Last time on NCIS
, Gibbs and McGee struggled with returning to "normal" life after their time in Paraguay. It is certainly an experience that has changed both men.
This episode, titled "Exit Strategy," has Torres discovering evidence in a very cold case, while Ducky entertains an exciting new offer. I wonder what that could be.
Poor Torres is on a stakeout with Metro Detective Miles Higgins, and the pair is not getting along. Besides talking all night, Higgins attempts to impress Torres with his gadgets, including a comb that is a knife, and a belt that is a knife. I am sensing a theme here. The purpose of this joint stakeout is the arrest of Vernon Douglas for drug trafficking, but Douglas has not yet returned. Higgins is furious when Torres borrows his pen/camera and tosses it out of the car. Torres goes for a walk and calls McGee to beg him to take his place. Just then, a car roars in, and Torres calls Higgins on the walkie so that they can get in position. Torres approaches the car, but he is attacked by a man. The agent overcomes his attacker, but Higgins is a no-show. I guess the fact that his smashed walkie is laying out on the ground might explain why.
A sleepy Bishop tells McGee that even though Ducky is in Scotland, he has been e-mailing her non-stop. Ducky was asked to give a guest lecture at the University of Edinburgh and asked Bishop to scan some old NCIS files for him. Gibbs arrives and tells the group that they need to help Torres.
Torres tells Gibbs that after he cuffed Vernon, he discovered that Higgins was missing. At first, Torres thinks that Higgins may be giving him a hard time since Torres was vocal about not wanting to be partners with him. Detective Sergeant Sportelli shows up, and he is not fond of joint investigations. Sportelli thinks that Higgins must have been kidnapped. McGee finds the pen/camera on the ground, and it has been recording the whole time. It shows Higgins running up to a woman, and then they run out of frame. Gibbs notices that the woman touched the edge of a dumpster, so they collect the print as evidence.
Abby, McGee and Sportelli are in the lab, and Abby gets a match on the mystery woman's fingerprint. The print belongs to Metro Police Officer Michelle Lane. Sportelli is in disbelief -- and for a good reason. Michelle Lane was killed 10 years ago in the line of duty. She was working undercover for months trying to take down Benjamin Sitano, who was involved in selling arms, people and drugs. He sounds like a prince! Lane tracked a $2 million gun deal to a marina. Lane was spotted on a boat minutes before it exploded. Her body was never found, and neither was the $2 million in bearer bonds.
Metro PD and Vance decide that another joint investigation is in order, much to Sportelli's displeasure. Higgins is still missing, and his cell phone is either off or has been disabled. Bishop thinks that Lane stole the money and ran away, but Sportelli insists that Lane is not the woman who was sighted with Higgins.
Lost and Found
Torres tells McGee that even though you are working alone undercover, you still rely on your team to have your back -- no matter what. Torres may have been tossed out of Higgins' apartment by the Metro PD, but he did chat with a neighbor. The neighbor saw Higgins and a woman in a tan SUV with a bumper sticker that had the word 'fifty' and a flower. McGee later determines that the flower is a Luther rose and posits that the woman may be a Lutheran. Bishop has access to Higgins' username and password for the Metro Police's internal files. Higgins is logged in to the system, even though Torres believes he could be in a sex dungeon.
A familiar-looking woman in a tan SUV gets a video call from her son, and she promises to be home soon to help him with a school project. The NCIS team tracks the Wi-Fi address to a parking garage, and they bring Sportelli along. The woman disappears, but the group finds Higgins' body in the passenger seat.
In autopsy, Palmer details how Higgins died instantly from a gunshot wound to the neck. Higgins died about two hours before he was found, and he had glass from the passenger side window in the wound. So if Lane didn't shoot Higgins, who did?
The SUV was registered to Jessica Pottorf of Pennsylvania. The woman's laptop, which was hidden under the seat, shows family pictures of Pottorf, her husband Craig, and son Landon. It comes as no surprise that Pottorf and Lane are the same person. McGee reveals that Lane was looking at the old police files detailing the bust she was trying to make on Sitano. While Sitano died two years prior, his son, Benny Jr., has turned his father's companies into a legitimate business called Check 'N Cash 4 U. This is the same site that Lane was looking at on her laptop in the parking garage.
Gibbs and Bishop pay Benny a visit, and he doesn't know the woman in the photo with Higgins, and he isn't concerned about his safety because he has a huge bodyguard named Nitro. Although he claims to have gone legit, he was arrested recently for money laundering. When Benny is shown the file picture of Lane, he recognizes her and states that she used to work for his father. Benny looks at a photo of Higgins' body and lawyers up. Meanwhile, in the lobby, Torres spots Lane entering. She pushes the button on the elevator and is surprised to find Bishop and Gibbs inside. Surprise!
Protecting a Child
Lane insists that she came back because she is in trouble. Three days ago, she got a call from someone demanding the bearer bonds and threatening her family if she didn't provide them. Lane states that she doesn't have the bonds, and she called her old partner, Higgins, because he is the only person she felt she could trust. She adds that they went back to Higgins' apartment to look at the old files, and when they were driving off, someone shot at them. Lane was going to throw herself on Benny's mercy. She certainly isn't getting a pass from Torres, who states that she should have turned herself in and gone to the police.
McGee has Lane's phone, which has been continually ringing with her son's ringtone. McGee holds the phone out so she can reassure him, but she sees the terrible image of her son bound and gagged. Yikes! I have a feeling Sportelli is involved. Someone knocked out Lane's husband and kidnapped the boy. Then an angry Sportelli demands to know why Gibbs didn't call him right away about Lane. NCIS has a missing kid on their hands, and they are taking over. Gibbs tells Sportelli to jot down his questions.
Lane finally reveals that she became pregnant with Landon while she was undercover, and the father wasn't going to be part of her life. Lane claims that she was on the boat but realized that the battery on her wire had run down, so she snuck off to her car. The boat exploded, and Lane thought that the explosion was meant for her. When she was reported as dead, she decided to reinvent her life for the sake of her son.
McGee and Gibbs interrogate Benny at NCIS about kidnapping his son, Landon. Bishop and Lane watch the discussion, and Bishop realizes that Lane could not return to the Metro police because the Sitano family would learn of her pregnancy. Benny responds that he at first thought Lane was dead, but he later hired a private investigator to look for her. He found her with his son and new husband, and decided to let his son be free from the baggage of being a Sitano.
An Interesting Offer
Sportelli arrives, handcuffs Lane and takes her away. Bishop thinks that Nitro, Benny's bodyguard, kidnapped Landon. He just received a huge increase in salary. Bishop and Torres meet with Nitro at the diner. He explains that he is a personal trainer, which is why his salary increased. Torres asks Nitro why he was fired from the Metro police. Nitro says that he was pressured to become dirty by his boss at Metro PD, Sportelli. Worse yet, Sportelli and Lane never arrived at booking. Sportelli has an apartment in Chinatown, and he lost his retirement savings on a bar that has since closed.
At the bar, an enraged Sportelli tells Lane to give him the money, while he holds a gun on Landon. Lane blurts out that the bonds are in a fictitious Cayman Island account. NCIS arrives just in time to rescue Landon and Lane. Gibbs and Torres corner Sportelli, and Sportelli commits suicide.
In Edinburgh, Ducky is presenting his infamous "body in a body" case, and it is gross. The body belonged to Marine Colonel Stanley Metzger, and Ducky details how getting to know the deceased person on an autopsy table is mandatory, especially when gathering forensics. His lecture is enthusiastically received, and he stays late to answer questions from the students. Dr. Cadence Darwin interrupts the group and tells Ducky that he has an urgent call, but she has concocted a ruse so that she and Ducky can enjoy a whisky together. He is pleasantly surprised that his old friend has come in from New York to listen to him speak, but he tells her that he has a job that he loves.
Cadence again offers Ducky a teaching position at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It is for one semester, but Cadence suggests that Ducky write a book about the cases he has worked on, like the "body in a body" case. She believes that his book could shape the way students are taught. Ducky is reluctant to go to New York for a semester, even though Cadence invites him to stay with her.
Lane brings Landon to meet Bishop at the diner. Bishop has called Benny, and Lane introduces her son to her friend. At headquarters, Gibbs and Ducky catch up. Ducky knows that Gibbs has spoken to Cadence, and Gibbs makes it clear that everything will be okay if Ducky takes the teaching position. Ducky admits that he wants to take the position, and he tells Palmer.
I did enjoy this episode of NCIS, though some parts were rather predictable.
What do you think about Gibbs being back in charge? Does he still seem different than before Paraguay? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.