“Viral” was crammed with almost more plot then it could handle as it raced through a dizzying array of topics tonight: murder, revenge porn, terrorist bombings, tap dancing, itchy rashes.
It begins with the murder of Petty Officer Adam Meyers, killed by a sniper bullet to the chest. Just the work of the heretofore unheard of Tri-state Sniper’s killing spree, right? Wrong. A man who confessed to the sniper killings was picked up that very morning, too far from the murder scene to have done it. We’ve got a copycat, people.
While on the scene, McGee saves Bishop from wandering into the poison oak that’s all over the shooter’s nest. McGee had a couple of bad poison-oak experiences, which weren’t made any easier by DiNozzo’s teasing. “I don’t want to go down that rash-riddled rabbit hole again,” McGee says.
Bishop’s far more worried about Jake while he’s away on assignment, while McGee’s stressed about Delilah moving in with him. They’re sniping (heh, sorry) at each other about who needs to get rid of what in order to combine households. (At one point while McGee and Delilah are arguing, DiNozzo warns McGee: “That’s a trap!” Tony DiNozzo, relationship counselor.) Anyway, this leads to two amazing discoveries.
First, McGee and Delilah argue in modified shorthand binary: “Zero zero one!” And second, McGee has a VHS tape of dance recitals in his box of childhood mementos. DiNozzo assumes they’re his sister’s and declares McGee a few sewing patterns away from Buffalo Bill territory. Ah, but it’s not that creepy, McGee explains, because they’re his tap dance recitals, and he was amazing.
“They used to call me Timmy Soft Shoes Savant McGee,” he says. “I’m not ashamed.”
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Back to the murder. Gibbs sends Twinkle Toes Timmy to break the news to Meyers’ devastated sister. “Now I’ve got no one. What am I supposed to do?” she asks plaintively.
Meyers has an ugly record with the Navy, however. Two years ago, nude photos of two female officer aboard the USS Camden were taken by hidden camera and posted online, and Meyers confessed to the crime for which he received far too light a sentence, everyone agrees. (Nice to see NCIS talking about the difficulty of punishing sexual predators in the military.)
Meyers was turned in by Peter Woodruff, now a civilian in D.C., who tells McGee and an increasingly itchy DiNozzo that one of Meyers’ victims, Kara Gifford, confronted Meyers about it.
When the agents question Gifford, she can’t hide her smile when she learns that Meyers is dead, though she denies killing him. For two years, she and Ashley Ryan, the other victim, fought a losing battle to get those images off the Internet. In fact, it’s why Ashley committed suicide 10 days ago.
Back at NCIS, Delilah’s helping Abby and Ellie investigate who actually took and posted the photos. (Abby’s lab on Halloween is delightful, incidentally. Imagine how amazing her house must look like this time of year!) Abby declares them the cyber dream team. NCIS: Cyber Dream Team, premiering fall 2016, only on CBS! Anyway, all the evidence tells them that Meyers doesn’t fit the profile of a predatory voyeur.
NEXT: Bishop gets bad news
And then Bishop’s phone goes off. Jake’s hotel in Dubai was bombed, and she can’t reach him. Poor Bishop! Look, I know she’s not popular with some of the NCIS fandom, but you have to empathize with the gut-clenching terror she must be feeling. Doesn’t matter if they’re fighting. Doesn’t matter if she has bizarre eating habits. That’s her husband, and she doesn’t know if he’s alive or dead. (On the other hand, you had to assume they’re weren’t going to kill Jake in the episode where DiNozzo gets the wacky poison oak.)
Bishop’s situation helps McGee and Delilah push aside their moving-in squabbles when they remember that the world is full of much bigger problems. And it leads to a tender scene between Bishop and McGee, who knows exactly what she’s going through because of the drone attack that left Delilah in a wheelchair.
“No matter how much I pushed everyone away, you were all there. And that’s what family does, Bishop. So whether you think you need us or not, we’re not going anywhere,” McGee promises her.
Bishop doesn’t respond right away and then says softly, “Zero zero one one zero.”
“You’re welcome,” he responds. Come on. You have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by that.
As Bishop and Delilah examine photos from around the time of the blast, Bishop realizes how terrible it is to be put into the position of the worried spouse at home — Jake’s normal situation, in other words. Delilah gets it but says, “Even if you were a librarian, the worry wouldn’t go away. Everyone’s greatest fear is losing the ones we love the most. It’s why we fight like hell for every minute.” And then, good news! They spot Jake in the background getting into a cab just before the blast. Huge relief!
Finally, the crew trace the camera that took the women’s photos to Peter Woodruff, the man to whom Meyers “confessed” his crime. Furthermore, they learn that Meyers’ sister was arrested for drug possession two years ago. Light bulb! Meyers took the fall for Woodruff, and he used the $15,000 payoff for his sister’s legal fees.
Woodruff’s former Navy captain wears a mic and pretends to sympathize with Woodruff’s disgust over the “political agenda” that allows women in the military. They get a recorded confession that Woodruff took and posted the photos because he resented the women being promoted over him, and then he killed Meyers when he wanted to make things right following Ashley’s suicide.
Finally, Ellie and Gibbs leave together. She says she’s okay, but she stops the Elevator of Schemes and Secrets to whisper, “Seven minutes. That’s how close Jake came: 420 seconds. I could’ve lost him, Gibbs.”
“But you didn’t lose him, Ellie. Jake’s safe, and he’s coming home,” Gibbs says. Tears leak from from her eyes as Gibbs pulls her into a hug. That’s what family does.
- Can you believe how spot-on Michael Weatherly’s Robert Wagner impression is?
- Which of McHoarder’s stash would you rather play with, his Lincoln Logs from the 1950s or his Easy-Bake Oven?
- Were you bummed we didn’t get to watch Timmy Soft Shoes rub calamine lotion into Tony “My skin feels like the surface of 10,000 suns” DiNozzo’s hard-to-reach spots?
- Admit it: You’d buy one of those Dream Team rings and wear it every day, wouldn’t you?