You know it’s bad when Gibbs tells you to bring boots to the murder scene.
This week’s unfortunate victim is Alex Shaw, whose partially eaten corpse is found in a pig pen by a vacationing family. Fun fact: Palmer’s terrified of pigs!
A mangled room key nearby leads them to the Monarch Motel in Virginia, where Shaw’s room turns out to contain zero personal effects — and one hidden camera. A trip to the attic reveals cameras trained on each room through the air vents.
The motel manager pleads ignorance, having bought the place a few months ago, although he’s been happy to keep his doors open for prostitutes looking for a safe place to practice their trade.
Back at NCIS, Torres has been shopping for toys and action figures for his new girlfriend’s son Ricky, who’s back from camp and meeting him that night. Color me shocked that Torres was actually dating an older woman and not secretly seeing a therapist as I speculated last week.
And color Torres shocked when Ricky turns out to be Richard, a special ops staff sergeant at Camp Pendleton who’s more than a little taken with Bishop. Torres’ girlfriend has a large adult son, y’all!
Back to the case: Shaw’s wife can’t figure out why he’d be keeping time at a motel, although he told her he was working long hours for the military.
Kasie, grossed out by sifting through pig poop in her lab to look for any digested evidence, reports to Gibbs that she found enough fiberglass in Shaw’s lungs to indicate that he’d spent plenty of time in the attic. And hey, voyeurism is about secrets, not sex.
Speaking of secrets, Gibbs collects a baggie of ammonium dichromate from her, but he doesn’t volunteer what it’s for. He also borrows a book on ancient Roman history from Ducky and later grabs some ammonium. Ah, Gibbs. Ever the silver-haired mystery.
A lead from McGee sends Gibbs and Bishop to the reelection headquarters of Eric Riley, a U.S. congressman who’s upset to learn that his old friend Shaw is dead. He admits that he had a drunken hookup with a woman at the Monarch, and he asked Shaw to find out who was blackmailing him afterward with the video proof. He feels responsible for Shaw’s death and offers whatever help they need.
Okay, is everybody ready for the awkward? Torres and his girlfriend Elena are just starting a dinner date when Richard arrives at the restaurant with, yep, Bishop. The two agents hiss-whisper at each other behind menus, one accusing the other of cradle robbing and the other of being cradle robbed. Bishop’s fake-laughing and Torres aggressively fake-laughs back, and thankfully the whole thing is cut short when they get a summons from Gibbs.
After hearing about McGee bashing his head on the attic crossbeams, Kasie has the idea to test them for DNA, which leads them to an HVAC guy named Daniel Mulgrew, who’s got a record of hacking and cybercrimes and apparently hit his head in that attic. The team arrives at Mulgrew’s to find him dead with slit wrists, his body positioned in front of a wall of screens showing secret cameras in thirteen motels. Turns out, he was the IT guy for a blackmail ring, and he answered to a boss. Also, Palmer discovers rope marks on Mulgrew’s wrists, indicating his suicide was staged, and Bishop recognizes his former employer as an NSA front company.
The team splits up to hunt down the blackmail boss, but Bishop and Torres are still feeling weird. Torres and Palmer discuss how things went down when Tony and Ziva started their whole thing. Palmer mentions their constant flighting and flirting, assuring Torres that he and Bishop have none of their chemistry. Bishop, meanwhile, rants to McGee about Torres giving her the cold shoulder, and McGee suggests that maybe she wanted to get a reaction when she went out with his girlfriend’s son. And with that, McGee would very much like to end that conversation.
McGee gets his wish when Mulgrew’s old NSA boss, Patrick Norian, says he had to fire Mulgrew for using camera equipment to spy on his female coworkers. Ew. But Kasie breaks into Mulgrew’s encrypted emails and discovers that his blackmail boss was, of course, Norian himself. Norian confesses to the blackmail schemes but denies doing any murder, and his out-of-town alibi for both are rock solid. So who’s the murderer?
A frustrated Gibbs is about to send the team to re-interview everybody, including the pigs, when the Marine that Shaw called the day he was killed arrives back in town. The man explains that Shaw requested facial recognition on footage from the motel, and it kicked back the identity of a beautiful Russian spy. The TSA catches her on the way out of the country with stolen intel hidden in her belongings. Congressman Riley had been exchanging sex for secrets, and when Shaw uncovered his treason, instead of merely the identity of the blackmailer, Riley killed his old friend and framed Mulgrew for it. Russia, man. Russia. It’ll getcha every time.
A few stray personal stories to wrap up the week: Bishop and Torres make up. Torres says he felt overprotective when he saw her with Richard because he thinks of her as a sister. Also, Elena dumped him for reasons too complicated to go into. (Um, the fact that he obviously thinks of Bishop the way a Lannister thinks about his sister might have something to do with it.) She offers to buy him a breakup burger, and they leave together. How much longer can they keep doing this little denial dance, do you think?
Gibbs, meanwhile, has been assembling the materials to make a working volcano to recreate Pompeii for Phineas, the boy across the street. Phin’s red-headed mother texts him to come home for dinner, and he leaves behind a crayon drawing of him and Gibbs playing ball.
- How long before Gibbs is joining Phineas and his mom for dinner? And how long before somehow his job puts them in the crosshairs and they’re endangered and he’s wracked with guilt over it?
- Highlight of the night: Palmer taunting a pig skull. And honestly, he’s right to be a little nervous around them. I’ve seen Deadwood.
- Sooooo where can I get one of Torres’s action figures with abs for days? ASKING FOR A FRIEND.
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