It's a multi-office team-up as your favorite agents suss out the reason behind the death of a beloved FLETC instructor.
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What happens when the guest of honor can't make it to his own retirement party because he's, well, dead?

The answer to that is the first-ever mega-crossover that finds your favorite agents from NCIS, NCIS: Hawai'i, and NCIS: Los Angeles crossing the continents and oceans to expose a secret government assassin program. Let's mega-recap!

"Too Many Cooks," NCIS, season 20, episode 10

Beloved FLETC professor Dale Harding (Robert Picardo) is about to retire. But a mysterious call has him running to his computer, then snatching a gun and un-aliving himself.

The news shocks the DC and Hawai'i agents who are gathered in the big orange room to prep for Harding's party. After all, they're among the tens of thousands of former students whose lives were changed because of the threat-response instructor's influence.

The group rolls out to the scene, where there's a bit of jockeying over who's in charge, and we're reminded that Tennant (Vanessa Lachey) is the special agent in charge of the entire Pacific Rim. Yet who gave Palmer (Brian Dietzen) the go-ahead to remove Harding's body? That would be L.A. agents Sam ( LL Cool J) and Callen (Chris O'Donnell).

Truly, congrats to all the NCIS superfans geeking out right now at seeing everybody onscreen together. The next three hours will be all about crime-fighting, yes, but the characters slip in plenty of in-jokes too.

For example, McGee (Sean Murray) razzing the L.A. crew for their chic black crime-scene gloves is perfect, as is the open speculation about whether their office is located in an old Mexican restaurant or a Spanish mission. And when Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), Callen, and Tennant all start quoting Gibbs' rules at each other, it's a lovely nod to the character who launched the whole enterprise. Alas, Mark Harmon doesn't make an appearance tonight, but he's definitely not forgotten.

In autopsy, Palmer's surprised to discover that Harding's body is a mess of old scars from burns, cuts, and gunshots, while Kasie (Diona Reasonover) is shocked to see that the last thing Harding did was delete a mess of classified Department of Defense files from his computer, leaving only the cryptic message "EXTRA HOMEWORK."

DOD says Harding didn't have clearance for the files and refuses to say what was in them. So Torres, Callen, and Sam head to FLETC's Maryland campus, where they interrupt a training session and demonstrate their field-tested know-how before searching Harding's office.

Torres confesses that Harding pulled him aside during his last week of training and told him he was a lone wolf, not a team player, but Sam assures him that Harding's words were a good thing. It's only when a coach stops riding you that you should get worried.

NCIS
Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

The team's also tasked with figuring out why Harding asked fellow FLETC instructor Greta Ford to handle his last day of classes. After a fancy driving demonstration by Tennant and Knight (Katrina Law), Ford says Harding was moving up his post-retirement trip. He'd also changed his destination from Cabo to Hawai'i at the last minute.

Kasie, who's (rightfully!) miffed that Sam and Callen didn't RSVP for the retirement party but showed up anyway, discovers that McGee's login was used to access the DOD files. The L.A. agents take him in for questioning, and McGee objects to it being done in the interrogation room, not the conference room.

"We didn't know where that was," Sam says.

 "You didn't know where this room was! I had to show you!" McGee shoots back. Ha!

McGee realizes Harding stole the login off his phone while he was showing off pictures of his kids, and before the L.A. duo can get too hot under the collar about this, McGee reminds them that Sam's favorite car (RIP, Charlene!) was stolen, as was Callen's ID. Love to see McGee keeping up on all the gossip!

Gen X Sam then explains to Millennial Kasie that she can open Harding's floppy drive marked "EXTRA HOMEWORK" to access a clue. It's a note that says "The answer is in the files" written on the back of a photo of Gibbs' cabin.

When Torres and Knight show up to look around, they end up in a gunfight with an unseen assailant who zooms off in a motorcycle with the files, leaving behind Harding's missing phone and a badly bloodied jacket.

While Callen heads to Malibu to investigate a series of wire transfers Harding received from banks along PCH — and please note that he refers to it as "the PCH," which my born-and-bred California bestie tells me no fellow born-and-bred Californian would ever do — Kasie manages to pull an audio file of Harding's last call from the phone, where they can make out the name Simon Williams.

And whaddya know, Simon Williams' photo is on the most-wanted wall for treason, espionage, and murder. Naturally, Torres gets all broody when he learns that Harding cut Simon Williams from FLETC 30 years ago because of his lone-wolf tendencies.

Despite the unhelpfulness of the local sheriff's deputies, the team tracks the squad car Williams stole, finding a deputy's body and a trail of blood leading into a barn. There, they discover a man much too young to have been active 30 years ago. Nevertheless, he insists that his name is Simon Williams. "We're all Simon Williams," he says. And then he dies.

After the long day, Palmer suggests he and Knight join Torres and Tennant at the diner for a double date — er, a professional meal among colleagues. (Lest we forget, T'n'T have a wink-wink connection in their past, although this is the only time it's referenced tonight.)

Before that, though, Torres swings by Parker's (Gary Cole) plant-daddy haven to share his concerns that he's too lone-wolfy. Parker assures him that he and Simon Williams are nothing alike.

Placated, Torres arrives at the diner to find Knight but not Tennant and Palmer. When Jess tries to call Jimmy, they hear his ringtone for her in the alley. (Yes, I went all heart-eyes emoji to know that he gave her a special ringtone.) Tennant's phone was dumped there too, and BAM, we have a kidnapping cliffhanger.

"Deep Fake," NCIS: Hawai'i season 2, episode 10

Welcome to Hawai'i! We open on a silver-haired man (James Morrison) at a plant nursery fighting off a much-younger attacker, eventually murdering the man with his own knife. So, um, aloha, I guess?

Tennant and Palmer also experience a terrible arrival on the island as they're black-bagged and tossed into a holding cell where Sam's also being held. He explains that he was captured by four men with tasers, although "I made an impression on each one of them."

Indeed, the men come into the room sporting a variety of bandages and slings under the direction of CIA agent Melina Devlin (Dawn Olivieri, who's also currently sleeping with Jamie Dutton on Yellowstone,) who says the CIA's been tracking Simon Williams for years. She wants to interrogate the NCIS team starting with sweet, innocent Jimmy Palmer.

Meanwhile in the Hawai'i office, Parker takes operational command as the team starts searching for Mel Cano, the man we saw murdered at the start of the episode. Cano's connected to Simon Williams, and Ernie (Jason Antoon) is able to track his rental car to an abandoned parking lot.

Parker and Jesse (Noah Mills) find Cano's body in the trunk, and then they're approached by CIA agent Melina Devlin — but a different Melina Devlin than the one with the kidnapped agents. (This one's played by Maya Stojan.) She says she's running an off-books op to track the rogue agents who carried out the kidnapping of their teammates. They loop her in, and potting soil on Cano's body sends them to the nursery to investigate.

While there, Parker gets a call from Tennant, who says Melina Devlin let her contact him. But Parker's also with Melina Devlin. So which is the real Melina Devlin?

Tennant warns Sam about the treachery by misquoting one of Harding's favorite sayings, and it's the clue he needs to launch an attack — which, let's be honest, he's been dying to do all along. They get the drop on the agents in the room, and when one more pops up, it's Palmer who saves the day, breaking his thumb in the process.

Meanwhile, Melina 2 draws a gun on Jesse, for some reason not caring that Parker's behind her and can draw his gun on her. Then the man we saw at the start of the hour arrives to shoot the place up, and he and Melina 2 escape.

When they bring Melina 1 in for questioning, we learn that the nursery man is Norman Dell, another Simon Williams, and Melina 2 is actually Morgan Miller, a rogue CIA agent. Everyone connected to the Simon Williams program is turning up dead, and the CIA's worried about moles in the operation. Hence the undercover snatch-and-grabs.

NCIS: HAWAI’I
Credit: Karen Neal/CBS

Conveniently, Haven LTD, the CIA front that's provided uncrackable identities for its operatives, is located on Oahu. So the team scatters: Parker to DC with the real Malina, Tennant, and Jesse to the Haven location, Kai (Alex Tarrant) and Kate (Tori Anderson) to Morgan Miller's Air B&B, and Sam to L.A. to look for Callen, who's not answering his phone.

Ah, but Callen's actually at the Airbnb, where there's a wall full of pictures of all the NCIS agents on the case. Of note: he does not take the opportunity to text Sam that he's okay.

Meanwhile, Norman Dell's at the Haven LTD underground bunker, where he explains that Simon Williams is the CIA's most successful assassination program to use many operatives who go by Simon Williams to secretly eliminate enemies of the state.

Hey, I know this story! It's Treadstone! It's The Blacklist! It's the Dread Pirate Roberts (and maybe James Bond if you believe one theory)!

The program started in the '80s, was shut down in 1993, and was recently started up again. Now everyone who knows about the program is dying just days before a government hearing on the Simon Williams program. Harding stole the files from DOD to protect the people named in those files, which is why he was willing to die rather than be captured.

Norman Dell's willing to do the same, and his final patriotic act as Simon Williams will be to blow up Haven LTD, destroying the remaining evidence. And that's when Miller arrives.

From here, things get explode-y. The bunker blows up. Miller shoots and kills Dell. Tennant and Jesse are joined by Kate, Kai, and Callen to fight off Miller's team. Miller gets shot but escapes. And Callen finally calls Sam, getting a well-deserved earful for being inconsiderate.

Somehow a photo of the inaugural Simon Williams class escaped the Haven explosion, and it shows that the only remaining survivor is… drumroll… Hollace Kilbride (Gerald McRaney).

So we're off to LA to warn Kilbride. Unfortunately, Miller's already touched down at LAX. What's she going to do with her head start?

"A Long Time Coming," NCIS: Los Angeles season 14, episode 10

Nothing good. That's what Miller's up to in L.A. But don't worry; she gets her just desserts in the end.

By the time the agents arrive from Hawai'i, Kilbride's in the wind, and Tennant sends nonessential NCIS personnel home under the assumption that the office is being monitored by the rogue operatives.

Fatima (Medalion Rahimi) and Roundtree (Caleb Castille) are dispatched to Kilbride's absolutely impersonal house, where they're attacked by gunmen who capture Roundtree, leaving Fatima shaken.

Based on the evidence left on the scene, Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) and Torres pay a visit to Nina Barnes (Lesley Boone), the world's most delightful bakery owner-slash-arms dealer. She chats up Torres and cops to selling Kilbride a sniper rifle with a dozen red velvet cupcakes tossed in for good measure. Where's my Nina spinoff, CBS? Give it to meeeeee.

On the other hand, neither she nor Torres gets the reference when Deeks drops the Dread Pirate Roberts comparison, which strains credulity because everybody's seen The Princess Bride.

On their way out, Deeks and Torres have to take cover from a van that opens fire on them because as if this episode weren't complicated enough, a murder-for-hire site on the dark web has put a $200,000 bounty on all the agents' heads.

At the L.A. office, unexpected help arrives in the form of an anonymous email to Callen and an anonymous text to Sam, which they combine to access a voice recording from Hetty (yay, proof of life!!), telling them to contact Gwen Johns, who'll get them in touch with Jimmy McCann.

A couple of things to note: One, Parker owes Hetty $600 from "the Monaco fiasco." And two, Hetty knows everything that's going on despite her months-long absence. ("Some say she's a witch," Parker says by way of explanation.)

Anyway, Gwen Johns turns out to be a Hollywood casting director who can get them in touch with Jimmy McCann, an actor who looks a lot like Gerald McRaney — er, Hollace Kilbride. His IMDb page is perfect.

While this is shaking out, Roundtree's being tortured by Miller to shake loose what he knows about Kilbride's location. He insists they've got the wrong guy, although he's clearly bothered when they tell him they've also been torturing Fatima. These precious baby agents!

Roundtree tells Miller that she hits like a girl, and listen, I understand wanting to get under your captor's skin, but let's not use gendered insults. It works, and they dial things up with some suffocation. At this point, Roundtree "cracks" and tells them where Kilbride's hiding out: a boatshed by the docks.

Clever man, Devin Roundtree. Because that's exactly where the rest of the team's staging their trap, sneaking into the boathouse through the secret water entrance while McCann-as-Kilbride comes in through the front door to lure all the baddies.

NCIS: LOS ANGELES
Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Is, uh… is anybody telling McCann that this plan could be dangerous as hell for him? And did you all howl when the non-L.A. agents complain about the boatshed's smell, which Sam and Callen have gone nose-blind to?

Okay, phew, the dapper McCann says he's doubled for Kilbride a number of times. I hope his hourly rate is huge because a heavily armed, extremely obvious team of assailants soon invades the boathouse.

The NCIS agents subdue the invaders, interrogating one about Miller's location when Fatima loses her cool and charges in, demanding to know where Roundtree is.

Luckily for her, they close in on his location at an airplane graveyard in Mojave, and agents on dune buggies are soon zipping toward the plane where Roundtree's being held.

They subdue the guards on the ground, and then Miller's shot as she attempts to move Roundtree off the plane. Fatima races over to cut him loose, and they hug in relief. The agents are momentarily confused because none of them fired the shot that dropped Miller… until a ghillie-suited Kilbride reveals himself as the shooter.

"Just out of curiosity," Deeks asks, "you ever heard of teamwork?"

"What do you call this?" Kilbride replies.

So the Simon Williams program is put on ice for good, and Kilbridge tries to wheedle a swap where he goes to D.C. and Parker stays in L.A., but it's a no-go. Oh, you poor, California-averse man.

The rest of the team also makes their goodbyes, and although Callen suggests they do this again sometime, Tennant and Torres give that a hard pass.

We viewers wouldn't mind another team-up sometime soon, though...

Stray shots

  • NCIS: Great Lakes. Coming soon to CBS! (Not really, but I wish.)
  • What a fab three hours! We got the procedural elements we've been tuning in for over the years, and the twists were served up alongside some fanservice and fun callbacks. Truly, what more could we ask for?
  • As delightful as it was to see the different offices mingling, I do have one regret, and that's not getting to see Jimmy "It's Doctor, Not Mister" Palmer telling Ernie that he's got a special ringtone for Jessica Knight, if you know what I mean.
  • Apropos of nothing, if you've never seen the Adult Swim classic "Too Many Cooks," well, you're welcome.
  • So, uh, do we need to talk about Kilbride being a government assassin or nah?

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