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NCIS Boss Hints At A Tough Road Ahead For Torres In Season 20

It's always tough to add new parts to a machine that's running at full speed, but Wilmer Valderrama's introduction to "NCIS" in Season 14 as Special Agent Nick Torres has gone about as smoothly as these things go, despite a bumpy ride for the character. He has gone through a failed romantic arc with Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) and a traumatic reunion with his long-lost-and-thought-dead father (Steven Bauer), who gets shot in the chest and skips town pretty soon thereafter. 

Torres then goes to the house of his boss and real father figure, Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon), and the two men have dinner together. Valderrama spoke to TV Insider about that moment, saying, "It was a confirmation to Torres that he really isn't alone, he has a place to go, that there is someone who's been more of a father to him than anyone else in his life. Sitting with Gibbs ... gave Torres the hope that maybe it'll turn out OK. Maybe not everything is lost."

With Harmon leaving "NCIS" last season, Torres will be missing that fatherly influence once again. But his vacancy leaves a giant void in the show for another actor to step up and fill. So, just what do the "NCIS" creatives have in mind for Torres in Season 20?

Nick Torres will have to face some demons in NCIS Season 20

In a chat with TV Insider, "NCIS" Executive Producer Steven D. Binder said that the outcomes of Torres' relationships with Bishop and Gibbs — after being abandoned twice by his father — have hardened him to a point where he might start making some unhealthy choices. "This is a guy who's under a tremendous amount of pressure," Binder said. "Now he's a professional and he's getting the job done, but he's got these internal pressures building up inside him, and at some point, you pop, and I think that's in his future."

It's easy to imagine how job stress and life circumstances could break Torres; Binder wants to make sure that if that happens, the integrity of the character is preserved. He told TV Insider, "I think we're gonna go pretty dark with [Torres], but we try and do it in a way that doesn't destroy what we love about the character, so always in service to something greater. It's not just pure darkness."

Torres is a vulnerable but troubled man who finds himself constantly disappointed by the people closest to him. How close he comes to the edge — and what might happen if he goes beyond it — remains to be seen. Season 20 of "NCIS" premieres on September 19.