A Desperate Man RecapThis is a featured page

Return to 9.13 A Desperate Man
NCIS: A Desperate Man
Airdate: January 10, 2012
Recap Author: callerbear

A realtor is showing an industrial building that is being converted to residential living. High ceilings, brick walls, a few missing windows, but an excellent view. While discussing flooring options, she walks around a cabinet and shrieks. A woman's body is lying on the floor.

Roll the opening credits.

Tony is cajoling McGee, trying to get him to "go first". Tim shrugs and agrees. "Maxine", he tells Tony. "The gamer girl! She was pretty, and that was like a year ago!" Tony recalls. McGee retorts. "It was ten months ago, and don't change the subject. Your turn."

Tony ignores him. "That's some dry spell, McMonk. That's not healthy." He gives McGee a big hug and continues, "A man needs human affection..." McGee accuses him of trying to 'turn the tables' because Tony isn't 'getting any.' Tony begins to deny just as Ziva arrives.

Ziva would like Tim to block a particular phone number, but refuses to say that the number belongs to Ray. She grows irritated at Tony's questions and tells him to "zipper it up". Her cell phone rings, she checks the number and refuses the call. Tony's desk phone rings -- it's Ray, calling Tony to try to reach Ziva. Tony hangs up on him, and Tim's phone rings. "Ignore!" Ziva says, "Hit Ignore!" Tony sees Gibbs approaching. "You'd better hope he doesn't call Gibbs", he warns. "Too late!" Gibbs says. "We've got bigger things to deal with. Dead naval officer downtown. Let's go!"

At the crime scene, it looks like at least nine shots were fired, then pried out of the walls. Police are thinking that it was a robbery gone wrong; an empty wallet was nearby. McGee identifies the woman as Lieutenant Commander Maya Burris, a naval attache that served overseas. Ducky arrives and notes three gunshot wounds, although there's far less bleeding from her neck wound than would be expected. Her wedding ring has apparently been removed.

A man fights his way through the police guarding the scene. He's DC Metro Detective Nick Burris, the victim's husband. As Burris shouts with grief, his partner restrains him and pulls him away from the scene. Phoof!

In the squadroom, the team interviews Burris' partner, Homicide Detective Robert Flowers. Flowers has been Burris' partner for nearly thirteen years and knows the family well. No marital problems at all. Flowers leaves, and Gibbs asks for reports. Lt. Commander Burris has worked in various posts around the world; she was described as bright, ambitious, outspoken and skilled in dealing with high-level diplomats around the world. She had just returned home to spend a few days with her husband. Her last post was in Egypt, but that mission had ended the month before.

Nick Burris enters the squadroom, drunken and loud. Flowers is trying to hold him back, but Burris wants to talk to Gibbs. They move to the conference room. "My wife was just shot," Burris says, "I think I'm entitled to a few drinks." She had missed dinner with him the night before. He's distraught and confused; he can't believe this is happening, but is convinced that whoever did this must pay. "Just let us do our job," Gibbs tells him. Burris looks him in the eye. "If you don't, I will."

In Autopsy, Palmer feels sorry for the pain that the husband is feeling. He's reminded of his upcoming wedding vows: "till death do you part" but feels that vow is too solemn and final. Ducky tells him that this should be the most wonderful time of his life, and that he should enjoy it.

Gibbs arrives. Death was by gunshot wound, three in total; the fatal bullet was through the heart. No fingerprints, no stray hairs or fibers, they found traces of bleach in her clothing. It looks like the killer deliberately cleaned the body. Her watch and wedding ring were removed post-mortem. Ducky summarizes. "This is a killer with a knowledge of police procedure; someone with the skills to cover up a murder."

Tony approaches McGee's desk. "14 days. Two weeks. That's all it's been, two weeks" he says. He continues to muse about his lacking love life until Gibbs returns. The team reports: The commander had a $400,000 life insurance policy with her husband as a beneficiary. But Detective Burris has already been making unusual purchases: he bought a 28 foot power boat for more than $100,000 last month. "Hard to do on a cop's salary," Tony notes. Nothing unusual in the phone or email records. She had traveled from Egypt to Islamabad several times during her last assignment, so they start looking into that aspect.

In the garage, Abby is trying to recreate the crime scene. The only way the angles of the shots make sense is if the victim was standing near the broken window, and that the shots came through the window. The shells used are consistent with a particular sub-machine gun, but the distance between the wounds implies that the shooter was quite far away. Her simulations show that the shooter was probably on a rooftop across the street. She gives Gibbs the address; he kisses her cheek in thanks.

Ziva and Tony are sent to check out the rooftop. As they walk to the area, Tony presses Ziva to tell him why she is so angry with Ray. She tells him that Ray does not appreciate her. It was difficult to maintain the relationship while he was away, but he's back now. They had planned a lovely dinner, but Ray never showed up. Ziva waited for three hours with no word before giving up. His only excuse was that he "got caught up with work." Ray's actions remind Ziva of her father, and how she was always left behind, just waiting.

Just then, Ziva sees a flashlight shining at the crime scene. They race back across the street, and spy someone in a hooded jacket at the scene. They challenge him, but runs off and down the stairwell. Ziva finally tackles him and rips off his hood. It's Nick Burris, the victim's husband.

In Interrogation, Gibbs asks Burris why he was at the scene. Burris wants to solve the murder, and doesn't trust a bunch of Navy cops to do the job. "I think you don't have a clue how it feels to lose the one you love" he tells Gibbs. Gibbs flatly responds, "You're wrong. Sit down." The pictures of Burris' boat come out of the folder.

Burris says that it had always been his dream for them to live on a boat, and that last month Maya surprised him with the new boat. "Now it sits in my driveway, and when I look at it, I see her... I see the trips that we wanted to take, the kids we wanted to have." The purchase was unusual; Maya was normally conservative with money. He doesn't believe that she had kept any secrets from him.

McGee confirms that the boat's bill of sale had only the commander's name; she put down more than $10,000 as a deposit. In MTAC, they call her superior, the US Ambassador to Egypt. The ambassador was aware of her trips to Pakistan -- they were scheduled debriefings of the embassy staff there. "Was she following someone?" Gibbs asks. The ambassador shakes his head. "If so, I wasn't aware of it."

In the squadroom, McGee has found two week-old security videos showing the commander outside the embassy in Islamabad, appearing to have an encounter with a man. While they don't recognize the man, they see that he is wearing a distinctive wireless headset. McGee starts to track down that device.

Burris calls for Gibbs for the third time that day. Gibbs intends to simply ignore him, but DiNozzo offers to talk with Burris. "Worked with a lot of guys like this in Baltimore. Can I give it a try?"

Tony meets Burris at his home. Burris is still grieving, desperate for information, eager to work on the case himself. He's always wanted to be a cop, to solve problems. But years of homicide cases had inured him to the sights: the cases are just numbers, puzzles to solve. "Until you show up one day on the scene, and the body is your..." he trails off. After talking a bit more, Tony gets up to leave. Burris has one more thing for him. "Yesterday, I tore this place apart looking for something. I didn't find much, but there's this. I don't recognize the name." He hands Tony a scrap of paper, on which is written "R. Cruz DC Field Office".

Tony calls Ziva on the phone. "Commander Burris knew Ray; maybe tried reaching out to him. Ziva, we need to talk to him." Ziva agrees. "I'll go," she says, "alone."

In a park, Ray is sitting on a park bench when Ziva approaches. "You're still mad," he says. "I'm not here for that," she says, "We need to talk about Commander Burris." He nods. He had worked with her overseas, but can't tell her anymore. She turns to leave, and Ray jumps up to stop her. "Are you still punishing me?" He 'messed up', he says, and apologizes. He begs for another chance, but she says it's too late. He tells her that he loves her, and goes down on one knee. Reaching into his pocket, he brings out a box with a large diamond ring. "It's now or never, Ziva David" he says, "Will you marry me?" Ziva gasps. Phoof!

Ziva is flabbergasted. "Get up!" she says. "Not until you say yes." "Get up! This is embarrassing. Is this your way of making it up to me?" She begins to walk away, with Ray dogging her steps. "I was planning to ask you to marry me that night at that dinner." He's applied for desk duty, he says, so that he won't have to travel for months on end. "I'm back," he says, "I want a life with you. A big house in Virginia somewhere. With a big garden. We'll have two kids, maybe three. And I want them to have your beautiful eyes. Marry me?"

Back in the squadroom, Tony sidles over to Ziva's desk and asks if Ray went down on one knee. Ziva realizes that Tony had known Ray was going to propose. He smiles back at her. "Marriage proposal is a sacred thing. If a guy tells you he's going to do it, you hold that close. It's an unwritten code all men live by. Where's the rock?" "I told him I would have to think about it." Tony hisses. "Ohh, that's the kiss of death, Ziva!" "I did not say 'no', I just have to make sure that I am ready, that we are both ready." she says.

"Getting married is a leap of faith." Tony says. "Is Ray the right guy for you? Maybe, maybe not. But if you love him, you've got to jump in feet-first."

Gibbs moves to his desk. "You should get ready to play 'Father of the Bride'", Tony tells him. "I'd base it on the Spencer Tracey classic; skip the Steve Martin." "Yeah?" Gibbs cocks his eyebrow at her. "I'm happy for you, Ziva." "I did not exactly say yes, so it is not exactly official." "Well, it will be if it's right." Gibbs confers. Tony sucks in a breath. "Ohhh! You and Jimmy Palmer, double wedding!" Ziva just chuckles.

Abby interrupts. She and McGee have important news. They've traced the wireless headset; it's a highly secure device, one of only 400 of its kind in the world. They've also found tracks from the commander's computer indicating that she had been searching the internet for references to a particular Pakistani revolutionary group. They realize that the commander must have better intelligence than a simple browser search. But where could it be?

Cut to the Burris home, with the team searching through the boat. Tony finds a small metal box hidden in the boat's cabin. It contains newspaper clippings and notes about the terrorist group.

In Abby's lab, they read through the commander's journal. The commander was getting nervous about her searches and had been threatened by a former colleague. Using phone records, Abby traces Maya's contacts and isolates one particular contact: a recently-fired embassy attache named Barry Norton, who used the commander's security codes to steal secrets for the terrorist group. Maya told Norton that she was going to go public about his story. McGee has also found that the contractor for the loft in which Maya was killed was Norton's cousin. They start searching for Norton.

In a quiet corner, Ziva finishes a phone conversation with Ray just as Tony walks by. She tells Tony that Ray wants to hire a private jet to take her to Miami to tell his parents, and Ziva is seriously considering it. "Wow, great. So why the shift?" Tony asks. She confides her feelings. "Seeing Detective Burris. How much he still loves his wife, how he just wishes he had one more day with her. I just don't want to live with regrets."

In the squadroom, McGee has found Norton's car. He was involved in an accident the night before. "Bring him in" orders Gibbs. Cut to the garage, where Norton's car is being backed in. "McGee, I said 'Norton', not his car." "Boss, he's at the morgue. Pronounced dead at 11:34 last night." Gibbs turns away in frustration. Phoof!

Abby inspects the car, and finds that someone had tampered with the brakes. The brake lines were cut in three different places. Tony reports that the revolutionary group had released a fatwah on Barry Norton -- there was a disagreement over money. It looks like Norton was the intended target, and that the commander was 'collateral damage'.

McGee display's Norton's cell phone history on the plasma screen, focusing on calls in Islamabad. Ziva's eyebrows widen as she recognizes a particular number with a Washington DC area code. She bolts out of the squadroom. Gibbs catches her at the elevator. "Do not try to stop me, Gibbs, I have something to do."

Ziva steps into Abby's lab, and asks Abby to access old voice mail messages from her phone. Abby searches the phone company's records for Ziva's phone and cross-references the numbers with Norton's activity in Pakistan. The person that called Ziva's phone was in Islamabad at the same time as Norton. Ziva takes a deep breath, then softly thanks Abby for her help. She strides out of the lab.

At the airport, Ray is waiting for Ziva at the foot of a private jet. "Hey, there you are! Where are your bags?" he asks. Without a word, Ziva punches him on the jaw. "Now you have my answer," she says, coolly. "You killed an innocent woman and then you tried to lie to me about it."

"It's not like that," he says. "The commander wasn't supposed to be there. Norton was my target. She was a mistake. You have to understand. Norton was a very dangerous man. I had orders to take him out in Pakistan, but unfortunately he fled the country under an alias before I could get to him. I wasn't going to let him get away a second time. He needed to be handled, and I didn't care if he was on US soil or not, Ziva. American lives were at stack. So I handled him."

"You went against your superiors," Ziva realizes. "I did what I had to do," he continues, "You of all people should understand. Norton's gone, Ziva. It's over."

Ray says that he just wants to go back to being the man that Ziva loved, but Ziva says that man is gone. She turns, leaving him at the foot of the plane. Leaving the terminal, she joins Gibbs in a car. He tells her that the CIA has confirmed that Ray violated his orders by killing Norton within the U.S. Ray's career with the CIA is over.

In the squadroom, Ziva is frustrated with her phone. Tony offers to help, and consoles Ziva. "There's no way any of us could have seen that coming" he says. "You'll find somebody, someday."

Ziva disagrees. She no longer thinks that children and marriage are part of the plan for her right now, and that she's perfectly content with her life.

Detective Burris arrives. He just wants to hear it from them in person: "You got the guy that killed my wife?" Tony and Ziva assure him that he's been caught, and will never hurt anyone again.

The three of them leave the squadroom together. "How long you two been together?" Burris asks. Ziva chuckles. "Oh no, we're not a couple." Tony chimes in, "Just coworkers". "And friends," Ziva adds. "Yes," Tony agrees, "very good friends."

Burris is pleased. "That's good, that's real good. You hang onto that. You never know when you're going to need someone to be there." They get into the elevator and he continues. "Cherish each other. That's all I'm saying. Every day."

Hearing this, Ziva and Tony look at each other, perhaps with a sense of agreement. Phoof!

Roll the closing credits.
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