My Other Left Foot RECAPThis is a featured page

โ—„ Return to 1.12 My Other Left Foot
NCIS Recap: My Other Left Foot
Original Airdate: February 3, 2004
Recap Author: rainne

RECAP

As the episode begins, we watch a truck drive up to an empty building in the middle of the night. A man gets out dressed for dumpster diving and proceeds to do just that. He finds a boot in good condition and pulls it out - only to find that it still contains the foot and lower leg it belongs to. With a gasp, he throws it.

Opening credits.

As we join the team, they are just beginning their workday. Tony inquires how Kate's date last night went; we find that he has been eavesdropping on her when she is on the phone. Kate's date was cancelled on account of surgery - he wasn't having it, he was performing it. Abby pops in and asks about the date as well; she just gets a sarcastic look. Tony fills her in; they agree that surgery is a pretty good date-cancelling excuse.

Gibbs comes in with the familiar order to "grab your gear" - they are going to Clarksburg, WV to see the leg. Kate inquires why they are going to West Virginia to see a leg; Gibbs says it belongs to a Marine. Closeup on the leg - it's got a Semper Fi tattoo on it. First clue. It's also got a Marine Corps emblem on the boot heel. Second clue.

The local LEOs are about as down-home as you can get, cracking jokes about how the leg landed on a set of stairs as though it was going up them. Gibbs is not amused. Ducky reports the limb was severed postmortem, but can't establish a time of death due to the lack of, well, a body.

Kate, taking crime scene photos, notices a seed wedged in the sole of the boot. Ducky tries to take off to an antique store and is pressed for a time by Gibbs. He is willing to commit that the limb has been dead less than twenty-four hours. Gibbs, grinning, lets Ducky go.

Gibbs interviews the junk dealer, who spits tobacco juice somewhere in the vicinity of Gibbs' shoes, then jumps into the dumpster to check for more evidence. Tony and Kate begin a discussion of tattoos. Tony thinks tats on a woman means she's "up for anything;" Kate asks if he thinks she's up for anything. He says she hasn't got a tattoo; she says no, not any that he will ever see. Tony looks like he doesn't quite know what to do with that information. He also learns a valuable lesson on not judging a book by its cover!

In Abby's lab, Ducky takes on the role of Captain Exposition and teaches us that Super Glue in gaseous form will bond to latent fingerprints on human flesh. We learn that Abby is one of those older sisters that makes you wonder how the little brother survived childhood. There is one fingerprint on the leg. In Autopsy, we learn that the victim had a titanium ankle joint, which will have a serial number traceable to the doctor who performed the surgery. The victim was also dismembered with a power saw. Ducky goes into a tangential story about his Grand Tour of Europe after he graduated from high school (the looks on Tony and Gibbs' faces are priceless).

In the squad room, Kate calls to find out about the ankle joint and Tony obsesses about her tattoo. Between the two of them, they locate the orthopedic surgeon who installed the joint. Gibbs interviews the surgeon, who provides the victim's name: PFC Thomas Dorn, who (according to his service record) has been dead for two years. According to the service record, a Dr. Sylvia Chalmers of Harmony, WV, presided over the death, which was due to myocardial infarction (heart attack). No autopsy was done.

In the lab, Abby finds a piece of trace evidence on the sock. In the car, Kate and Tony debate the relative merits of small towns and Kate actually uses the phrase "a slice of Americana" which makes even her most devout fans want to stab her in the eye. In the squad room, Abby reports to Gibbs that the fingerprint on the leg didn't have a match in AFIS and the trace evidence on the sock was a piece of straw. In Harmony, Tony flirts with the doctor's receptionist. In Abby's lab, she reports that the seed came from a sycamore tree.

In Harmony, Dr. Chalmers comes across as a sweet and slightly out-of-it old woman. At the time Dorn died, she was the only doctor for 40 miles. She states that Dorn came in on his own, short of breath and having chest pains. There is a great deal of folksiness in the room; Dorn came into the doctor's office instead of an exam room because they only have one and the Thomas twins were in it with the measles; when Dorn collapsed, they called for an ambulance, but it was working a car accident way out on Turtle Creek. Kate wonders why the coroner didn't do an autopsy; turns out, Chalmers was the coroner at the time. Kate mentions that they are going to be exhuming the body; Chalmers advises them that Dorn's sister had the body cremated. She goes on and on about feeling sorry for the sister. Tony shows her a picture of a Marine, asks if she recognizes it. She says no, and Tony tells her that is PFC Dorn.

As they leave, they discuss the fact that the doctor wore Estee Lauder perfume. Tony gets back on the tattoo thing; Kate tells him it's a rose on her butt and asks if they can please move on. In the squad room, Abby reports that the levels of Digitalis - a heart medication - in Dorn's leg was lethally high. Kate and Tony arrive back and pass on what they have learned. It's obvious they bought Chalmers's sweet-but-stupid act. They have found the sister - actually a half-sister - living in Maryland. Kate and Gibbs head out to question her. We learn that Abby knows where Kate's tat is, but isn't telling. (And all the Kate/Abby shippers cheer.)

Upon arriving at Melissa Dorn's house, the first thing we see is a giant sycamore tree in the front yard. Melissa Dorn is a redhead and Gibbs' automatic redhead reflexes kick in. Kate prepares to do lots of eye-rolling. We learn that Gibbs is an only child. Kate says they are working a case with a tenuous connection to Dorn's. Melissa hasn't kept any of his personal effects. She offers Gibbs coffee, and they wander off to the kitchen to flirt, leaving Kate to snoop around and see if she can find anything. The flirting, which doesn't bear repeating, gets very overboard, causing Kate and millions of viewers to roll their eyes. Kate finds nothing to give them probable cause, but Gibbs takes a seed sample from the big sycamore outside. He brings two sycamore seeds to Abby, tells her they are from the same tree, and asks for a DNA match. She says six hours.

In the squad room, Tony finds a motive for the murder of PFC Dorn: his half-sister collected $750,000 in life insurance. He and Kate go to question the insurance adjuster, who says the company paid the claim to avoid a lawsuit. They discuss Gibbs' flirtation with Melissa; we learn that all three of his wives have been redheads. Kate actually acts jealous over the flirtation. In the squad room, Gibbs talks the case over with Ducky; he is stumped. They discuss the facts. Then Gibbs asks Ducky who he would get to pose as a Marine. Ducky's reply: "You." Something dawns on Gibbs and he begins to laugh, grabs his coat and heads out. In the lab, Abby pulls up her DNA - and gets a negative match.

Gibbs goes to question Dorn's former CO, a Gunny Vestman, who remembers Gibbs when Gibbs was an MP at Camp Lejeune. Vestman's memories of Dorn are not so positive: he remembers that Dorn was a druggie who was about to be drummed out of the Corps when the accident that caused the titanium ankle joint did it for him. Dorn was tight with a Corporal Morgan, who went UA the same time Dorn died, and both of them ran with a redhead called Melissa. Vestman further says that both Dorn and Morgan were "shacked up" with Melissa (and the audience shudders en masse). Gibbs now takes on the role of Captain Exposition: he thinks Dorn and Melissa killed Morgan, identified him as Dorn, cremated him and claimed the insurance money.

In Abby's lab, she is flipped out over a positive match. Gibbs tells her good work, and she flips out further over the fact that one sample from the tree matches while the other sample, ostensibly from the same tree, does not. Gibbs confesses that the non-matching sample came from a different tree; he was giving Abby a blind test. She reacts predictably. Gibbs is pretty pleased; the DNA match places Dorn at Melissa's house, giving them probable cause to search. The team heads to Maryland. Tony goes over the barn floor with Luminol and black light; Gibbs and Kate take the house. Tony finds marks on the barn floor that indicate where a body may have been dismembered; around and in the marks, he finds traces of blood.

Kate and Gibbs use the old glass-of-water trick to obtain Melissa's fingerprints. Tony comes into the house and almost immediately twigs to the presence of someone else in the house. He and Gibbs go to investigate the upstairs and in a very dramatic scene, they discover, hiding in an upstairs closet - Dr. Sylvia Chalmers. When they bring her downstairs, she is addressed by Melissa - to the surprise of everyone - as "Mama."
Chalmers goes into detail about how Melissa defrauded an insurance company at the behest of her "wicked half-brother" and goes on about how everything is Melissa's fault; Gibbs points this out to Melissa.

Gibbs goes on to tell Chalmers that the digitalis in Dorn's leg can be identified by a chemical marker as having come from a stock belonging to Chalmers. Melissa tells Chalmers that the investigators know Chalmers killed Dorn and chopped him up. Chalmers slaps Melissa and says that they can't use anything she's said in court; Gibbs retorts that Melissa was read her rights and waived them; they can use it all.

Back in the squad room, Tony reports that Dorn's left arm was found in a garbage dump in Chiefton, right arm in Katy Lick and torso in Marshville; left leg and head are still unaccounted for. Tony cracks a joke about Kate's tattoo, and Gibbs indicates he knows what the tattoo is (and probably where it is).
โ—„ Return to 1.12 My Other Left Foot


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