'NCIS' Season 19: What Happened to Gibbs After His Boat Exploded?

When Season 18 of NCIS ended, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs' fate seemed to be up in the air after his boat exploded - even though he was seen swimming away.

Fans have been wondering ever since if actor Mark Harmon was leaving the show, and the Season 19 premiere, "Blood in the Water", finally revealed his fate.

Gibbs has been determinedly searching for a serial killer and has become their target as a result, and the premiere episode saw the team discover a pipe bomb had been hidden in his boat.

The special agent is nowhere to be seen, but Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) and Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) realise the vessel was his after they find the "Rule 91" sign.

They immediately start canvassing the area and soon find a body, but it turns out to be a woman who died at the hands of the serial killer a few weeks earlier.

As the team look into the case, Gibbs is revealed and it's not good news; the special agent has managed to swim to shore but is in terrible shape after being impaled in his side.

Mark Harmon in NCIS
Mark Harmon in "NCIS" season 19 episode 1 "Blood in the Water" CBS

Gibbs passes out from the exertion, and comes to in a barn with a locked door with his wound shoddily wrapped up.

He manages to get out of the building but is soon confronted by a shotgun-wielding Thelma (Katherine Cortez) and her husband Virgil (Dave Florek).

The former isn't quite as trusting as her other half and doesn't believe Gibbs is who he says he is, fearing he's a local gang member instead.

It is only when Gibbs identifies a fake cop by the placement of his sheriff badge that she starts to trust him and he is able to contact friend Marcie Warren (Pam Dawber) and tells McGee to keep her safe.

Thelma and Virgil tell Gibbs about a local girl, Sandy, who has gone missing and has an abusive boyfriend, and the special agent decides to investigate further in the hope of finding the serial killer despite his injuries.

At the same time, the team decide to look into a ranger station near where they found the body earlier in the episode, and when they burst in they come face-to-face with Gibbs.

It's not a happy reunion, however, as Gibbs reminds them he was suspended and that they aren't his team anymore, but together they work to stop Sandy's boyfriend Lonny from getting away when comes to the location.

Unfortunately, he's not the serial killer Gibbs has been looking for so he continues to be a target.

McGee tries to convince Gibbs to work with the team again despite Rule 91, which says "When you decide to walk away, never look back," but the special agent claims the team don't "need" him.

The episode ended with McGee urging Gibbs to work with them in catching the serial killer, but it's unclear whether the latter agrees to do so.

NCIS airs weekly on Mondays on CBS.