An active shooter situation becomes deeply personal for Sloane this week, and Gibbs feels the strain of juggling so many secrets.
Doctors in surgery at Liberty Naval Hospital are interrupted by gunfire, and by the time NCIS arrives, one person is dead and 12 are wounded, including off-duty police officer Dale Mosby, who wounded the shooter before the man escaped.
Sloane arrives, uncharacteristically ruffled as she asks Gibbs for a list of the victims. She frantically reviews the names before recusing herself from the case and bailing.
At NCIS, Bishop’s toting around a big dead plant, certain that Kasie can bring it out of its “dormant period,” and Palmer’s passing around a pallet of green printer paper that was purchased in error, asking everyone to use it as scratch paper.
Torres, though, is dealing with his inner swan. What’s that, you ask? Well, when someone shoots around innocent people, it pushes his buttons and he gets angry, like a swan. “Those birds can go dark real quick.”
A review of the hospital security footage shows the shooter being approached by a civilian OR nurse on the third floor before stepping onto the elevator. Kasie zooms and enhances and finds out it’s Faith Tolliver (Kate Hamilton). Aaaaaand cue the angst!
A frustrated Gibbs approaches Sloane to tell her that he knows her secret, and he resents having to waste time researching something she could’ve just told him. Sloane reminds him that she’s not an underling he can manipulate with a look, then confirms that Faith is the daughter she gave up for adoption decades ago.
He tells her to brace herself because Faith’s on her way to NCIS to give her statement. Then he heads to Vance’s office, where they have an amusing, “I think you know what I know, but if you don’t, pretend I don’t, either” conversation that Sloane interrupts to announce they both know about the secret adoption.
When Sloane tries to coach Gibbs on how to question Faith, the men convince her to join him. So she comes face-to-face with her daughter for the first time since the day she was born. Faith says the shooter came out of the break room, where family and friends sometimes visit staff members, and she agrees to describe the man for their forensic scientists.
To Kasie’s lab! She discovers that the shooter’s blood wasn’t in the DOD database, meaning he’s not military even though he was dressed as a Marine, and she works with Faith on a sketch of the suspect. Also, she helps Torres repurpose his negative swan energy in a positive direction by checking with a botanist about Bishop’s plant. (It’s still dead.)
Her review of photos of the break room shows that it was recently renovated and used to hold a cooler with medications, which could indicate a motive. Also, her sketch yielded multiple tips from the public identifying the shooter as 18-year-old Evan Sykes.
The team swarm the house and find blood everywhere, but no Evan. When his father, Noah, arrives home, they’re forced to wrestle him to the ground as he shouts for his son. Further review of the house shows blood on Evans’ computer and printer, and empty, bloody ammunition boxes. “He’s restocked,” Gibbs says.
Back to Kasie! Blood analysis confirms Evan is the shooter, and she says that his computer was infected with a virus that pushed thousands of pages of gibberish to the printer when he tried to print a document. He canceled the print job, and now they’re using up the reams of green paper to print out the gobbledygook (everything comes full circle!) until they can get to what he was really after.
When Palmer starts to ramble with trivia about coats of arms and knights of old, Kasie mutters, “First I’ve got Torres going swan, now I’ve got you going Mallard.” Ha! Finally, the printer spits out what Evan tried to print: the top of a spreadsheet listing Liberty hospital, Ice Station skating rink, and Willow Den Elementary.
This sends Torres and Gibbs into interrogation to ask Noah why his son is doing what he’s doing. Noah says his older son, Christopher, went to prison for killing a family in a drunk driving accident, and Evan was never the same. He suggests Evan targeted the hospital because he blamed the military for not pushing harder for a lighter sentence. Torres gets angry about all the boo hoo hoo-ing, and Noah offers to help but swears he doesn’t know about the school or the skating rink, or where Evan is hiding.
Hey, that dead plant of Bishop’s? It’s from Ziva’s office, and she solicits Gibbs’s input on trying to save it. He reminds her not to get personally involved, but she begs him, “If you know, I need you to say it.” He claims not to know what she’s talking about. (Reminder: She’s talking about how ZIVA IS TOTES ALIVE.)
Gibbs and Bishop are waiting to speak with Mosby, the officer who shot Evan in the shoulder during his shooting spree. He’s in bad shape, but he’s alive, and he jokes about his bad luck in running into trouble on his day off when he was bringing pancakes to his wife—his wife who works on the third floor.
With the shooter still at large, Sloane’s concerned that Faith refused a protective detail at her home, so she waits outside to offer her “honest professional opinion” that Faith needs to be cautious.
But surprise! Faith knows exactly who Sloane is, having looked for her online. “You made your choice. You don’t get to show up at my door now and pretend that you care,” she says. Then she does the one thing her biological mother taught her and walks away without looking back. Brrrr.
The pancakes got Gibbs thinking, and when the team fails to apprehend Evan at the skating rink, he starts wondering if maybe Evan was at the hospital looking for Mosby specifically. Mosby confirms that his children attend that school and he skates at that ice rink.
Furthermore, Mosby was the first responder at brother Christopher’s DUI and he speaks for the family at the victim impact statement during Christopher’s parole hearings, one of which is imminent. He didn’t connect Evan with Christopher because the latter’s last name is Thompson.
Sloane, who’s un-recused herself from the case, says her profile shows that Noah Sykes hired the best lawyer for Christopher and then moved to a nearby town and started using the name Skyes with Evan to escape the bullying Evan was receiving. She predicts that someone so loving and protective will absolutely know where his mass-shooter kid is hiding.
And sure enough, Noah leads the team to a motel and gives them a room number. For some reason, Gibbs sends Torres in alone to apprehend Evan. I dunno; that seems like a weird and heavily armed time for Gibbs to be teaching life lessons. But there goes Torres, kicking open the door. He dials up the anger and all but dares Evan to pick up his own weapon, but Evan just cries and begs him not to shoot.
Crisis averted, Sloane approaches Faith to explain that she cut all ties the day Faith was born because she wouldn’t have been able to let her go if she saw her again. Sloane offers to someday explain the situation she was in, but Faith isn’t interested.
She wants to know why Sloane would move from California and risk bumping into the daughter she gave up, and Sloane cries when she says, “I tried every which way to let you go, and I can’t.” She hands Faith a picture of the two of them the day Faith was born and a sheet of green paper (ha!) with her phone number on it.
McGee, meanwhile, heads to Gibbs’ basement to ask why on earth he sent Torres in to deal with Evan. I have the same question, Timmy. Gibbs mutters, “I’ve got one with a swan, I’ve got one with a kid, I’ve got one with a plant.” Hahaha!
Gibbs informs McGee that he burned Rule 10. “No going back.” McGee’s boggled that Gibbs is doing away with the prohibition about getting personally involved, and Gibbs himself worries that it may not work out so well in the future.
Finally, Bishop heads to Ziva’s office to pot a new plant. The landlady reminds her that it’s paid up through the end of the year and Bishop’s welcome to come and go. Then the landlady says what we’re all thinking about Ziva: “The funny thing about hope. When she gets into your blood, she never leaves you.”
- Well, this was a busy episode, no? I’m glad Maria Bello got to dig into a meaty scene this week, but I’ve gotta say, the peppy music was an interesting choice for a mass shooting/secret daughter episode.
- Odd to see no frostiness between Bishop and Torres this week. In fact, Bishop immediately realizes that Torres is trying to keep from going swan, and Torres helps her with her obviously-not-hibernating plant. Are we just forgetting about their fight, then?
- The implication that Sloane regrets telling Gibbs secrets over a drink is…interesting. Imagine drunk confessions with Gibbs!
- NCIS recap: Gibbs confronts a long-absent father figure
- NCIS recap: Palmer’s got father-in-law troubles