Saturday detention. The brain. The athlete. The basket case. The princess. The criminal. No, this isn’t the story of The Breakfast Club (and what could have happened next). This is the case of this episode of NCIS, titled “Being Bad,” and it all begins with the criminal getting taken down by the brain at their class reunion before dropping dead. Oh, imagine the fun that Tony would have with this case.
We also get somewhat of an update on McGee’s plan to propose to Delilah. It’s going to happen — when it’s time. He’ll feel it out and just know. (Will it involve their binary code shorthand?)
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One of the more intriguing parts of the episode (and, no, it’s not that Palmer spent a night in jail) comes in a brief conversation between Gibbs and Torres, as the latter wonders about the double lives of the five former classmates and asks which version is the real them. “Which is the real you?” Gibbs counters, talking about the covers he created while undercover. They weren’t random. So did part of him want to be those people?
Don’t You Forget About Them
High school may have been 15 years ago, but as a class reunion shows, some things never change. There are still the popular girls. The bully throws shrimp at the brain, whose friend makes an escape with the excuse that his life coach is calling. But this time, the brain takes the bully down because, as he makes sure everyone around him hears, he joined the Special Forces. Then the bully falls over and dies.
Torres chooses the wrong time to come in to work to get a feel for the “whole desk thing,” the Friday evening before he’s due to officially begin working on Monday. Before McGee and Bishop can make their escapes, Gibbs tells them to grab their gear. They have a case at Quantico. That means putting on the official NCIS jacket, Torres. Just do it, and don’t pout about it.
Quinn joins the team at the crime scene, where Neal, the brain, says he barely touched the victim, James Bruno, and he hadn’t seen him since high school. (Because I know how these things go, I know that’s a lie, and at some point during the investigation, something will come up that proves it.) Ducky notes that the hypersalivation suggests Bruno was poisoned, so it looks like they have a cause of death.
But, of course, there has to be more, like an eyewitness reporting that Bruno put something in a locker and that something is a bomb. There’s also video of him assembling the bomb in his car, and it would’ve leveled the gym, killing everyone inside. However, as Abby discovers, it had a long-range wireless receiver, so Bruno wasn’t suicidal.
Bruno has a burglary conviction to his name, and though the high school’s vice principal tried to whip him into shape over eight Saturday detentions, he says nothing took. He had problems with everyone in school, and everyone had problems with him, so their suspect list is going to be long.
However, as for how the victim was poisoned, someone spiked his nicotine patch with cyanide, and since he was wearing it when he got to the reunion, they’re not looking for someone who was there.
You See Them in the Simplest Terms
McGee and Bishop manage to track down the old substitute teacher from whom he was renting a room, but Miss Frimkes is apparently so blind that she thinks they’re selling Girl Scout cookies. Bruno wouldn’t hurt a fly, she insists, and leads them to his room out back. He was trouble, yes, but that changed in his senior year, when he started dating one of the popular girls and she turned his whole life around. She can’t believe he’s capable of murder or that anyone would want to kill him. But his room is filled with iPads, jewelry, paintings, etc.
Where’d all that stuff come from? Well, Metro has been trying to crack a city-wide theft ring for half a decade with zero luck, but clearly all they needed was the right murder to get NCIS on the case. The prints in his room match Bruno’s, but while Abby also found dandruff everywhere, Miss Frimkes could only say that there was a visitor, a man or a woman, she thinks.
Since that person is likely to return for all that stuff, it’s time for a stakeout, and McGee and Quinn catch a woman on her bike (aka the basket case). Yes, it’s her dandruff, but she doesn’t have an ID on her (though she has a bag filled with things suggesting she’s running/fit for the role she’s filling in this Breakfast Club picture) and doesn’t talk until Torres does what Gibbs slow-walks him to do and picks up the pace and interrupts, offering her food.
Bruno’s her friend and she’d never hurt him. She helped him sell the stolen items, acting as his fence. The bomb couldn’t be his. He’s a thief, not a killer. He has bark but no bite. If he planted the bomb, someone made him do it, she insists.
In addition to the burn marks on his arm and the knowledge that his father died of lung cancer, leading to the conclusion of a rough childhood, Ducky also found signs that Bruno was in a fight days before his murder. However, it doesn’t look like he fought back. Furthermore, he forced a diamond earring into a hole in his ear that had closed up from disuse, and they found a second set of DNA on it.
Not only does Abby find out that the prior owner of the earring was a woman, but she can also tell Quinn when Bruno put it in his ear, thanks to the impurities in the gold that caused his skin oil to oxidize: right before the reunion. While the DNA is running, Abby has been looking through the photos on a camera found in a trench coat in Bruno’s closet. And what do you know? One of the photos shows him with Neal. So much for that claim that they hadn’t seen each other in 15 years.
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They’re Not Fooling Anyone
Neal is, of course, MIA at this point. Also, as expected, the DNA off the earring matches a high school classmate — the former prom queen, Katrina, who married the school jock. (Hello, princess and athlete.) She hasn’t reported the earring as stolen, and there are no signs that they had any recent contact, but they did have a Saturday detention together once.
When Bishop and Torres go to talk to Katrina, she claims to not know Bruno, despite the fact that they went to high school together and he dropped dead right in front of her. And when they bring up her earring, she says it was stolen and is ready to report it as such now. Bishop tries to get her talking, with the suggestion that they had something in common in high school, that they liked bad boys, but while the NCIS agent grew out of it, Katrina did not.
Does her husband know that she and Bruno were sleeping together? Did she know that he was robbing houses? Though Katrina cuts off their line of questioning, when they stop her with one more question, she answers before they can even ask it: no, she has no idea where Neal is. That’s when they hear a gunshot, but by the time Bishop and Torres get inside the house, Neal has killed himself with a flare gun.
He also made a video recording before doing so, to set the record straight because he couldn’t go to prison. Abby finds his written confession on his computer, and as he explains it, he and his high school friends were behind the theft ring. Adam, the jock, IDed the wealthy marks. Katrina flirted her way into the homes to get a look at the security systems. Bruno did the actual stealing. Angela was the fence. And Neal was the accountant. It all started during that Saturday detention, as a joke to get back at their parents, but then they realized they could make money. Palmer, of course, knows exactly what this reminds him of, but all it takes is a Gibbs stare to make him stop talking.
So who killed Bruno? Angela thinks she knows, and Gibbs and McGee pull Adam into interrogation. He wasn’t at the reunion, they point out. But he points the finger in his wife’s direction since finding out that she was having an affair means game over. Bruno stole an expensive painting, and apparently Katrina wanted to keep the money for themselves and talked about bombing the reunion and making it look like a terrorist attack. He thinks she talked Bruno into it. Yes, Bruno was a thief, but he wasn’t a bad guy, Adam tells them. That fight with Neal was even staged.
There’s still the matter of a missing million-dollar painting, and if they can find that, they’ll probably find the killer.
A detonator for the bomb was found in Katrina’s car, but she’s claiming she’s innocent. Furthermore, Abby discovers that Bruno tampered with the bomb so that the detonator wouldn’t have worked anyway. Adam was right; Bruno was good on the inside. Abby also traces the parts to a hobby shop across the street from a bank with a high-def security system, and there’s video of the person who beat up Bruno days before his death: the vice principal.
Castor owns up to hitting Bruno, but it’s only because he promised he would beat him up back in high school. Back then, Bruno made his life miserable, so he wanted to repay the favor. However, he felt bad about it because Bruno didn’t fight back, so he went to his house to apologize, but he wasn’t there. Only Miss Frimkes was, and when she saw the bruise on his knuckle, she figured out he was the one who hurt Bruno and threatened to call the police.
Wait, Miss Frimkes saw the bruise on his hand that Gibbs needs his glasses to see? So much for being practically blind. And once they check her medical records, they find that she has perfect vision. She also has the missing painting and is ready to get out of town when they show up to arrest her. Plus, she was a chemistry teacher, so that explains how she poisoned him.
Finally, as further proof that the good guy was the real Bruno, there was an e-mail to the police on the laptop in his car. He was going to come clean about everything.
Sit There and Do Nothing About the New Seating Arrangement, McGee
Gibbs puts Quinn at his old desk from when he was a probie, and she protests that since there are five of them now, they have to rearrange.
And that rearrangement does happen. When they return to the office after the case, the divider between Torres and Quinn’s desks (his being McGee’s old desk) is gone, and McGee doesn’t like the new setup. I can’t blame him. But while he may try to cite being Senior Field Agent in his protests, all that gets him is the head slap from Gibbs that comes with the territory.
What did you think of this Breakfast Club-esque episode? Why do you think Palmer spent a night in jail? What do you think of the new seating arrangement?
NCIS season 14 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)