By Sara Netzley
November 20, 2018 at 10:56 PM EST
Sonja Flemming/CBS
S16 E8
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  • TV Show
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Happy Thanksgiving, friends! This year, I’m grateful for what’s shaping up to be a truly excellent season of NCIS. Let’s recap.

The case of the week starts when two Waterway Volunteers cleaning up river trash make a gruesome discovery. (Sidenote: Where would crime shows be without gruesome discoveries by civilians?) The victim died six days ago from a broken neck, and although NCIS IDs him as Wesley Moore, a Marine Officer Candidate School washout, he was carrying ID stolen from a personnel clerk with the Defense Logistics Agency.

A bit of investigation shows that he used the stolen credentials to enter the DLA and access the DoD’s server. Furthermore, he was in frequent communication with Capt. Alicia Voit, who died that same day during an ambush in Afghanistan led by insurgent leader Aazar Atwa.

She and Moore, who met in Marine Officer Candidate School, had been communicating about 12 recently killed Marines. Bishop suggests the pair were just friends, but Torres doesn’t understand the point of a platonic male/female relationship, which … honestly, that’s just sad.

Sloane points out that Voit and Moore were likely close because they were both orphaned as teens and both had a desire to serve their country. And if Voit asked Moore for help, it’s likely she didn’t know who in the chain of command she could trust, which means McGee and Bishop are off to Afghanistan to investigate.

Meanwhile, Torres and Kasie head to the spot in the river where Moore’s body was likely dumped. Kasie’s not a fan of the grime or the enormous river flies or generally being out of the lab, while Torres is squeamish about snakes. Still, he encounters a cranky Waterway Volunteer, and she finds Moore’s partially submerged car. Spotting three-fifths of a car doesn’t seem like it would take a trained investigator, but what do I know?

Gibbs is using his time to locate Marine Col. Jonah Park, who’s escorting Voit’s body home to New Jersey for burial. Park is extremely reluctant to delay the trip so NCIS can investigate her possible connection to a murder and vows that he won’t leave her side until he can transport her home for her funeral in two days.

When McGee and Bishop arrive at Camp Russell in Kabul, they’re greeted by private military contractor Justin Kinneman, who explains the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the area has been halted due to increased Taliban attacks led by Atwa, who conveniently enough has just been captured.

Atwa immediately tells McGee and Bishop that he’s working with an American and offers a name in exchange for his freedom. Bishop reports back to NCIS that she believes Atwa, and although Gibbs confirms that only an insider would have access to the convoy route intel, Vance refuses to let her make a deal.

She and McGee convince Atwa to talk by threatening to let his men know that he’s working with the Americans, which would be extremely hazardous to his health. But before he can give them a name, he’s felled by a sniper’s bullet, which, again, would have to come from someone with inside knowledge. (Next page: Ducky flies the coop again)

When Voit’s body arrives at NCIS, Park stations himself next to her casket in the morgue, holding her bag of personal effects until he can deliver them to her next of kin. Ducky reports that he and Palmer reviewed her records and learned that she took two bullets to the chest and killed four insurgents before suffering a fatal blow to the head. At this point, Park insists that NCIS release her remains, and he and Gibbs exchange heated words.

As always, though, Gibbs is the master of detecting emotions under the surface. He returns to the morgue with a cot and a blanket so Park won’t have to leave Voit unattended for the night. Park apologizes to Gibbs for his hostility and explains that he recruited Voit ten years ago, “so I should be the one to bring her home, just like I did for all the other Marines I recruited.”

Gibbs reminds Park that he’s not responsible for their deaths, but Park recognizes Gibbs as a man who carries that same burden of guilt. “They’re kids who joined the military under my guidance. I’ll carry their deaths with me every day. I owe them that much,” he says.

Let’s just take a moment…let everyone collect themselves. Okay, carrying on.

Kasie, with calamine-covered bug bites all over her face, asks Torres to help her review traffic cam footage to find the red vehicle that left its paint on Moore’s bumper. Torres tries to bail by explaining he’s a physical specimen, not a computer guy, but she threatens to leave copperhead snakes in interesting places for him to find if he doesn’t get on board.

He gets on board, and Palmer joins them for an all-nighter that ends with them spotting footage of a red truck belonging to Xavier Blackburn. Torres recognizes him as the unpleasant Waterways Volunteer worker, who was in fact not a volunteer but a private military contractor fired for violent outbursts who was actually there to sweep for any evidence he left behind. Under questioning, Blackburn admits he was told that Moore was a national security threat, and he’d be reinstated if he “neutralized” him.

So who gave that order? None other than Kinneman, who greeted Bishop and McGee when they arrived in Afghanistan. They accuse him of assisting in the insurgent attacks to ensure that the U.S. forces wouldn’t pull out and his company wouldn’t lose those lucrative contracts. He tries to say it wasn’t about the money but about keeping the area out of Taliban control. Nobody believes him, and regardless, it’s all treason, no matter his rationale.

With the murders solved, Park accepts Gibbs’s offer to ride along as he completes his mission, and we’re treated to an overhead shot of the NCIS team loading Capt. Alicia Voit’s flag-draped casket into the hearse. Before he shuts the door, Gibbs leans over the casket and tells her, “Rest easy, Marine. We got the watch.”

Let’s just take another pause to grab a Kleenex, maybe wipe your eyes.

Stray Shots

  • How lovely for Ducky to have Palmer’s pencil anatomy sketches framed and hung, not just as a parting gift, but as a benediction of sorts to officially leave the morgue in the hands of the next generation. Goodbye for now, Ducky. I agree with Palmer that starting your globetrotting adventure with Mt. Rushmore in the middle of winter is strange, and I look forward to seeing you again in the new year.
  • That my-family-came-over-on-the-Mayflower, I’ll-lie-for-a-recommendation-letter guy totally deserved to be the one to make the horrific discovery this week, no?
  • Line of the week goes to Kasie, watching Palmer suck down his large double mocha frozen blend with whipped cream, chocolate chips, and a drizzle of caramel: “You can eat that and still look like that? Man, life’s not fair.” Preach, sis.

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