What’s scarier than a truck stop bathroom on Halloween? A truck stop bathroom with two bodies in it on Halloween, of course.
An angry crowd of truckers wanting to use the facilities gathers outside as NCIS processes the scene. Navy Petty Officer Tim Buckley, likely an innocent bystander, died from an expertly broken neck, while the presumed target, former Marine Anderson Kohl, had his throat slit from behind.
The clerk saw nobody come in or out, and the security footage was cut. This perturbs Palmer, who’s already a bit freaked that bodies in the morgue keep switching coolers after he leaves for the night.
Torres is also freaked out; Kohl was a friend from his FLETC class. They were competitive, always trying to outdo each other, until Kohl’s authority problems got him bounced. “How’d he end up dead in a truck stop bathroom?” Torres wonders.
It gets worse when he and Bishop arrive at Kohl’s Georgetown apartment which is beyond. Luxury cars, open floor plan, top-of-the-line electronics … and a hidden room full of passports, fake IDs, and cash, which is news to Rachel Brentwood, the posh owner of the building.
Okay, listen, no matter how bad your week has been, Kasie has you beat. “Have you ever swabbed a urinal cake?” she asks Bishop, pointing to the bathroom evidence arrayed on her table. “Because I just added that to my resume.”
She’s overwhelmed by pulling killer DNA from filthy evidence, plus cracking Kohl’s cell phone and processing a garage full of his personal belongings. Torres, meanwhile, struggles with the fact that Kohl’s condo had a dinosaur skull but no personal effects, wondering aloud to Sloane why Kohl – or someone like Kohl – would do that.
Kasie and Gibbs uncover the answer when they match names and dates on Kohl’s phone with a list of murders committed all over the world: drug lords, mafia, money launderers, even a local pawnshop employee, Jenny Wayfair. Kasie also uses truck stop blueprints to locate an old ventilation shaft above the bathroom, which explains the killer’s mysterious entrance and exit.
Kasie’s next big break is uncovering Kohl’s cryptocurrency wallet, which leads them to his arms dealer. Torres ponders how many choices away he is from going down the same road, and when Kasie assures him he’d never purchase a haladie knife, like Kohl did, Torres exclaims, “I’ve got two!”
Around this time, CIA Officer Westley Clark strolls through the big orange room to reconnoiter with Vance. Vance vaguely recognizes Clark, who chalks it up to mutual Langley briefings and explains that the CIA’s been tracking Kohl, hoping to find his handler. The agencies uneasily agree to work together.
First stop? Questioning Kohl’s arms dealer, who at first refuses to talk, worried that “they’ll” kill him. But realizing he can either work with NCIS or take his chances on the street, he says Kohl was killed for refusing to carry out a hit. What kind of assassin would do that? (My guess: He’s either in love with that guy’s daughter, or he’s got a newfound respect for life. Waaaait, wrong hitman.) In order to find out, the team decides to solve Jenny Wayfair’s murder, hoping it will point to the handler.
Jenny had an altercation with a man just before her death, but the only eyewitness is an older woman whose confusion under questioning suggests serious memory problems — until Bishop points out that the woman (Marla Gibbs from The Jeffersons!) runs a multi-employee, six-figure sweater knitting business out of her home. And just like that, her memory’s fine. Like the arms dealer, she’s worried about reprisals from the killers, but eventually says it was the pawn shop owner’s son, John.
John admits that Jenny discovered his money laundering scheme, so he called a number he was given to have it “taken care of,” not realizing it would result in her murder. (Next: Palmer gets his revenge)