I KNEW IT! YOU KNEW IT! DEEP DOWN, WE ALL KNEW IT!
It appears that rumors of Ziva David’s death were greatly exaggerated, and that sound you hear is NCIS fans having a group freakout. Quite frankly, everything else this week is minor details.
In what I’m assuming is the stealthiest of stealth marketing for Captain Marvel, this week’s episode takes the bulk of its plot from Brie Larson’s Oscar-winning film Room. A terrified, malnourished girl is found hiding on base, and Bishop quickly determines that she’s never seen the outside world before. Lily says that her mother helped her escape and made sure she took her doll with her, but won’t provide any more details.
Lily’s DNA points to Morgan Burke, who disappeared 10 years ago as a pregnant 18-year-old. She was sworn into the Navy but never reported for duty, so NCIS handed the case off to the county sheriff. When charred remains were found in Morgan’s car, which drove off a cliff, her death was ruled a suicide.
The county deputies immediately stage a televised press conference to announce that the case has been reopened while Bishop and Torres dig up Morgan’s old case files. In them, they learn that the investigation continued for years afterward courtesy of one Ziva David. Torres encourages Bishop to tell Gibbs, but Bishop unleashes some pent-up angst all over him: Nobody talks to her about Ziva out of fear that she’ll never measure up, and Bishop’s frustrated that she never got the chance to learn from the other agent. (Was this intentional meta-commentary on Bishop’s rocky reception by the fans after Ziva’s departure, or basic character development? Argue it out in the comments!)
Without letting Gibbs know, the pair visit Morgan’s boyfriend and the father of her child, Ben Ramsey, who figured heavily in Ziva’s case files. He confirms that Ziva followed him for months: “She must’ve been some kind of ninja.” Sir, you have no idea.
Ziva’s death destroyed his hope that she’d find justice for Morgan, but he does point them to the location of a heretofore unknown private office that Ziva kept.
At the hospital, Sloane has luck reaching Lily, who’s taken up residence in a hospital broom closet. Sloane talks about the baby she gave up for adoption, which encourages Lily to say that the very bad Robert kept them captive, with less-bad Buddy helping out. She still won’t say how she escaped, but she does say that Morgan insisted she take her doll with her.
Palmer’s doll autopsy yields human hair stashed in the stuffing, and the DNA leads them to brothers Robert and Bud Hill. Robert’s address is a dead end, and they find Bud at his home with his throat slit. (Sooo, you know, that’s dead-end No. 2.)
Bishop, meanwhile, has tracked down Ziva’s private office, a standalone backyard building. The landlord says Ziva had been a tenant since 2005 and was paid up through 2020, so she left her belongings undisturbed after Ziva’s death.
As she lets Bishop in, she speaks of Ziva’s “warmth beneath the armor,” and inside the lovely space, Bishop finds a coat and scarf hanging on hooks, a framed childhood picture—and rows and rows of tagged composition books. Ziva used them as journals about each case, first writing them in Hebrew before transitioning to English. It’s how she worked through her personal feelings and dealt with the trauma of the job.
At this point, Bishop calls Gibbs and confesses what she’s been up to. He, McGee, and Torres arrive, and McGee reads aloud a journal passage from a time when Ziva was in captivity. I suspect everybody in the audience immediately knew what scene this referenced: “The light spilled in, and I saw my friend. My heart saw him as if for the first time, and I knew I could not live with him.” Ooooh, this show is not pulling any punches tonight in the Tiva department. We also get the usual explanation for DiNozzo’s absence: He’s overseas, traveling, McGee left a message, yadda yadda. Pick up your phone, Tony!
Turns out, Gibbs knew that Ziva continued to investigate Morgan’s case, and he reminds Bishop of Rule 10: Don’t get personally involved in a case. She doesn’t take it to heart, though, swiping Ziva’s Morgan journal on her way out.
In it, she finds a reference to Ziva’s basement confidant, Mr. H. Palmer confirms it stands for “Mr. Happy as an Oyster.” (Pause for happy/sad laughter/tears, everyone!) Palmer tells Bishop that Ziva caught the Morgan case as a probie and was the one who turned it over to the county. Gibbs laid into her for not seeing through a Navy case, and Ziva never forgot that lesson. (Next page: No mere mortar attack can stop Ziva)