Reality TV and a couple of business cards help crack one of Ducky’s white-whale cases

By Sara Netzley
March 13, 2018 at 10:41 PM EDT
Monty Brinton/CBS
S15 E17
  • TV Show

The procrastinator’s dream show American Pickers heats up a cold case that’s long eluded the much-missed Dr. Mallard.

Ducky and Gibbs are both astounded when the episode they’re watching features a woman refusing to sell an old wooden club with a missing spike.

The spikes look very much like the one that was found buried in the skull of Petty Officer Marvin Finn 16 years ago. At the time, NCIS was stumped by the 900-year-old hickory, but now the two men jump on the chance to move this one to the closed pile.

So they visit Mrs. Keogh, who was featured on the Pickers episode with her ceremonial Viking war stick. Her husband eventually talked her into selling the stick to the pickers for $3,000, but now that the episode has aired, she regrets it, as the collectors are coming out of the woodwork now. In fact, one man called to offer them $25,000, then swore and hung up when he learned it was already gone.

Ducky asks if they can trace its provenance (and therefore the killer), and she promises to look for the business card of the man she bought it from at a flea market a few years ago. Given the over-stuffed nature of her barn, I firmly believe that she still has that card around somewhere. And hey, it’s not all bad news for Mrs. Keogh; Gibbs buys a small silver cylinder from her for $5.

Back at NCIS, Sloane explains that the one-of-a-kind war stick was a ceremonial object belonging to the Esteemed Order of the Blue Guard, which ceased to exist in the 1960s. Also, the call to the Keoghs offering to buy the stick for $25 large was made from a burner phone, so, you know, suspicious.

Luckily, Mike Wolfe from American Pickers is in the area for a conference and happens to have the stick with him. He says it’s a good-luck totem that’s brought him and Frank incredible finds since they’ve had it in their possession, and he begs Gibbs to give it back when they’re done.

Mike also recognizes the name Mrs. Keogh found on the flea market vendor’s business card: Roy Baxter, who now owns his own antique shop. As they leave, Gibbs shakes Mike’s hand and says, “Like the show,” which as we know is SUPER EPIC praise from Gibbs.

However, when McGee and Bishop visit Baxter’s shop, they find him in the alley, beaten to death with a broken table leg. Since there’s still money in the register, they assume the person who sold him the stick wanted to ensure Baxter’s silence.

Also silent? Kasie Hines (Diona Reasonover), the graduate assistant Ducky hired to keep his book on schedule. However, she’s only silent around Abby; with everyone else, she’s exuberant and delightful. Heck, she even hugs Gibbs despite learning all about him from reading Ducky’s work and therefore knowing that’s not the right approach.

Kasie’s clearly not thrilled when Ducky suggests she bunk with Abby while she’s in town. The first night does not go well, a confused Abby reports to Palmer the next day; Kasie shut herself in the guest room and made no effort to chat. Palmer suggests that Kasie might be intimidated by her, but Abby blows this off.

Later, Kasie and Gibbs step onto the Elevator of Schemes and Secrets together, and Gibbs directs Kasie to Abby’s lab. This is weird because based on their lack of interactions this season, Gibbs doesn’t seem to know where Abby’s lab is actually located. Anyway, Kasie says she was told not to waste Gibbs’ time and declines to talk about her discomfort in the morgue, even though she’s been around bodies before.

Baxter’s ancient security cameras show a testy interaction with wealthy finance whiz Clarence Wyatt the day of Baxter’s murder, so Torres and Bishop head out to question him. Wyatt smugly shows off his antiques, including the item he purchased from Baxter that night: a pearl-handled Colt once owned by Gen. George Patton.

He claims Baxter was unhappy at the price they eventually agreed to and is surprised to hear about Baxter’s death, although he chalks it up to the bad neighborhood. He also says he’d never offer $25,000 for the “ugly chunk of wood” that is the stick and then gives Torres his business card, which is made of titanium. Oh la la, fancy man. (Next: Abby makes a new friend)

The next crack in the case comes for Kasie, who asked a friend to scan and send her a book on Blue Guard, which tells them that a traveling exhibit of memorabilia has been stored at a private museum storage facility in Virginia since 1983.

When Gibbs and Bishop visit the facility, they find the box stenciled “VIKING WAR STICK” to be empty and a nearby wooden crate to be covered in very old blood spatter. Abby confirms it’s Finn’s blood, meaning they’ve found the original murder scene. But what was Finn doing at a museum storage facility in the first place?

The team pulls in Jane, Finn’s girlfriend at the time, for questioning. She says Finn wasn’t the museum type, and the night of his death, he was having a beer with his buddy Bill. But buddy Bill has some explaining to do when NCIS learns that the Navy actually listed Bill as on duty that night, delivering artifacts from the Naval Academy Museum to the same storage facility where they found Finn’s blood.

Caught in a 16-year-old lie, Bill explains that he asked Finn to cover his shift so Bill could see his girl. Said “girl” was their C.O.’s wife, which is why Jane wasn’t aware of their switcheroo. And when Finn’s body was found far from the museum, Bill decided not to speak up. All he can tell NCIS about the delivery detail was that he was supposed to meet a civilian with a delivery of items from a Philadelphia museum.

Now things start falling into place. Bishop discovers that Wyatt paid $15,000 for Patton’s pearl-handled Colt, but Baxter’s catalogue didn’t list that item as belonging to anyone significant. And Wyatt, who made his fortune running a hedge fund, is from Philadelphia. Sixteen years ago, he drove trucks for a company that delivered fine furnishings and artwork.

While NCIS has no physical evidence linking Wyatt to Finn’s murder, what they do have is a titanium business card, which might contain trace DNA that Abby could match to an item in the museum storage crate where Finn was murdered.

With that many artifacts to process, Ducky suggests Kasie tag in to help and is astounded that Abby doesn’t know that Kasie has a degree in forensic science. Abby, who’s been listening jealousy as Kasie animatedly discusses rewrites with Ducky and greets Palmer like a long-lost best friend, turns to Kasie and demands to know why she won’t talk to her.

Ducky tells them to work it out while processing evidence and scampers away to avoid this suddenly excruciating conversation. (Same, Duck. Same.) At first it’s awkward, but Kasie eventually admits that she froze up when she met Abby, who’s the best at what she does. “You’re like The Beatles.”

So Palmer was right and Kasie discovers a sliver of skin on one of the stored artifacts that matches Wyatt’s DNA. Abby hugs her, and Kasie freaks out all over again.

Meanwhile, Ducky and Gibbs are in Wyatt’s fancy office. He denies meeting Finn 16 years ago, but Gibbs suggests that Wyatt overpaid for a non-Patton gun to ensure Baxter’s silence and then killed the man anyway. Furthermore, he killed Finn when the petty officer caught him stealing from the museum’s storage, then sold the murder weapon to Baxter.

Bafflingly, wealthy financier Wyatt doesn’t call an attorney, instead writing out a confession that he killed Finn. He also tells Torres that the stick was his lucky talisman because he leveraged the $2,000 Baxter gave him for it into his $2 billion enterprise. Not so lucky now, though.

The case concluded, Kasie goes back to telling Ducky to “move those duck feathers” to get his chapters done on time, and Sloane makes her first trip to Gibbs’ basement inner sanctum, where he shows her his own memorabilia collection. Turns out, the silver piece he bought from Mrs. Keogh was the missing component from his father’s old razor.

It’s tough finding parts for old items like that, he tells Sloane. But he got lucky.

Stray shots

  • Line of the night goes to Sloane, who sees Gibbs’ boat for the first time and announces, “I’m not even gonna ask about that.”
  • Super-loved seeing Mike on the show tonight, but where was Frank? #JusticeForFrank
  • Hear me out: Is Kasie in the running to be the new Abby? Pauley Perrette’s leaving the show, and Kasie has (a) personality, (b) a forensic science background, and (c) some kind of backstory involving a dead body. Not that this show needs another character, but I don’t hate this idea. Kasie was an exuberant blast of energy this week. What say you, NCIS fans?

  • TV Show
  • 16
  • TV-14
  • 09/23/03
  • In Season
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