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S19 E14
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They grow up so fast, don't they? Vance's (Rocky Carroll) daughter Kayla (Naomi Grace) has graduated from FLETC and is ready to tackle her first case at NCIS.

But you know who's not ready? Papa Vance. He asks Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) to keep an eye on Kayla and sends them out to on a toolbox case — as in one that shouldn't be remotely dangerous for a newbie. "I'm trusting you with my daughter," Vance says. "I bet you haven't heard that before." Torres' answering smirk speaks volumes.  

The toolbox case involves the heart-attack death of reservist Tom Masuda, a meritorious service award recipient physician who died mid-surgery. Palmer (Brian Dietzen) identifies signs of poisoning, which shifts this into a murder investigation.

The team's first stop is a bar where the owner left Masuda a threatening voicemail. The man claims that the good doctor owed him money from gambling on the ponies, but he's got a solid overseas alibi.

During the questioning, Kayla ignores Torres' instructions to wait in the car, and Vance reads her the riot act. Although Torres defends her actions and says she needs field experience to be able to handle herself, Vance bounces her to the lab with Kasie (Diona Reasonover).

Sidenote: they never, ever wait in the car. I don't care what show, what profession, what character … they never wait in the dang car.

Kayla's steamed that her dad's treating her with kid gloves and never supported her career aspirations in the first place, so Knight (Katrina Law) pulls her aside for a chat. She tells Kayla it's the same with her own father, who works out of the Far East office and still urges her to become a teacher. But dads just can't help being protective (and given Vance's family history, ummm … yeah, of course he is).

NCIS
Credit: CBS

At least Kayla's time with Kasie pays off. They discover that the poison's from the skin of the golden dart frog and entered Masuda's system through a transdermal patch within two hours of his death. That means the killer had to be in the operating room with him.

Enter a new suspect: medical resident Sierra Krueger, the woman Masuda recently broke up with. Krueger denies being involved but says the surgery itself was weird. It was on a stage 4 terminal spinal cancer patient who initially didn't want the procedure at all, then changed his mind and insisted that the surgery happening on Monday.

Nobody's terribly surprised to find a large mystery deposit in the patient's bank account, and when they head to the hospital to question him, he starts to code. They spot a mysterious man in scrubs fleeing the scene and give chase.

During pursuit, Kayla peels off on her own and gets kidnapped by the man that NCIS quickly learns is Pedro Rodriguez, one of the lieutenants in a major drug cartel run by El Santo, who's serving a life sentence. Vance, naturally, is beside himself.

Explanations start tumbling into place: El Santo's people blackmailed a different doctor into stating that El Santo needed surgery so they could break him out of the hospital. But when Masuda went in to give a second opinion that denied the need for surgery, El Santo's people paid off the spinal cancer patient to kill Masuda.

So that's the why. Now we need the where in order to rescue Kayla, who's tied to a chair in a warehouse but is keeping her cool. Although Pedro's eager to kill her, she gives a fake name and tries to make a personal connection with Pedro's less murdery henchman.

When the bad guys find her ID and realize she's the daughter of the NCIS director, they suggest a prisoner exchange. Parker (Gary Cole) suggests quietly arranging a swap, Vance says no, not trusting the cartel members to hold up their end.

Thankfully Kasie discovers a rare metal on Pedro's discarded hospital badge that points them to a platinum recycling center. Everyone, including Vance, suits up to rescue Kayla.

Parker plays the role of a lost truck driver to bluff their way into the recycling facility, where the team shoots Pedro dead. The slightly nicer henchmen uses Kayla as a human shield, but again she's cool and prepared and eventually convinces him to surrender.

Once she's free, Vance holds her like he never wants to let her go. Torres, meanwhile, orders her to complete all the incident paperwork, as befitting a probie on her first case.

In the end, Vance admits he hoped Kayla would change her mind after finishing training, but he accepts that this is what she wants to do and offers to assign her to another field office so she's not under his watchful eye. We support supportive fathers!

Stray shots

  • Parker international pastry of the week: kleicha, the national cookie of Iraq. Parker wild story of the day: the PCP-addicted wild zebras that stormed a winery.
  • This is the second time in as many weeks that Torres has stepped in as a surrogate father figure to an NCIS daughter. Is it possible the show's preparing him to be a father or stepfather in the future? Bishop may have bounced, but Torres deserves love, y'all.
  • Awww, McGee brought up his probie days! That's a blast from the past, past, past.

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