NCIS recap: 'What Lies Above’
McGee's apartment holds the key (literally and gruesomely) to a cache of missing diamonds
Pop quiz, hotshot: You move into an apartment but don’t tell your fiancée that three people were murdered in it years previously, and then one night you shoot and kill an intruder who might be connected to that old crime. What do you do? What do you do?
If you’re Timothy McGee, you hem and haw and eventually do (mostly) the right thing.
So yeah, McGee comes home to find two men ransacking his apartment. He shoots and kills one, and the other escapes. He’s dismayed to find his lovely new place, a.k.a. DiNozzo’s old digs, torn apart: holes in the wall, floorboards torn up, and Delilah’s hard drive with her childhood memories missing.
Thankfully, Delilah is in Dubai on assignment, but when the team learn that he didn’t tell her about the triple homicide, they start a lively debate on whether he should come clean now and if omission is tantamount to a lie. “Dude, that’s messed up,” Torres declares, but Quinn’s on board with omission because she knows a thing or two about family secrets. Cue intense, mysterious look.
When Delilah calls, McGee ends up telling her about the break-in but spares her the details, including the dead guy and her missing hard drive (which seems like a mistake – what if she has a line on who might be after it?).
Back at HQ, Bishop’s looking up details on the triple homicide in case it’s connected and fills Quinn in: Apartment owner Paul Triff, a licensed furrier, was found dismembering the bodies of three known felons with an electric carving knife and is now serving consecutive life sentences in Maryland Correctional.
“Who’s a licensed furrier anymore, anyway? Was that still a thing 15 years ago?” Quinn asks, speaking for us all. Turns out, he was using furrier-ing as a cover for his smuggling business.
Abby’s able to match fingerprints from the scene to Walter Shibberd, who’s got a burglary rap sheet. Under questioning, he says the dead man, Louis Cole, paid him to break them into McGee’s apartment based on a hot tip from a buddy in the joint. Walter only grabbed the hard drive because it looked valuable. So that’s one dead end, but they now need to link Louis to McGee’s electric carving knife murderer.
At first, this lead seems cold because Louis and Paul were in different prisons, but then they learn that Louis was such a good kitchen worker that he was sent to other prisons to train the inmates there, and one of his visits was to Maryland Correctional where, yes, Paul works in the kitchen.
Now McGee’s freaked out, both about his need to tell Delilah and by the bad juju in his own home. (Understandable.) He’s pacing nervously in the Maryland Correctional visitor’s room as he and Quinn wait for Paul to arrive, and he tells Quinn that Paul was so covered in blood when he was arrested that police thought he looked like Satan. Quinn suggests leaving that part out if/when he tells Delilah. She then says that every family has secrets. Cue intense, mysterious look.
At this point, Paul arrives and cheerfully introduces himself. McGee says Louis broke into Paul’s old apartment, and the current occupant shot and killed him. Paul immediately pegs McGee as that occupant and refuses to tell them what Louis was looking for.
Then he starts messing with McGee: “Hey, are my bookshelves still there? I put those in myself. I’m quite handy.” He talks about the crown moldings, the hard wood floors, the great neighborhood, the loud dog upstairs. “It’s almost like we’re roommates, isn’t it?” he purrs. McGee haaaaates this. (Again, understandable.)
Somehow, Paul’s able to dial up the creepiness even further, telling McGee, “You’d look great in beaver.” Then to Quinn: “A beauty like you, you deserve chinchilla. Maybe fox.” Paul maintains that he never told Louis where he lived and calls it a coincidence. “Rule 39,” Quinn murmurs to McGee.
At Louis’ halfway house, Bishop (who apparently is suffering no backlash from her legally questionable actions in the previous episode) and Gibbs interview the pretty, purple-haired office manager, who says she didn’t know Louis well, but he seemed nice. Meanwhile, Abby and Torres have been combing through McGee’s apartment with an X-ray scanner she whipped up to search the place for hidden loot without tearing it up.
When McGee and Quinn arrive, the only place left to look is under the bed. The team teases McGee about what he might be hiding under there (dirty!), but when he moves the bed, all that’s there is Delilah’s startlingly small comic book comic collection and McGee’s dad’s ashes.
Okay, two things. First, the under-bed area is immaculate. I don’t see a single dust bunny, let alone a stray sock. Who are these people? Second, HIS DAD’S ASHES? Nope. The team feels the way I do, wondering how they’re able to sleep and do, you know, other stuff.
Naturally, Abby’s machine hits pay dirt in the under-bed area. They pry up the boards to discover a body. “Suddenly your dad’s ashes don’t seem so bad,” Quinn offers.
McGee’s too shocked to speak, and this time when Delilah calls, he lets it go to voicemail. (So, so understandable.) When he brings himself to call her back, he omits like crazy, saying everything’s fine but wouldn’t she like to stay in Dubai a little longer to take in the sights?
“This is really happening, right? There’s a dead body in my bedroom?” McGee then asks his friends. They reluctantly concur, and Torres says he definitely needs to keep this from Delilah. “Hell, nobody should know. I wish I didn’t know.”
At autopsy, Ducky and Palmer examine the body, which was mummified courtesy of nearby ventilation ducts, and declare it to be Logan Pruitt. Yes, the Logan Pruitt, who disappeared 15 years ago and is the most notorious missing criminal since D.B. Cooper. He was a lobbyist for South African exports, and when millions of dollars in Pretoria diamonds and Pruitt disappeared around the same time, everybody assumed he absconded with them. This suspicion is strengthened when Abby finds a key in Pruitt’s stomach.
Let’s pause for a moment to check up on Vance and Jenna Flemming as they sip martinis and plot his future. She’s on board for him to run for Congress, but he’s tentative. Still, he eats up the attention of another congressman at a see-and-be-seen power lunch spot. And when Jenna learns that his team might solve the Pretoria diamond heist, she’s giddy at the potentially good publicity.
In light of this new information, Gibbs and McGee head to Maryland Correctional, where Paul’s sad that “Chinchilla” isn’t back. Then he takes in Gibbs and declares that silver fox is too obvious. “I’d put you in mid-length coyote.” Guys, this game of his is the worst ice breaker ever.
McGee floats the theory that Pruitt needed Paul’s help smuggling the diamonds, and Paul confirms that the plan was to sit on them for a few years until the heat died down. But when Pruitt started living like Sinatra and then swallowed the safe deposit key, Paul resorted to murder and decided to hide the key and the body in the floor he was finishing up in his apartment. When Pruitt’s three associates came looking for the diamonds, he was forced to bust out the electric carving knife.
Further, Paul admits that he told Louis about the key in the apartment, but he refuses to tell the Gibbs and McGee where the diamonds are unless they agree to move him to a nicer cell. Gibbs says no way, and back at HQ, Vance backs him up on it. This displeases Jenna, who wants them to play politics to solve the diamond heist. When Vance tells her he doesn’t want to dance with the devil the way she does, Jenna huffs out.
Meanwhile, Abby finds a long purple hair in Louis’ shirt, and before you can say “obstruction of justice,” Margo of the halfway house admits that she and Louis were in love and wanted the diamonds to start a new life. Gibbs tells her that there’s no deal to be made, so she points them to a safe deposit box at a tiny bank in Selbyville, Delaware.
So in go Quinn and Torres to crack the vault. Torres films the ultimate unboxing video of Quinn opening a pouch to reveal so, so many beautiful, sparkly diamonds. Between that bling and Quinn’s shocked face, that video’s going viral.
McGee makes one more visit to Paul, asking if his apartment holds any more secrets. Paul’s squirrelly about it before finally telling him “You’re good. No more surprises. Maybe.” Then he laughs. Ugh, I hate him. And at the same time, what a great bad guy.
When the story goes wide, Jenna tries to make nice with Vance, but in the end, she’s hurt that he insulted her job and declared himself too honest for politics, so they agree to take a step back. I dunno. This fight happened really quickly over very little and feels a bit manufactured. Did NCIS not want to pay Mary Stuart Masterson’s guest star salary anymore?
So in the end, McGee comes clean with Delilah about all of it — except the fact that he knew about the triple murder before they moved in. He swears his coworkers to secrecy, and they agree to it. Then he heads home to murder central, where we get a lovely shot of Goldfish Kate and Goldfish Ziva. Hey, girls! He hears someone moving around in his semi-dark apartment and draws his gun, only to discover Gibbs there, repairing his floors.
Awww! Family. (Although McGee’s bound to be trigger-happy after all that murder drama, so maybe Gibbs should’ve texted him first.)
- I’m not totally sure, my dudes, but Quinn might have a family secret.
- In the Hollywood version of the Pretoria diamond heist, is Denzel Washington the best choice to play Vance? I’d go for Courtney B. Vance, myself, and not just because they share a name.
- All in all, this was a creepy/funny episode that gave us closure on just what went down in the DiNozzo/McGee abode. Hats off to guest star French Stewart for turning Paul into such a jocular menace. May he return to consult on future cases and/or mentally clothe the rest of the team in fur.
- Seriously, how quickly would you be packing your boxes and moving out of that apartment?