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S19 E9

Not since Leia Organa has a hologram been this helpful. Because it turns out that paying a quarter of a million dollars to have yourself digitized is a great investment in the event of your murder.

Disgraced financial adviser Sandra Holdren is shot dead outside of a youth soccer game at Norfolk Naval Station, but when the team shows up at her house to investigate, they find themselves interviewing a digital ghost.

Sandra spent two weeks answering questions in front of hundreds of cameras to generate a hologram version of herself. She'd hoped that her digital remains might be able to make amends with her estranged daughter Ruby in the event that Sandra succumbed to her rare melanoma before they reconciled.

Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) is utterly creeped out by this synthetic reproduction of life, while Knight (Katrina Law) jumps right in with the questions. Unfortunately, holo-Sandra isn't very useful at answering things like "who killed you?" or "why'd you get a threatening note in your mailbox?"

Ruby's unemotional about her mother's death, telling the team that her brother Ben killed himself the day their mother was arrested for embezzling millions from her clients. Ruby's now raising Ben's son as her own and directs them to Albert Beck, the attorney who got Sandra off Scott-free.

Beck explains that Sandra only took money from some clients to pay others when cash flow got tight, but she reimbursed all her victims, who signed iron-clad NDAs. He then suggests that the butler did it, having just been removed from Sandra's will.

NCIS
NCIS season 19, episode 9
| Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Indeed, Kasie determines that Sandra's valet/personal assistant/house manager Geoffrey is the one who wrote the note threatening to make Sandra pay, and the team soon realizes that he's stolen the hologram software and fled the house.

McGee (Sean Murray) gets the hologram company to send a backup of the Sandra file, and Kasie, a secret hologram buff who's been practicing on her hamster Mr. Belvedere, gets it up and running at NCIS. Knight asks holo-Sandra where Geoffrey might have gone, and she (it?) mentions a place she used to take her kids camping.

Ruby reluctantly agrees to lead the team there, and on the way, Knight gently questions Ruby some more. Ruby's still angry with her workaholic mother, especially because her brother Ben was her hero, and her mother's crime drove Ben to suicide.

They find Geoffrey at the campsite and bring him in for questioning, but he has an alibi for the night of Sandra's death. He also claims that someone sent an encrypted email offering him $50,000 in bitcoin to write the threatening note. The techie members of the team (that would be everyone but Torres and Knight) are excited to learn that the payment came from someone going by Jamie Two-Shoes.

To the holo-Sandra! Knight's mastered the art of AI interrogation and gets holo-Sandra to reveal that Jamie Two-Shoes was her nickname for her best friend since college: Albert James Beck, aka her lawyer, aka one of the top defense attorneys in the state.

The team brings Beck in under the pretense of getting Sandra's friends to help talk to her hologram. In short order, the hologram makes it clear that Beck's lying when he says he doesn't know who Jamie Two-Shoes is, then holo-Sandra twists the knife by calling Beck her best friend and brother.

Beck cracks—unlikely for the state's top defense attorney, although in the real world he never would've agreed to this in the first place, so whatever!—and admits that Sandra didn't embezzle the money. Beck convinced Ben to help, then Beck framed him. Sandra took the fall to cover for her son, but she never stopped investigating the crime. When she got too close to the truth, Beck killed her.

This is the final straw for Knight, who's been struggling with the family dynamics of the case and earlier confessed to Torres that she hasn't spoken to her mother in months. We see her making a call to her mom, and although we don't know the cause of their falling out, I do hope we learn a bit more in the future.

The episode ends with Ruby realizing that her mother took the fall for Ben in part to let her keep the memory of her brother intact. In light of this, she finally agrees to sit down and talk to holo-Sandra.

Ruby emotionally greets her mother, and I found myself in the strange position of getting a little choked up by a hologram.

Stray shots

  • Holograms have popped up in pop culture from time to time, but particularly since Tupac's performed at Coachella in 2012. (The less said about Prince's 2018 appearance during Justin Timberlake's Super Bowl halftime show, the better.) The idea of using a hologram to solve its human counterpart's murder is a clever one, particularly in a show with techie Parker newly at the helm alongside techie McGee and Kasie. That said, Parker needs to let his dream of a crime-fighting app die
  • How are you liking all these small personal reveals we're getting this season? Torres got smoked at laser tag, Knight hates grasshoppers (girl, same), Palmer understands that fashion is art. I'm kind of loving it!
  • Speaking of loving it: "That's a satchel. Don't be sexist." Mad props for Petty Officer Dickenson for calling a for calling a Balenciaga a Balenciaga.

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