Spoiler Alert: Do not read this if you aren’t completely caught up on Season 18 of NCIS.

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon, has been a mainstay of the crime drama NCIS for its incredible 18 years on the air. As countless other characters have come and gone, Special Agent Gibbs has remained.

That’s why fans of the show were so shocked by what’s happened to Gibbs on the most recent episode. Appropriately, the episode was called “Gut Punch,” and it certainly gave a gut punch to many.

But despite the consternation of fans, NCIS appears to be sticking by its daring and controversial creative decision.

What Is Gibbs’ Fate?

In a recent interview with TV Insider, Pam Dawber — who plays Marcie, a reporter to whom Gibbs leaked details about his own suspension and who happens to be Mark Harmon’s wife in real life — described how Gibbs would be left on his own to deal with the consequences of his suspension.

“Marcie pulls Gibbs into something she’s working on,” said Dawber. “It’s just the two of us in my storyline. I’m not with the rest of the cast.” And Dawber was appropriately coy and refused to say whether Harmon would be working with the rest of the cast, the fact that only three episodes remain in this season do not give his character much space or time to extricate himself from his predicament.

As fans of NCIS will remember, an investigation into a missile in Virginia ended up uncovering the case of an animal abuser. Gibbs confronted that abuser, Luke, and violently attacked him, enraged over what he had done. Gibbs left Luke in the hospital with a concussion, multiple head contusions and a shattered nose.

For this, Gibbs was arrested and eventually indefinitely suspended from the force. After his arrest, Gibbs clammed up to investigators over what had happened between himself and Luke, but he did share details with some of his friends. His friends then lied on his behalf, thereby putting themselves in danger.

With Gibbs in such a tough spot, NCIS fans are worried about what will become of him. Though there are no indications that Gibbs will somehow die — as some of the most extreme fan speculations suggest — its not clear how, or even whether, the character will return to the show.

But of course, to get the answers, you’ll have to tune in to the next episode NCIS, which will air on CBS at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on April 20.