When one of her students turns out to be a baddie, Delilah sets out to crack the case.
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S20 E9
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Thom E. Gemcity is back in business!

This week on NCIS, Knight (Katrina Law) is shocked to learn that McGee (Sean Murray) is a best-selling crime novelist who likes to think of himself as a Tom Clancy, not a John Grisham. (That tracks.) But since his main character, Agent L.G. Tibbs, is retired, McGee's looking for a new muse.

Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) excitedly pitches a tale starring Miami detective Rick Suarez, which involves a mysterious woman showing up to make out with him out of the blue. Sadly, his story is cut short by the death of NROTC Midshipman Will Watson.

Watson stripped to his skivvies and stepped into the street, where he was killed by a passing car. Palmer (Brian Dietzen) discovers that Will had a body temp of 107 degrees, and further investigations show that he paid with cash everywhere and used burner phones. Further further investigation shows that Will met someone in the alley behind a cafe that morning: McGee's wife, Delilah (Margo Harshman).

This naturally upsets McGee, who shows up at Waverly University, where Delilah is teaching a class on fundamentals in cryptology, and watches proudly as she concludes her lecture.

Sean Murray on 'NCIS'
Sean Murray on 'NCIS'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Will was one of Delilah's students, and she was meeting with him each week to discuss his research project. He had to let her in the back of the cafe because it's not wheelchair-accessible through the main entrance, which rightfully enrages the other agents.

Delilah is upset to hear that Will's dead, and McGee is upset that he didn't know his wife was meeting with a handsome undergrad every week. The only one not upset is Delilah's T.A., Evelyn, who's beyond thrilled to meet NCIS agent and novelist McGee.

I don't trust Evelyn. No T.A. is that excited about grading student work.

Palmer, who defends his choice of a vanilla latte by explaining that "Life's too short for bad coffee," says he found ecstasy in Will's system, and it interacted with Will's antidepressants, causing serotonin syndrome. (This is a real thing, by the way; be careful mixing meds!)

This makes the next culprits the brothers at the fraternity where Will was pledging. When Knight and Torres knock on the fraternity door, the student who opens it assumes they're parents. Naturally, the agents are horrified and take turns reassuring each other that they're still beautiful. I really do love their buddy-buddy dynamic.

One of the brothers complains that Will wasn't around to do his laundry, so he ended up doing it himself and bleaching his favorite shirt. Will's roommate Logan, though, takes the news of Will's death news much harder.

The agents find a laptop hidden in Will's mattress, and Kasie (Diona Reasonover) finds an alarmingly powerful cipher on it that could be used as a master key to bypass basically any security system imaginable to create global chaos.

Focus now falls on Delilah, whose government clearance could make her the person who got Will access to classified databases. She recognizes Will's cipher as one of her nonfunctional codes from grad school and tells McGee that she gave it to him as an example of failures not being the end of your career.

Will perfected her code and turned it into the perfect hacking weapon, and now Delilah is worried about losing her job and possibly facing prison. McGee, meanwhile, jealously implies that she kept her meetings with Will a secret on purpose. Sounds like things will be tense at home tonight.

Kasie and Knight, who cannot lie their way out of admitting they overheard the McGees fight, realize that Will likely copied the key to an external drive, kind of like the one missing from Will's keychain — his keychain that's been wiped with bleach.

Off they go to the bleach-shirted frat bro. He immediately casts suspicion on pledge Jared, who got into a fight with Will after going through his room. Also, Jared has $500,000 in an offshore account, deposited around the time he became a late pledge to the fraternity.

When the team goes to the house to question him, Jared flees to a waiting dog grooming van, making his escape. But Parker (Gary Cole) recognizes the van as a fake business the FBI uses during undercover ops. Jared's a fed!

Also, side note, what kind of cul-de-sac suburban neighborhood fever dream was that fraternity house located in? I don't know how they do Greek life in the D.C. area, but where I live, Greek Row is all on one block near campus, and none of the frat houses are meticulously maintained mansions on peaceful, gently curving suburban streets.

Anyway, everyone's shocked to learn that Jared is Agent Clarkson, who's actually 37 dang years old. And he's the one who called Torres and Knight old! Clarkson is angry that they almost blew his cover as he was trying to bust spies on the Waverly campus.

He'd learned that Will was recruited by Belarus to build the access key, and he cloned the burner phone Will used to talk to his handler, but the FBI hadn't been able to decode the messages.

Kasie calls in Delilah to help, which gives her and McGee a chance to make up. It's honestly mostly Delilah talking McGee through his post-Gibbs writer's block, but I guess that works for them.

Newly energized, Delilah uses Will's modifications to make an even more powerful cipher to decode the phone, which reveals his handler as Evelyn the T.A. Ha! I knew anybody that jazzed about grading student work was hiding something!

The messages make it clear that Will wanted to back out, and under questioning, Evelyn's perky facade doesn't waver even when she learns that they broke the code, perhaps because she was at the library when Will died. She may be a Belarussian spy, but she's no murderer.

Delilah slots the final piece in place when she points out that Logan, Will's roommate, dropped her class after failing the first project. On campus, Logan tries to flee, but former disc golf captain Knight knocks him off his scooter with a well-placed frisbee.

Logan admits that he used Will's USB with the code to hack the university system to change his bad grades, which he blames on the pressures of rushing. He gave Will the drugs to distract him during the op, but he never meant for his roomie to die.

Delilah is relieved that at least one of her former students was just a cheater, not a spy, and McGee tells her that he found a new muse: a beautiful, brilliant cryptologist by the name of Delena Fleming. Aw, so sweet! And yes to more sciencey female leads in fictional fiction!

Stray shots

  • I know these recaps are slowly turning into a Jimmy Palmer fan blog, but his excitement that McGee is writing again was so genuine and supportive. What a gentle king!
  • Speaking of McGee, do we buy him as a sneakerhead? Torres maybe, but McGeek?
  • In case you're worried, Delilah created her uber-code and immediately destroyed it because it was too damn powerful. But if you're someone who for a split second thought, "I dunno, girl, sell it and retire to a non-extradition country with a White Lotus resort" before your moral compass kicked in, well… I see you. I am you.
  • That's in for NCIS in 2022. See you bright and early next year!

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