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S19 E17
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NCIS: Starting Over, Season 19, Episode 17

Part I of this week's NCIS/NCIS: Hawai'i crossover event kept us busy, didn't it? Conference rumors, grieving fathers, a new girlfriend, an Office Space wink, the return of a few favorite faces …

Phew. Let's recap.

We open with Parker (Gary Cole) lamenting the required TPS reports, which McGee (Sean Murray) reminds him are actually called TBS reports. "Old habits," Parker says. "Weird." And really, his confusion is understandable.

Then the team's summoned to the scene of the possible suicide of retired helicopter pilot Tommy Miller. Palmer (Brian Dietzen) recognizes Tommy from his grief counseling group, which Knight (Katrina Law) joined a couple of weeks ago.

Palmer also quickly rules out suicide, pointing to blunt force trauma to the head that's inconsistent with a fall from a roof. Tommy also had several missed calls from Tobias Fornell, his grief sponsor from the group.

Fornell wants to help with the investigation and says Gibbs (Mark Harmon) would've let him ("No he wouldn't," the team says in unison) and contents himself with heading to the morgue, where Dr. Grace Confalone (Laura San Giacomo) finds them. Good to see Dr. Grace again!

She leads the grief group that Tommy joined because of his guilt over the death of crew member Sally Jordan, who died when the helicopter Tommy was piloting went down in a sandstorm in Sudan.

When the team interviews Tommy's wife and brother-in-law, who both claim their innocence, Dr. Grace is able to point to a lie that Tommy's been telling: he hasn't been to nearly as many private counseling sessions with her as he claimed. So where's he been spending his time?

Answers might come from Sally's father, Richard Jordan (Jack McGee, who I promise you've seen in something prior to this if you turned on a television at any point since 1985). Tommy took out a restraining order against Jordan, who held Tommy responsible for Sally's death, but it expired last week.

Jordan admits to reaching out to Tommy when he got a text from his daughter's phone asking for $50,000 for her safe release. He knows it's a scam but doesn't know how they were able to text from the existing text thread he had with his daughter. He shows the team a heartbreaking video she texted him of her and Tommy the day before her death, when they were both alive, vibrant, and smiling.

As the investigation's getting under way, Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) gets called to Hawaii. Geez, what an unlucky assignment, right? But Jane Tennant (Vanessa Lachey) from the Pearl Harbor office contacts him about a missing witness in one of his old cases, so off he goes.

McGee and Knight have both heard rumors about Torres and Tennant, a.k.a. T'N'T, at an Orlando conference — something about jumping off a balcony into a hotel pool—and the vibe between the pair on the MTAC screen doesn't do much to dispel those rumors.

With Torres gone, Parker and Knight track down a mission person's report on another Thomas Miller, this one in Baltimore. As Rule 39 says, there's no such thing as a coincidence. But it's not a Terminator situation of someone taking out all the Tommy Millers in the area; this one Tommy was living a double life with two families.

Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Tommy used work and counseling to explain his frequent absences, but in truth he was married to Olive first, then he met and impregnated Nina, marrying her six months before their child was born (When Nina learns the news, she whips a picture frame at Parker's head, necessitating a visit to Palmer to patch up.)

Mid-investigation, Knight swings by Kasie's (Diona Reasonover) lab and finds our favorite scientist playing video games with a glasses-wearing cutie named Piper. They've just started seeing each other, and Kasie's excitement is adorable. I love this for her!

Anyway, the parking lot cam outside the restaurant where Tommy got breakfast with wife number two the day he died shows him literally running off after barely saying goodbye to her. Grieving dad Jordan's also caught on camera watching it happen.

The team brings Jordan in for questioning, but he protests his innocence and says Tommy was fleeing a silver SUV, which followed him out of the parking lot.

Whaddya know, Tommy's brother-in-law Marty drives a silver SUV. He admits that it was a fluke that he spotted Tommy with his other family. At first he says that he merely told Tommy to come clean, but when he learns that DNA was found on the pipe that was used as a murder weapon, he asks for a lawyer.

This doesn't quite sit right with the team, so they call in wife number one, Olive. The DNA was only a partial match to Marty, which means it could also come from a sibling. And sure enough, Marty told Olive about her husband's second family, so she confronted Tommy at his job site.

Tommy admitted that Nina and their child made him forget about his painful past, which was too much for Olive, who'd been waiting years to have a family with Tommy. She grabbed a pipe and swung it, and he stumbled over the edge of the building.

When Parker and Fornell (Joe Spano) fill in Jordan, including the news that McGee tracked down the scammers in Sudan, he dissolves into tears at the loss of the sliver of hope that his daughter actually was alive.

Fornell empathizes and asks Jordan to tell him about Sally. McGee steps away to let them talk; presumably Fornell has found a new person to work with as a grief sponsor.

And now to Hawaii, where Tennant and Torres have scooped up the witness and are bantering about who gets the credit. Torres has been waiting five years to get the full story from the man, but shots explode from all sides, killing the witness and causing an accident that sends their vehicle spiraling into the air before coming to rest.

See you in the NCIS: Hawai'i hour for the rest of the story!

Stray shots

  • Torres' contact info for Tennant has a pic of the two of them together, which is… meaningful, I think.
  • For someone who claims to love therapy, Parker's oddly reluctant to book a time with Dr. Grace, no? But it's in his calendar now, and here's hoping it goes well.
  • For someone who's pretty unflappable, Dr. Grace seemed a little breathless at the idea of Parker calling their session a date, no? This show really does corner the market on silver foxes, and although we all know Doc G's too profesh to actually date a client, it was a nice little moment for a character we don't get to see often enough.
  • I'm gonna say it: the TPS joke would've been better as a one-and-done thing, not retread a couple of times. Still, kudos to the show for invoking Gary Cole's most pop culture-friendly role.
  • Okay, friends! Let's go to Hawaii!

NCIS: Hawai'i: T'N'T, Season 1, Episode 18

Credit: Karen Neal/CBS

We left T'N'T in a precarious spot at the end of NCIS, so we'd better jump right in.

Torres and Tennant cover each other as they make a run to safety under heavy fire aimed at their damaged vehicle. But their assailants disappear as suddenly as they arrived, taking the witness's body with them.

So much for any dreams Torres had of being a tourist in paradise.

Back at HQ, we meet the rest of the Hawaii team and get a rundown on the case.

In Afghanistan five years ago, scrappy upstart Fortress, a war zone private contractor, took responsibility for improperly storing grenades in a munitions blast explosion that killed Marine Daniel Menlo.

Fortress employee Greg Winslow took the blame for the blast and was fired. He died shortly afterward when his SUV plunged into the Potomac. Yes, it's as sus as it sounds.

Kyle Jennings, the only survivor of the blast, has been on the run since then. Torres has been receiving anonymous tips about Jennings' whereabouts for years, and the latest one is what sent him to Hawaii. Alas, with Jennings' body gone, they're back to square one.

Torres also takes the opportunity to announce that the T'N'T rumors are all overblown … but of course Tennant's team had heard nothing about said rumors and now have a million questions.

Tech guy Ernie (Jason Antoon) identifies a Vanagon that followed the pair to the attack point, and he when he pulls rare night-blooming cactus pollen from the left-behind tire tracks, it sends the team to a botanical garden campsite.

As they search the grounds, Torres explains that he's stuck with the case because he promised Manlo's family he'd get answers. And both he and Tennant agree that it's a matter of Rule 45: clean up your mess.  

When they find the Vanagon, they also find the supposedly dead Greg Winslow, who's a little squirrely after faking his death and living in fear of a Fortress sniper's bullet for the past five years.

Greg says the Afghanistan explosion was intentional, but he doesn't know why. He's been Torres' anonymous tipster all along, the Robin to Nick's Batman, hoping to learn why Fortress went to the trouble of framing him.

He hates that his sister in Albuquerque doesn't know he's alive, but Tennant gets it, citing Rule 40: if it seems like someone's out to get you, they usually are.

Back in Ernie's lab, he's delighted to find … Jess Knight, there with the Afghanistan file. (Ernie reads the NCIS newsletter and recognizes her immediately.) To Lucy's (Yasmine Al-Bustami) shock, he's fine with Knight sitting in his chair and touching his stuff.

So now we need to figure out why Jennings' body was stolen. Clearly it contains some kind of evidence, and if Fortress wants to dispose of it, they might use a burn site. Kai (Alex Tarrant) and Jesse (Noah Mills) head to the Honolulu Waste-to-Energy facility, where they find Jennings' mostly incinerated remains.

Medical examiner Chase (Seana Kofoed) finds high levels of aluminum powder in Jennings' remains and traces them to a noted surgeon who was set to remove a fragment of shrapnel from Jennings' back four years ago, but he disappeared before the procedure could take place.

Meanwhile, Ernie and Knight have put together an explosion simulation that shows that it was caused by C4 set off by an IED. Presumably Jennings is the one who set it off, ending up with the shrapnel as a result.

Off T'N'T head to the Fortress training site, which is conveniently located in Hawaii. CEO Brent Spooner's taking the IPO public that very day, and the pair pressure Tessa, the woman showing them around, to give up the names of employees who've operated in Afghanistan.

She's reluctant, but Tennant stresses that NCIS wants to hire Fortress for a sensitive overseas operation. Once they have the thick dossier, they deliver it to Greg, who's upset at having to go through a massive stack of unrecognizable photos. After all, he went on the run to give them Jennings, his only lead. Torres and Tennant talk him down, and he reluctantly agrees to try.

Kasie Zooms in (and has to bust out the airhorn to get Ernie to stop rambling, poor guy) to say that she found gold nanoparticles that could identify the detonator the bombmaker used. But when they track down Greg for more information, he's gone.

Fortress kidnapped his sister, so he slipped into a group touring the base and left to meet them and secure her safety. But he did leave behind pictures of three men he recognized. They worked securing Afghan villages and found a cache of stolen U.S. currency. However, about $40 million of it "got lost" when Fortress delivered it to the government.

Menlo realized what was happening, and Jennings set up a bomb to kill him, then Fortress framed Greg, who's likely being held at Fortress HQ since everyone's offsite for Spooner's IPO announcement.

The agents head out, killing two of the bad guys while Torres heads inside, where Greg's been tortured by the third guy. He's bloody and battered, but he laughs weakly and says, "Batman," just before Torres gets the drop on his torturer.

Once Greg's safe, T'N'T take the remaining Fortress operative to a lovely Hawaiian overlook to give him a choice: talk to them or get cut loose so he can be pursued by Fortress for the rest of his short life.

He chooses Option A, and when Spooner gets into a hired car, the driver is Parker, who arrests him for the theft of $40 million and the murder of a U.S. Marine.

Greg's sister, meanwhile, is fine and is waiting for him at home. Torres thanks him for keeping the case alive, and Greg hugs him tight, grateful to have his life back. Here's hoping he can adjust to a more normal existence after all of this.

Finally, after an episode of speculation about the series of escalating dares T'N'T engaged in in Orlando (Lucy says it was base jumping off of Cinderella's castle, while Jesse says it involved a crashed wedding, a stolen pontoon boat, and an adolescent alligator), we get it straight from the source: the pair were trapped on top of the Citrus Tower for a night.

It's unclear what happened during the wee hours, but judging by their rather husky whispered goodbyes, it was … memorable.

Then the rest of the team escorts Torres and Knight around the islands for whirlwind sightseeing trip that's commemorated in a delightfully cheesy photo montage.

Stray shots

  • Raise your hand if you envy Wilmer Valderrama and Katrina Law getting sent to Hawaii for work reasons.
  • Speaking of Law, wow, do she and Lachey resemble each other. Watching them walk side by side was like seeing slight variations on the same (impossibly glamorous) woman.
  • How nice to see Gibbs' rules alive and well in the 50th state! It downright warms the heart.
  • So there you have it: two great teams that work great together. It's always fun to watch the interactions in these occasional crossovers, and tonight was no exception.
  • Okay, but what did happen on top of the Citrus Tower?

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