NCIS season 9 continues with episode 22, "Playing With Fire" and begins with the U.S.S. Brewer explosion (from "Rekindled"), this time showing who's responsible. After Admiral Tully speaks about the fires, Gibbs tells him that he doesn't think it's over.
The Investigation Into the Fires Continues
As McGee leaves for the Brewer, the team looks into Johnson. No one suspected he could be responsible for the fires, and there's nothing in his phone records or computer. There are no leads as to who hired him. However, the Brewer is on the list found at his house. Gibbs checks in with Ducky, who has something personal to talk to him about. It can wait. Next, Gibbs checks in with Abby, who has been going through shredded documents from Johnson's place. One has the Korean alphabet. He was communicating with someone in Korean. She wonders if North Korea is behind the attacks.
Tony listens as Ziva talks to someone about rescheduling plans, but she won't tell him any details. An analyst, Emma, stop by to tell them there's nothing to indicate any involvement on North Korea's part, and she knows something about Ziva's plans. Gibbs and Tony go up to MTAC to talk to McGee, who tells them that Tobey Abbott, a civilian following up on repairs, was the one who died in the machine room. He's seasick, and he doesn't appreciate Tony pointing out he's a Navy Criminal Investigator.
Tony and Ziva ask Mrs. Johnson about her husband having a possible Korean connection, but they were in the middle of an ugly divorce, and she's no help. The mailman does tell them he delivered something from Switzerland (but not Korea). Ducky stops by Gibbs' to tell him he's come into more money than he will ever need. He didn't tell anyone because he didn't want anyone to treat him differently. He has a favor to ask. He's redoing his will and wants him to be the executor of his estate. He wants a friend he can trust. Gibbs would be honored.
When the Brewer docks at Norfolk, the team joins McGee on board. Tony and Ziva join him in searching Abbott's quarters, and McGee almost reveals Ziva's weekend plans. They find a letter with a Swiss stamp and Korean characters. However, Emma says it's gibberish, and so she has sent it to a cryptologist. It turns out Abbott was rejectedÂ—twiceÂ—by the Naval Academy. There's motive.
Abby tells McGee that Tony tried to get Ziva's plans out of her. She was just planning a Pilates weekend. Gibbs joins them, and Abby reveals that the residue from the Brewer matches the other fires. Abbott's plan had been to cause a bigger explosion, but he didn't realize the three tanks in the machine room were highly flammable. They ignited, and the explosion created a vacuum. Abby did get DNA off where someone licked the envelope found in Abbott's quarters, but she hasn't gotten a match yet.
Stan Burley Returns to NCIS
Abbott's boss reveals he lobbied for the job, but didn't say why. Stan Burley can't believe Tony's still with Gibbs and asks if he's mellowed. They're talking about what Gibbs is building in his basement when he joins them. Stan's in Naples and reached out to them because the Benjamin Franklin is on the list of marked vessels. An explosive device just like described in the alert was found on board. They're upping the stakes.
Tony tells Ziva they're leaving for Naples, and she thinks it's a joke at first. He mentions it's a good thing she cancelled her Pilates weekend. Gibbs wakes Abby and McGee in her lab. They broke the code on the Korean message. The person who sent it typed the words into an English alphabet keyboard but it printed out in the script. They were instructions for how to attack the Brewer. They still haven't found a match to the DNA on the envelope.
In Naples, Tony and Ziva meet up with Stan. The Benjamin Franklin arrived an hour ago. They're placing the device with a look-alike, and they're going to go on board undercover. They can't question anyone and risk spooking them. Ducky gives Gibbs a copy of his will. He's leaving most of his estate to charity.
On board the Benjamin Franklin, Tony and Stan are watching out while Ziva's getting them food. There's one false alarm with two seamen meeting for a romantic rendezvous. Ziva returns with the food, but Tony's starting to feel a bit seasick. His plans to hit the head are halted when a man takes their bait. While Stan's in the room with the cargo, Tony and Ziva can only listen as he sees the man approach the right one. However, when Stan approaches him from behind, the guy picks up his knife and throws it.
Tony and Ziva find Stan bleeding and unconscious, but still breathing. His weapon's gone. They find and knock out the man responsible. That's Andre Fullerton, and with the threat of Gitmo over his head (and facing a threatening Gibbs over the computer), he reveals that he's working for Harper Dearing. He never saw him and only spoke to him on the phone then communicated in code. He has a slight Southern drawl. He did it for money. Gibbs says to put him on suicide watch. He has to get back there for trial.
The Harper Dearing they're looking for is the CEO of Dorado Hills Investment, which specializes in technology companies. Why is a corporate executive terrorizing Navy vessels? When they go to bring him in, however, his office is empty. Vincent Maple, the president of the company, has no idea where he is. He hasn't seen or heard from him in over a year.
Tony, Ziva, and Stan return to the bullpen in time to see Gibbs put Harper's photo on the Most Wanted wall.
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Â© Meredith Jacobs 2012