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TV Recaps

NCIS recap: 'Exit Strategy'

A Metro police officer returns from the dead, and Ducky ponders an intriguing offer

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Sonja Flemming/CBS

NCIS

type:
TV Show
genre:
Action, Crime
run date:
09/23/03
performer:
Mark Harmon, David McCallum, Pauley Perrette
broadcaster:
CBS
seasons:
15
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-14

We gave it a B

Tonight’s episode was a taut little mystery tangled around a personal story for one of our favorite characters — NCIS’s specialty, in other words.

Torres is on a stakeout with the world’s most annoying man: Metro Det. Miles Higgins, a self-professed anxious talker who proudly displays a comb with a hidden knife and a pen with a hidden camera. When he unleashes the latter on Torres, he chucks it out the window in irritation, then leaves the car to call McGee to come bail him out.

Thankfully, the suspect they’re searching for rolls up just then, so Torres wrestles him to the ground, then realizes that Higgins has vanished, leaving his walkie-talkie and his comb-knife in the dirt. Guess he won’t have a razor-sharp part in his hair any time soon, and I’m sorry, and I’ll show myself out.

Higgins’ disappearance means even more involvement with Metro, and specifically one Det. Sgt. Danny Sportelli, whom NCIS fans have seen a few times before. Thankfully, Higgins’ pen-camera kept rolling when Torres tossed it, and it reveals Higgins leaving on foot with a woman who left fingerprints at the scene.

Said prints belong to Michelle Lane, a Metro police officer who died in 2007 while working undercover to bust crime magnate Benjamin Sotano. The night she was supposed to make her move, the ship where the players were meeting for a gun deal exploded. Witnesses placed her on board at the time of the explosion, along with $2 million in bearer bonds that were never recovered.

The agents add two and 2 million together and assume she skipped town with the bonds. Sportelli says he knew her, and she’d never do that, while Torres sneers in disgust at someone who’d abandon their undercover mission like that.

A check of Higgins’ apartment reveals he’d been back following his disappearance and left with a woman in a tan SUV with a distinctive bumper sticker on back that turns out to be in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. (Any other Lutherans in the house? Holla!)

The next thing we see is a woman who looks a lot like Michelle Lane, upset but keeping it together while she video chats with a young boy on her laptop. The camera pulls out to reveal a man’s silhouette in the passenger seat of the tan SUV with a 500th anniversary Reformation bumper sticker.

When Higgins logs into the Metro computer system, the team tracks the signal to a parking garage. They find the SUV with Higgins’ body in the front seat, a gunshot to the neck. Poor guy!

Back at the Naval Yard, Sportelli and Gibbs discuss the demands of bossdom, and Sportelli concludes, “Guys like us can’t retire.” My God, Gibbs would make a terrible retiree.

In the morgue, Palmer’s asking himself WWDD because he’s flying solo while his boss is being honored at the University of Edinburgh. Gibbs prods him to expound on Higgins’ cause of death before he’s completed the autopsy, which he does, reluctantly: gunshot, glass from the passenger side window in the wound, likely shot from above.

After delivering this information, Palmer turns to the question of what to do with the huge stash of medical supplies that have just been delivered because nobody but Ducky restocks the closet. Palmer’s right to be concerned: Those are large and endearingly persnickety shoes to fill.

Thanks to the laptop, the team learns that Michelle has been living as Jessica Pottorf, the married mother of 9-year-old Landon. She was using her laptop to visit the website of a check-cashing business that just happens to be owned by the late gun-runner’s son, Benny Sitano Jr., so that’s where the team heads next.

At his swanky office, Benny claims that after his father died two years ago, he went straight, although he seems comfortable with a little ethical ambiguity, as evidenced by the recent money laundering arrest and the IRS agents at his office during the NCIS interrogation.

He says he recognizes Michelle as his dad’s former employee and believed her to be dead in the explosion 10 years ago. Either way, he’s not concerned if she’s alive and gunning for him because of all his security measures, including bodyguard Nitro, who also makes a mean cappuccino (with fresh cinnamon, it should be noted — never forget the cinnamon).

He lawyers up when he hears about Higgins’ death, but the agents are distracted when Michelle nervously walks into Benny’s building.

In interrogation, she’s mum about why she faked her death 10 years ago but is eager to tell them that she’s being blackmailed now. Someone called and told her that her family would be harmed if she didn’t hand over the $2 million in bearer bonds, which she swears she doesn’t have. She freaked and called her former partner, Higgins, a.k.a. the only cop she could trust.

They met up during the stakeout and swung by his apartment to grab her old case files. But someone shot at them as they were leaving, and now she has the death of a good man on her conscience. She figured the blackmailer to be Benny, so she was headed to his office to beg for her family’s life.

Torres has no sympathy, telling her she should’ve gone to the cops and, you know, not run in the first place. Then they’re interrupted by a video call from her son’s number, which reveals him bound and gagged by parties unknown. By the time help arrives at her house, they find her husband injured and her son gone. (Next page: An undercover love affair, uncovered)

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