A petty officer is possibly killed by a serial killer, the tri-state sniper who has already killed six others, in this episode of NCIS, “Viral,” but the case-of-the-week is in some ways overshadowed when the hotel where Jake is in is bombed in Dubai. That’s in part because the whole “Is the victim guilty of this other crime?” has been done time and time again on procedural dramas.

Meanwhile, on the lighter side of things, karma comes a-calling for Tony when, thanks to a handshake at the crime scene, he ends up itching like crazy, a victim to poison oak, something McGee knows all too much about. (These agents can take down killers and terrorist groups without breaking a sweat, but poison oak? It sends them down to Ducky’s table in a heartbeat.

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Also, Delilah’s back as she and McGee have a bit of trouble compromising when it comes to moving in together, even going so far as to argue in binary code (because of course they do, and it’s awesome), with McGee being the one who has a bit of trouble letting things go. For example, he says he donated some things that were important to him, but as Tony discovers, he really just has them in a box under his desk. (So what does McGee deem too precious from his childhood to donate? Lincoln Logs, a Commodore 64 disc, an easy bake oven and a VHS tape of his — not his sister’s — dance recitals from 1980-1984. It turns out McGee was quite a tap dancer, and he has no qualms bragging about it.) But with everyone worried about Jake, their problems don’t seem quite as big, and Delilah reassures McGee, “Big or small, we’ll face it together, okay?”

Was a Victim Once a Perpetrator?

Petty Officer Second Class Adam Meyers is shot in the chest, just like the victims of the tri-state sniper, and the sniper’s calling card is left behind as well, labeling him the seventh victim. There are also signs he was hit in the face and he underwent an emergency procedure at his dentist’s three days ago. So is the tri-state sniper responsible? That would be a no.

It turns out that when Meyers was shot, the tri-state sniper, whom Metro picked up and who confessed, couldn’t have been in the area. Furthermore, as Abby discovers, the person who killed Meyers used a different rifle and the note left at the scene is too identical; the killer traced it, and since the original note was printed in every newspaper, that would have been easy to do. They’re looking for a copycat.

That’s when NCIS Special Agent Maureen Cabot turns up to tell Gibbs that there’s a connection to one of her cases. Meyers apparently took nude photos of two female sailors while deployed, and one of the women killed herself. Her family attributes her death to that because Ashley never recovered. Meyers confided in Woodruff, then his career counselor and now a civilian, and confessed to the crime. Woodruff is the one who leads them to Kara Gifford, the other woman whom Meyers took photos of.

Yes, Kara broke his nose and she doesn’t particularly care that he’s dead, but while she’d like to thank whoever killed him, she’s not responsible for his death. Ashley couldn’t handle the humiliation and the harassment they suffered because of those photos — they could never get them off the Internet — and Kara says she’s gone because of what Meyers did.

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The Truth About Meyers’ Actions

Thanks to the work of the Cyber Dream Team (Abby, Bishop and Delilah), it doesn’t look likely. Meyers used a flip phone, his PC ran Windows 98 and his Internet history doesn’t reflect what they’d expect from a voyeur. So what’s going on here? (Well, I just see this as confirmation that someone else was responsible for the photos and Meyers took the fall for some reason, probably involving his sister since they make it a point that they could only count on each other, moving from foster home to foster home as kids.)

Two days before Meyers was shot, a neighbor witnessed a heated argument between him and a woman who punched him (hence the dental procedure), and yes, that woman is Kara. She admit she went to see him after he turned up at Ashley’s funeral to confront him, but he started crying and promised to make things right. (Yep, my assumption has to be right.) Hitting him didn’t make Kara feel better, but she left him alive. Why didn’t she tell them this before? “He took so much from me already,” Kara explains. “I didn’t want my career to be another casualty.”

Meyers’ financial records hold the answer. Every month, there were the same deposits and same expenses, except for the day after he was taken into custody for taking those photos. That day, $15,000 was deposited, and three days later, it was wired to a big law firm, only it couldn’t have been for Meyers because he was represented by a JAG attorney.

It’s actually thanks to Tony’s scratching that they get the big break they need on the case, since there had been poison oak near the sniper’s nest. While they originally suspect Rossmore, who was supposed to meet up with Meyers and whom Tony talked to at the crime scene and who passed along the unfortunate itch, he’s just guilty of not looking while he was running. He does, however, tell them about Meyers’ sister being arrested for possession, and Meyers was determined to find a way to pay for a top-notch lawyer. Then, suddenly, he confessed to planting the camera. Clearly, whoever really set up those cameras killed Meyers because he was going to come clean after Ashley’s suicide.

But who is the guilty party? They’re looking for a subordinate who resented taking orders from women. He saw those photos as a way to take back control and knew Meyers needed money. Well, his counselor would be in a good position to know that, right? Right. He also happens to be the guy who bought the camera off Craigslist and he failed to make the jump to naval officer.

Not only is Woodruff guilty, but he’s also easily baited by his captain’s claims that he knows how he feels about being overlooked by the less qualified and praised for taking a stand when it’s all so obviously sad because it’s just what Woodruff wants to hear. Woodruff is arrested, and though he tries to claim he panicked when Meyers said he was going to tell the truth, everything he did was premeditated. He’s going to answer for it.

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How Close Does Bishop Come to Losing Jake?

With Jake away on another top-secret NSA assignment and Bishop a Type A control freak, as Tony puts it, not knowing has led to her “stress eating of a new kind.” Thanks to her contacts at the NSA, she does find out where he is, but that just means that when a report comes in that a hotel in Dubai was bombed, she knows that that’s where he’s supposed to be for a conference. Though Gibbs tries to send her home, she refuses to wait around for the “We regret to inform you” call.

So here’s the thing: I’ve liked Jake since he was first introduced. (I even may be guilty of saying that Jake makes Bishop more likable sometimes.) Therefore, I don’t like the thought of him in trouble. However, I do like that this situation leads to the conversation McGee and Bishop share in MTAC. Usually, when people say they know what you’re going through, they don’t, McGee admits, but in his case, he does. He was in her exact position with Delilah only a couple years ago, not knowing where she was, if she was hurt, if she was even alive. He knows exactly how it feels. Each second feels like an hour, and the worry turns to anger, mostly at yourself because you know nothing. And no matter what, the team was there for him and they’re there for her too.

Thanks to Delilah’s contacts in Dubai, she’s able to get her hands on footage of the area. A photo shows a man getting into a cab, and Delilah is able to confirm Bishop’s statement that it’s Jake thanks to passenger cam footage. He was across town at the time the bomb went off. He’s alive.

Though Bishop does a good job of staying strong while not knowing if her husband is dead, it’s when she runs into Gibbs in the elevator that she acknowledges how close she came to losing him. “Seven minutes. That’s how close Jake came. 420 seconds and I could’ve lost him.” But she didn’t, he’s coming home and now she can cry as Gibbs hugs her and assures her that everything will be all right.     

NCIS season 13 airs Tuesdays at 8pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.