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Dead Air Recap
We watch a never-seen man driving through a small community area as he listens to a talk radio station. (We're listening to the show throughout the entire opening scene.) The radio show's host is interviewing a Navy commander, asking him about military expenditures overseas that some people believe should be applied to problems within the U.S. Our unseen driver pulls up to the isolated radio station and takes a hunting rifle from the back of his SUV. He walks into the station and shoots the first person he sees: the sound engineer. He enters the studio and shoots the guest, then host. Radio listeners hear the shootings happen over the air.
Roll the opening credits.
Bing! The NCIS elevator opens. DiNozzo and McGee are seriously discussing something, and Tony admits that Tim has convinced him. Much to Ziva's surprise, he thanks McGee for his opinion and appreciates his insight. The subject? Baseball -- specifically the use of instant replay. The two of them try to explain the American passion for baseball to Ziva.
At the radio station, the team discusses the background of the victims and the radio show. The radio show host, Adam Gator, was shot three times while the other two people were shot once and left to bleed to death. Looks like the host was the primary target. Tony plays back a brief recording where the Gator is teasing the audience with his next theme: He says that after the commercial break, he'll expose "what may be the next great threat to national security." Gator wasn't killed for something he said -- he was killed for something that he was about to say. Phoof!
In the NCIS conference room, Ziva and Tony interview Gator's wife. She says that while Gator commonly received angry calls and threats, one recent contact stood out: an extremist group claimed to have a bomb and were trying to recruit Gator to their cause. Gator was excited -- he thought an expose' on them would make a great show.
In Forensics, Abby has analyzed the recorded sound of the gunshots, aided by the fact that there were two microphones recording the same event. She identifies the gun as a particular type of hunting rifle.
In the squadroom, the team is reading through the letters that Gator had kept. They find one that stands out: It's a copy of Benjamin Franklin's Revolutionary War drawing of a snake sectioned into pieces (representing the British colonies), with the caption "Join or Die". It was signed by "Matt L", and delivered in an envelope with no postmark. Since it was addressed to the radio station's post office box, it could only have been delivered by a postal employee.
In Autopsy, Ducky has found a peculiar odor associated with the bullets used. The smell is from female deer urine, a bait used by some hunters to attract bucks. The urine must have been on the shooter's fingers as he loaded the weapon.
Tony interviews Matt Lane, a letter carrier in the area. He says that he had asked Gator to record some free advertising for a local YMCA, but Gator refused. "I was just giving him a hard time." Lane is surprised to hear of Gator's death, and has a strong alibi for the time of the shooting -- he was delivering a priority package far away from the site.
In Forensics, Abby has found a cell phone call recorded by Gator on the evening before his death. On the recording, Gator refuses to have any contact with the caller's group (referred to only as 'MAH'), and threatens to expose their "domestic terrorist" plans on his show. The call originated from Royal Woods, one of the wealthiest gated communities in area. Phoof!
In the squadroom, the only reference to 'MAH' that the team can find is an acronym for 'Military at Home', a philosophy that the US should spend military dollars on fighting crime within the national borders instead of around the world. The team reviews what they know about Royal Woods. Background checks on the residents don't show anything. If they could get voice samples from each of the men, Abby could try to match the samples against the cell phone recording to find the caller. Gibbs has an idea.
Tony is sent to Royal Woods posing as a potential buyer of a home in the community. He spends hours asking the residents their opinions about the area. Along the way, we meet a grumpy neighbor, an attractive wife, and Arthur Haskell -- a widowed man raising his sixteen year old daughter Kristen. After talking with all 43 residents, Tony's throat develops a tickle.
In Forensics, Abby is able to match Haskell's voice to the cell phone caller. Haskell wife was killed 18 months earlier in a home invasion by a drug addict with a gun. Haskell and his daughter were witnesses to the murder.
By searching Haskell's email messages, McGee and Ziva have established an unusual connection. Haskell has been meeting with Deeter Johanson, supposedly about ordering a custom wristwatch as an anniversary present for Haskell's wife. Johanson is a known seller of explosives on the black market. Haskell and MAH aren't buying a watch -- they're buying a bomb. There's another meeting scheduled in just two hours. Gibbs has another idea.
That afternoon, at Gibbs' request and with Ziva's agreement, McGee erases the last five years of Ziva's history with NCIS. DiNozzo and Gibbs intercept Johanson on his way to the meeting. They use a field test to find traces of explosives on his jacket and fingers, so they can hold him temporarily.
Ziva then joins Haskell at the meeting point. "I'm afraid that Deeter Johanson is out of business," she tells him, "In his line of work, competition can be a killer." Haskell is confused. "Who are you?" he asks. Ziva smiles. "I'm Ziva David -- the competition!" Phoof!
McGee and DiNozzo monitor the meeting from a distance. Tony's throat irritation is getting worse. Ziva is playing herself from five years earlier, posing as a rogue Mossad agent. Tony remembers (fondly) Ziva of that time as being more reckless and sexy, especially when they were undercover posing as a married couple.
Ziva explains to Haskell that Johanson had become an enemy of Israel, so removing him from action was for her country. However, delivering a bomb to Haskell would be for money. When he is skeptical, she justifies it by saying it is not her job to police America. Haskell doesn't want to discuss the matter just then -- he wants to take a few hours to research Ziva's background. They agree to meet at Haskell's home that afternoon.
In Interrogation, Tony is coughing and sniffling while he prepares to interview Johanson. During the interview, his voice finally gives out (leaving him sounding like Donald Duck), so Gibbs has to take over. Johanson admits that Haskell hired him to make a special batch of undetectable explosives. He's already delivered the explosives, but was negotiating about a special detonator that would be required (since the bomb won't explode unless it's very hot). He doesn't know what the target would be.
Ducky examines Tony's throat. It's only inflamed from overuse. To prevent further damage, Tony needs to rest his vocal cords by not speaking for the next 24 hours. Ducky hope there won't be a need for any movie quotes because, he says, "I'd hate for your ego to write a check that your body can't cash". When Ziva guesses the wrong movie name, Tony can only croak "Top Gun". Throughout the rest of the show, he's unable to speak any louder than a whisper -- and a painful whisper at that.
Ziva meets Haskell. He shows her the bomb in a padlocked freezer in his garage, and agrees to pay her for a detonator. They join a party out in the backyard. While Haskell deals with his daughter (who is frustrated that he missed her soccer game that afternoon), Ziva meets several neighbors, including Zach and Annie Nelson. The self-proclaimed 'barbeque king' at the grill is Matt Lane, the letter carrier we met early in the show.
The three of them explain their 'Military at Home' cause to Ziva: Spending money internally to fight crime, drugs and illiteracy would be much better a much better use of resources than sending that money halfway around the world. Since they believe that the only threats taken seriously by the government are violent threats, their group has decided to 'become a threat themselves'. They won't tell her the target.
Back in the squadroom, McGee traces the money Haskell transferred to Ziva's dummy account. The money came from a bank in the Middle East; in fact, it was stolen from Al-Qaeda. Ziva arranges for the bomb disposal unit to meet them at the Haskell house.
Back at Haskell's, they find him injured and unconscious on his garage floor. The bomb is gone. Phoof!
In the NCIS conference room, Haskell's daughter Kristen is sitting with a representative of Child Services. Although her father only has a mild concussion, Kristen refuses to meet with him. Kristen is willing to let her father "rot in jail" if he has been associated with terrorists, but has an alibi for the murder charges. At the time of the shooting, he was watching her soccer practice. Kristen wishes she could help. When Ziva asks if her father was close to anyone, Kristen remembers that he had taken a hunting trip with neighbor Zach Nelson.
In Interrogation, Nelson is surprised when McGee and DiNozzo set a rifle and a small jar containing a golden liquid on the table. "What's this?" he asks. Gibbs looks at him. "I'd think that a sportsman like you should recognize his own rifle." Nelson is offended that government agents would search his house. McGee tells him that the bullets from his gun match those found in the shooting victims and that his supply of deer urine matches the residue found on the slugs. Nelson tries to justify their cause. He says that Haskell has the bomb, but is surprised to hear about the attack on Haskell.
It's Haskell's turn in Interrogation. He won't talk to Gibbs, so Gibbs has the lights turned on in the observation room. Kristen is steadily watching him through the one-way mirror. Seeing her, Haskell gives up all resistance and wants to apologize to her. He confesses that Matt Lane attacked him; that Lane snapped after learning that Haskell had stolen from Al-Qaeda, and that Lane and Nelson had become reckless after killing Adam Gator. Haskell had wanted to lay low, to wait until the furor over Gator had subsided, but Lane and Nelson were impatient and wanted to do something right away. He says that the target is symbolic: a communications tower at Norfolk Navy Base. Lane is now doing this alone, and was supposed to smuggle the explosives onto the base in his mail truck.
In the squadroom, McGee has been tracing the GPS signal from Lane's mail truck. It hasn't gone anywhere near the navy base. Lane called in sick this morning -- he must be changing targets. His supervisor says he often uses his sick days as a baseball umpire. He's scheduled to be an umpire at a girls softball game between two private schools. The team rosters show the daughters of judges, senators, military personnel: "Almost every girl on here is the daughter of a high-profile government official!" He's targeting the parents. They race out of the squadroom.
Cut to the park with the baseball field. Lane is getting into his pickup truck and easily surrenders. Gibbs demands the location of the bomb. Lane just chuckles. "Good luck finding it." Ziva spots the grill used by Lane at the barbeque, surrounded by people enjoying a picnic after the game There are more propane tanks than one would expect. The lid is shut, temperature rising.
The team breaks into a run, shouting for people to clear the area. Ziva is the first to reach the grill -- it's locked shut with a chain and padlock. Johanson had told them that the bomb needed to be at 400 degrees Celsius (750 Fahrenheit) before it would explode; Ziva sees the temperature gauge reach 700 degrees. She turns to run away and spots Tony standing nearby. She shouts his name and tackles him to the ground just as the bomb explodes.
Later, in the dusk of the evening, the team is finishing up. Ziva is surprised that Matt Lane would plant a bomb then stay around to umpire a game rather than flee the scene. "We told you, Ziva" Tony whispers. "It's baseball", Gibbs adds. Just then, the lights around the baseball diamond come on. DiNozzo and McGee bask in the glorious sight of the illuminated baseball diamond. "You'll understand, eventually" Tony tells Ziva.
She darts between them, picks up a baseball glove and ball, and moves out onto the field. "Hey Gibbs, have a catch?" He strolls out, accepts the mitt that she throws at him. Ziva smiles at the feel of the baseball in her hand, and Gibbs signals his readiness. Ziva leans back and makes a surprisingly good throw. Gibbs smiles and McGee crows. "You do know a little bit about baseball, huh?" "Yeah," she says, "My father taught me." Gibbs just smiles and nods as he returns the throw.
Roll the closing credits.
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