Reeves unravels a kidnapping and reveals some secrets of his own
Fake It 'Til You Make It
Credit: Bill Inoshita/CBS
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S15 E5
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Let’s delve into the secret life of Clayton Reeves, friends.

He’s a regular AA attendee, and although he always declines to share at the meetings, he’s made a good friend there. Melissa (Samaire Armstrong) is proud of being 30 days sober and of finally dumping her abusive boyfriend. She shows Reeves the bruises on her arms but doesn’t want to turn him in (or turn Reeves loose on him).

After the meeting, a dark car pulls up outside the church and an unseen driver pulls Melissa into the passenger seat and screeches off as Reeves watches in horror.

When an upset Reeves arrives at HQ to fill in the team, Gibbs immediately gives him permission to investigate, despite the lack of a Navy connection. Reeves only knows Melissa’s first name, so he and Bishop head to Abby’s lab in the hopes that a selfie on his phone will work with her facial recognition software.

After they leave, McGee and Torres wonder why Reeves doesn’t know Melissa’s last name and what he was doing at a church on a Tuesday morning. I…don’t understand how they don’t make those connections since churches are such common locations for AA meetings and, you know, the anonymity is baked in.

Abby’s faster on the uptake and gently asks Reeves if he’s a friend of Bill. He is, and Bishop is the only NCIS person who knew thanks to the meetings he attended during their Scotland trip last year. Abby offers him a listening ear should he ever need it.

She also offers him a match that gives them Melissa’s last name – Goodman — along with her address and the name of her boyfriend, Edward Holdren, a civilian engineer for the Office of Naval Intelligence who drives the type of car used in the abduction.

Gibbs and Torres head to ONI, where Capt. Redding had been about to call NCIS. Eddie is the chief engineer on a classified project and has been MIA for two days with a laptop full of classified data. Said laptop isn’t in the apartment when the nosy property manager lets Reeves and Bishop in to check it out, although it’s a mess. They find Melissa’s blood on the wall and a towel. Reeves blames himself for dropping the ball when his friend needed her.

Bishop encourages Reeves to tell Gibbs how he knows Melissa. Instead, he heads to Jack’s office to enlist her help in building a profile on Eddie, but Gibbs is waiting there and has already asked Jack to get that started. Gibbs urges Reeves to stop blaming himself, and Jack contributes the no-duh observation that Reeves is going to blame himself regardless. Also, Gibbs already knows it’s an AA connection and suggests Reeves track down Melissa’s sponsor, who may know more.

In the big orange room, Torres and McGee push Bishop to spill on the secrets that Reeves is keeping, but Reeves overhears and tells them about AA. They hasten to tell Reeves how much they respect that, and while I understand that they need all the information possible to investigate, I hope they also feel terrible for prying into something so personal. (And also for being horrible investigators who couldn’t put the clues together themselves.)

Reeves finds Melissa’s sponsor, Nancy, who looks startlingly like Melissa and who immediately blames Eddie for the abduction. In fact, she says, Melissa recently had to hide out at Eddie’s cabin while her bruises healed. Naturally, this is the next place the team checks. The police are already on the scene because Eddie’s dead, shot by Melissa in self defense.

Under questioning, Melissa has nothing but good things to say about Eddie and says she didn’t leave him because of the abuse but because he’d planned to sell the top-secret software he’d been working on to the highest bidder. She says he must’ve thought she wanted to turn him in, so he took her to the cabin to kill her. But he was drunk, they both reached for the gun, and she came out on top. Furthermore, she claims to have no idea where the laptop might be. Jack suggests that Melissa’s level of trauma and sustained fears could lead to suppressed memories, and if she’s able to feel Eddie’s death, it might open her up.

This becomes vital when Vance is read in on Eddie’s project: plans for Air Time Delta, the DOD’s latest unmanned aerial vehicle, which is intended to replace the UAV fleet.

In the morgue, Palmer tells Gibbs that Eddie was involved in quite a brawl before he died from a gunshot to the heart. He also had enough oxycodone in his system to make him easy pickings. When Jack ushers Melissa into the room, she asks Palmer if he minds.

“Do I mind, Agent Gibbs?” Palmer asks.

“No,” Gibbs says.

“I don’t mind,” Palmer tells Jack. Ha!

Melissa apologizes to Eddie’s corpse and says she’ll remember the good times, but she’ll never forget the bad ones, either. Jack gets her talking about their relationship, and she mentions Eddie’s control issues. In fact, he’d recently changed the lock on their storage unit to limit her access to her bicycle. Changed the lock, you say? To the storage unit! (Next page: Reeves decides to tell his story)

In the crammed storage unit, Bishop and Reeves find a million possible laptop hiding places. As they search, Bishop pushes Reeves to open up more to his work family because “we’re all as sick as our secrets.” He pushes back, mentioning the beatings and the cigarette burns he endured. Bishop wonders why he didn’t get a new foster family, and he tells her that was the new family.

Then Reeves finds the laptop inside the only taped-up Christmas box. Unfortunately, Abby finds that the drone software’s already been removed. All they can do is hope it hasn’t been sold.

When Reeves swings by Melissa’s apartment to tell her the police cleared her of charges in Eddie’s death, he finds her making chicken pot pies for a women’s AA meeting. Even knowing how this case turns out, I have to say that they look delicious. I’ll take two.

Back at the Naval Yard, the team’s frustrated as they comb through Eddie’s contacts in search of a prospective buyer. Jack suggests that his buyer would be too smart to leave a paper trail, so why not track his real-life movements? Ummm, the team should already be doing this! Jack’s insights thus far haven’t been terribly impressive, TBH.

Reeves and Gibbs track down Melissa at her ladies meeting, where she’s leaving with Nancy. Nancy purrs innuendos at Gibbs as she leaves (smart lady!), and then Gibbs compliments Melissa on doing 30 meetings in 30 days. He confirms that he knows the lingo because he’s got a friend in the program.

They ask if Eddie had been behaving strangely, and she mentions him leaving in the middle of the night to “go to the office.” So Abby’s tasked with pulling time and location data from Eddie’s car. As Reeves and McGee wait for the results, Reeves asks what friend Gibbs has in the program. McGee is more surprised to learn that Gibbs has a friend, and I’m disgusted overall by their gossiping. Hello, do they not remember what that second A stands for — especially Reeves?

Gah. Moving on. Abby finds the address for the night in question and grabs video surveillance that shows Eddie meeting Nancy and walking off with her arm in arm. Betrayal!

In interrogation, Nancy vehemently denies ever meeting Eddie, even when confronted with a photo of her on the surveillance camera. But that’s because she doesn’t know that man as Melissa’s boyfriend Eddie; she knows him as her boyfriend, Austin. Double betrayal! Also, now I see why they cast those similar-looking women. Eddie/Austin’s got a type, yo!

Palmer moves the case forward by finding that the oxycodone had been altered by an acid found in cayenne pepper, indicating that Eddie was drugged. Reeves says it couldn’t have been Melissa since she had a gun at her head, but the rest of the team want to explore all possible scenarios.

It’s getting tense when Jack shows up with her profile: Eddie was a good guy with no violence or warning signs in his background. Melissa, on the other hand, has all the markings of a cunning narcissist with anti-social personality disorder who might’ve been out for revenge on her cheating boyfriend.

This belief is strengthened when Bishop learns that even though Eddie is dead, the Air Time software’s been listed for sale on the dark web. Hiya, dark web! How could any crime show operate without you?

So who’s selling it? It’s looking more like Melissa, who paid the creepy property manager $10,000 the day before she was abducted. Also, Palmer learns that the oxycodone/cayenne mixture was delivered via…all together now…chicken pot pie!

We then cut to Melissa in a restaurant, taking a call from the property manager. (She saved his picture in her phone, which is so very weird. Do you assign photos to your criminal associates?) She tells him she’s waiting for the buyer, and then there’s Reeves dropping into the seat across from her. He’s her buyer. When she realizes it’s a setup, she ditches the sweetie-pie persona.

She paid the building manager to fake the kidnapping, and she even faked her alcoholism so she could get close to Nancy, the other woman. Reeves confirms this by sniffing the whiskey and Coke in the glass in front of her.

After she’s hauled away, Reeves gazes hungrily at her glass of booze, and then at the next meeting, after staying silent for months, he actually speaks up to share his story. He repeats Bishop’s words about being as sick as his secrets and says, “I’m sick of paying for other people’s sins.” He gives his full name and, looking directly at the camera, says he has a story to tell.

Stray shots:

  • Nice little twist with Melissa the manipulator! My only quibble is her cultivating Reeves to be her rock-solid, federal agent witness. Why would you want an elite law enforcement professional scrutinizing your faked abduction/murder/treason? Silly narcissist.
  • Okay, Jack needs to offer something more than easy psychological insights into cases if we’re to believe she’s some stellar new member of the team. I’m pretty sure anybody who’s watched NCIS for more than a season could’ve come up with equally insightful contributions tonight.
  • The meme thing. Oh, the meme thing. First, are we supposed to believe that half the team doesn’t know what a meme is? Second, I totally believe that the writing staff doesn’t know what a meme is because those were some weak-sauce memes. The only saving grace from that whole embarrassing story line is knowing that, even in Paris, Tony DiNozzo hasn’t lost his appetite for teasing McGeek.
  • Seriously, those two women looked so much alike! Did that help you figure out the twist before the team did?

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