A tranquil yoga class is interrupted when Marine Sgt. Erin Hills drops in unexpectedly — from the roof, through the building awning.
The call comes into NCIS as Torres is griping about housing prices in D.C. Wait, didn’t McGee and Bishop have this conversation last season? Is one of the writers grappling with the 2016 housing market right now?
Anyway, Erin, who did two tours of Afghanistan, survived the fall, but her doctor warns that she probably won’t wake up. This prevents Dr. Grace Confalone, who was treating Erin, from sharing any information with Gibbs thanks to doctor/patient privilege. However, Grace suggests that Gibbs investigate Erin’s fall not as a suicide, but as a murder.
Erin fell (or was pushed) from the roof of her building, and when the rest of the team shows up, Torres tries to assign himself to yoga lady interrogation duty. Although McGee cop-blocks him, he does understand when Torres balks at putting on an NCIS jacket while he struggles to adjust to non-undercover life with a team.
The manager of the building where Erin lives with her sister, Devon, shows them to the roof, where they spot a security camera. Inside her apartment, they discover a large collection of watches, her Purple Heart, and some frilly undertrunks.
House-hunting Torres also gets the manager, Greg Abdell, to show him the vacant apartment in the building, which is available because its 92-year-old owner died in it the previous month. Torres is beyond creeped out, showing that he doesn’t have one-tenth of DiNozzo’s backbone.
That night, Gibbs comes home to find that Fornell, who’s still living with him and wearing his clothes, has the fireplace going and candles burning, ostensibly to set the mood for a thank-you dinner. But the warm beer tips off Gibbs, despite Fornell’s insistence that “the Germans like it that way. They know beer!”
Turns out, a DIY project gone wrong resulted in a loss of electricity for a day or two. Gibbs reacts exactly as you would expect him to, while poor Fornell’s just stir-crazy because the FBI won’t authorize his return to duty.
The next day, Abby’s examined the security footage of the building and determined that Erin was alone on the roof when she fell. Also, much to Gibbs’ chagrin, she’s bird-sitting her brother’s talkative parrot, Juan.
Later that day, Erin succumbs to her injuries, devastating Devon but leaving Grace free to discuss what happened in their sessions. To wit: Erin was guarded at first but finally admitted that she’d been involved in the cover up of a murder. She told Grace she didn’t go to the police to keep from implicating anyone.
In the morgue, Quinn and Ducky share a nice moment when Quinn shows up hoping to connect with the victim in a setting where Erin’s not obscured by hospital equipment. In his sweet Ducky way, he ushers Palmer out, leaving Quinn with Erin, who was about the same age as Quinn’s sister.
NEXT: Juan flies over the cuckoo’s nest
Torres suggests they look into the death at the Hills’ apartment building, and he and Bishop hit pay dirt when the uni who investigated tells them that Devon called in the death of Mr. Odetts, who lived alone. Devon checked on him every day before work. The ME ruled that he fell, hit his head on the table, and bled out the night before.
Back at HQ, Abby summons Gibbs, even though Juan’s still in her lab and has learned to say “Don’t tell Gibbs!” Gibbs glowers at the parrot but welcomes Abby’s news that Erin was wearing a different watch on the rooftop video than she was when she fell, which means the security footage was altered to show her alone on the roof on a different day. It’s easy to do when she always wears the same uniform and it’s really easy to do when you’re Greg the building manager, who’s an IT guy with a felony conviction for computer crimes.
Some poking around reveals that Greg and Devon were in a romantic relationship. Furthermore, Ducky requested Odetts’ body, and his autopsy reveals that he was actually killed by a blow to the head from a glass object.
The clues fly faster now, and Gibbs gets Devon into interrogation to confirm a few things. Erin’s blood shows that she was drugged, which would’ve made her easy to push off the roof. And Devon admits to knowing that Mr. Odetts kept a gold coin collection worth seven figures in his apartment. (He was a product of the Great Depression and didn’t trust banks.) Since he had no heirs, that collection would go to the government, so Greg convinced her to steal it bit by bit.
Unfortunately, Odetts noticed, confronted Greg, and was killed for his trouble. But Devon swears she and Greg had nothing to do with her sister’s death.
Since the coin collection disappeared from Odetts’ apartment, the team set up a sting to lure Greg into selling the coins. Although the collar almost goes sideways thanks to an ambitious window-washing panhandler and Bishop’s eagerness to flash her badge, Torres is able to tackle Greg when he bolts, popping open his suitcase of gold coins in the process. He confesses to murdering Erin so she couldn’t convince Devon to go to the police, which wraps up the terribly sad case of Sgt. Erin Hill’s murder.
The investigation concluded, Grace shows up at Chez Gibbs to do a little head shrinking on Fornell, telling him, “I don’t think it’s healthy for you to be living and sleeping three feet away from where you were shot and almost killed.”
Then she absconds to the basement with Gibbs, lured less by the promise of sawdust and more by the siren call of bourbon.
- The mystery of Torres continues. He tells Bishop he’s “never really” been married, and McGee’s check of Torres’ file confirms that. Maybe his almost-marriage was an undercover deal? And does that relate to the picture of the boy we saw last week?
- Not for a single second did I believe that Juan wouldn’t escape and soar through the big orange room. Also, “Not Polly” works as a meta “Not Pauley” joke. I like a parrot that traffics in homophones.
- This episode was dedicated to the memory of Gary Glasberg, who died unexpectedly last week at age 50. By all accounts, he was a good showrunner and better man. Thank you for your work on NCIS, sir.