Your attention, please: Gary Cole has entered the big orange room.
This week's episode of NCIS features a new victim of the hammer-and-red-tape killer, which sets Cole's character on a collision course with Gibbs & Co. And let me tell you, neither silver fox is pleased to meet the other.
Gibbs is all over the latest murder from his new barn HQ, and thanks to some creative press conference spinning courtesy of Vance, the world thinks Gibbs is dead, freeing him up to pursue the killer undetected.
The location history on the newest victim's jogging bracelet sends the team to a basement apartment, where the killer manages to elude them. But his landlady shares a copy of his (fake) ID, allowing them to track "Tommy Samuel" on security and traffic cams all over town.
But Samuels appears to be one step ahead, calling Torres' cell to gloat that he can kill any of them the way he killed Gibbs.
Cliff Lipson/CBS Sean Murray, Rocky Carroll, and Mark Harmon on 'NCIS'
You know who's not convinced Gibbs is dead? Fornell, who turns up at NCIS to badger them until they give up his buddy's whereabouts. Okay, I know secrecy is key, but somebody should've given Fornell a quiet heads-up about this. He and Gibbs are besties!
Then again, Gibbs appears to have a new bestie. He and Marcie adorably bicker over his technology usage and discover the same masked hat-wearer lurking in the background of most of the Samuels footage.
Gibbs stakes out this new mystery man, which is where Fornell finds him. First Fornell digs for information on Marcie, and then he talks about the unbearable pain of losing a child. He suggests that Gibbs uses his pursuit of justice to fill the void inside him, when "chasing bad guys might not be the answer anymore. Hell, it might even be the problem."
Dang, Fornell's spitting truth left and right. The grief support group he's in with Palmer must be paying dividends.
The stakeout also pays dividends when the team tracks down the mysterious masked man, who puts up a fight but is ultimately captured. Say what you will, but this guy's the only person in this episode wearing a mask, so at least give him credit for respecting the Delta variant.
During interrogation, the man's all glib swagger, insisting that coincidences happen all the time. (Ha — tell that to rule 39!) But when McGee threatens to put his face on the news, he drops the act and tells McGee to turn the cameras off.
McGee sees something in the man's face that gets him to agree, and he comes clean: He's FBI Special Agent Alden Parker, and he's been undercover trying to bring down the same serial killer Gibbs is chasing. Parker agrees to share what the FBI have, although he's reluctant to keep Gibbs in the loop, what with him being suspended and also allegedly dead.
Gibbs, meanwhile, is meeting with Marcie and Fornell at Samuels' lair. Fornell looks at Marcie with heart-eyes, but Gibbs makes it clear that he'd be interested in making a move as soon as Marcie gives him the green light. Jealous Gibbs is quite something, isn't he? [Fans self]
Thanks to more traffic cam footage, the team finds Samuels at his mother's mausoleum, where he's stashed a duffel bag with cash and a passport. Gibbs gets there first and pulls a gun, and Samuels tries to goad Gibbs into shooting him.
It's tense for a second when it seems like Gibbs is considering it (the dude did blow up his boat, after all, along with killing who knows how many people), but in the end Gibbs does the right thing. His momentary hesitation doesn't impress Parker, however.
With the killer apprehended, Marcie wraps up her interviews for her story and says goodbye to Gibbs. Not only did she have coffee with "Toby" (and wow, Fornell is not the "Toby" type!), but she tells Gibbs that she's heading to Mitch's cabin for the weekend.
Gibbs can barely contain his jealous surprise at hearing about Mitch, who turns out to be a woman named Michelle. She thanks Gibbs for taking care of "our girl," and Marcie hugs Gibbs and drives off. AAAHHHHH WHAT A GREAT EXIT FOR PAM DAWBER! And hey, Jess Knight did say Gibbs might not be Marcie's type, which in itself could be an interesting statement about Knight herself, no?
Okay, back to the case. LeMere turns out to be a Navy SEAL with a bad-behavior discharge and an offshore bank account that grows by $50,000 every 100 days. So he's potentially less of a serial killer and more of a contract killer, paid by a shell company.
A contract killer?! If so, I can't wait to hear if that jogger's nice husband was somehow involved in her death. He's played by John Hensley of Nip/Tuck fame, after all.
Anyway, LeMere refuses to give up any useful information in questioning and eventually bashes his way out of the interrogation room through the glass, which may just be an NCIS first. (If my memory is faulty, let me know!)
LeMere runs through the orange room and takes Kasie hostage, clearly unconcerned about who gets killed in his escape attempt. But Gibbs steps off the elevator and shoots him from behind, saving Kasie but killing the only man with answers to a whole host of questions.
Apparently Fornell's given some thought to how Gibbs will eventually kick the bucket: "Guys like Gibbs don't die getting blown up in their boats. They die rescuing babies and puppies from burning buildings, in the middle of a hurricane." That… sounds about right, actually.
On the Young Turk front, Knight's weirded out at how much Torres is pushing her to take over Bishop's empty desk, to the extent that he moves a few of her personal effects into it. She tells him that she has her reasons for valuing her personal space — story to come, no doubt — and he admits to regretting not telling Bishop how he felt when he had the chance. All in all, the new team configuration is shaping up nicely.
I'm pretty sure LeMere threatened Kasie with Knight's grandmother's letter opener at the end. And not to take sides, but if she'd let Torres move her belongings to Bishop's desk, it wouldn't have been such a handy weapon…
So what do we think about Alden Parker? He's a divorced Cubs fan (fun shout-out to Cole's native Illinois!) with enough tech savvy to impress McGee, and although NCIS showrunners have said over and over that Parker isn't a Gibbs replacement, the fact remains that Mark Harmon's appearing in fewer episodes this season, Cole is now a series regular, and, well, you do the math.