Guns can keep the peace, but they can also take lives. Tonight's NCIS episode tackles that duality as the team tries to solve the murder of a gentle giant named Peacekeeper.
Navy reservist Victor Bateson is found dead in a junk car used for target practice at a gun range, his body riddled with 150 bullets, and poor Palmer's (Brian Dietzen) tasked with figuring out which one killed him while the rest of the crew determines who fired the shot.
Victor's universally described as a kind man who worked a number of part-time jobs. Harry, his boss at the Lionhead Bar and Grill, said Victor was the best bouncer he ever had with a gift for defusing tense situations.
Even his ex-wife Lexi has good things to say. However, she works in marketing for Zaneta Firearms and hosts gun salons in her living room to introduce women to the merchandise, so her connection to the gun industry keeps her on the suspect list.
Also of note is one of the guests at Lexi's gun show-and-tell. It's Kasie (Diona Reasonover), who's been struggling with anxiety after her various involvements with shootouts and hostage situations. She's taking Krav Maga but seems leery of Knight's offer to help her look into other self-defense options.
She tells Palmer she's not sure if owning a gun will keep her safe or remind her of what she's afraid of, and her big question is WWGS: What would Gibbs say?
Palmer suggests Gibbs would tell her to keep her options open while she's taking the time to heal. As for Palmer, he's pulled too many bullets from bodies over the years to own a gun.
Hey, is Kasie in therapy? Because Kasie should be talking to someone about all this.
Back on the case, the team visit the Fairfax Expo Center, where Victor worked security. Yet again, he's described in glowing terms, although Pete, a vendor of antique and collectible guns, gripes that Victor gave a choice expo table to Zaneta rep Doris.
Pete also says a dirtbag selling ammo out of his van in the parking lot gave Victor some trouble, so off the team goes. The dirtbag's also selling illegal weapons, but he pleads innocence about Victor's death and tells them that Doris and Victor were secretly dating.
Back to Doris they go. Lexi's her boss, so she was keeping their relationship under wraps. But Lexi would've been thrilled by it, as Victor marrying Doris would've gotten her off the hook for the alimony she owed Victor.
The soap opera of it all sends Knight (Katrina Law) down to autopsy to collect herself before continuing the investigation. Palmer finds her and gently suggests that this involuntary physical reaction comes from traumatic experiences, which they've all had.
Is Knight in therapy? Go! To! Therapy! People!
Palmer's patience pays off when he finds three bullets not linked to firing range guns. Kasie, who's fine shooting a weapon in her lab to run tests, asks Parker (Gary Cole) what he thinks about gun ownership.
Parker's obviously comfortable with guns but tells Kasie that when you walk around with a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Plus there are lots of people he'd rather not own one. (Same, sir.) Then again, if she's spending this much time thinking through the issue, she probably wouldn't be one of those people.
The mystery of the fatal shot is solved when Palmer realizes that a large firing-range bullet shoved a smaller bullet into Victor's spine. It's a 32 ACP from a Walther PPK — as in the gun James Bond carries And who sells classic guns?
Yep, we're back to Pete, who produces a bill of sale for a Walther PPK to Harry, the bar and grill owner. Although the man had claimed his weapon of choice was a Louisville Slugger, he quickly confesses that he killed Victor in an accidental shooting.
They had a few drinks at closing and fought about the night's take being short $300. One thing led to another, and Harry brandished his new gun, which went off. He was racing his friend Victor to the hospital when he died in his car, so Harry panicked and left the body at the nearby firing range. The next morning, he found the missing cash under his desk.
It's a sad story, and another example of a guy Parker wishes hadn't owned a gun.
The episode ends with Knight taking Kasie to a shooting range, patiently talking her through the process. Kasie likes the shooting part but decides she doesn't want to own a gun, although she would like to come back from time to time with Knight to blow off steam.
It's interesting to see the state of Kasie and Knight's friendship. Although Knight's still quite new, the women seem close. And if it feels a little fast, well, the show makes a point that they're both carrying various traumas, so let's cheer on this relationship.
More Gary Cole impressions of Sylvester Stallone, please!
Speaking of Parker, what a humane approach to work/life balance he has. First he defines all-nighters as only appropriate "for missing children and term papers and honeymoons," and then he tells Palmer to be home in time to tuck his daughter into bed. And what a casually damning indictment of the zero-balance lifestyle when Palmer wonders if this is double reverse psychology.
Torres is taking on his own Gibbs project! The scrap car from the firing range turns out to be the very first car Torres ever owned. He lost it in a crash with a pizza delivery van when he was on his way to visit his first-ever girlfriend, Stella. And now he's going to rebuild Stella 2.0 with his own hands — but he's doing it in his garage, not a basement.
This week's episode carved off an interesting slice of the American gun debate. It's not "should we?" but "what happens when we do?" And it's perhaps a timelier question than the showrunners intended given some of the high-profile verdicts being handed down recently. If you carry a hammer, do you start seeing nails everywhere?
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