An upsetting case from Bishop’s past has her spilling her guts to an unusual confidante tonight: President Harry S. Truman. You see, since she and Jake split, she doesn’t have anyone to discusses cases with, so she writes a letter to the man who founded the modern-day NSA to help her process the last few days.
McGee’s old MIT buddy Stewart Dorfman, the evolutionary biologist-turned-garbage man, discovers a frozen corpse in the trash, and the team shows up to investigate — including McGee, who almost froze to death when his was one of 10,000 homes that lost power the night before due to the frigid temps.
Stewie’s delighted to see his old friend Tim again and even shows the team a photo of the two of them during their senior year. They’re wearing tuxedos and tap shoes and holding canes as part of their dance duo, the Mole Tap Liars. (Say it fast. Do ya get it?) “We were good, too,” McGee brags. Recall, he has no shame about his tap-dancing past.
The victim is Alessandra Ramos, third-generation Navy with a spotless record. Tests show a blond hair in the brunette Ramos’ jacket belongs to Jane Murphy, a 19-year-old college student who hasn’t been seen since Friday. (Please note that Abby does this fine work in a lab without heat. With space heaters sold out all over town, she’s forced to huddle over the open flame of a Bunsen burner and curse her decision to pass up moving her lab out of the frigid basement earlier this season.)
Back to Bishop’s letter: She praises her co-workers’ courage and determination but kicks herself for not following her instincts about Ramos’ death right away.
She and DiNozzo learn from Ramos’ friend that she was headed to a D.C. nightclub for a concert the previous weekend. And what do you know? Front-door security footage shows both women arriving to the club separately, but it doesn’t show them leaving.
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In the morgue, Palmer spots a gash where something was carved from Ramos’ skin. (It wasn’t a rodent bite, as Ducky thought.) Abby identifies the fragments in the wound as a micro GPS tracker, like the kind used in cats and dogs.
Bishop guesses that the tracker was under her armpit, then she gives herself a mental head slap for not getting there sooner: Early in her NSA career, she was part of a joint NSA/FBI task force called Concubine, which shut down an international human trafficking ring. College-aged women were abducted and sold all over the world and were tracked with GPS under their armpits.
The task force disbanded when they closed the case, so she reaches out to FBI Special Agent Daisy Milner and former NSA Analyst Adam Connors, who retired to become a civilian account. They agree to compare notes from the old case and soon realize that six additional college women are missing along the Eastern Seaboard.
In Bishop’s letter to Truman, she muses that it’s hard to put away one bad guy while knowing there are 50 more still waiting to be caught. But you made a difference to that starfish, little buddy!
Back with Abby, numbers on the implant lead DiNozzo and McGee to a pet microchip startup in D.C., where DiNozzo’s creeped out when they’re greeted by a telepresence robot.
“You know, I got a robot for Christmas in 1985. The thing never worked,” he grumps. “I hate the future.”
Then the company founder appears to greet them, and she is so very, very chipper. I assume that if she isn’t yet the head of a murderous crime syndicate, she will be soon. This feeling isn’t helped when she cheerfully recites pet-death statistics. Anyway, she won’t turn over the buyer info without a warrant.
“Whatever dog this came out of has the same rights as you and me,” she says. But when she learns that it’s part of a human trafficking ring, she gives it right up. It’s part of a string of dummy corporations, which isn’t terribly helpful.
NEXT: What this NCIS team has are a very particular set of skills
Meanwhile, Bishop takes a call from Daisy, who wants to meet her and Adam at the diner because she’s close to following the money trail to the people in charge. But of course, when Bishop arrives with Gibbs, Daisy’s dead from an alleged drive-by shooting. Adam worries that they’re next, so he gives Bishop his report on the original case and bolts.
Abby, still working in her cold lab, tracks some GPS pings to a cargo terminal at Virginia Port Authority, presumably representing women ready to be shipped overseas. Gibbs, McGee, DiNozzo, and Bishop take down two men who draw on them and free three women, including Jane Murphy.
Jane tells them that one of the kidnappers spoke English, and he’s the one who shot Ramos when she fought back. Then Jane’s dad shows up for a tearful reunion, and I’m deeply regretful that NCIS didn’t lure Liam Neeson into making the world’s greatest cameo appearance.
Bishop approaches a freaked-out looking Adam in his driveway, where he’s preparing to drive off. She noticed the report he gave her had slightly different numbers, dates, and names than the original version and guesses that the traffickers offered Adam a hefty bribe to get them up and running again. When Daisy figured out that Adam was behind the resurgence, he killed her and gave Bishop a report pointing her in the wrong direction.
When Adam reaches for his gun, the rest of the team floods the driveway to haul him off. He gives up all his contacts, and they set out to shut the ring down permanently.
Back in the big orange room, Ellie concludes her letter to President Truman by saying that the case didn’t actually make her question why she wants to be an agent, but it did make her want to be the best agent she can be. “All I can do now is look forward,” she concludes.
At the end of the day, DiNozzo arrives in the office to distribute gifts to everyone: Sweatshirts with McGee’s tuxedoed tap-dancing photo on them. Tony’s effort to bring shame upon his co-worker fails. “Are you kidding? I love these!” McGee exclaims.
Unfortunately, Bishop’s apartment is now without power, too. Tony refuses to sleep at the office, and all the hotels in the area are booked. Where ever will they sleep tonight?
That’s right. They bunk down at Chez Gibbs. There’s a fire in the fireplace, and DiNozzo and McGee bicker like children in their sleeping bags on the floor. They all hunker down to watch Holiday Inn, and Bishop ends this stressful case with a smile on her face for her NCIS family.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write a letter to President William Henry Harrison; I have some strong feelings to express about the Curse of Tippecanoe.