As Abby learns in “Lockdown,” maybe her basement lab is the safest place for her to be. Even after 13 seasons of NCIS, it’s a rare sight to see Abby leave the building, and as she learns, it’s probably better that way — at least when in the middle of an investigation like this one.
The murder of a Navy Reserve captain leads the team to a pharmaceutical company, and just as Abby happens to be there to figure out why an ingredient found in their victim traces back to the lab, the building is locked down and everyone inside is taken hostage. With basically no way to communicate with anyone outside and facing men with guns, how is Abby going to get out of this one?
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Don’t Text and Drive
It seems the girl behind the wheel never got that message; because she’s so busy doing just that, she runs into a car. When she gets out to apologize, the guy in a hat behind the wheel runs from the scene faster than that girl texts. When she checks the trunk of the car, she finds a body inside. Maybe it’s just all the procedural dramas I watch, but if a guy runs like that from a car, I’m expecting the worst when I open the trunk.
Panic! Panic! Panic!
The victim is Navy Reserve Captain Jeremy Doblin, a biochemist, and his windpipe was crushed. He’s in perfect physical health, though Ducky says that he could be suffering from a personality disorder. Abby found an odd compound in his blood that she traced back to Celodyne Pharmaceuticals, so she’s decided to leave NCIS on a quick field trip. The most interesting thing about his body is the fact that the magnet on Palmer’s keys sticks to his abdomen, and as they discover, there’s a metallic container inside him, a technique common with smugglers. Inside the container are vials of the botulinum toxin.
When a cell phone rings in the victim’s car, Gibbs tricks the man on the other end, and they find out about a meet and some new buyers. However, when Gibbs shows up to the meet, there isn’t someone waiting to buy the toxin; instead, there’s a room full of women eager for Botox injections. Gibbs cannot hit that panic button faster.
Tony and McGee’s conversations with these women aren’t exactly productive — though one does tell them that Doblin owed Nick Jones (a loan shark threatening to break his neck) $5,000 — but Bishop does discover that Doblin made several calls to Celodyne.
A Bad Day for a Field Trip
Meanwhile, Abby has gone to Celodyne and met up with Dr. Janice Brown, who has a lot in common with our favorite forensic scientist: lonely in the basement office, loud music (albeit a different genre), charity work and a love for Caf-Pow. That’s actually the first sign for me that something’s not quite right about Dr. Brown. Again, I watch too many procedural dramas. I don’t trust anyone who’s not a member of the team.
As for that odd compound that brought Abby to the lab in the first place, it’s only part of an antidepressant. The active ingredient is missing, which means it wouldn’t have done anything. That’s when an alarm sounds for level four containment due to a leak in the Ebola lab, and that’s also when the gunfire starts. Abby’s phone doesn’t work, and they can’t get online on the computers, but knowing she has to contact Gibbs — “Gibbs is the answer. Gibbs is always the answer,” she explains to Dr. Brown — Abby sneaks out to the server room to try to get the Internet back up and running.
Once in the server room, she has to hide in the supply closet when she hears the bad guys coming and talking about retrieving data from the system. Fortunately, Abby’s smart because she mixes together a concoction that drives the men out of the server room with its smell and quickly gets to work. First, she calls Gibbs to let him know what’s going on, and before hiding again, she locks the bad guys out of the computers. While she’s waiting for Gibbs to come rescue her, however, she hears one of the bad guys talk about a change in plans: Abby’s name is on the sign-in sheet, and since she’s a fed, they have to find her and take her out.
Since telepathy is pretty much a dead end when it comes to reaching Gibbs from that supply closet, Abby climbs through the vents back to Dr. Brown’s office. She then uses the Caf-Pow (only three ingredients away from a smoke bomb!) in Dr. Brown’s office to create orange smoke out the vent leading outside, with orange smoke meaning someone’s in distress and needs assistance, and fortunately, by this point, NCIS is monitoring the perimeter and sees it.
Meanwhile, Nicky Jones may have threatened to break Doblin’s neck, but he’s honestly not smart enough to have killed him and to be mixed up in this. The loan shark is even willing to make a deal, even though they’re not charging him with anything. Apparently, Doblin talked about millions of lives being at stake.
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Never Trust Someone Who’s Too Similar to Someone on the Team
The bad guy comes on the intercom and informs Abby that he’ll start killing hostages if she doesn’t unlock the system, and Dr. Brown tells her to do just that to save her co-workers. (Another sign that Dr. Brown is probably working with the bad guys.) Instead, Abby comes up with another plan, while McGee realizes that Abby locked them out of the system and works to bypass it so the team can get inside to her.
Abby and Janice make a bomb, thanks in part to the fire starter kit Abby carries around in the heel of her shoe. They’re going to do a lot of damage, Janice points out, but there are the hostages whose lives are in danger to consider. “If you take a life today, then you failed yesterday,” Abby recalls her fifth grade teacher telling her class when they’d cheer after the good guy killed the bad guy.
Abby lures the bad guys in with her parasol in the middle of the hallway, but when the bomb doesn’t go off, they follow the wiring to where she and Janice are hiding in a closet just as the team gains access to the lab. The bad guys take Abby and Janice to the server room, where they order Abby to unlock the computer. Janice wants them to let the hostages go, but no one budges. Instead, Abby locks the door to the room and takes a canister out of her heel, telling them that it contains a DX7 poison gas, and she’ll kill them all to save the hostages. She does end up releasing the gas, but it’s just a knockout gas, and when Gibbs and McGee get to them and cuff the bad guys, she informs Gibbs to cuff Dr. Brown too.
Abby traced the fake Ebola alert to her computer. Plus, the bad guy pronounced her last name correctly after reading it off a piece of paper. She knew Janice had to be in on it. The scientist is a whistleblower, and she was after proof that Celodyne is falsifying safety data to sell generic drugs that don’t work. She hired one of the bad guys to steal the data and take whatever he wanted as payment, and he went off book and killed Doblin, who had been getting cold feet. She didn’t want anyone to get hurt. She was doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, Abby tells Gibbs.
Oh, and the bomb that didn’t explode? Abby rigged it that way. She knew Gibbs was coming, but she does worry what she would have done if she didn’t. The right thing, whatever that is, he assures her.
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Same Ol’ Problems for Bishop
Something has to change when it comes to Bishop’s marriage. Jake calls her while she’s at the crime scene to tell her he’s leaving again (though he just got back), and he can’t tell her where he’s going. She uses the word “fine” when talking to McGee about it, a clear sign that it’s not because “fine” never means “fine.” “It’s been hard,” she admits.
Does Abby Move Offices?
Abby’s had enough of staring at people’s feet out her windows all day, so she wants to swap offices with Accounting. Unfortunately, Accounting staged a huge protest when they heard, so Human Resources denied her request. Hoping that she can “politely ask for his help,” Abby hangs a “Greatest Boss in the World” sign behind Gibbs’ desk, blows up some balloons and bakes him some cupcakes to properly motivate their grumpy, angry, lonely, grouchy boss.
While her plea to get his help has to be put on pause when the team gets a case, that doesn’t stop Abby from bringing up her dilemma and coming up with new ways to talk about her problem. She adds “Not the” to the sign behind Gibbs’ desk. She’s very clear that she wants out of her musty, subterranean cavern/underground dungeon tomb of an office, and so she goes so far as to write up a permission slip for her field trip to Celodyne Pharmaceuticals using the words “Solitary Confinement.” After that, Gibbs agrees to talk to the accountants.
By episode’s end, however, while the accountants have agreed to swap offices — as long as Abby promises not to hurt them — she decides to stick with the basement because she’s had enough “upstairs fun” for the next decade. Besides, can you imagine Abby’s lab anywhere else? I can’t. She’s where she belongs.
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NCIS season 13 airs Tuesdays at 8pm on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)