On Tuesday's episode of NCIS (8/7c, CBS), Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and the rest of the team are trying to exonerate a former Navy Hospital Corpsman (guest star Laura Seay) who's indicted after illegally providing medical aid to the victims of a car crash.
While Good Samaritan laws are in place to protect bystanders who offer aid at the scene of an accident, the legalities become blurry when military personnel are involved. "The idea that you can have this extraordinary training in the field, and yet for whatever reason, that training doesn't legally and officially transfer back to working in the public in the United States, was interesting to us," NCIS showrunner Gary Glasberg told TVGuide.com. "I don't entirely understand the reasoning behind it. But at the end of the day, we all agreed that it's worth bringing up, and it was the kind of thing that Gibbs would question and ... want to do everything he could to help her."
Adds Seay: "The way that the laws are written, it doesn't seem to make room for this particular type scenario and even more specifically, people coming from a military medical background. It seems like when you're in the military, you're also sort of agreeing to adhere to a whole separate set of legislative things, almost as if you're going to another country. And when you come out of that country, it's interesting the way that our judicial system doesn't really line up or make way for those unusual circumstances and training."
Producers paired Seay up with a real corpsman to advise on how to approach her character, Anna Dillon, and the issue at large. "Marines, period, but especially corpsmen — because they're the medics that work with the Marines on the frontlines —hold themselves to a really, really, really high standard. Excellence is key," Seay says. "After this travesty has happened, even though [Anna] saved two lives, she can't really get the third one out of her head. ... I think that's actually more what she's haggling with, at least in the first part of the episode, than any sort of legal aspect of it. And I think Gibbs can see that, and he's trying to help her contend with both parts — one that's dealing with it ethically, and the other that, oh yeah, there's this legal thing too that I guess I'm a part of."
Of course, the accident isn't entirely what it seems to be at first, and the team also finds itself immersed in a murder investigation before the episode concludes. But for Glasberg, it was important to shed light on an issue that many are unaware of.
"Coming off the heels of Veterans Day, it's an important episode for people to watch, and some really lovely performances on everyone's part, including Laura," he says. "I hope it opens some eyes and people enjoy it."
Watch a sneak peek of the episode:
NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)