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How NCIS Fans Really Felt About Ellie's Relationship With This Character

Eleanor Bishop (Emily Wickersham) has been on NCIS since 2013, when she joined the cast during "Gut Check," the ninth episode of season 11. Since her first appearance, after joining the team as a liaison between the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the National Security Agency, she's been involved in some of the team's biggest cases. Ellie was a successor to the role on the team once filled by Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander) and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), although it's taken fans a while to warm up to her — and some think she'll never really be as well-liked as the dynamic previous women on the team.

As with any new character, Ellie brought along her own baggage as she dealt with old relationships and eked out new ones with members on the team. The personal drama has been dealt with on-screen as the team went about its daily business, providing fresh subplots for NCIS fans. Among them, there was the relationship with her husband Jake Malloy (Jamie Bamber), an NSA attorney who appeared in five episodes of the series in 2014 and 2015.

Ellie's husband Jake was rejected by fans as a cheater

Jake was a character meant to be disliked. Though Ellie talked about him a lot, he wasn't seen often. Instead, he brought some depth and pathos to Ellie's character and was only viewed from her perspective. She had met and married him prior to her coming to work with Gibbs' team.

That meant that in season 13, when she saw her husband with another woman, fans felt free to dislike Jake. It happened in the episode "Day in Court." After seeing Jake with another woman while trying to surprise him at a cafe, the two have a confrontation. "I'm having an affair with Taylor," Jake confesses, saying that it happened after he almost died in a terrorist bombing. "I hate myself for what I've done." He tells her she doesn't deserve this.

After that, Ellie decides to go home to Oklahoma. In the next episode, "Blood Brothers," she deals with the pain of betrayal while at home among her family. During a Thanksgiving call, she ends things with her husband, who calls her there. She says she's not coming home and tells him, "It's not my concern, Jake. Spend it wherever and with whomever you want." Jake's last appearance is in the next episode, "Spinning Wheel," where he barges into an autopsy room, apologies, and says he'll do whatever it takes to fix the marriage. Ellie says, "It's over, Jake."

At the time, it wasn't clear if Ellie and Jake were completely through, though time has proven that Ellie was able to move on. Still, Emily Wickersham feels that the relationship was not meant to survive. "I don't think it's just the affair that's the kicker here," Wickersham told Entertainment Weekly. "[From both Jake and Ellie] working at the NSA and being able to talk about everything all the time, to then [Ellie] going to NCIS and not being able to talk to Jake about his day-to-day stuff ... in reality, that shouldn't end a marriage, so I feel the marriage, the foundation, wasn't strong enough to begin with."

The end of the marriage demonstrated reality and opened new narrative doors

NCIS executive producer Gary Glassberg told CBS that the idea to split Bishop and her husband up, on a series in which relationships never seem to last long anyway, reflected a reality in that kind of work that he wishes to represent. 

"In the real world of federal agents, divorce happens all the time. It's a very stressful situation, careers go in different directions," he said (via Showbiz Cheat Sheet). "We were intrigued by the idea when we originally introduced her that when you're with an agency like the NSA, unless you're married to another NSA agent, you can't talk about what you did at work. If you put her as an NCIS agent and he remains at the NSA, if their careers are all they have in common, then it's going to start to deteriorate. And that's something we talked about going all the way back to the creation of this character. [We thought] wouldn't it be interesting to split them apart and see what happens?"

So, what Wickersham noted was true: The foundation the couple had, based as it was on work, wasn't conducive to a stable relationship once she was away from the NSA. However, the end of this relationship opened up new romantic possibilities for Ellie with another co-worker: Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), who has had his own romantic disappointments during the course of his run on NCIS

NCIS executive producer Frank Cardea has said (and fans have definitely gotten this impression) that the new relationship is going to be a slow burn. "They've become very close and very dependent upon each other, and our show has a history of playing with relationships like that," Cardea told TV Insider. "There's certainly the Tiva relationship for so many years that the audience has seemed to enjoy, and they seem to enjoy this relationship now. We will pursue that. We'll keep looking at that." Ellick shippers should be pleased.