By Sara Netzley
December 04, 2018 at 10:44 PM EST
Michael Yarish/CBS

Everyone’s tailing or getting tailed on NCIS this week as Gibbs tries to tie a final bow around an old case involving the daughter of a friend who died in Afghanistan.

Pro-tip: If you want to turn this recap into an incredibly dangerous drinking game, take a shot every time you read the word “follows.”

Angie Gray was the getaway driver during a robbery three years ago, but she refused to take a plea deal or give up her accomplice, who was presumably her boyfriend. Also, he presumably ended up with the never-found hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen from the home of Admiral Norton Padgett and his wife. The Padgett’s lavish lifestyle is provided by the missus’s inherited wealth, and the stolen money was a drop in the bucket to them.

Still, the case has always bothered Gibbs, who tried and failed to get through to Angie following her father’s death, so on the day of Angie’s release, he and McGee are waiting outside the prison.

They follow her as she gets into a truck with tinted windows, and when they realize there’s an apartment for rent across the street from the crappy hotel where Angie’s dropped off, McGee crows, “Stake-out time!”

Angie has a record for a San Diego break-in with a different boyfriend. Since that’s Sloane’s old stomping grounds, she “accidentally” bumps into Angie on the street and talks her way into making a call on Angie’s new burner phone, then chitchats about California beaches.

Meanwhile, facial recognition of the prison pick-up driver reveals her to be Lanny Peete, Angie’s cellmate who was released a few months ago.

Under questioning, Lanny tells McGee that she tried to protect Angie from people who’d take advantage of her, like her lowlife ex-boyfriend J.T. Apparently Angie didn’t know him very long, but he’s likely the burglar.

Bishop and Torres take over Angie-watch, and they’re startled to realize that Angie’s also being followed by a man with a gun. Another round of facial recognition identifies him as shady P.I. Phil Iverson.

When Angie hops into Lanny’s car for a road trip, Gibbs hops in Iverson’s and flashes his badge. Iverson refuses to give up the identity of his client, but that’s okay; Gibbs was just distracting the P.I. so he couldn’t follow Angie.

Angie and Lanny arrive at a rundown cabin that Angie says belonged to J.T.’s grandfather. They break in to search for clues about J.T.’s whereabouts. McGee and Torres, who were the designated tail, arrive in time to hear the women scream over the discovery of a desiccated corpse.

Thankfully, another suspect’s turned up. Sloane’s use of Angie’s phone netted NCIS the burner number, so they know that Angie had called a man named Lew Nolte, Padgett’s personal assistant and NCIS’s No. 1 suspect to be the inside man on the burglary back in the day.

Nolte’s cocky about being back in for questioning three years later and claims that the cloud of suspicion made him lose his job with Padgett, and he hasn’t gotten another good one since.

But Gibbs is sure Nolte was the one who told Angie’s accomplice about the money in the safe and when the staff would be out for the night. Then he flashes the cabin body photo, but Lew claims ignorance. (Next page: He’s just not that into you, Ang)

More science to the rescue tonight: The body from the cabin is John Thomas Storvelle — J.T. — and he has stab wounds in his chest and a receipt from a St. Martin beach resort bar in his pocket.

When Angie arrives at NCIS to meet Sloane at first she’s shaken but is soon confessing that she’s just trying to track down J.T. She didn’t even know his last name, but she had strong feelings for him. Oh, Angie. Girl. Just no. She weeps when she learns that J.T.’s dead and says she only called Nolte because she remembered him from the investigation and hoped he’d have a line on J.T.’s location.

NCIS has pieced together J.T.’s movements by now. He ditched Angie and escaped to St. Martin’s, where he partied until the Padgett money ran out. Then he did odd jobs until that lost its luster and he came back to the States, where he eventually ended up dead in the cabin.

Gibbs and Torres are still following Iverson, whom they observe meeting with Padgett. After Iverson leaves, Gibbs asks Padgett why he’s concerned enough to hire a P.I. when the stolen money meant nothing to him and his wife. Was there something else in the safe?

McGee starts putting pieces together and wonders if it’s a Murder on the Orient Express situation: Did everybody have different reasons for wanting J.T. dead? Then they discover that J.T. and Nolte were in the same barracks at Norfolk and that the allegedly unemployed Nolte recently opened a number of bank accounts, conveniently just after NCIS stopped tagging him. Torres drops Gibbs Rule 39 just as Sloane escorts Angie into the big orange room.

Next thing we know, the doorbell rings at Nolte’s apartment. It’s Angie, who accuses him of setting up J.T. to rob the house. Things quickly escalate to violence, with her bloodying his cheek and him going after her with a bat.

He tells her that J.T. played her and then admits that J.T. gave him incriminating photos from Padgett’s safe that would’ve ended Padgett’s marriage and his naval career. So Nolte’s been living off of blackmail money, and when J.T. ran out and tried to get a cut, Nolte killed him. Angie, of course, is wearing a wire, and Nolte finds himself under arrest.

We end this week with Gibbs and Angie riding down the Elevator of Schemes and Secrets together. He encourages her to make her father proud, and it looks like this time, he just might have reached her.

Stray Shots

  • A moment of silence, please, for the rise and fall of Torres’ weird Italian cashmere sweater. May it only be touched by the cleanest of hands in textile heaven.
  • C’mon, Bishop would know that Murder at the Orient Express is also a book.
  • Exchange of the week is courtesy of Palmer and Gibbs: “You know how to end a Facetime call?” “What’s a FaceTime?”
  • Speaking of … daaaaaang, Jethro. You hung up on Ducky’s video chat while your old friend and colleague was telling a long and convoluted story about crappy hotel bedding and snow days interfering with his travel to Mt. Rushmore? That’s just cold. I love it.

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