NCIS: Against All Odds, Palmer and Knight Expressed Their Love for Each Other

On NCIS, Jimmy Palmer and Jessica Knight’s love declarations were pivotal to their relationship. With Season 21’s finale, will their romance survive?

NCIS' Palmer and Knight stare at each other lovingly in front of the NCIS logo


  •  While Agent Jessica Knight and Dr. Jimmy Palmer’s relationship has been an ongoing subplot on NCIS , the penultimate episode of Season 20 has them both declare that they love each other.
  •  Knight and Palmer are the first official couple in NCIS ; while the series has had other romances, in respect for Gibbs’ rules, these romances usually happened when both characters were not on the team together.
  •  Season 21’s finale leaves Knight and Palmer’s relationship in question, but looking back on their declaration of love for each other could reveal hope for their romance to continue.

Throughout the past couple of seasons of NCIS, Agent Jessica Knight and Dr. Jimmy Palmer’s relationship has been a running sub plot as the two have started a romance. “Kompromat” was Season 20’s penultimate episode, and as the first part of a two-part finale, it got the ball rolling. The episode revolved around four Russian spies that the NCIS team had arrested, but, possibly more importantly, the episode solidifies Knight and Palmer’s romance

Amidst all the spy work, terror threats and Parker’s failed relationship, Jimmy Palmer and Agent Knight finally expressed their love for each other. While not a secret, their relationship has been on the down low for a while. However, “Kompromat” changed that in dramatic (and nearly embarrassing) fashion. This moment was pivotal in their relationship and is even more important for fans to look back on with Palmer and Knight’s romance now in jeopardy with the end of Season 21.

Updated on May 26, 2024 by Jennifer Roy: Knight and Palmer’s relationship has becoming a major component of NCIS’s recent seasons. With their relationship currently in question with the events of the Season 21 finale, looking back at this pivotal moment in their relationship can provide more insight into whether their romance will survive into Season 22.

Palmer Accidentally Expressed His Love For Knight
NCIS' Palmer looks shocked

Palmer and Knight have had a thing going for quite a while. They started by admiring each other at the end of Season 19, and that led to coffee outings that they were afraid to call dates. But, eventually, the two of them decided to make it official. They’ve been casually dating for the better half of Season 20, but it’s been kind of a covert thing. Granted, Palmer and Knight’s relationship has never been a secret, but there has been a lot of “professional discretion” with their workplace romance. If nothing else, the discretion has been in continued acknowledgment of Gibbs’ Rule #12.

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That professional discretion was thrown out of the window early in “Kompromat.” Palmer showed up in the squad room to give everyone an update, and as he left, he casually called out, “Love you, Jess.” Palmer was mortified and tried to walk it back by saying that he loved Torres and McGee, too, but it was clearly awkward. Later in the episode, Palmer clarified that he definitely loved Knight, but he was afraid that he had made her mad by crossing a line and bringing their quiet relationship to work.

NCIS' Palmer and Knight look each other in the eye with Parker in the background

At first, it looked that way, when Knight tried to maintain her professional discretion and didn’t acknowledge Palmer’s comment. However, she eventually saw that she was pushing Jimmy away. So, she opted for a grand gesture to prove her love. Right when the case had been stonewalled, Knight told everyone that she had some good news. Then — right in the middle of the squad room — she told Palmer that she loved him too, and they shared a kiss.

This moment was a turning point in their relationship precisely because Knight often was the one to keep their relationship at a distance in the past. At the beginning of their romance, Knight hesitated to define their relationship, though she eventually did acknowledge they were dating. So, Knight declaring her love for Palmer in front of all their coworkers was a huge step forward for the couple in solidifying their romance.

How Palmer and Knight’s Relationship Affects NCIS

It was a great moment for everyone, and it was even a bit unexpected. Because of Gibbs’ rules, a workplace romance seemed like it would never be a thing on NCIS. Tony DiNozzo and Ziva were all but a thing, but Gibbs’ rules kept them in check until after they had moved on from NCIS. Similarly, Bishop and Torres were building to a romance before Bishop decided to leave and become a spy. So, with Gibbs firmly out of the picture and everyone else moved on, Palmer and Knight have become the first official couple on the NCIS team. It may not change much on the outside, but it’s a sign that NCIS has continued to reinvent itself in the post-Gibbs era.

The relationship was also a personal victory for Palmer because he’s had a rough couple of seasons. After his wife died from COVID, he had a hard time moving on, and recently he had trouble letting Knight be a part of his daughter’s life — because it felt like he was replacing his wife. Seeing him heal enough to have a full-on relationship with Knight was great to see. In Knight’s case, allowing herself to open up and be vulnerable has also been character growth for her and helped her connect more with the people she cares about other than Palmer, like her sister Robin.

Will Knight and Palmer’s Relationship Survive the Aftermath of NCIS’s 21st Season?

Throughout Season 21, Palmer and Knight’s relationship has been strong. In Season 21, Episode 2, “The Stories We Leave Behind,” Knight was a strong support for Jimmy in the wake of Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard’s death. However, the Season 21 finale, “Reef Madness,” throws a curveball in their relationship when Director Vance offers Knight a new job as the Chief REACT Training Officer, a career change that would involve moving to California.

While Knight is confident at first that she and Palmer can maintain a long-distance relationship, Palmer reacts poorly, saying that they should just break up instead. Palmer’s reaction is rooted in his losses throughout NCIS, from his first wife Breena’s death to Ducky’s more recent death, he still handles the conversation poorly. Throughout the course of the episode, both Knight and Agent Alden Parker are put into harm’s way even more when they become trapped on a rapidly sinking ship. Knight’s peril leads Jimmy to realize how unreasonable he was being, and he apologizes after Knight and Parker are rescued.

In many shows, the near-death experience would lead Knight to reconsider the offer and choose to stay with her team. However, “Reef Madness” ends with Knight enthusiastically accepting the offer from Director Vance. Thus, with her potential move, Knight and Palmer’s relationship may now be at a crossroads.

Looking back on their relationship may provide hope for fans of Knight and Palmer’s romance. In the past, they both have been reluctant to deal with change, whether defining their relationship or declaring their feelings. However, they have overcome these obstacles and become stronger because of their trials. Similarly, even though Palmer was initially opposed to long distance, his experience of almost losing Knight for real could make him reconsider. Also, even though Knight accepted the job at the end of the season, she could still change her mind or circumstances could change.

Thus, Palmer and Knight’s declaration of love, while a sweet moment for the couple, also could foreshadow their future. Both Palmer and Knight have shown hesitation in their past when it comes to moving forward in their relationship. However, whenever they do take a leap of faith, their relationship usually grows stronger as a result. Therefore, while Knight’s new career might spell doom for her relationship with Palmer, moments like their declarations of their feelings show that their relationship may survive after all.


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