Good news, everyone! Ducky’s back for a visit! Sloane asks for his help with profiling, describing her subject as retired armed forces with past trauma and a life still wrapped up in the military.
Ducky correctly guesses that this person is intelligent, unable to move on, prone to aggression, and averse to counseling. He says if that person continues to internalize what happened, they’re on a road to disaster. “Use all your tricks to get him to open up,” Ducky concludes. Look, the Jack parallels aren’t subtle, but I’m still here for them.
When she returns to talk with Ross, she points out the anger behind his happy face and then does something extraordinary: She shares her own story. She was held for nine months in Afghanistan while insurgents tried to torture Army intel out of her. She never said a word, although she admits to screaming a bit.
Ross in turn says it isn’t what happened to him in captivity, but the life they took from him. His girlfriend was pregnant with their child when he was captured, but after five years, she assumed he was dead and moved on.
When he returned home, he was a broken man, so he made his girlfriend promise to raise their daughter as if her husband was the father. And although his girlfriend and her husband are both dead now, he says too much time has passed to reach out to his daughter, who’d reject him, maybe even hate him, if he tried to approach her. “It’s too late,” he says.
Following this conversation, Vance finds Sloane brooding in her office. He knows how difficult it was for her to share her story with Ross and assures her that she’s not like him. She scoffs and points to her bar fight in Texas, her road rage issues, her six months of mandated anger management in San Diego. She says she’s great at looking pretty and pretending to be pulled together all the time, but in truth, she was hooked up to a car battery, and that isn’t a problem that can be solved. “I let them die,” she cries, letting Vance hug her. So there’s Sloane’s big secret.
Back on the case, NCIS can’t find any evidence tying Dexter to the cookies, and the story was all over the internet in time for him to hear about it before NCIS’s visit. So the team starts sorting through online archives to identify the first person to post the poisoned cookie story.
After a night of searching, they find the first post, which came from a dummy account that they trace to Ross’s Legion Hall. Thankfully, the Legion installed surveillance cameras to keep people from abusing their computer privileges, and it reveals Sweeney’s brother, Clyde, uploading the post. And who’s that with him, caressing his shoulder and kissing him? None other than Sweeney’s wife, Emma.
So in the end, Sweeney’s murder wasn’t about money; his wife wanted out of the marriage, and they decided to impress Clyde’s hero Dexter by framing Ross in the process. Just hire a divorce lawyer, people! Speaking of Dexter, this incident cost him a number of sponsors, but if I know a thing or two about the actual fake news outlets scuttling around the fringes of polite society, they’re as resilient as cockroaches.
In a quiet moment post-arrest, Gibbs asks Sloane if she’s okay. She says she is and then makes plans to connect Ross with his daughter.
Then we cut to the pair sitting in a car outside the post office, watching Molly, the young postal worker from earlier in the episode. Ross says he just wants her to know how much he loved her mother. “You got this,” Sloane assures him. He exhales hard, exits the car, and approaches his daughter, who cries when she realizes that Ross has handed her an old photo of him and her mom.
Then Sloane pops her glove box and takes out that old tin with the Wingo memorabilia in it, sifting through the contents before slamming the lid back on and angrily shutting it away again.
- Excellent guest stars this week! It’s always a treat to watch Drew Carey actually, you know, act, and I genuinely hope John Ross and his newfound daughter can forge a connection. And as for Jake Busey, WOW did he do a bang-up job playing the loathsome Alex Jones stand-in. Even though I found every scrap of his story line an unpleasant reminder of the “baldly lying for clicks” corners of the internet, I would love to see his character return to get a true comeuppance in a future episode.
- Torres fought the IRS and won tonight! Sure, it took hours to dig up the paperwork from when he was undercover, but they ended up owing him money, and that, my friends, is the real victory.
- For those keeping score at home, Ducky selected one of each lollipop in Sloane’s stash. I like how he rolls.
- So now we know Sloane’s story. Was it worth the wait? Think we’ll see more of the story uncovered layer by layer? Let me know in the comments!