NCIS recap: From the big orange room with love
- TV Show
The Russian spy plot that's been simmering on NCIS all year comes to a boil in this week's penultimate episode of season 20.
A National Archives Museum guard is found stabbed to death amid confidential files, and the person who accessed the archives around the time of death is Constance Miller (Brigid Brannagh). You'll remember her as the U.S. senator whose hard drive was almost stolen by Russian agent Nate Billings (Sonny Valicenti). Also, her campaign volunteers included Delilah's TA Evelyn Shaw (Juliette Goglia), and Parker's identity thieves John and Renee Watts.
We've got a Russian spy problem, people!
At least there's no problem tracking down Miller, who's hanging at Parker's place in nothing but an oversized jersey and a pair of wine glasses. (No judgment here; the woman's got taste.)
Fully dressed and in the interrogation room, Miller says she hasn't been to the National Archives in months and offers Parker as her alibi for the night of the murder, which means she spent consecutive evenings with our silver-bearded agent. See? Taste!
Her story's confirmed by video of a man who's definitely not the senator using contact lenses with her retina print to fool the Archives' biometric security.
Parker's (Gary Cole) not the only one bringing his personal life to work this week. The team's curiosity about Torres' (Wilmer Valderrama) calls to his mom is forgotten when Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) takes his leave from the big orange room by saying, "I love you, Jess" to Knight (Katrina Law).
Everybody freezes, and Palmer panics and starts telling everybody else in the room that he loves them, too.
Knight ignores it all and charges ahead with the investigation while Palmer frets to Kasie (Diona Reasonover) that he embarrassed her by dropping the L-word for the first time at their place of employment. Yeah, that's a reasonable concern.
The investigation hits a snag when contact-man's face doesn't appear in any databases and a State Department bureaucrat named Stuart Greco (Kevin Sizemore) announces that hours ago, he agreed to a swap with Russia: Billings, Evelyn, and the Wattses in exchange for four international political prisoners.
Greco isn't suspicious about the coincidental timing (my mans needs a copy of Gibbs' rules!) and says the Wattses are already on a plane bound for Russia.
This puts Knight and Torres on a helicopter bound for the USS Courtland, where Billings is waiting for his trip home. Billings is excited to be greeted like a hero in Mother Russia until he gets a look at the photo of contact-man.
It's his handler Yuri, and Billings knows that if Yuri's in the field, it means his homecoming is going to be fatal. He begs to be allowed to stay in the U.S., but Torres and Knight aren't making deals.
After they leave, Billings hangs himself in his cell, and Greco takes his fury out on Vance (Rocky Carroll) for interfering in the prisoner trade. He refuses to give up Evelyn's location, but Palmer moves the investigation in a new direction with the news that Yuri stole a file on Ilya Sokolov, a 1985 Russian defector.
It's Ducky to the rescue. Yay, David McCallum! He Zooms in from the Edinburgh leg of his lecture tour to share what he remembers about Sokolov, who was a brilliant polymath-turned-U.S. college professor. But when the team arrives at Sokolov's home, they find the man freshly tortured to death — and Yuri (Themo Melikidze) showering off all the blood in the next room.
The Russian is unsettlingly cheerful about being apprehended. He breezily admits that he killed Sokolov for being a traitor and says he's fine going to prison because there's "nothing left to handle." Ruh-roh.
When Palmer and Torres confer on their next steps, Torres ends their conversation with, "I love you, Jimmy." Ha! Palmer in turn gets Torres to confide that he's been talking to his mom more because their recent immigration cases made him realize how many sacrifices she made for him and his sister.
Elsewhere, Knight tells Kasie that she and Palmer haven't discussed his public declaration, and she wishes people would stop bugging her about it.
Her wish is granted when McGee (Sean Murray) unlocks Yuri's files and finds a photo of him with Miller. The high-res quality is how he was able to duplicate her irises (umm, if that's possible, it seems like a real biometric security loophole).
Since the senator swore she'd never seen contact-man before, she's called back in for questioning by a reluctant Parker. Everybody gathers around to watch Miller learn that her concurrent-night booty call doesn't trust her. She says the photo with Yuri was one of many she took at a recent fundraiser and offers to go through her donor records.
This leaves Parker in A Mood, and he gets shouty when he learns that John and Renee Watts "fell off a balcony" after landing in Moscow, leaving a Russia-bound Evelyn as the sole survivor who might have a clue about Yuri's true mission.
He gets shouty at the team for only bringing him bad news, which is when Knight stands up to announce something good: She loves Jimmy Palmer. They kiss in the middle of the orange room as everybody watches with big ol' smiles. (Okay, everybody except Parker.)
Then Parker gets a call about the location of Evelyn's transfer, and they roll out to save her life. When she learns that the other spies are dead, she happily agrees to share what she knows: Yuri wanted to get his hands on Delilah's universal access key because it was part of his plan for global chaos, revenge, and destruction.
Greco, meanwhile, is ready for a showdown with Parker over who spilled Evelyn's location. It's Miller, of course, using her senatorial access to discover that the American prisoner died of natural causes three weeks ago. Russia played them and Greco went along with it, and now she's got some questions about his portfolio with the Bank of Russia.
Parker offers to make it up to the senator, but she dumps him hard. Not only did he think she was maybe a traitor, but she says he's still in love with his old girlfriend. INTERESTINGGGG.
Interesting in a way more terrifying way is the information Ducky got from his Russian contact, who says Sokolov was working on some kind of weapon of mass destruction before he defected. So thanks to whatever info Yuri tortured out of him, the project could very well be back underway in Russia right now.
Sounds like we're right on track for a high-stakes season finale!
- As always, Parker's taste in pastries is sublime. Gimme dem cannolis.
- Have we settled on Palmer and Knight's couple name? It's Jimmica, right? Either that or Knalmer.
- Sure, Evelyn's a hardened Russian spy, but it had to be nice for her to hear that she was also Delilah's best TA.
- Were Jason MacDonald and Sadie Stratton, the actors who played the Wattses, too expensive to bring back for one more episode? RIP to the killed-offscreen couple!
- The Watts' episode "Bridges" is also the one that introduces Parker's ex-girlfriend Joy (Rachel Ticotin), who I've been hoping we'd see again. Will all that manifesting pay off in next week's season finale? See you then to find out!