We are in the home stretch of the season, NCIS fans! This season has seen a lot of changes to the team, and I am really sad that the season is winding down.
This week’s episode of NCIS, titled “Shooter,” centers around the disappearance of a Marine photographer and also deals with the issue of homeless military veterans.
A Damning Image
The show kicks off with a photographer, Staff Sergeant Martin Roe, shooting images in Afghanistan. Roe’s nickname is Shooter, and he was assigned to a joint Marine and Army task force. Roe photographed a soldier killing an Afghan civilian. Roe apparently gave the photo to the task force commander, who then leaked it to the press.
Vance calls Gibbs in to get the background from Commander Chad Hendricks. Army First Lieutenant Michael Waters is being court-martialed for killing the Afghan civilian. Waters claims that the villager was a member of the Taliban, while Roe thinks that it was revenge. Roe, who was due to testify, never showed up. Hendricks last saw Roe four days prior. Vance warns them to be careful, as the Army is less than pleased that a photo taken by a Marine was leaked to the press. Since when has Gibbs been one to tread lightly?
Some Manly Stubble
Meanwhile, McGee slips into the office a bit late — and sporting some manly stubble. We learn that Bishop finds beards sexy, and she wonders if an NCIS agent can grow one. Tony urges her not to try. Hilarious! Poor McGee has been ordered not to shave for a week because of a skin condition.
A Clear Motive
Hendricks knows that Roe has been working on a piece about homeless veterans. Gibbs calls in Waters for a chat, and he brings along his JAG counsel, Major Huggins. Waters isn’t broken up by the fact that Roe is missing, and his attorney isn’t happy that he is being interrogated. On his way out, Waters says that Roe didn’t testify so he wouldn’t have to perjure himself. When Gibbs points out that Roe shot a photo while Waters shot a person, Waters comments on the fact that Gibbs is a Marine. I really, really wish that Gibbs would smack this guy.
At Roe’s apartment, Bishop and Tony are looking for clues. Bishop hates going through people’s belongings, while Tony absolutely loves it. Tony finds a threatening note ordering Roe to shut up, while Bishop finds drug paraphernalia. Roe was working on a story about the plight of homeless veterans. On Roe’s camera, they find many pictures of a homeless man with a dog.
Abby finds trace amounts of heroin and fentanyl on the spoon from Roe’s apartment. The same drug combination was also in the syringe, and Roe’s DNA was present on the needle. Hendricks refuses to believe that Roe has a drug problem.
A Sad Discovery
Bishop, Tony and McGee head out to the streets and track where Roe took some of the photos. They gain access to a vacant building where the homeless have been living. Sadly, their search for Roe comes to an end when they find his body with a needle in his arm.
Abby and Ducky discover that Roe died of a heroin overdose, but he was incapacitated by chloroform before someone injected him with the drug. The team looks at Roe’s recent pictures, and Gibbs spots a Navy tattoo on the homeless man with the dog.
Blue and Dave’s Story
Abby knows him and identifies the man as Blue, and his dog is named Dave. Abby gave Blue a shirt for Christmas and brings by food for Dave, too. I love how compassionate Abby is. She hasn’t seen Blue for a few days, and the homeless community won’t talk to Bishop and Tony.
Tony hatches a diabolical plan for an agent to blend in, and McGee fits the bill with his “scruffy” new look. McGee gets a makeover, and he is not a happy camper. He becomes even less happy when Tony spritzes him with a foul-smelling liquid.
Huggins arrives to see Vance and balks at bringing Waters in for another interview. Huggins maintains that Waters has been restricted to the base and so he couldn’t be a suspect. Vance has had it with Huggins and his attitude and tells him to bring Waters in, pronto.
A Frustrating Turn in the Case
Abby finally identifies Blue as Everett Turpin. Bishop becomes frustrated when the civilian lawyer for Water’s team refuses to allow his clients to give handwriting samples. Waters also only left the base accompanied by Huggins, but the base is not far from the building where Roe was found. I think perhaps Huggins and Waters are involved with Roe’s murder.
McGee is tired, cold, and done with his undercover assignment. He has visions of heading to Tony’s nice warm car when a man approaches McGee and asks if he is looking for Blue. The man says that Blue was not doing well and that the photographer took him to get help.
Gibbs Consoles Abby
It sounds like Blue died from heart failure one day before Roe was killed. Abby arrives and asks if they found Blue. Gibbs embraces her and tells her the awful news. When McGee tells her that he didn’t see Dave, Abby is panicked.
Gibbs and Bishop go to the urgent care clinic where Blue died. They talk with the clinic director, Lorin Davis. Blue died shortly after arriving at the clinic, and his death certificate was signed by Dr. Novak. Davis confirms that Roe brought Blue in.
Looking for Dave
Abby finds Dave with a young woman who said that Blue asked her to watch him. Abby tells the young woman that Blue has passed away, and when Abby asks the woman about her family, she says that they are dead before hurrying off.
A Grim Discussion
Ducky goes over to play chess with Gibbs. Ducky read Blue’s medical file from the VA, and he had no history of heart disease but did suffer from alcoholism. Ducky and Gibbs grimly discuss the number of homeless veterans, and the number is staggering. Gibbs inquires about what would happen with Blue’s body, and Ducky states that autopsies are rarely performed on the homeless. Blue’s body would be held at the morgue, then cremated and his remains sent to the VA.
Gibbs thinks that Blue may have been murdered and asks Ducky to perform an autopsy. Ducky later does the autopsy and makes a stunning discovery. Blue did die of a heart attack, but he is also missing both of his kidneys.
On the Run
Meanwhile, Abby discovers the identity of the young homeless girl that she met. Her name is Emma Carter, and she is a runaway. She has been missing for six years, and Abby isn’t sure what to do with this information. She finally goes to see Emma and Dave. Abby tries to help Emma and encourages her to contact her family. Abby shows her a video of her mother begging for her to come home. Abby also gives her a prepaid phone card, urging her to consider calling her family.
A Clinic’s Side Business
Bishop briefs Gibbs on Dr. Novak, who sits on the board of directors of Washington General Hospital and has a thriving private practice. Gibbs and Tony head out to meet with Novak, who admits to stealing Blue’s kidneys but claims that Lorin Davis, the clinic director, blackmailed him. Novak admits that when Roe came into the room to pay his last respects to Blue, he saw that the man was still on a ventilator to keep his organs viable. Novak also spills that Davis said he would handle Roe.
The team arrests Davis for Roe’s murder and for selling organs. Abby sees Emma, and she is thrilled that Emma is going to Nebraska to be with her family. Abby agrees to look after Dave.
Vance finds Gibbs looking at the photos of the homeless veterans, wondering why it happens to so many. Ducky comes in to share the news that Blue and Roe will be laid to rest next to each other in Arlington National Cemetery.
I found this episode of NCIS to be heartbreaking and moving, especially Abby’s compassion and the friendship between Blue and Roe.
NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8pm on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)