think I just stood in front of the window because I have two left feet. The tap dancing was fun to do because I knew it as gonna make for a good moment at the end of the episode. That pleased me quite a bit, actually, and was one of my favorite parts of the episode.
Revisiting his past and looking at his old computer programming, what do you think McGee learned about himself in this episode, if anything?
Murray: In a past episode, somewhat recently, we had talked about McGee being headhunted for another job, and that was kind of left open. No one knew what was going on with that. So for McGee to come to that realization of, "I am where I'm supposed to be," I think that was sort of a reaffirmation for him. And he went back and had fun and embraced his young side when he got to tap.
Are we going to see more of that fun side of McGee this season?
Murray: I hope so. You never know what's gonna happen. I've pitched that McGee, like on the weekends, does spoken word. Maybe that's one of his side gigs, too. He certainly has that esoteric side. I don't know if they'll run that one, but in my mind, that's what he does, is a little spoken word every couple weekends.
Tim and Delilah have such a wonderful, functional relationship. Will that marital bliss continue this season, or will we see some bumps along the way?
Murray: Delilah has stuck with McGee through dead bodies over the years, as she finally learns about in this episode. One of the things I like a lot is that they have such a healthy relationship. The other characters really don't have great relationships. Gibbs has three ex-wives, and he's kind of a loner. Bishop got divorced last year. And so, to me, it's really nice to see [McGee and Delilah together]. And I really love to see the domestic stuff with them. That's some of my favorite stuff to do.
It's so common to portray these unhealthy relationships on TV. You rarely get to see something like what McGee and Delilah have. Is that something you pushed for, or it did it happen naturally?
Murray: I was a big supporter of the relationship between McGee and Delilah and was pushing for that. And I think it just naturally worked out that way. Their first date was like six years ago, so the progression of their relationship has just been really nice. It's nice to not have a couple fighting and in turmoil.
This episode had plenty of nods to the '90s. What do you miss most about that decade?
Murray:I miss the music. I was like, "Can we get some Air Supply in this episode?" That's what I miss most about the '90s. I'm a big music nerd.
It did have great music like the Cranberries.
Murray:I'm a hip-hop and electronic music head. There was so much good stuff happening in the electronic music in the '90s, especially early on, that just brings me right back.
Who is your favorite artist from the '90s?
Murray: You had Nas come out with Illmatic in '94, along with Notorious B.I.G. — his first album. JAY-Z, in '96, came out with his first album, Reasonable Doubt. There was also a wave of this new kind of electronic music coming from England, guys like Aphex Twin, and I was heavily into that stuff. Unfortunately, no one around me was listening to electronic music, so that was kind of a solo thing, but everyone was into the hip-hop. And I just remember you had your Nirvana, your Soundgarden and everyone else. Boy, those were good times for music. And for me, just for living.
The reveal in a recent episode that Ziva is still alive was pretty mind-blowing. How excited were you to learn that she's still alive?
Murray: Very much so. I think everyone is. I love that. That was such a great episode. We'll see what happens.
For years, there have been rumors of a Hocus Pocus reboot. If one actually comes along, would you ever want to do it?
Murray: I have no idea. It's an interesting thought if they would have any sort of spot for me or Thackery Binx, so I don't know. We would see. It all depends on what it would be. It's been a big rumor for a long time, and who knows if that'll happen or if they have anything for me to do in it. But it's a cult movie that I got to be a big part of. I know the character's not in it that long as a human, Thackery Binx, but I think it's a pivotal part of the movie. As it exists in the film itself, I'm really happy with it, and I would be happy if that's all there ever was.
NCIS continues Thursdays at 8/7c on CBS.
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