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S19 E20
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Slot machines. Wedding pics. A deer liver.

This week's NCIS weaves a variety of story strands together for a satisfying penultimate season 19 episode.

When fired Navy Herald employee John Murphy goes into a car wash alive but comes out dead, the team discovers that he was poisoned with arsenic while driving a van full of "borrowed" slot machines.

"Looks like his luck ran out," Knight (Katrina Law) quips, somehow avoiding dramatically putting on a pair of sunglasses. She also interprets Palmer's (Brian Dietzen) invitation to check out a new coffee place as a group hang, much to his chagrin.

She makes it up to him when he gets called into action to deliver a liver for a waiting transplant recipient, offering to be the driver while he monitors the organ at all times.

With Knight and Palmer on liver duty, Ducky (David McCallum) steps in. (That man better be, like, octuple-vaxxed.) The team learns that Murphy was driving slot machines bound for military bases—hey, did you know that the Department of Defense clears about $100 million a year from military personnel gambling?—and Kasie (Diona Reasonover) discovers a program designed to siphon one penny of each dollar into an offshore account for a cool $1 million a year.

She also finds emails on Murphy's laptop from Anna Brooks, who works for the company that owns the slot machines. Off they go to interview the Vega Gaming employee. What they find is a grumpy neighbor lady who says Brooks seemed like a nice girl, but she vanished two months ago.

At least Brooks' apartment yields liver pills, and whaddya know, Brooks wasn't just working with the DOJ to bring down Vega for skimming money, but she's the intended recipient of the Knight/Palmer liver. YES! I LOVE IT WHEN THE A-PLOT AND THE B-PLOT ARE CONNECETED!

With Murphy dead, the only loose end for Vega to tie up is Brooks. And it's easier to kill the liver than to kill her.

The liver mission was actually kinda doomed from the start. First, Palmer is dismayed when chatty Dr. Scott Long says he needs to be the hospital employee who rides along on the six-hour roundtrip to the recipient hospital. (So much for one-on-one Jess time, Jimmy!) And then Palmer gets relegated to the backseat while Long chats up Knight about her surfing hobby.

“All or Nothing” – NCIS investigates the unexpected death of a Navy reservist who was an investigative journalist. Also, Knight and Jimmy’s budding romance is put on hold when a vital organ transfer goes fatally wrong, on the CBS original series NCIS, Monday, May 16 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+*. Pictured: Katrina Law as NCIS Special Agent Jessica Knight and Brian Dietzen as Jimmy Palmer. Photo: Robert Voets/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
NCIS season 19, episode 20
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Then a spike strip in the road sends them into a ditch, and gunshots ring out, killing Long. (On the one hand, DANG, NCIS. On the other hand, it turns out Long was paid to leak information to Vega, so I guess it's a case of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes.")

Palmer grabs the cooler with the liver, and Knight covers them as they run for the woods. Despite the, you know, murder and gunfire, they're determined to get the liver to the hospital in time for the transplant, and the clock's ticking. Never mind that deer that's been freshly killed by a black bear.

When their strength starts to lag, Palmer produces a hermitically sealed PB&J from the organ cooler, smiling fondly when Knight whips out a knife to slice off the crusts. He's such a smitten kitten.

Alas, an armed man gets them jump on them, and in the scuffle, Palmer's shot in the leg. They the belt it and hobble off in search of a cabin to perform impromptu surgery.

Knight's uneasy about pulling a bullet out of the back of Palmer's leg, but he assures her she can do it. Then they both take a swig of the whiskey they found in the cabin, and she goes to work expanding the wound with her knife and then digging the metal out with her (hork!) bare fingers.

As Palmer writhes in pain, he blurts out what's been dogging their interactions all episode: they had a great time together at the wedding, but now she's acting like it's no big deal.

"Jess, I really like you," he grits out. "And I think you—"

But she yanks out the bullet before he can finish, then tells him that she likes him too, but she doesn't want to jeopardize their friendship. Noooo!

When the small army of Vega goons finds them at the cabin, Knight orders Palmer to take the liver to safety while she leads the bad guys away. He refuses to go anywhere without her, but she fires her gun into the air to draw their attention and orders him to go.

The goons catch Knight, who's as fearless as ever in the face of danger. But she's dismayed with Palmer shows up with the cooler. The goons shoot up the liver, but Knight's able to attack them using the knife Palmer just slipped her.

After she neutralizes them both, she and Palmer cling to each other, sweaty and relieved to be alive. Oh, and Palmer swapped out the human liver for the dead deer's, so when Parker and Torres find them in the woods, they're still able to get the transplant organ to Brooks on time. I love that this ordeal called on each of them to use their unique set of skills. Better together!

With the case wrapped, Knight stays behind and finds Palmer fussing at Ducky for rearranging his supplies. But he's all smiles when he sees Knight in his workspace. Ducky reads the room and bounces.

She thanks him for coming back for her, and Palmer says she'll never catch a wave if she's afraid to get on the surfboard.

So Knight hops on the board and asks Jimmy if he'd like to check out that new coffee shop.

Listen, it's not exactly the "we're still alive!" kissing I was hoping for, but I'll take it. For now.

Stray shots

  • That carwash employee had real Cousin Greg energy, didn't he?
  • Let's hear it for Torres, bringing up what he's worked on with Dr. Grace about defense mechanisms!
  • Kasie the problem gambler? Mark it in case the show decides to loop back someday.
  • So much for this week. See you next Monday for the season 19 finale!

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