NCIS recap: Two cocks in the henhouse
I hear you. I hear you all. LEMERE WASN'T DEAD.
On the one hand, he really did look unalive at the end of last week's episode (and in my defense, the advanced screeners I get don't have the "next week on" footage included). On the other hand, I really should've trusted Gibbs.
Because as Gibbs calmly tells a furious Parker, he didn't take a kill shot. The surgeon confirms it: Just a millimeter off and LeMere would've been leaving in a body bag.
All in all, it's not the smoothest start to their professional relationship, which is extra-unfortunate because these two silver-haired gents are about to go on a road trip together.
LeMere promises that the body of his first victim in upstate New York will provide answers, but he'll only cooperate if Gibbs takes him. Vance agrees to this as long as Parker provides an escort.
Things get off to a rocky start when Gibbs launches the SUV into motion while Parker's still got one foot on the ground, and it's anybody's guess which of the men in that car will snap on someone first. But hey, at least the evidence supports this trip. Kasie found a payment made to LeMere 100 days before the first body they knew about, so there could be an earlier victim.
Kasie also peels back the network of shell corporations to discover that the Pentagon paid LeMere for each kill. Off go Torres and Knight to get the deets from an overworked military accountant, who's relieved that they're only after the source of a payment and not there about the audit of a $35 trillion DOD discrepancy.
[Pause to fathom how much money that actually is, realize the human brain can't actually comprehend it, decide to move on.]
Anyway, the payments were made by Sonova Industries, a multinational conglomerate that has its fingers in every manufacturing pie there is. The CEO isn't known for playing nice, so Knight infiltrates a focus group taking place that day so she can grab info from their servers.
She's absolutely fantastic at it too, fomenting a rebellion among the other women in the group there to give feedback on Sonova's new line of women's deodorant. In no time she has them yelling about hyperfeminine scents, mansplaining, and the pink tax (as if I didn't love her already). Allan McLeod from You're the Worst is the perfect stooge to be the target of the group's ire, and the uproar lets Knight snag his access card and download files from the server room. Is this… legal? Lawyers, weigh in!
Back on the road trip from hell, LeMere starts sharing his background, including his small-town upbringing, his military dad, and a military discharge after he lost someone close to him. Then he became a cop and lost himself in the bottle due to his grief.
Gibbs is unamused to hear his own story spilling from LeMere's mouth, and when they stop to feed the fussy crybaby in the backseat (that would be LeMere again), Gibbs agrees with Parker that they should just call this trip off.
This is a trick, of course. When Parker steps aside to call HQ, Gibbs hops into the SUV and peels off. Yeah, Parker really should've seen that coming.
Now that it's just the two of them, LeMere does his best to get into Gibbs' head, doing the "We're not so different, you and I" schtick beloved by serial killers in film and TV. After all, didn't Gibbs kill the man who murdered Shannon and Kelly? Also, how many of his kills during 25 years as an agent really deserved to die?
LeMere's goading does the trick, and Gibbs pulls over, hauling him out of the SUV and punching the window behind his head. But despite LeMere pointing out how Gibbs has isolated himself by walking away from NCIS, Gibbs can't be angered into shooting him. Instead he puts LeMere back in the car to resume their trip.
But the destination isn't what Gibbs was expecting. LeMere has taken him to his dead wife's abandoned family home because he wanted to visit her grave one more time. He also stashed weapons all over the place and keeps comparing himself to Gibbs. Bold delusions of grandeur there, my dude.
Then he recommends Gibbs visit the fishing village of Naktok Bay. Message delivered, LeMere steps back onto a buried explosive that kills him instantly.
Even though that visit didn't yield the evidence they were hoping for, the team has some forward motion thanks to Knight's purloined research. It shows that Sonova's been running a surveillance program on hundreds of people, and on one list of four names, three are confirmed LeMere victims.
Torres and Knight head out to find the fourth person, but it turns out she's been dead for two years. Her body was mostly preserved by an air conditioner that's been running full-out while her autopayments made it seem like she was alive and traveling for her freelance writing career.
This is looking bad for Sonova, so Parker calls in every favor he can to bring CEO Sonia Eberhart in for questioning. With her lawyer at her side, she describes the surveillance as opposition research, with those four deaths just a coincidence. Rule 38, Sonia!
But LeMere's dying words help crack the case. Naktok Bay is a southwestern Alaskan fishing village where Sonova is building a copper mine to get into cell phone manufacturing, and the four people on that list would've stopped the project from happening. (One was an environmental writer from Naktok Bay, one was an aquatic life biologist, one handled Department of the Interior construction permits, and one owned water rights where Sonova wanted to mine.)
Those other four? Unlucky victims chosen to make the other four deaths look random. That's… kind of smart, actually, and I apologize to murder victim Jen's husband for being suspicious of him last week.
When the team learns that CEO Eberhart has already flown to Alaska, Gibbs tells McGee to grab his gear for a two-man trip. But first he pays a visit to the cemetery where Kelly and Shannon are buried, and where his own final resting place waits.
- NCIS is so often a case-of-the-week show, but I'm enjoying this twisty little story unfolding over multiple continuous episodes. Suit up for Alaska next week!
- Kind of a cool relationship that's developing between Torres and Knight, no? They're friendly one-uppers who approach their jobs differently but still respect each other. It's a sibling vibe, and I dig it. Also, Knight's finally moved into Bishop's desk, so the new team is visibly coming together.
- Line of the week goes to Kasie, who suggests putting a bell around Gibbs' neck to keep him from disappearing. Just just picture that for a second.
- Vance should hire that nice Pentagon accountant. Her job sounds way too stressful.
- Boy howdy, this Gibbs-Parker relationship isn't getting easier. Is the big orange room big enough for both of them?