Sydney’ Team Teases ‘Something Nefarious Is Going On’ in Upcoming Episodes

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What do you think of when you hear the word Australia? “If you speak to anyone around the world, one of the first things they talk to you about is that everything can kill you,” cracks Morgan O’Neill, executive producer of NCIS: Sydney, originally developed to stream on Paramount+ Australia but too good for CBS to pass up. O’Neill then lists (with clear Oz pride) his native land’s deadly snakes, the spider that “makes the black widow look like a lamb” and, of course, crocs.

Two-legged baddies aren’t in short supply, either, on this fifth entry in the massively successful military crime franchise. Smugglers, drug dealers, and the like are in the crosshairs of the eclectic new team led by NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey (Olivia Swann). “She’s very hot-blooded,” Swann says. “It’s her way or the highway.” In the November 14 opener — the first of eight episodes — Mackey was serving as an agent afloat when a U.S. Navy sailor died in Sydney Harbour. To solve that case, she was partnered with savvy sergeant JD Dempsey (Todd Lasance) of the Australian Federal Police (similar to the FBI). “He loves banter, but he’s also a fierce operator,” says Lasance. (He and his costar spoke about the series earlier this year.)

Olivia Swann as Michelle Markey, Todd Lasance as Jim "JD" Dempsey, and Conrad Coleby as Lt. Commander Lee in 'NCIS: Sydney'

(Credit: Daniel Asher Smith/Paramount+)

They first got on like, well, two wrestling crocodiles. “You have the might of the American military and this proud, plucky, antiauthoritarian Australian facing off,” O’Neill says. Still, their successful joint investigation (which ended thrillingly with Mackey commandeering a chopper and swooping over Sydney Harbour to chase the perps) results in the formation of a new office: NCIS Sydney.

“With Sydney, we have a unique opportunity the other franchises didn’t — to see these guys on Day 1, establishing this team,” O’Neill says. “They end up being a good fit. JD works under Mackey, but in some ways runs the team while Mackey is freed to approach things in a maverick way. You’re going to see team building, bonding, and cracking — what people do when they’re forced to trust one another.”

Their unit counterparts are a chill American agent who trained as a lawyer, DeShawn Jackson (Sean Sagar), and AFP liaison officer Constable Evie Cooper (Tuuli Narkle), who teases him nonstop. “It’s a really Australian way of showing affection,” O’Neill says. On November 28, they go undercover as an engaged couple in an investigation that begins when a shark spits out an arm wearing U.S. Navy gear.

Clues come via a new set of NCIS geniuses: anxious forensic scientist Bluebird “Blue” Gleeson (Mavournee Hazel), who, despite her brains, has impostor syndrome, and AFP forensic pathologist Roy Penrose (William McInnes), who’s given up on life for reasons that will be revealed. “Blue reanimates Doc Roy’s emotional beating heart. He pretends to be curmudgeonly. But when she walks into the room, his world lights a little bit,” O’Neill says.

Blue pulls evidence from the mysterious arm’s dive wrist computer that leads to the start of a longer story arc. “There might be something nefarious going on,” O’Neill says. “While NCIS is wrestling order from chaos, this other organization is trying to wrestle chaos from order. They’re working to undermine the security of the special relationship [between America and Australia], the stability of the region.” U.S. Department of Defense attaché Richard Rankin (Lewis Fitz-Gerald) is already prompting questions: “Is he a good guy, a bad guy, just hard to read?” O’Neill says.

NCIS: Sydney, Tuesdays, 8/7c, CBS

This is an abbreviated version of TV Guide Magazine’s NCIS: Sydney cover story. For more on the series and other must-see TV, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.



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