When our showrunner, Gary Glasberg, asked me how I felt about bringing back Diane Sterling (aka Gibbs' and Fornell's shared ex-wife) for another episode, I nearly wept with joy. Fans of the show will probably recall Melinda McGraw's last turn as the plucky former Mrs. Gibbs/Fornell – and I certainly did, too. She made me look like a much better writer than I am, and I'm all for that kind
of casting. Plus, I never give up a chance to work with Joe Spano (for basically the same reason).
Last time we saw Diane, she had come to Gibbs and Fornell for help finding her missing husband. This time I wanted to put her on more even footing - to even make her an equal, if possible - the thought of her throwing a badge in Fornell's face was too good to pass up. The (surprisingly) easy solution was to make her an IRS agent working on a tax fraud case. That way, she could plausibly be working side-by-side with Gibbs and Fornell…with the added benefit that the IRS angle would probably be particularly irritating to Fornell. And she would have a badge. Truth be told, I wasn't sure I could actually pull off having Gibbs say "Wow" when he saw the badge – it's not a very Gibbsian word. But Mark made it work so well, our editor, Mitch Stanley, used two separate wow's from two different takes to have Mark repeat it – again, making me look like a better writer than I am. Mark does that quite a bit on his own, now that I think about it…
Sean Murray quite often does, too. I knew two things when I was writing this episode. One, it was going to have to function as an emotional sequel of sorts, since the very last time we saw Diane, she was basically proclaiming her undying Shannon-esque love for Gibbs. And, two, I wanted Gibbs to find her spooning with McGee on McGee's couch (hey, it's not all deep). Sean nails every moment
he has with Diane on-screen, but none as well as when he wakes up and sees Gibbs staring at him, arms wrapped around Gibbs' ex-wife. There were so many ways to go with that scene…and Sean chose the best one.
Outlining is normally a very painful process for me. I spent half the time in deep self-loathing and the other half looking at the classifieds for a new job. Somewhere in between, I beat out a story, then write a script. This time, however, I actually (sort of) enjoyed the process, and certainly the result. I hope you all enjoy it, too. Until next time…
Steven D. Binder, Co-Executive Producer