Approximately once a season, NCIS lets Jimmy Palmer take center stage for an episode, and while tonight’s doesn’t rank up there with a latter-season standout like “Keep Going,” it’s still a revealing outing for the good doctor.
Palmer’s puzzled when the clues in an apparent bear attack on petty officer Logan Braddish don’t add up. Sure, there’s a big claw left behind in the horrific slashes on the body, but the scratches themselves are unusually shallow. Plus, one seems to be covering up a knife wound.
As bears are not known for their capacity with blades, Palmer’s suspicious—and even more so when his father-in-law Ed Slater (the always-welcome Larry Miller) turns up to take him to lunch.
This also raises Palmer’s suspicions, as he and Ed have never been terribly close. Ed’s presence starts to make sense when he blurts, “Say it was a bear, please,” just as Gibbs strolls in.
And get this: Jimmy does. He lies to Gibbs.
At the diner with Ed afterward, Palmer’s sick about his impulsive actions and deprives Ed of his coffee until he explains what’s going on. Ed confesses that he lost $50,000 in what he thought was a friendly poker game, and the people in charge offered to erase his debts if he’d disappear a body that appeared in his morgue.
When he saw the victim was connected to the Navy, he figured Palmer’d be the man doing the examination, so he staged the bear attack to make it easier for Palmer. Palmer’s beside himself that this in any way seemed easier.
Things get even less easy when Kasie’s results show no bear saliva in the wounds, and then Ducky shows up in the lab, back in town weeks earlier than Palmer expected. Panicking now, Palmer injures Ducky’s feelings by snapping that he doesn’t need help re-swabbing the wounds. What a tangled web we weave, Palmer!
As Palmer leaves, Torres joins him on the Elevator of Schemes and Secrets, giving Palmer the chance to ask if Torres knows where he can get some bear saliva. Torres knows someone, of course, “but the guy’s super weird, so it has to be really important.” When Palmer confesses that he lied to Gibbs, they agree that not only does Gibbs know this already, he knows they know he knows they know. With that, Torres is out.
At the dinner, Ed’s called in another poker regular: one Anthony DiNozzo Sr. joins Palmer in busting Ed’s poor poker face, and Palmer learns that Ed brags about his hotshot son-in-law who runs NCIS. Ed claims it’s easier than explaining what an assistant ME does, which makes Palmer snap, “I’ve told you seven times I’m not an assistant anymore.” Oh, do I love over-it Jimmy Palmer.
The trio head out to have a word with Peter Liu, the dry cleaner who runs the game and called in the favor. Before they go in, Ed announces that his son Stevie’s being held as “insurance” until this mess is sorted out. Palmer’s furious to just be learning this, and Peter explains to that if Stevie’s going to stay safe, Palmer needs to sell the bear attack story.
The rest of NCIS is still investigating the murder, too, and discover night club security footage of the victim, Braddish, getting tossed out after brawling with another man. Braddish’s father arrives to claim the body and says his son was a partier but not a fighter.
This is when Palmer finally tells Gibbs that he lied about the bear attack, and Gibbs hauls him into interrogation. Naturally, Palmer babbles a confession immediately, chalking it up to temporary insanity under intense familial pressure.
Gibbs busts out some spoken word poetry about trust, truth, and honor that ends with, “Don’t lie.” Then he sends Palmer to make Braddish’s body look presentable for his father, which is so awful for everyone involved.
At Peter’s dry-cleaning business, the agents find the man dead, so the next step is to pull Ed into interrogation. Palmer joins them and unloads years of pent-up hostility about his brother-in-law Stevie: the DIUs, the cheating at school, the real-estate scams, and so forth.
Ed finally admits that it was actually Stevie’s $200,000-plus gambling debts that got them into trouble, and Braddish’s body was handed over by a guy named Kenny, who offered to wipe all the debt.
Ed’s description of Kenny matches the man who was ejected from the night club for fighting with Braddish, so we finally have a suspect. (Next page: Palmer adds a father figure to his roster)