Let’s just get it out of the way: Lucille Bluth hit on Gibbs tonight.
Okay, fine, Jessica Walter played a character named Judith McKnight, but between the withering disdain and the alcohol consumption, you’ll forgive the confusion. She meets Gibbs thanks to her membership in the Sherlock Consortium for Investigation, a secret society that solves cold cases and which counts as a member one Dr. Donald Mallard.
The cold case in question starts with the body of retired Lt. Cdr. Runyan Hayes. As soon as Ducky hears the victim’s name, he recuses himself. “I know far more about this man’s murder than I care to admit,” he says.
Ducky says that Hayes reached out to the Sherlocks for help proving that his son, Michael, didn’t commit a shipboard murder for which he was convicted 16 years ago.
Gibbs demands an introduction, and Ducky takes him and Bishop to meet ex-cop Walter Osorio, steely dame Judith McKnight, and Lyle. Just Lyle. Judith sizes up Gibbs and pegs him as the quiet, brooding type. “You have a very commanding voice, Special Agent Gibbs. And big hands.”
“Oh boy,” Bishop mutters.
Ducky apologizes to the group for breaking the seal of secrecy, then asks them to hand over any information they’ve gathered on the Hayes case. The Sherlocks protest, and when Gibbs discovers they have scads of private records, he brings them in for questioning. This blows McGee’s wee little mind because Judith writes a popular book series about a 14-year-old girl who fights crime. In fact, he just happens to have a paperback in his desk for her to sign.
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During their questioning, the Sherlocks convince the team that the hair analysis used to convict Michael in 1999 was deeply flawed. And guess which forensic scientist performed the test and testified at his trial? You got it: Abby Sciuto.
Abby’s devastated to hear that she may have sent an innocent man to prison. “Can you imagine if I messed up, what that really means? It means that innocent people went to jail because of me, because of my mistakes.” Gibbs hugs her and promises they’ll make it right.
One way Abby can help is via bullet analysis, so DiNozzo and McGee spend a good part of this episode tromping through the woods and getting sap all over their shoes as they search the crime scene. They find one bullet buried in a tree, and DiNozzo suffers a wicked splinter injury digging it out. But Abby determines it has no human DNA on it, so she sends them back. They find a second hole, and a silicone impression shows that the bullet was dug out with car keys. Also, Tony gets another splinter. It’s the worst thing nature’s done to him since the poison oak incident last week. Man, nature must hate him.
Gibbs, meanwhile, meets with Michael Hayes’ daughter, who was raised by Runyan Hayes and will now move in with Jason Tupperman, her father’s best friend, former shipmate, and an obvious bad guy. Tupperman goes with Bishop to break the news of his father’s death to Michael, who orders Bishop to keep NCIS away from his daughter.
“You want to help me? Let me hug my daughter. This glass, this phone… I haven’t held her hand in 16 years. I just want my baby back,” he says. (Let’s assume he’s been in there long enough that he didn’t know he was referencing a delicious ad campaign.)
NEXT: The Sherlocks beard the lion in his den