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NCIS: What Alden Parker's Lily Hallucination Means For Season 22

The "NCIS" Season 21 finale teased a lot about Alden Parker's (Gary Cole) tragic past. The episode finds him trapped in a ship with Jessica Knight (Katrina Law), where he suffers a major wound resulting in significant blood loss. During this, Parker experiences hallucinations of a young girl called Lily (Kensie Mills), as well as what appear to be memories of a younger version of him playing with the child. It's an odd sequence that doesn't get much elaboration during the episode — and that's just the way it's supposed to be, according to "NCIS" co-showrunner Steven D. Binder. 

TV Line asked Binder if viewers were supposed to have any idea who Lily is. He responded, "Well, we [the writers] do, but the audience definitely doesn't. No, there are some things [to be revealed] that will be more meaningful after the fact once you look back, some little things that are planned. But there is nothing that you'd be able to put together with what you've been shown so far." At least fans can rest easy knowing they aren't overlooking any pertinent details. 

"NCIS" Season 22 has much in the way of story potential. "NCIS" fans are already worried that Law might leave the show, given Knight's career decision in the Season 21 finale. On top of resolving Knight's arc, the next batch of episodes will hopefully shed more light on who Lily is and why Parker hallucinated her during a time of extreme distress. 

NCIS Season 22 could reveal Parker's heartbreaking past

There's a lot of material to be mined in the histories of various "NCIS" characters. Mark Harmon's Gibbs had his backstory explained on "NCIS," and with him now gone, it would make sense to start digging into what makes Alden Parker tick. While Steven D. Binder asserts that the audience isn't supposed to fully know who Lily is yet, it's obvious she was someone close to Parker, perhaps even his sister.

In the Season 21 finale, once everyone is okay, Knight asks Parker about Lily, and he says he doesn't remember saying anything about her. It's possible he's lying, but these hallucinations have opened up some emotional wounds he'll probably have to address on Season 22 and beyond. Then again, he may have repressed these memories so much that he genuinely doesn't recall, and can't remember calling out to Lily on the boat. Regardless, Knight knows something's going on, so perhaps "NCIS" Season 22 will find Parker discussing Lily with his family and looking for some semblance of closure on whatever happened to her.

One thing's certain: Lily's subplot isn't going away. Since the writers know who Lily is, it seems that this storyline will continue. Parker may have to unpack some deep childhood trauma, allowing the procedural to tackle complex and sensitive subject matter. For now, fans will have to wait a little longer to see what Parker's past holds.