So many episodes to get through, so little time. With the exception of only a few missteps (I am looking at you Penelope Papers), Season 9 of NCIS has been as good as ever and despite the reappearance of E.J. Barrett in this episode, Housekeeping moved us right along after a too long winter slumber. Enough preamble with so much to get through, let’s do it!
We join some kids already in progress lamenting how their parents’ New Year’s resolutions are affecting their life when the crashing sounds of a dead naval officer involved in a car accident break their reverie. Lets table that for a second.
Back at HQ, McGee is noting how the blues have gripped Ziva and Tony, his proof of which is that they both missed the Naval District New Years Eve Party (with a name like that, it just screams “hip party”, you know?). For her part, Ziva has had no contact from CIRay and, as we know from the end of Newborn King, Tony didn’t go to Wendy’s. Ziva is asserting that maybe its time for them to take charge of their life, when Gibbs enters the bullpen to tell them maybe they should go investigate the dead Navy officer. See? That’s why he is the boss, always with the good ideas.
Dead Navy officer is suffering from fatal gun shot wounds to the neck and chest fired from the passenger seat direction. Dead Navy officer’s name is Commander James Barnsway. The Lamenting Kids didn’t see any passenger but the passenger door was open. Ducky determines that the shooter’s distance would have been outside of the passenger window. Gibbs asks for Tony’s opinion and he deduces that the shot came from a second car. Gibbs finds shell casings and Tony figures It must have been a hell of a shot because the car would have been going pretty fast. The final deduction is that since the Lamenting Kids didn’t hear any shots, a silencer (which is a misnomer if you have ever heard a gun fired with a silencer attached, it should really just be called a “quieter”) was used. Gibbs notices an old biddy peeking out from her curtains and sics his team on her.
Old Biddy called the cops but makes it clear that she is
totally one for not one for getting involved. She gives almost zero definite details on the crime scene or its participants. This is what we learn for sure. The second car was an SUV that was painted a color and a blondish woman got out of “Jimmy’s” car and ran into the woods. Old Biddy didn’t recognize the blondish woman but knows it wasn’t his wife, Cara. When Old Biddy offers to call Cara because she’s a busybody concerned neighbor, Tony and Ziva ask her not to by way of insinuating that “Jimmy” was killed by Cara. Oh clutch thy pearls you Old Biddy is totally one for not one for getting involved.
The Cara interview. She’s very emotional. McGee and Ziva press her for an alibi given that Jimbo didn’t die “alone”. Cara thinks the other woman must be dead too which is an odd reaction to have if you didn’t know about the other woman … but obvs she did. She confirms for McGee and Ziva (and us) that yes, she knew about Jimbo being with the other woman; she was an old friend with a Navy connection to Jimbo and she called Jimmer out of the blue for help. All Cara knows is that Jimbob was going to bring her home (kinky) and that she needed help of some sort. Cara makes it clear that Jamesway was the kind of awesome guy that would drop everything for a
Jimburrito was a training officer at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River (in Maryland) but was previously stationed everywhere in the world. Tony pricks up his ears at the mention of the Naples station. He quickly changes the subject to Jim’s cell phone records and that he had no known enemies.
Down in Abby’s lab, we learn that there were no prints or residue found at the crime scene, BUT, she was able to recreate Jamestown’s trip via the GPS system and odometer and explains that his trip started at the Highway 12 Motorlodge. Her good work is rewarded with a hoagie (was Caff-Pow closed?!?).
At the Highway 12 Motorlodge, which is obviously located just outside of Lima, Ohio, Principal Figgins is working as the desk clerk and admits to only sketchy details on the blondish woman who stayed there last night. When Figgins has a blondish woman with a pretty smile pay cash for three nights, the need to produce ID becomes a lot less important. Straight to detention Principal Figgins! She signed in as Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood (the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1884 (and 1888) … thanks Tony!). This together with the Naples thing earlier leads you to believe that he is totally holding on to information but it comes off as him just acting weird. The security cameras reveal the blondish woman showing back up to the Motorlodge a half hour ago and leaving again, bag in hand, five minutes later. They run outside to try and intercept her and quickly deduce she was hitching a ride on a big rig. Back in Abby’s lab, she cleans up the security camera video footage to the point of being able to ID the blondish woman on the screen while back at the Motorlodge, Gibbs and the gang stop the tanker truck carrying the blondish woman. Who is it?!? Who is the blondish woman? Fucking E.J. Barrett. G-D son of a bitch, I thought she was dead. Despite my outrage, I did not send my Hot Pocket through the screen of the TV but instead kept watching. Anyway, EJ is looking a hot mess and she offers the gang a meek, “Hey guys.” Tony … is surprised she’s alive.
At the EJ interrogation, Tony is airing his grievances (um, Tony? Festivus is over buddy) over she leaving him lying in the alley at the beginning of the season. She defends herself that she thought he was dead too, like Cade. Afterwards and since, she’s been on the run (which is different from running away apparently?!?). She called Jimmy Barnstormer because she had been on the run so long, “they” caught up to her and she needed a friend. At the shooting of Dead Jimmy, turns out that EJ was wearing the same vest as that night in the alley. She confirms that Dead Jimmbulaya’s shooter is not Bailey Salinger.
Down in Abby’s lab, EJ’s rendering of the shooter is being run through various computer databases and Abby excuses herself from the awkward tension present in the room. Tony confirms that Naples and the Belva name were clues that made him think EJ was involved. He also confesses to spending a lot of time looking for EJ and he’s hurt that she thought she couldn’t reach out to him. The computer, not being able to stand the tension and sad Tonyness, pings with a hit.
Later, back in the bullpen, Ziva and McGee are cautioning Tony against falling for EJ again since her story is so fishy (also, cause she is a horrible and annoying person). Gibbs enters and wants the lowdown on the shooter. He is former Captain Marcellus Dane, a Navy Seal that was dishonorably discharged for taking bribes from private contractors. He was later hired by the same private contractors as a weapons specialist. He is known to carry the M9 Berretta which is the same weapon as the shots taken at Jimbert. Gibbs moves out when McGee locates a cell signal and he keeps Tony at HQ to babysit EJ. At the cell location site, Dane is found dead, stabbed and tossed from a window. The phone signal was done specifically to lure Gibbs and the gang to see him dead. The dramatic camera pulls back to the crowd’s point of view and we see Bailey Salinger in the crowd looking … satisfied?
At a restaurant of some sort, Gibbs flashes his badge to get past security protecting SecNav. Away from the table, Gibbs tells Jarvis that he needs to speak to Sean Latham because they may have a bead on “Casey Stratton”. Gibbs produces the Phantom 8 class pictuire he’s been carrying around all season in which Dane is a posed member. SecNav admits to discussions of Phantom 8 coming up when DiNozzo was injured at the beginning of the season; it’s a clandestine unit associated with the Watcher Fleet and is highly CLASSIFIED! Gibbs asks if Stratton is classified too? You see, he is in the class photo too. Gibbs spells it out that Stratton killed Agent Cade and tried to do in EJ and Tony. Oh, by the way, he lets Jarvis know that EJ’s come out from the cold. I am not feeling SecNav’s sincerity when he says that’s good news and Jarvis hems and haws about Latham’s knowledge of the whole affair. Gibbs is all, Latham should have at least recognized Stratton when we talked about him earlier in the season, a duh. Jarvis is not at all pleased about having to get Latham to bring in Stratton … but Gibbs is very persuasive. Meanwhile, Tony and EJ check in to a safe house. Which is gross (the safe house I mean, not them moving in together … which is also gross). EJ is throwing a pity party for herself and falls asleep while Tony is philosophizing about mistakes and regrets. Tony sets himself up for a night of keeping watch.
The SecNav meeting with Sean Latham and Gibbs, the next day. Latham is not pleased with Gibbs’ attendance and Gibbs cuts through the bullshit and asks Latham if he knows everything about his team throwing in a “sir” at the end to feign respect. Gibbs produces the Phantom 8 class photo for Latham. Latham’s immediate reaction is to start whining about the confidentiality and clasifiedness of that picture (maybe you all shouldn’t have posed for a class photo then if it was so fucking sensitive, dumb ass). Latham identifies Stratton as Captain Jonathan Cole, a former Green Beret who was recruited into Phantom 8 in 2003. He says that its not possible that Cole did the murders but Jarvis presses the point that he needs to bring Cole/Stratton/Bailey Salinger in because Jarvis would like a word. Gibbs imports the importance of timing and SecNav tells Latham to make it happen, to rise to the occasion. That was some nice good cop/ bad cop. And I’ll take SecNav over Vance anyday and twice on Tuesday.
At the safe house, Ziva brings coffee and glad tidings. When Tony goes to shower, EJ and Ziva bond a bit. Oh no show, do not try to make us like EJ, she’s a bad character and I will not tolerate her continued presence!!!
Latham and Bailey Salinger meet in a park. Latham tries to convince Bailey Salinger to let EJ go and by the way, you shouldn’t have killed Dane. Bailey Salinger does not compute and says that Dane failed in his mission … so he had to die. Well. That’s a fairly simplistic moral code to live by, no? Bailey Salinger stresses that he has to complete his mission. (Ok crazy). Latham gives Bailey Salinger the location of the safe house but then tells him to drop the mission and disappear so neither of them go to Leavenworth (the federal penitentiary). Bailey Salinger takes this under advisement and then stabs Latham in the belly. Much like a Brokeback cowboy, Bailey Salinger just can’t quit his mission. After sitting dying Latham on a park bench, Bailey Salinger leaves the park with his dog in tow. Well, better Latham than the dog.
Later, Ducky exposits that Latham was killed by the same knife and via the same technique as Dane (before he was thrown out the window). He hands Gibbs the now deactivated Phantom 8 microchip and they talk about trying to catch a ghost.
In the woods, outside of the safe house, Bailey Salinger sets up a heavy duty grenade launcher, complete with scope. Inside the safe house, Tony and EJ are arming themselves for a gun fight. Tony is lamenting that women don’t love movies the way he does and EJ is pitching Ziva to Tony. He dismisses this since they are colleagues and they have each other’s back. In other words, he non-answers. By the way, we are clearly dealing with two different safe houses and shame on you show for the obvious ploy which has been done before (Standing Blogger will undoubtedly name the episode in the comments). Also, what did I tell you about trying to redeem EJ, she sucks and is bad. No redemption for EJ!
Outside the safe houise, Bailey Salinger let’s his grenade (might be a SAM (Surface to Air Missile) actually) loose on the house as McGee ands Ziva monitor and call in the launch. The house goes up in an awesome explosion and Gibbs, McGee and Ziva move in for the capture. Bailey Salinger takes off after hearing them approach and Ziva gets a visual. Gibbs tells her to take the shot if she has it (I like that that’s a realistic explanation of a rules of engagement order that would actually be given but not often stated in TV or movies). Chase through the woods, chase through the woods, chase through the woods. Ziva empties an entire clip into some tress but misses Bailey Salinger entirely. Bailey Salinger returns fire with a literal hand cannon but is eventually snagged in a choke point. He surrenders with a smirk and apologizes to Gibbs for his loss, thinking that Tony and EJ are dead. “Wrong place, wrong time.” Gibbs agrees with that sentiment and then makes a deliberate phone call in front of Bailey Salinger to Tony to tell him its over. You see, SecNav fed Latham the wrong address which was twenty miles East of the real safe house. Oh, you are sooo busted Bailey!!!
Wrap Ups. EJ and Tony say goodbye. Back at HQ, a shackled Bailey Salinger gets the Gibbs interrogation treatment. He tells Bailey that he did good service but is not currently doing good service. Gibbs is not sure where he went off the rails but makes it clear to him that now, Bailey is no better than the guys he killed in the service to his country. When Bailey Salinger tries to analogize himself to Gibbs, Gibbs makes it clear that he doesn’t kill innocents for money. Bailey finds this curious since he killed all those innocents down in Mexico … he then breaks into a song that I think is South of the Border, Down Mexico Way. Creepy. Ziva asks Tony about EJ’s whereabouts and its clear she’s having some trouble with CIRay’s AWOL status. Embracing EJ’s advice, Tony encourages her frustration and says they have a lot in common … as he moves intimately close to her (from which she does not back away). Its the first move towards them as a couple and then … CIRay calls. Oh damn it. Tony handles it well enough but cearly he’s thinking FML as Ziva goes off to answer the call from her wayward boyfriend. And scene.
Ok, two gripes Show. One, I hope you got your EJ fix out of your system. Now, no more of her. Two, I spent a day trying to convince Standing Blogger (and myself) that this isn’t the end of the Phantom 8/Bailey Salinger storyline because this should have been the new long thread Gibbs’ nemesis storyline but its tough to think how that is going to play out with Bailey in shackles. What about the auction from the Watcher Fleet screen room? What about the mirco chip secrecy? What are the motivations here, what are we doing? This cannot be the end of the storyline. DON’T DISAPPOINT ME SHOW!!!!!!
Until next time …