‘NCIS’ Star Wilmer Valderrama Says Season 21 Premiere ‘Broke Something’ in Nick Torres | Video

The actor explains the high-stakes resolution to last season’s big finale cliffhanger

Note: The following story contains spoilers from the “NCIS” Season 21 premiere.

Wilmer Valderrama’s Nick Torres will need some time to recover after the “NCIS” Season 21 premiere.

The episode, titled “Algún Día,” followed the aftermath of Season 20’s tense cliffhanger, in which Nick confronted a man from his past (played by Al Sapienza), intending to kill him. The opening minutes found Nick sitting at a bar, unnerved from the earlier events, before he was arrested by the FBI the next morning as the prime murder suspect for the man’s death.

The team worked together to uncover the truth of what happened, even enlisting the help of Nick’s sister Lucía (Pilar Holland), returning onscreen for the first time since Nick’s first episode in 2016. The episode followed as Nick appeared to confess to the murder, landing in prison as he had in the Season 20 finale, though this time he wasn’t under cover.

“This season premiere definitely broke something in him, and he’s going to have to rebuild himself in the first couple of episodes,” Valderrama told TheWrap. “The beauty of it is that he’s going to understand that it’s OK to lean on the people around [him] and ask for help.”

The episode revealed that the man, named Riva, had been in an abusive relationship with Nick’s mother when he and his sister were growing up in Miami in the ’90s. The siblings would tell themselves that the man would one day be punished for what he did to their family.

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Katrina Law and Gary Cole in “NCIS.” (Robert Voets/CBS)

As the investigation unfolded, the team learned that Nick and the man got into a physical altercation at his home, but that the man was alive when Nick left for the bar. He initially confessed to the murder, however, thinking that he was protecting his sister after he suspected she had gone to the man’s home to kill him instead. But the team later discovered that another woman was the real killer, after facing similar abuses at the man’s hands.

“This was [an episode] that was written to remind audiences the strength of this team [after the long break], which is how far they’re willing to go for one another,” Valderrama said, also praising the premiere’s “unpredictable” storyline that kept audiences guessing until the very end.

The “NCIS” premiere also paid a quiet tribute to the late David McCallum, still featuring his name and character Ducky on the title sequence for the episode. The actor, who died in September at age 90, and Ducky will be celebrated in the second episode of the CBS crime procedural. The episode will address Ducky’s absence, with the premiere hinting at tragedy as Special Agent Alden Parker (Gary Cole) received alarming news at the end of premiere.

“Bring the tissues [and] hold each other tight,” Valderrama teased of the Feb. 19 episode, written by “NCIS” star Brian Dietzen and Scott Williams. “It’s humorous, it’s beautiful, it’s fun and it’s tragic … I don’t think audiences understand how much they need this episode to make sense of the reality and to say goodbye to one of their favorites.”

“NCIS” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. Episodes stream on Paramount+ the day after premiere.

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