Their jobs require sacrifices. That’s a lesson that has been brought up time and time again on “NCIS,” and that’s what Secretary of the Navy Sarah Porter faces in a very personal way on the Tuesday, Feb. 16 episode, “React.” Plus, when a childhood friend of McGee’s visits, Tony finds out a bit more about his teammate.
“React” is another instance of “NCIS” balancing the humor of the B-story well with the action/mystery of the case. The focus is, as it should be, on the kidnapping of Sarah’s daughter, as the team figures out that the ransom demand doesn’t quite fit, but it’s not until after multiple people end up making a trip to the hospital and they receive a clue from an unexpected source that they put the pieces together. Meanwhile, the humor comes in with Special Agent Valerie Page visiting to give them tactical training – and it just so happens that she grew up with McGee (both Navy brats), meaning thanks to her, Tony knows his full name, nickname as a kid on base and story behind his first kiss. Also, it’s always a delight to see Joe Spano as Fornell again, especially with his first (taking McGee’s herbal tea and throwing it away when he realizes it’s not coffee) and last scenes (promising Gibbs maple syrup as thanks to taking over protection detail so he can go see his daughter).
As for the case itself, Megan Porter and her boyfriend, Dean, are taken one morning on the way to school. Unfortunately, the list of people who would want to hurt the Secretary of the Navy isn’t one they can narrow down so easily, so it’s a lucky break when Abby turns Dean’s phone back on and they find him. The SUV he and Megan were taken is has been bleached clean – to be cleaner than Abby’s lab, she says – but Dean is pretty helpful, telling them that the men were special ops (based on their shorthand) and able to identify their guns because of a video game he plays.
The first dead end comes in the form of an officer who spoke out against Sarah when she ordered that special ops be open to women, but not only does his alibi check out, he also understands why he was relieved of his command for being insubordinate. However, there’s something about the way Sarah’s ex-husband’s girlfriend tries to diffuse the tension in the room when the three of them and Gibbs and Fornell are in Vance’s office that sets alarm bells ringing (and for a good reason, as is revealed later).
The kidnapper calls with a ransom demand, to Gibbs and Fornell’s surprise, and it just so happens to be for the same amount of the kidnap and ransom policy Sarah took out on her daughter. Following proof that Megan’s alive – after Gibbs tests the kidnapper by hanging up on him when he refuses to give them proof of life – the Porters refuse to let NCIS and FBI put together an op that has Fornell making the drop; they said no cops, she reminds them, and Gibbs, Fornell and Tony will be made instantly. Instead, because they can’t risk Sarah being taken, Richard does it, but when the time comes for the exchange, one of the kidnappers shoots Richard, and as they drive off, car explosions knock back Gibbs, Fornell and McGee.
This is when everything falls into place. Richard’s company is in financial trouble, but all he’ll lose is his job if it goes under. His girlfriend, on the other hand, puts millions into the company and will lose the most. Unfortunately, they won’t get anywhere questioning her since by the time they figure this all out, she’s been killed. That’s because, thanks to DNA found on Megan’s class ring, her attacker is Owen Dixon, a former employee of a company on which she served on the board. It was because of Sarah that he and the men in his black ops unit were fired or incarcerated. It was all about the money for the girlfriend, but it’s about revenge for Dixon. That’s why he kept Megan instead of making the exchange at the ransom drop.
When Dixon calls with a new demand – a private jet – and an offer to trade Megan for Sarah, Gibbs and Fornell know there’s more going on and he’s just playing them. They’re right. As Abby discovers, the weak link of Dixon’s men made five calls in the last two days to a helicopter pilot; he’s really planning on using that helicopter to get away (to Canada). And while Gibbs may not have been so happy about having Valerie Page offering to help and her REACT team around, he calls on them to serve as their backup, with NCIS following up on the helicopter lead while the FBI has to go to the airfield and the private jet because of protocol (?) – or really, because there had to be that moment of understanding between Gibbs and Valerie first in the elevator and then following the necessary shot taken on Dixon and rescue of Megan.
The job is all about sacrifice, as Sarah knew before this, but she admits to Gibbs that she refuses to risk her daughter’s safety and is considering reevaluating her priorities. So she’ll quit? If it’s best for her family, she says, asking for his opinion. It doesn’t matter, he says, only offering her, “family’s important.” But her disappointment in his lack of a pep talk speaks volumes. And Megan telling Gibbs that she left her class ring for them to find because she knew he would since her mother’s talked about him says pretty much everything anyone needs to know about Gibbs.
“NCIS” season 13 airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 15 “React”?