NCIS: Hung Out To Dry

>> Monday, July 14, 2008

Right. I've consumed large quantities of vodka. So let's get to recapping episode two!

We open on a view of a truck parked in a field scattered with trees. The Foley guys have gone postal with the mics, and the lip smacking is threatening to burst my eardrums. We hear a girl's voice protesting to a douchebag named "Jimmy": "Stop, I said no!" We cut to inside of the truck, as the girl is revealed to be an annoyed blonde, and Jimmy is revealed to be, well, a douche. To wit: "I sat my sorry ass on a torn-up bus for three hours to hook up with you." Blonde is as unimpressed with Douche's logic as I am. He attempts to smoove her with the old "you know I love you" schtick. Yeah, that'll work. The Douche gets inappropriate again, and Blonde threatens to scream, until a Marine halts the date rape in progress by slamming legs first through the roof of the truck. Blonde follows through on her threat by unhinging her jaw and shrieking us into the credits.

Ahh, much better. They've introduced the drum beat. I boogie on the couch, while the cats give me strange looks. As well they should.

We cut to Gibbs' basement. Gibbs vigorously sands his boat while listening to the radio. Tony's voice interrupts with "Don't you lock the door?" Duh, Tony. Nobody on TV does. Tony exposits that they got a call from Quantico, "Marine killed in an exercise." Apparently the unfortunate Marine's chute failed to open, which is why he ended up ploughing legs first into the truck from the pre-credits sequence. Tony wanders further into the basement, eyeing the skeleton of the boat. "This a boat?" he foolishly enquires. Gibbs thinks that's a stupid question too, and glares. Gibbs decides not to hurl his sander thingy at Tony's head, and wonders if the reserve chute also failed. Tony doesn’t' t know. Tony mentions that he tried Gibbs' mobile, which we see floating in some paint thinner. Tony continues that he tried the landline, and we cut to a shot of Gibbs' house phone with the receiver ... either off the hook or smashed. Leave me alone. I'm drunk. "Don't ask," Gibbs replies curtly.

Tony wriggles his eyebrows and starts with some blather about how his dad gave him a power sander for his birthday once, and that Gibbs is welcome to have it, but Gibbs shoots him down, noting that there are few available sockets in the Boat Building Basement (no, it's not a snappy name, exactly, but I'm enjoying the alliteration, and it's my crappy recap, so shut up), and Tony comments on Gibbs' exclusive use of hand tools. Gibbs corrects that he "uses [his] hands" and asks whether Tony has called Ducky yet. Aw, Ducky. Tony replies in the negative as Gibbs heads upstairs. Tony tosses Gibbs his mobile (I can't call it a cell phone) and yells "Coming, DiNozzo?" as Tony looks around the BBB, muttering about his boss's weirdness, as Gibbs cuts the lights on him. Heh.

Cut to the field as lights flare on all over the place. A Marine dude leads Gibbs and Tony over to the scene. Blipverts of the dead Marine. Ouch. "He impaled an SUV?" wonders Tony. The Marine, who my subtitles identify as "Nutt", confirms this. Gibbs wonders where the other jumpers are. Nutt points "over there", saying they dropped 400 metres north of the road. "Just one stick?" Gibbs wonders. What? Nobody explains what that means exactly, but I assume he meant the group that jumped. Like I know from military terminology. Nutt confirms that the "jumpmaster" must have held the others back. Anyway, Gibbs checks whether Nutt secured the paraloft and the aircraft they jumped from. Nutt confirms this, adding that he also has the other Marines who didn't make the jump under guard at the hangar. Gibbs tells him to put them with the others, but, following Rule Number 1, also wants to make sure to keep them separated.

We hear the Blonde, who according to the subtitles is actually "Sarah" moaning "Oh, my God" from off screen. Nutt identifies Blonde and Douche as the witnesses. Blonde is covered in blood, shivering, and freaking that her dad will kill her, as he is on duty and doesn't know she took his car. He won’t be pleased with your taste in boys either, honey. Gibbs strides up, asking if Blonde's dad is a Marine. "Yes, sir," Blonde shivers. Nutt jumps in, identifying Blonde's dad as Master Sergeant Tom Schaefer, a TI at Quantico. Douche rubs his stupid hair in the background. Tony turns and asks Douche if his dad is a Marine at Quantico too. No way, says the Douche. Douchily. Blonde continues to rub her arms, and Gibbs notices. He hilariously strips the Douche of his jacket and wraps it around Blonde. Douche looks cranky. Shut up, Douche. We gain further confirmation of Douche's douchiness by way of him smoking. I toss a sullen glare at the writers for that visual cue, and light up a cigarette. Anyway, Gibbs introduces himself and Tony to Blonde, asking what happened. Blonde tells him that she and Douche were parked, and Douche jumps in, saying that they were "hanging out and listening to Dashboard Confessional." "What?" spits Gibbs. "Emo," supplies Tony helpfully. Gibbs has no idea what he's talking about. "Never mind, Gibbs. It's totally crap, and people who listen to it have stupid hair," Tony says. In my head. Gibbs moves on, confirming that they were listening to music, and ... "He smashed through the roof," supplies Blonde. "And wham, pow, blood everywhere," adds Douche. Blonde continues that she screamed and they ran out for help. Nutt confirms this, stating that he met them about a click down the road on his way to the scene. Blonde moans that she felt bad for leaving him. "He was alive?" asks Gibbs. Blonde tells him that she heard him groan. Oh, ow. Douche douches that it was a death rattle. "You ever heard a death rattle?" wonders Tony. "I was using it as a trope," brats Douche. "A what?" spits Gibbs. "A trope. A figurative use of expression?" condescends the Douche. Shut up, Douche. Gibbs sighs to Nutt to call Blonde's dad and have him pick her up. Douche wonders eagerly if he can leave now, like, nice one, Douche. "Not until after Master Sergeant Schaefer gets here. I'm sure he's gonna have a trope or two for you," Gibbs sneers at him. Heh. Don't mess with the Gibbs, Douche. Douche looks terrified. Hee.

The boys head over to the mangled truck, Gibbs noting Ducky's arrival. Apparently he's also on a ladder. Tony says he'll get the monopod. What? Ducky immediately starts in as the boys approach, telling them that "the last time [he] was up this high [he] was hanging a piñata at [his] nephew's birthday party." Gibbs asks what they've got, and Ducky shines his flashlight on the dead Marine and tells him that there's lots and lots of abrasions, wincing sympathetically. So am I. That looks painful. Ducky goes on to say that the nearby tree must have slowed the fall a bit, and notes that it looks like the Marine's neck is broken, which is "hardly surprising" given the "rapid descent followed by the equally rapid deceleration." Gibbs chimes in that "witnesses over there said that he groaned after he decelerated." Ducky will have to wait for autopsy to confirm that. Gibbs examines the car and the Marine's chute, observing that a number of the shroud lines failed. "Enough of those go," explains Gibbs, "chute doesn't catch air, it tootsie-rolls, lets you down like a Roman candle." Ducky wonders if the lines were cut, but Gibbs says they look worn. Gibbs notices that the Marine still has his reserve chute on, and wonders why the Marine didn't pull it.

At this point, Tony returns to the scene with Kate, whom the MP's were not going to let onto the scene. Kate picks her way along beside Tony in her suit and heels. She tells them that she has her gun and badge, but "HQ didn't issue my photo ID." She gasps at the Marine, wondering if this is for real. What, did you think this was some kind of hazing ritual, Kate? Ducky assures her that, unfortunately, it is indeed for real. Gibbs hands Kate some gloves as Ducky enthuses that this is her first crime scene with them, calling her "Caitlin". She reminds him about Air Force One (or rather, Not Air Force One), but he dismisses this, as Kate was in the Secret Service then. Ducky wants Tony to take a team photo, but Gibbs nixes this, noting that the sun will be up soon, and pulling a box out of his bag and handing it to Kate. Gibbs thrusts the box at Kate with "Welcome to NCIS," and slaps an NCIS cap on her head. Kate grins wryly and pulls a pair of boots out of the box. Awesome. Kate wonders how Gibbs knew her size. Silly Kate. Gibbs knows everything! Gibbs tells her to put them on, because "You can't work a field in high heels." Tony begins to unveil his Fratboy Persona by snarking that it depends on the kind of work you're doing. He’s totally picturing her on a stripper pole right now. Kate snits something about his X-rated mind as she goes to put on her boots. Tony is unfazed. "Photos, Tony" barks Gibbs, attempting to bring the focus back to the crime scene at hand. Clearly this is not entirely successful, as while Tony photographs the unfortunate Marine, he asks Ducky about Gibbs' wanton phone abuse from earlier. Ducky groans, saying he should have realised the time of year. Tony is intrigued. "It's his anniversary," Ducky explains. Tony is eager for gossip. "Which marriage?" he asks. "The last one, of course," duhs Ducky. "Isn't it always?" Heh. Tony and Ducky continue their examination of the car and the corpse, with Tony squeezing in beside Ducky in the doorway of the car to demand further explanation. Ducky elaborates: "Every year, ex-wife number 3 gets drunk on their anniversary and calls him. Repeatedly." Ahhh, drunk dialling your ex. Tony wonders why Gibbs doesn't change his number, but Ducky has no clue. Um, Contrivance and Exposition told him not to? Ducky intones dramatically that Gibbs is a man of "more questions than answers." Whatever.

Fortunately, Gibbs and a boot-shod Kate stride back onto the scene to put an end to this nonsense, and I flail around for the power cord before my laptop dies. Once they've arrived and my battery is safely recharging, Tony takes a picture of Kate. She snidely thanks him, and he announces that she "could be the NCIS poster girl in that outfit." She does look rather cute, with her hair pulled up under her cap, her grey skirt suit and boots. Aw. I still think I can't pull of the corporate wear, and I have to wear some approximation of it daily. Feh. But enough about me. Kate rolls her eyes and smirks at Tony as we flash to some shots of the poor dead Marine, like, can't they take the poor bastard out of the truck already?

We cut to the airbase as power chords twang on the soundtrack. Yes, power chords, it's all terribly manly and dramatic. We get it. Now, shhh. Gibbs and Kate stride up as some Marine Dude powers over to meet them, wondering if they are JAG or NCIS. Gibbs wonders sarcastically if he looks like a lawyer (answer: No), as the Marine Dude spits that the news is all over the base, and bitches that his men can't call their families to reassure them that they were not the poor unfortunate who slammed through the roof of a date rape in progress. The poor unfortunate Marine gets a name - Sergeant Fuentes - as Gibbs wonders if he was married. Marine Dude says that he was, with a young son. You know, so we know how tragic it all is. Gibbs tells Marine Dude that the "notification detail" should be there by now informing the wife of her new widow status. He says that word will get out who was killed, which will make all the other families feel better, or something. Marine Dude, chewing the scenery with a side of relish, spits that Sergeant Fuentes was under his command, and he would like to pay a visit to the widow himself, but Gibbs shoots him down, saying that he has to question Marine Dude and his men first. Marine Dude hisses and spits, and Gibbs sneers at him. They piss and bitch for a while, with Marine Dude sneering that he doesn't take orders from "Navy cops," but Gibbs whips out his, uh, mobile to call Marine Dude's boss, a Commandant May. Marine Dude slinks off in defeat, having lost the measuring contest (of course), and Tony, whose mobile Gibbs was using, protests that he doesn't have a Marine Commandant's number in his speed dial. Gibbs smugs that "the Captain didn't know that," then sends Tony to "shoot and sketch" on the plane, "especially the static lines." Meanwhile, he and Kate will interrogate the rest of the Marines. Tony enthuses about how cool jumping is, and I agree with him. Gibbs snarks that he can pay $180 like all those other "weekend warriors". Tony rightly points out that he has few free weekends, then poses, smirking, on the plane as Gibbs and Kate go to interrogate the survivors of the jump.

The other Marines, meanwhile, sit glumly in a line like naughty school boys. Gibbs and Kate chat to the three other Marines who jumped with Sergeant Fuentes, asking if he led "[their] stick." That sounded dirty. A Marine called Dafelmair confirms this, saying that he was "number two, Ramsey was three, Brinkman four." We cut to a flashback, with Marine Dude yelling, "First stick, you're up! Fuentes, look sharp!" and ushering them towards the hatch of the plane. The four men fly out of the hatch (whee!), as Ramsey continues the narrative, saying that after his chute deployed, he looked around. He saw Brinkman's chute open above him, but when he looked down, only one other chute had opened. He continues that he didn't know if it was "Paul" (I presume he means Dafelmair) or "Thumper". Kate queries this, and Ramsey tells her that this was their nickname for Fuentes. Brinkman continues that while it might sound crazy now, Fuentes what the squad's "good luck guy". Ramsey interjects that he was "a walking rabbit's foot." "Thumper," says Kate, getting it. Ramsey nods and says that Fuentes "always seemed to dodge the bullets. We could tell you a million stories." Gibbs, perhaps scarred from his association with Ducky, butts in, telling him they only want one story. Ramsey obliges, telling Gibbs that Fuentes bought a new bike "last week", and had an unfortunate collision with a car running a red light. Dafelmair adds that Fuentes "dinged his collarbone a little. Other than that, not a scratch." Gibbs queries this. Dafelmair says that he was fine after a day or two, looking slightly shifty. Gibbs hmmphs at this, then wonders who reached him first. Dafelmair says that he did, having seen him "Roman candle short of the field." He says that as soon as he unhooked himself, he was off to find Fuentes. Gibbs asks what Ramsey and Brinkman were up to during that time. Brinkman "hung up in a tree, [Ramsey] gave me hand. Saw [Dafelmair] yelling. We joined him." Ramsey chokes up. "I can't believe the way Thumper died. It was like a bad movie." Or a CBS show. Gibbs nods at this, and asks (Corporal) Dafelmair if Fuentes was dead when he reached him. Dafelmair confirms that he was, and says he died on impact, or "at least, I hope he did." Kate chooses this moment to ask why Fuentes didn't pull his reserve. Brinkman tells her than when you are jumping from 1,300 feet and your main fails, you have only a few seconds to react. Gibbs then tells the men that they all will need to prepare a statement detailing what they saw. "Yes, sir!" they exclaim in unison. They turn and reach for their gear, but Gibbs stops them, almost purring that their gear is his now. The boys pout and slink away. Gibbs asks Kate what she thinks. Kate thinks Fuentes didn't have time to "pop his reserve." Gibbs asks why not, obviously doing his training shtick. Kate says that his reaction time was too slow. "Nuts," declares Gibbs. Heh. "Dinged collarbone," says Kate. "Injured clavicle hurts like hell," says Gibbs. He says that it takes more than a couple of days to heal. Kate wonders if he thinks Dafelmair was lying. "He was if he knew that Thumper was taking painkillers so he could jump." Kate declares that to be stupid. Gibbs corrects her, saying "that's a Marine." Nah, too easy.

Morgue. Ducky enumerates Fuentes' various injuries. Gibbs asks about his clavicle. Ducky is incredulous. "With all this massive skeletal damage, you're curious about his clavicle?" Gibbs smiles and asks Ducky to humour him. Ducky pulls the relevant x-ray off the light box and wonders how Gibbs knew about the fine hairline fracture on the left clavicle. Gibbs knows everything, Ducky. Keep up. Anyway, Kate jumps in to state that it occurred recently, but not last night. Ducky is slightly wigged about his psychic co-workers. Gibbs asks if the fracture would be painful. Ducky says that it wouldn't be too severe in normal conditions, but that the shock of a parachute opening would "hurt like blazes." He wants to know how they knew about the fracture. Gibbs ignores this, reminding Ducky that Blonde said she heard Fuentes moan, and wants to know if he was alive after impact. Ducky sighs and grimaces sadly. "Briefly," he says gravely. Ow ow ow. Poor Fuentes. He had to listen to emo while dying! Gibbs and Kate make sad faces while approaching poor, tormented Fuentes' body. Ducky cautions her not to get too close, saying that he will put pictures up on the monitor for her, clearly worried that she might hurl all over the corpse. Ducky notes that Fuentes suffered massive internal trauma, while positioning his camera, but that the technical cause of death was severing of the femoral artery. We see a close up of Fuentes' mangled femoral artery. Kate looks like she is, indeed, going to hurl. Heh. Ducky continues that Fuentes bled to death, as the close up of the femoral artery fades into an arty shot of ... um, red stuff, as we cut to the lab. Apparently Abby has created a wicked cool picture of "self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen," which she is currently proudly displaying to Tony. Heh.

Gibbs chooses this moment to barge in and ask about his tox screen results. Um. He means Fuentes' tox screen ... never mind. Abby says that Fuentes tested positive for Percocet and Vicodin. Mmm, vicodin. She and Tony do a little "double your pleasure, double your fun" riff that Gibbs ignores in favour of asking what the levels were, which were "0.17. He was slow-juiced, like a koala bear." They love the Australian wildlife over there, it would seem. Abby guesses that he took the painkillers right before he jumped. Gibbs bitches that the Marines in Fuentes' string probably knew about it. Kate wonders why they didn't tell them, but Abby answers with "Semper Fi. You rat, you fry." Heh. Gibbs gives her A Look, then asks if Fuentes' reserve chute was okay. Abby confirms that it was, all he had to do was "pop it." Kate notes that he might have if his reflexes weren't slowed by "opioids". Tony is clueless. "General term for opiates and synthetic analgesics," explains Kate for the slower audience members. Abby is impressed, and Gibbs snarks about whether or not Tony was really a Baltimore cop. Tony makes a whatever face. Kate gets back to business, saying that Fuentes was too doped up to pull his reserve. Gibbs isn't so sure. He says that there would be a hell of a lot of adrenaline pumping, painkillers or no. Especially if your chute doesn't open. Well, quite. Kate wonders why, then, if he had the reflexes, he didn't use them. Gibbs is all, exactly, my dear, and asks Abby what she found on the main chute. Abby scampers into another part of the lab, explaining that she found "fibre disintegration. But not from textile fatigue." Apparently the lines are showing "some sort of cleansing agent, but that didn't cause this kind of damage." She runs a UV light over the ends of the cords, and Kate notes that the edges look melted. Abby says that it was some kind of acid. Gibbs wonders how long it will take to find out what kind of acid and to check out the rest of chutes. Abby notes that she has no assistant, so at least a day. Gibbs wonders if it would be faster with an assistant, then volunteers Kate. Kate is delighted. "I get to do forensics?" she beams. "No," replies Gibbs, "you get to schlepp for Abby. She gets to do forensics," as he and Tony march out the door. Abby hands Kate a lab coat and the girls smile at each other, basking in the glow of the sisterhood, or something.

Airbase. Tony is photographing the shrouds, while Gibbs questions Dafelmair, wanting to know why he didn't tell them he was a rigger. Dafelmair thought they knew. "Did you?" Gibbs asks quietly, so you know he's suspicious. Gibbs asks what's next, and Dafelmair continues his demonstration of packing the chutes, saying "Sign the log and stick it in the chute pocket." He then demonstrates, while Gibbs snatches up the log and puts it next to, presumably, the one from Fuentes' chute. "Same signature," he growls, as Dafelmair asks if that was the log from "Thumper's" chute. Gibbs confirms, noting "You packed it," and picking up a folder and stomping off. Dafelmair scurries after him, protesting that he didn't know that Fuentes would get one that he packed. He says that the chutes are handed out randomly, even when the riggers jumped. Gibbs is surprised that riggers do jumps too. "On training runs, yes, sir." Tony wants to know how many riggers jumped last night. Dafelmair lists the names, and, surprise, surprise (not): "Corporal Ramsey, Brinkman and Thumper, of course." He adds that Fuentes is senior rigger, and Gibbs snipes that Dafelmair must have figured they knew that too. Dafelmair protests that they weren't trying to hide anything, but Gibbs disagrees. Tony brings up the painkillers while popping a chute. "He died because he was too juiced to pull his reserve," he says evenly. Dafelmair protests that there is no way to sabotage a chute and give it to a specific person. Gibbs asks if all the chutes were packed there. Dafelmair says they were packed at 0900, and stored on base under lock and key until they were loaded on the truck at 1800 for the jump. Gibbs wonders who had access for the nine hours between the time they were packed and the time they were loaded for the jump. Gibbs wants to know who has the key. Dafelmair says Captain Faul (by whom I assume he means the scenery chewing Marine Dude from earlier) and Fuentes both had keys. Gibbs and Tony share A Look, then Gibbs glares at Dafelmair and turns to his folder. He brings up Dafelmair's criminal record. Dafelmair sighs and admits that he "made a few mistakes." Gibbs continues, noting that Dafelmair got busted for shoplifting. "Drug possession," Gibbs continues. Dafelmair protests that that was a long time ago. Tony notes that it was in fact only three years ago. "Not so long," he says. Dafelmair splutters. He says the Judge gave him a choice: prison or the service. Dafelmair is adamant! The Corp gave him a second chance! He loves the Corp! He would never hurt a brother Marine! Gibbs is all, dude. Dial it down.

Lab. Abby and Kate futz with some cords and wait for results on the monitor. "Carl Sagan time," Abby purrs. Heh. You should read Carl Sagan. He's good. The results pop up, and it turns out that sulphuric acid is the culprit. Kate smiles delightedly, and they get busy with the exposition. Exposition is thrilled at the unexpected threeway. "How did you get into this?" Kate wonders. "Filled out an application," deadpans Abby. No, forensics, Kate clarifies. Abby explains that when she was a kid, they lived near a junk lot, and that she used to sneak in at night to take pictures. "It wasn't about the gore, it was more about figuring out how things happen," Abby explains. Kate nods. Abby wants the dirt on Kate. "Actually, I wanted to be a lawyer," Kate sighs. Ahhh, lawyer bashing. "I did a year in law school. It felt like 10 years in prison." "With really boring inmates?" Abby replies. Heh. My practitioners are clearly all freaks, then. They're wacky! Anyway, the girls continue, with Abby telling Kate to confess that she just really likes strapping on a gun. "More than one," smirks Kate. "Really," Abby leers, "You packing more heat than meets the eye?" Kate raises an eyebrow and asks Abby "those your only tattoos?" Abby comes back with "You show me yours, I'll show you mine," and Kate laughs and bites her lip. Exposition falls back, spent, and lights a cigarette.

Airbase. A guy is jumping off a platform, practicing for a jump. Tony asks Gibbs if he ever jumped. "When I get an electric shock," snarks Gibbs, and Tony placidly replies that that explains why Gibbs doesn't use power tools. Heh. Gibbs asks Tony if he's going to do a jump. Tony says he thinks he is, as a Lance Corporal runs up to Gibbs to present him with a package. Turns out the package is from Ducky. Gibbs rips it open, as Tony picks up a note which has fallen from the package to the ground. "Jethro, the bean counters couldn't find you, so they gave this to me. I suggest you read the instructions on cell-blocking." Heh. Gibbs futzes with his new phone as he bitches at Tony for reading his mail. The phone rings and Gibbs tells the caller (Abby) he'll be there in 20. He looks at the jumping platform and tells Tony that some of the guys freeze on their first jump, needing a kick in the butt to get them out of the plane. Tony says he won't freeze, and Gibbs agrees, saying that Tony needs a kick in the ass on the ground. He shoves the empty box into Tony, who keeps watching the dudes on the platform, clearly rapt.

Lab. Abby is getting arty with some jumping cords and a pair of blue lights. Tony tells her she's "very Electric Kool-Aid." Abby replies that she was thinking more Blue Man Group. Kate enters to tell Gibbs that Fuentes' chute wasn't the only one tampered with. Apparently 9 out of 16 rigs were tampered with, and different riggers packed the lot. Gibbs wants to know how many Dafelmair packed. Four, Kate says, and the rest by Brinkman and Fuentes. Tony wonders if Ramsey packed any. Negative, says Kate. When his signature didn't show up in the logs, she did a little digging. Turns out he was suspended for two weeks for sloppy work. Damn, I wish I could do that with certain people at my work. And I'm sure Ms Hyphenate would agree. Ahem. Anyway, guess who wrote him up? Yes, boys and girls, it was Fuentes. Tony gleefully notes that they now have a motive. Abby tells him they have more than that, and that she and Kate have a theory. Tony wonders why Abby didn't take to him so fast, and Abby compares him to a piercing, saying "it takes a while for the throbbing to stop and the skin to grow back," as she slaps him affably on the back. Heh. Indeed. Tony, the king of TMI, says that's more than he needed to know, and Gibbs asks what the theory is. Abby says that whoever messed with the rigging left some skin cells behind, and that she has pulled skin samples from the chutes that were messed with. Gibbs asked if she got a DNA signature. Abby notes that she got different samples from each of the nine chutes, but that there was only one set that was common to all nine. Kate says that the riggers of record packed the chutes, and then the saboteur came in and repacked them, leaving a DNA sample. Tony suggests Ramsey. Abby says that depending on how much he knows about forensics, he is either really smart, or really dumb. Way to cover your bases there, Abbs. Gibbs thinks there should be other chutes packed by Ramsey in the paraloft for comparison. Nope. All the chutes were packed since Ramsey was suspended. Kate remembers that there is an Armed Forces DNA Registry, and that they should be able to use that to compare their sample. Gibbs tells her no, they can only use that to identify the bodies of deceased military personnel. "There's gotta be a way around that," Kate declares. Gibbs smirks proudly and tells her that now she's thinking like an NCIS agent. Kate wriggles like an eager puppy.

Interrogation. Gibbs is strong arming some JAG lawyer who apparently he has met before, but I have no idea what he's on about because I didn't see the JAG episode where the NCIS gang were introduced, so I'm going to skim over this part. Gibbs wants access to the DNA database, but the lawyer guy won't give it to him. Gibbs gets all up in his personal space and steals his pen, and then asks for search authorisations. Lawyer guy caves, whining for his pen back.

Squadroom. Kate bitches to Gibbs that he knew all along that the lawyer guy wouldn't give them access to the database. Gibbs plays innocent, then explains the concept of horsetrading to Kate - basically he asked for something he knew he wouldn't get, so that when he asked for the search authorisations, without probable cause, he knew that lawyer guy would give it to him. Kate wonders if any of Gibbs' horsetrading ancestors were hung. "Yeah, a few," Gibbs replies affably enough. Kate nods all, yeah I thought as much, while Gibbs asks Tony if he found out what Fuentes wrote Ramsey up for. "Yeah," Tony replies, "Frayed lines, bent cones, cuts in the canopy." He editorialises, "I tell you, I hope this guy isn't going to medical school at night." Apparently, the "scuttlebutt", which Tony helpfully defines for Kate, is that Ramsey took a swing at Fuentes for suspending him. Gibbs' mobile phone rings, interrupting the chatter. Gibbs checks the caller id, muttering "Identity withheld". Tony smarts off about all women doing that, and then you marry them, and then ... Gibbs gives him a look of death, at which point Tony decides to shut up and heads back to his desk. He passes Kate's desk, and she snits about him generalising. Gibbs tells them to meet him at the paraloft at 1400 to execute the search authorisations. Tony and Kate banter about military versus Zulu time. Gibbs shakes his head and exits the office. I remind Gibbs that it is going to get much, much worse, but he doesn’t listen to me.

Fuentes' house. We see a half-built treehouse with a sad moppet sitting on the platform. Gibbs veers away from the front door and attempts to engage Sad Moppet in conversation. Sad Moppet ignores him. Gibbs tells SM he needs a password for his treehouse. SM sobs that he doesn't, since the treehouse is never going to be finished. Aw. Or something. Gibbs is quietly sympathetic, as SM's mum barrels out the front door, demanding to know who Gibbs is. Gibbs introduces himself, and the Widow Fuentes bitches that she is on her way to her husband's funeral and in no mood to answer questions. Gibbs knows, and says he's not here for that. SM interrupts that Gibbs says he needs a password for his treehouse. Widow Fuentes is, understandably, confused at the wildly careening topic of conversation. Gibbs explains that he told SM that the treehouse should have a password, and cutely nods his head. Widow Fuentes is all, "oh," and says that Fuentes was building the treehouse for SM. Gibbs praises his work, and we get to the "my poor dead husband was a good man!/I will find out who did this" part of the show. On any other crime show, you can't promise the bereaved that you will find the perpetrator, but this is NCIS, where Gibbs Knows Everything, so he can make that promise. SM is worried about the Marines at Fuentes' funeral seeing him cry, so Gibbs tells him about JFK Junior saluting his dad's coffin. "You salute your dad today," he tells him quietly, "and nobody will notice tears." Aw. I'm not in the least chocked up by any of this, but it was cute. SM sniffles bravely, and takes his mum's hand as they head off. Widow Fuentes turns back and tells Gibbs she believes he'll get whoever killed her husband. "You have my word," he says gravely. And he can do that, because he's Gibbs! And Gibbs Knows Everything!

Ahem. Sorry. Too much vodka.

Airbase. Tony is on the jumping platform as the instructor gives him ... uh ... instructions. And asks if he signed the release form. Heh. Tony jumps and rolls in the dirt. Gibbs and Kate approach in the background, with Kate snarking that Tony was very ladylike flailing in the dirt there. Heh. Gibbs bitches, and Tony claims he was doing research for Abby. Gibbs does not fall for that crap, and gestures for him to follow. Kate wonders how Tony got into NCIS. Tony says "I smiled," and unleashes a massive toothy grin in her direction. Heh. Okay, that was kinda cute.

Paraloft. Nutt leads the agents over to the riggers' lockers, telling them he had them sealed immediately after the accident. Dafelmair, Ramsey and Brinkman sullenly hand over their keys. The agents unseal the lockers, and there is a brief search montage as the boys look on. Kate pulls a box out of a locker and announces that she's got something. Dramatic strings swell to make sure we get it, as Kate takes the box over to a nearby bench. She pushes her hair back behind her ear as she goes through the box, like, way to contaminate the evidence there, sweetpea. The dramatic strings continue as Ramsey, Dafelmair and Brinkman look on anxiously. Kate hands Gibbs a bottle of brass-stripper solvent, which just happens to have sulphuric acid as an ingredient. Tony shoots Gibbs A Look, and smartly states "'Harmful if swallowed.' Or applied to shroud lines." Indeed. Kate tells Gibbs that the box is from Ramsey's locker, while Ramsey protests that the stuff isn't his. Gibbs tells Nutt to place Ramsey in custody, and Tony to read Ramsey his rights. The dramatic strings work themselves into a lather as we cut to ...

Interrogation. Gibbs flips Ramsey's key in his hand as he needles Ramsey about the fight he had with Fuentes about his suspension. Ramsey stiffly replies that "words were exchanged." "And fists," continues Gibbs. Ramsey says it was nothing serious. He grits that he wasn't angry enough to kill Fuentes. Gibbs says that maybe Ramsey only meant to scare Fuentes, but that because Fuentes was on painkillers, he didn't have time to pull his reserve. Ramsey denies this, saying that he could not have done so, since the chutes were locked up.

Observation. Tony enters, having been to a hardware store where apparently the clerk recalled serving a "Marine in a real hurry to copy a key," but gave no other description Kate nods thoughtfully.

Interrogation. Gibbs brandishes the paraloft key at Ramsey. Ramsey declares that Gibbs won't find a match on his key ring. He says that he's messed up some rigging, but never on purpose. Gibbs checks Ramsey's keys as Ramsey tells him that when someone jumps with one of his chutes, that guy puts his life in Ramsey's hands. Ramsey would never breach that trust. Never, he says! Gibbs, meanwhile, has found a match on the key ring and snidely asks Ramsey if the key was planted too. Ramsey affirms this, declaring his innocence once again. Gibbs offers to let him prove this, asking for a DNA sample. Ramsey wonders if they don't already have his DNA on something else the real killer planted. Gibbs gives him a cheery, "You don't." We all know this is a red herring, right? Ramsey didn't do it? Very good.

Squadroom. Gibbs bitches about Tony's handwriting. Abby bounces in to announce that she finally managed to get a sample from the dry-mouthed Ramsay. She tells Gibbs that it will take 24 hours for a result. Kate observes that you don't expect a guilty man to give a DNA sample. Tony tells her that he's gambling that it won't match. "Guilty people do that?" Kate wonders. All the time, Tony laughs. Gibbs thinks Kate might be on to something, though. "What if Ramsey was set up? What if he's innocent? What if he's telling the truth?" he wonders. Tony says they'll know in 24 hours, but he's sceptical. Gibbs doesn't want to wait, though. He needs action! No, not like that. Kate reminds those of us too drunk to keep up that there are only two other possible suspects - Dafelmair or Brinkman. Gibbs tells her that there's also Captain Faul. Dramatic strings play as they prepare to head off. Gibbs puts the brakes on Tony, telling him he has a report to finish. For some reason, he also calls him "bubba." Hee. Tony is crestfallen.

Airbase. Captain Faul sings Fuentes' praises, and expresses disbelief that Ramsey could have been angry enough to kill him. Kate points out that Ramsey hasn't been found guilty yet. Faul says they're holding him, and that the scuttlebutt is that Ramsey confessed. Gibbs calmly replies that he never knew a Marine captain who believed scuttlebutt. He gives Faul a broad smile as Faul glares, and asks how he prepared the day of the exercise. Faul blathers some military speak. Gibbs notes that they used a Navy plane for the exercise. Faul says that the Marine planes are in Iraq. Kate asks about lunch, and there's more blather about Faul's afternoon. Gibbs asks about Faul's paraloft key. Faul pulls it out of his desks and shows to the agents. Gibbs tells Kate that Ramsey must have stolen Faul's key to make a copy and get in to the paraloft. Gibbs and Kate shake with Faul and go to leave. Faul calls out to them, wanting to know why they didn't just ask to see his key. Gibbs smoothes that he's teaching Kate about interrogation. Faul does not buy this explanation. Gibbs and Kate smirk out of the room as Faul glares after them. Nobody really thinks he did it either, right? We all know who actually did it, right? Excellent. Have a cookie.

Squadroom. Gibbs and Kate barrel in, and Tony asks if Faul had an alibi. Kate affirms this, and Tony assumes that means that Ramsey is guilty. Kate reminds everyone about Dafelmair and Brinkman. Again. Some more. Gibbs reads some notes, and realises that Ramsey participated in loading chutes onto the plane. Tony says that Ramsey was only suspended from rigging, not passing out chutes or jumping. Kate sighs that Ramsey could have handed Fuentes a "dirty chute." This sets off the Eureka! moment for Gibbs. He notes Kate's use of the word "dirty" and bolts, with a confused Tony and Kate in tow.

Lab. Gibbs barges in, demanding to see Fuentes' reserve chute. Abby forestalls him, telling him she did a "particle pick" on the shroud lines. Apparently she found traces of cocaine, but it was too pure for it to be from an addict. Apparently whoever killed Fuentes is involved in packing and cutting the stuff. The gang decide that Fuentes was not killed for suspending Ramsey, and they skitter over to check out Fuentes' reserve chute. Abby insists that it's clean. Gibbs says it's too clean, particularly if it supposedly smashed through a tree and into an SUV. He wants to know where the other confiscated jump gear is. Abby points him towards the stash, wondering what he's looking for. "A screwed pooch," Gibbs replies. Is that weird military terminology again? The gang check chutes until they find a dirty reserve chute. It's number 13, natch. Apparently it was switched after the jump, and the cone has been soldered into place - meaning that it wouldn't have opened even if Fuentes had been quick enough to try. Tony wonders whose rucksack they pulled the chute from. They check the label, and there is much exchanging of Looks, but they choose not to share this information with the audience just yet. Gibbs says to call Captain Faul and tell him that jump ops can resume. Kate asks if she should tell Faul who the killer is. Gibbs says no, he doesn't want DNA evidence. "I want this bastard to confess," he growls. Kate leaves, and Tony looks enquiringly at Gibbs. "How we gonna do that?" "Wear this when we jump," Gibbs says. Tony's all, the hell?

Airbase. Marines pile onto the plane, as Gibbs and Tony, in jumping gear, greet Captain Faul jovially. Faul snarks at them, and Gibbs announces that they're going with them, as he's running an "NCIS training mission." Faul may chew the scenery, but proves he's no idiot by not falling for that line. Gibbs cocks his head, and Faul gives in. "Hate to pass up the opportunity to toss a couple of NCIS agents out of a plane!" he sings as he hauls Gibbs up. Heh.

Plane. Dafelmair wonders why Gibbs and Tony are there. Tony says he's always wanted to jump; Gibbs just came along to laugh. Dafelmair can't believe Ramsey would kill Fuentes over a two week suspension. Gibbs agrees, and Brinkman adds that Fuentes rode Ramsey hard, but no more than the rest of them, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Okay, he doesn’t say that last part. It just doesn't make sense! Tony chooses this moment to put their little scam into play. "Oh no!" he cries (unconvincingly). Gibbs snarks at him, wondering if he is chickening out. Tony shows Gibbs Fuentes' reserve. He says it's his first jump, and his reserve is number 13. That's bad luck! What to do? Gibbs snarks to Dafelmair and Brinkman that it wouldn't have bothered Fuentes. No sir! The two boys look at each other as Gibbs wonders if they are superstitious. They are not. Great! Gibbs declares. He suggests that Tony swap with Brinkman. But no! Brinkman's chute is number four! That's bad luck in China! Gibbs snarks that they are not in China, but assents and asks Dafelmair what his chute number is. Dafelmair's chute is number eight, which is fine by Tony. Eight is good luck in China! Swap on! But wait! Dafelmair stares at the chute, clearly recognising it, and Gibbs asks if there is a problem. Dramatic strings cue up again, as Dafelmair reluctantly swaps over his chute. Faul yells at everyone to stand as a buzzer goes off, and they all hook up to the line as Faul gestures for them to move forward. As they head for the door, Gibbs wonders if Fuentes rode Dafelmair. Ahem. About being a drug dealer, that is. Don’t ask, don’t tell! Dafelmair stares at Gibbs. "That's his reserve chute you're wearing," says Gibbs with a falsely friendly smile, "the one you switched on him when he landed." Dafelmair looks at the Chute of Death, rolls his eyes slightly and pleads ignorance. Tony, all business, reminds him that he was the first one to get to Fuentes. Brinkman demands an explanation, but Dafelmair is stilling playing innocent. Tony continues needling, saying it only takes a few minutes to switch the chutes. Gibbs bitches that the Marine Corp gave Dafelmair a second chance, and that when Fuentes found out about the drug dealing he was going to turn him in. Captain Faul cuts in, confused. He thought Ramsey was guilty? "He is, sir!" yells Dafelmair desperately. Gibbs reaches out and cuts Dafelmair's main chute line, sneering at him to prove it. Captain Faul shrieks at him. Gibbs snarls that Dafelmair has a reserve. Dafelmair desperately protests that surely Faul won’t let this happen, but Faul just glares, as the buzzer sounds again. "Thirty seconds to drop!" he yells, clearly not about to let Dafelmair off the hook. Gibbs tells him to fess up already, suggesting that ratting out his drug supplier will get him a deal. Dafelmair sighs and nods slightly as everyone glares. "How good a deal?" he finally asks, as Gibbs spits to read him his Article 31s. Tony approaches Dafelmair to read him his rights, but a furious Brinkman screams that Dafelmair does not deserve a deal, and launches himself at Dafelmair. During the ensuing melee, Tony is (natch)inadvertently shoved out the door of the plane. I think it was Contrivance. Gibbs looks out the doorway, as Tony's chute opens and we hear Tony whooping as he sails through the air. Hee. That looked fun!

Squadroom. Tony is watching the dénouement on the news. Tony bitches that they never get the credit. Tony asks Gibbs if he is leaving soon, and Gibbs mutters mom-hmmm as Tony packs up to leave. Tony wishes him a good night and limps out the door. Gibbs smirks. Heh. Gibbs’ mobile rings. Caller id withheld. Gibbs drops the phone in his desk drawer and leaves.

Fuentes House. SM emerges from the house to find Gibbs hammering away at the treehouse. SM asks if he can come up. Gibbs wants to know if he has a password. SM has: Semper Fi. Of course. Gibbs smiles approvingly and SM scampers joyfully up the ladder. Wow. That kid has no attention span! I mean, uh, I'm totally touched by this happy ending, as we fade to black.


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