'NCIS' Recap: What is Gibbs Hiding From Fornell?
'NCIS' Recap: What is Gibbs Hiding From Fornell?
Kim Stempel
Kim Stempel
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Last time on NCIS, Vance dealt with some serious family drama when his daughter, Kayla, was charged with shoplifting. Gibbs urged Vance to spend some quality time with his family.

In this episode, titled "Keep Your Friends Close," Fornell pops up with a new, and interesting, career. In true NCIS fashion, there is conflict between these thorny friends as Gibbs tries to steer clear of Fornell.


Super-Agent McGee

The episode kicks off with a young man being pulled over by the police. The police state that the van is stolen, but the man states that he owns it. He quickly changes his tune when one of the officers opens a large barrel in the back and discovers a body.

Torres is all abuzz with news about McGee when Bishop arrives at headquarters. McGee shows up, and not only has he solved a case for another NCIS office but he has also replaced the floor mats in NCIS agents' cars (safety first!). McGee is also making a video for his twins and insists that both Bishop and Torres take part. Even more remarkable, he knows that the team has a dead body to investigate before Gibbs enters the room. A stunned, and impressed, Bishop remarks on McGee's "superhuman agent powers."

The victim in the van, Navy Commander James Willis, was reported missing a week ago. Palmer puts the time of death at about the same time and notes the gunshot wound to the victim's head. McGee and Torres talk with Ozzy Duncan, who claims to have hot-wired the van in a store parking lot. The van was originally stolen from the owner's residence 10 days ago. That is one mighty popular van!

Back at headquarters, Reeves sits down with Commander Willis' wife. Willis went to work on the day that he vanished but disappeared sometime after visiting his dying mother. The poor widow had to deal with the death of her husband's mother two days after his appearance and now this unbearable loss. She is heartbroken, as she told the Navy absentee person, the police and the private investigator about her missing husband, but no one was able to locate him. She gives Reeves the private investigator's card and explains that the investigator came to her home to talk about her spouse. Reeves calls Gibbs to let him know that he might want to chat with the private investigator.

Step into My Office

Gibbs knocks on the door of a house, and a speaker informs him that the owner is in the garage. Gibbs opens the front of the garage to reveal Tobias Fornell. He has a snazzy office set up with a desk, rug, lamp, chair and coffee cart -- everything that a fledgling licensed private investigator needs. 

Gibbs is surprised and confused, until Fornell reminds him, "You got me fired, remember?" Fornell is upset that Gibbs has been dodging his calls. Gibbs obviously feels badly about what has happened to his friend. 

At NCIS, Gibbs manages to beat Fornell to Vance's office and tells Vance that he needs to refuse Fornell's request. Fornell arrives and confirms that he has been fired from the FBI because of Gibbs' testimony. Fornell has been investigating the Willis case because Willis had taken out several high interest loans and was delinquent in paying them back to the company, Cash-Line Direct. Fornell was called in to talk to Willis and learned that the man was missing. To Gibbs' annoyance, Vance is willing to make an exception to the rule of not working with private investigators since Fornell has already collected information that could help the NCIS investigation. Not to worry, Gibbs; Fornell is going to run the briefing from the comfort of his garage/office. 

When it is time for the briefing, Fornell gives a run-down to Torres, Bishop and McGee. Gibbs has asked that they start without him. Commander Willis worked at the Pentagon in the phone maintenance department. He has no criminal history. Fornell pushes his large cork board out of the way to reveal a magical device: the Sky Glove 4800. McGee is in awe of Fornell's new toy. Fornell pulls up some video footage of a restaurant from last month. In it, Willis comes to blows with Navy Commander Sean Evans while eating lunch. Evans is stationed on the USS Hoover. But, alas, Fornell no longer has credentials, so he cannot go on board to question Evans.

Fornell explains that Gibbs hasn't called him for weeks and is avoiding him. Torres thinks that Gibbs may feel badly about testifying that Fornell buried evidence to keep Gabriel Hicks in prison. Fornell assures the team that he is living the dream and that Gibbs did the right thing by telling the truth. He also asks if the trio will do some investigating, but they politely decline.

A Secret Investigation

Jack is in her office and has been working on the Hicks case with Gibbs on the sly. They know that Hicks is a serial killer and that they were tricked into helping him gain his release. Jack and Gibbs will not give up until he is behind bars again. Jack has also been talking with Hicks' attorney, Jessica Shaeffer, and is hoping that the lawyer will unknowingly give Jack some important details about her creepy client. Gibbs tells Jack that she is too friendly with Shaeffer. He also shoots some darts and tells Jack that he cannot stand to see Fornell. Jack is shocked to learn that Gibbs hasn't told Fornell that he was right about Hicks all along and that Hicks is guilty. Gibbs refuses to tell Fornell until Hicks is arrested, and Jack tells Gibbs that he is right to try and protect his friend. It seems like Jack and Gibbs have grown much closer. 

Gibbs goes to visit Palmer in autopsy, and Palmer is chatting it up with Commander Willis, just like Ducky. I miss Ducky! The victim's feet were dissolved in a small amount of lye that was in the bottom of the barrel. 

Bishop and Torres sit down with Evans, and he is surprised that Willis is dead. Evans claims that they were as close as brothers since the Naval academy. Bishop shows him footage of the fist fight, and Evans explains that they were fighting about money. Evans loaned Willis $8,000, and Willis didn't have the cash to repay Evans. Willis needed money to try and get the best medical care possible for his mother, who had a rare kind of cancer. Evans adds that Willis had repaid him three weeks ago. 

Abby is in the lab making a video for Johnny and Morgan with Bert the Hippo and a bunny for McGee's video project. Reeves and Abby are impressed with how McGee has been killing it at work and still has time to be a great father. Has McGee been into Abby's Caf-Pow? 

Abby has deduced from the bullet that it matches the striations of two other bullets from murder cases. Three victims were killed by the same gun in the last year, and all were carried out by an unknown hitman. 

Fornell roams into headquarters to get the latest on Willis. When Gibbs sees Fornell, he just keeps on walking and makes an excuse. Poor Fornell. Bishop finds out that Willis was the jury foreman on the high-profile case of Albert Hathaway, also known as "the Ponzi King." Hathaway, an investment banker, cheated his clients out of millions of dollars.


The Trouble with Friends

Jack meets with Jessica Shaeffer about Hathaway, but Jessica sees through Jack's pretense for meeting. Jack comes clean and just wants Jessica to listen to what she has to say. Jessica is still Hicks' attorney, and she refuses to discuss him. Jessica wants to leave, but Jack asks her to stay and agrees to not talk about Hicks. It is obvious that the two women are close friends.

Bishop and Torres go to chat with Hathaway in prison, and the criminal denies knowing Willis. Hathaway then looks at a photo of Willis dead in the barrel, and he doesn't even flinch. Bishop and Torres let Hathaway know that they will be listening to recordings of all his calls to find out if he hired a hitman. 

Abby and Reeves summon McGee to the lab and tell him to sit down. Abby and Reeves pulled one of McGee's coffee cups out of the trash, and it did not contain remnants of coffee but, rather, Caf-Pow. I was right! McGee denies having a problem and resists the Caf-Pow intervention before finally agreeing to quit.

Abby has some news about the rags that were found with Willis' body. The rags don't have any helpful DNA, but they are made of microfiber and had a certain cleanser on them. Abby works her magic and finds a company, Crime Scene Tru-Clean, that buys both products. Bishop and Torres go to the company and find out that two employees, Michael and Joey Barrett, never showed up at work on the night that Willis disappeared. The owner found out that a floor buffer, lye and the cleanser Swiftex were also missing. She doesn't have an address but tells them where the brothers eat nearly every meal.

Undercover Again

Bishop and Gibbs wait outside the restaurant in a car, while Torres waits in line. When Torres talk to his team members on a hidden mic, Fornell's voice chimes in. Fornell is doing his own undercover work sitting at a table outside the restaurant. Gibbs is furious that Fornell is putting himself in the middle of the operation.

The brothers show up, and Torres grabs one. Fornell uses a taser on the other when he tries to escape Bishop and Torres. Back at NCIS, Gibbs gets ready to interrogate the Barretts, while Fornell, Vance and McGee watch.

The two suspects immediately break down and admit that they were hired by a hitman to dispose of a body. They reveal that the killer shot Willis in an abandoned factory located behind a hospice. They were going to dissolve the body but were fired from their company before they could finish the job. The barrel was supposed to be dumped in the river, but Joey didn't do it because they were waiting to perform a second clean-up. The two men are staying at the Stargazer, with the hitman footing the bill. 

Bishop and Gibbs check out the motel, and it is, ironically, extremely clean. Fornell emerges from the bathroom and surprises both agents. He has Vance's blessing to be there, and Bishop goes to get food while they wait for the hitman to call on the landline. 

Jack calls Gibbs and tells him that Hicks is in his apartment and hasn't come out. Jessica knocks on Jack's car window. Busted! She is on her way to bring some papers to Hicks and is upset when she spots a camera with a long lens in the front seat of Jack's car. Jack tells Jessica that Hicks is ambidextrous and that she and Gibbs saw him at a batting cage. Jessica believes that Hicks couldn't have committed the murder because he is right-handed. 

Back at the motel, Fornell demands to know why his friend is avoiding him. Gibbs finally tells Fornell that after he testified, Gibbs discovered that Hicks is ambidextrous. Gibbs feels guilty that he ruined Fornell's career for a psychopath. Gibbs tells Fornell that he is going to take care of everything, but Fornell is upset that Gibbs doesn't trust him enough to work with Gibbs and Jack. Fornell also now doesn't trust Gibbs. Fornell leaves as Bishop enters, and then the phone rings.

Hitman Calling

Gibbs gets the long-awaited call, and the clean-up will be in half an hour. The duo races to the scene, and it is a house belonging to Patrice Jansen. McGee discovers that Jansen just returned from a week overseas, and she also served on the Hathaway jury. 

Bishop and McGee enter the darkened residence and check the house. Bishop enters the bedroom and hears a muffled sound from the closet. It is only a cat, but a man grabs Bishop from behind. Gibbs enters and shoots the hitman, and they do not recognize him. 

Gibbs fills Jansen in on the situation, and she gets extremely upset when she learns that Willis is dead. The woman fingers her necklace, which has a bee on it. Willis used to be a beekeeper. Jansen admits to falling in love with Willis while the jury was sequestered. It turns out that the owner of the hitman's car is Dominic Malecki, and he has no record. 

Torres bring Mrs. Willis in to interrogation. Gibbs and Torres find evidence of a money transfer and phone calls to Malecki. The grieving Mrs. Willis put out a hit on her husband and his lover. She wanted him dead to collect his life insurance after he spent all their savings on treatments for his mother's cancer.

Gibbs goes to see Fornell at his garage, and he brings the files that they have on Hicks. Fornell and Gibbs agree to do this together with Jack. Jack goes to see Jessica and tells Jack that he advised Hicks to find a new attorney. She also advises Jack to keep digging. Jessica gets in her car, and it explodes, knocking Jack to the pavement. She is unconscious.

I really enjoyed this episode of NCIS, and I am glad that Fornell and Gibbs are working together again.


Are you surprised about what happened to Jessica? Can the team catch Hicks before he kills anyone else? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

NCIS season 15 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS. Want more news? Like our NCIS Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of CBS)



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