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Nature of the Beast Recap
◄ Back to 9.01 Nature of the Beast
NCIS: Nature of the Beast
Airdate: September 20, 2011
Recap Author: callerbear
Bing! An elevator door opens, and Dr. Rachel Cranston (Kate Todd's sister) joins Gibbs in a quick conversation as they walk down a hospital hallway. "Status?", she asks. "He was found unconscious, single gunshot wound to the chest, concussion." There's been a gun battle -- at least two shots fired, a lot of blood left behind, and the shooter's body is gone. Gibbs opens the door to a room, and we see...
Tony DiNozzo, sitting on the bed, head bowed. Tony was apparently in a gunfight and was hit in the chest, but was wearing a vest that has likely saved his life. He's nervous, cracking bad jokes and puns, avoiding giving answers to any questions. An NCIS agent's badge (not his) was found in his clothing... and Tony can't remember at all what happened. Tony and Rachel begin a conversation that continues throughout the episode. As she triggers his memories, we see flashbacks to that period in the past. "Tell me about your assignment from the beginning," Rachel asks. Tony stares at the bloody badge, and we....
Flash back to a golf course in late May. The new Secretary of the Navy, Clayton Jarvis, is preparing to make a putt. "There's a situation," Jarvis tells Tony, and says it's up to the two of them to take care of it. Jarvis makes it clear that this assignment is for Tony alone, not the rest of the team. After making his long putt, Jarvis looks Tony in the eye. "You saw the photo. You know who the problem is. Make it happen." He walks away.
Briefly cut back to the present, with Rachel and Tony in the hospital room. Dr. Cranston asks, "And did the rest of your team suspect you were on a secret assignment?" "No," Tony says, "Not at first. Just business as usual."
Flashback again, this time to NCIS headquarters. Her probation period over, Ziva is presented with her official NCIS special agent identification card and badge. She suggests that the entire team celebrate with her that night, but Tony demurs with the excuse that he has "homework" to do. Cut to the NCIS firing range, where Tony is practicing. Gibbs cautions Tony about the dangers of a secret assignment, and Tony declines any assistance. "Just doing my job, boss!". Phoof!
Back to the hospital room. Tony has an obvious bruise from a blow to his forehead and is still nervous. Rachel is next to him. Tony tells her that the assignment was presented through a photograph. "Of whom?", she asks. He can't remember at first, but then starts to recall... "I destroyed it," he says.
Flash back to the office, with Tony shredding a photograph. Ziva has put in a request for a vacation, so she can travel to Central America to meet with a long-time (female) friend that is very dear to her. "I need her advice," Ziva says. Ziva tells Tony that while she doesn't need to know anything about Tony's assignment, she does want him to be careful. With the recent losses of Agent Levin, Mike Franks and the departure of Agent EJ Barrett, she says that NCIS has "been through a lot, and we need some time."
Cut back to the present, still in the hospital room. "You must have sensed they were concerned about you," Rachel comments. "I'm sure they were," Tony says. "Everyone was in the dark, trying to put the puzzle together."
Flash back to the summertime. Gibbs swoops into Autopsy. Ducky is sitting at a small table near the video displays. He's discovered, through his autopsy observations, that someone made an incision in Agent Levin's arm after he was killed. Security video of the autopsy room shows that it was EJ, secretly removing a small microchip from his arm. Sensing that there's a connection, Gibbs confronts Director Vance about Tony's secret assignment, and Vance reminds him that Secretary Jarvis has the authority to make that type of decision. "It's his Navy," says Vance. Gibbs rebuts, "But it's my team!"
Cut to Abby's lab. Abby, McGee and Ziva are looking at security video of Tony at his desk, trying to figure out who is in the photograph. They're uneasy, feeling like they're spying on family. Something's up, and they don't like it.
Cut to a fancy mansion in early June. Secretary Jarvis is saying farewell to an Arab ambassador. Gibbs rushes up and confronts Jarvis about using his team. As they continue their verbal jousting, we hear tires squealing as a car zooms up to the house. A man jumps out and staggers towards Jarvis. Felix Wright, a friend of Jarvis, dies at Jarvis' feet. His arm has a bloody incision in the same place as Levin's arm. A short time later, as the team begins their investigation, Jarvis refuses to answer questions about any microchip, but strongly orders that the investigation of Wright's death will remain confidential. Director Vance wants Gibbs' team to quietly find the thread that links Wright to Levin.
Back to the present. DiNozzo continues to talk with Rachel. With a movie playing on the television set, he reflects back on his childhood, remembering that he was watching the movie "Angels with Dirty Faces" in a similar hospital room when his mother died. Rachel turns off the television. "The pieces weren't fitting together. I had to talk to Agent Barrett," Tony says. "The thing about chasing a federal agent -- they know how to disappear. She was careful about not leaving a paper trail, but not careful enough."
Flash back to July. Tony has found EJ just before she leaves the area. She's on her way to visit a friend of a friend, she says, and won't talk about the microchip until after she returns. "I made a promise to someone, Tony, and now I need to fulfill it." He asks her to trust him, but she's not sure she can.
McGee has discovered a link between Wright and Levin. They served together in the Office of Naval Intelligence, working with a secret armada of spy ships called the Watcher Fleet. The Watchers have very sophisticated electronics used to monitor terrorist and anti-military activity. Levin left ONI for NCIS, and Wright went off to the Pentagon. The records of their ONI service were expunged. "You have to wonder what was on those microchips," says Gibbs.
Cut back to the present day in the hospital. Gibbs is approached by Agent Casey Stratton of the FBI. Stratton wants to talk with DiNozzo, but Gibbs stonewalls him, then escorts him to the elevator and sends him away. Rachel asks Tony about EJ, and we...
Flash back to July. EJ and Tony are still talking. EJ wants to return Levin's microchip to Felix Wright. Just as she tells this to Tony, someone begins shooting at them. They manage to duck behind, then into a car and escape without injury.
Back to the present. Rachel badgers Tony for a bit, intentionally making him angry so that his body will release endorphins, which can jog memories. It works... Tony remembers that the case file he received from Jarvis contains information about implanted microchips.
Flash back to Abby's lab. She's found that the chips for both Levin and Wright were implanted at about the same time, in the same place in their arms, and serve as low-energy radio frequency ID tags. McGee realizes that they are access chips -- door openers!
In Vance's office, Secretary Jarvis has brought Sean Latham, ONI's director of the Watcher fleet to meet with Gibbs and Vance. Latham explains that both Levin and Wright were part of a project named "Phantom Eight", and that the microchips implanted into each of the men provided world-wide access to the Watcher database, classified information that enemies would find very valuable. Latham suggests that EJ Barrett may have stolen Levin's chip for her own profit. Jarvis tells Gibbs to find her as a matter of national security.
Gibbs returns home to find Tony and EJ waiting for him. Over dinner, EJ shows the microchip to Gibbs. They try to figure out what to do with it... No-one trusts Jarvis. Tony suggests that Agent Simon Cade, one of EJ's team, might be suspect. He was close to Levin, and "maybe he knows too much". Gibbs encourages EJ to contact Cade, and bring him back to DC.
Back to the present, still in Tony's hospital room. Tony reflects upon the people at NCIS. They're more than family -- he trusts them with his life. As they talk, the door opens -- it's Casey Stratton. He's glad Tony is alive, but doesn't want to interrupt the doctor. He'll come back later, he says, and backs out the room quickly when Rachel starts to call Gibbs.
Flash back to September. McGee and Ziva have been worried. They think DiNozzo is investigating EJ. Abby rushes in -- she's just received a message from Simon Cade. He's in trouble, he says, "Someone is after me." He's bruised, disheveled and breathing hard. Someone's chasing him, and he needs help. Phoof!
Back to the present. Gibbs walks into the hospital room, and Rachel excuses herself for a moment. Speaking privately, Gibbs tells Tony that they've found the brass from Tony's gun. Abby's analysis of blood at the scene shows there were three people present, not two. "I know this is hard," he says, "But I need to know who you were handling."
Flash back to the golf course. DiNozzo has been waiting for Secretary Jarvis to finish his round. Tony says that people he cares about are getting hurt, that he wants out of the mission, and threatens to quit NCIS if Jarvis won't release him. "Don't screw with me," says Jarvis. "I own you. Know it, accept it. It comes with the detail. Now get lost, before you say something you can't back out of." Jarvis walks away, and joins Sean Latham at a table for refreshments. Latham notes that DiNozzo isn't acting quite like Jarvis had predicted. "He'll come around," says Jarvis. Latham returns, "Maybe, maybe not."
Back to the present. "They never saw it coming," Tony says. "She was blind-sided." Gibbs quirks an eyebrow. "She?"
Flash back to a dark alley. A shadowy figure steps out towards EJ. It's Simon Cade, bearded, wearing jeans and a dirty hooded sweatshirt. They're both relieved to see each other again. Cade says he's on the run, being chased and doesn't know why. "You sold out, Cade," calls Tony as he arrives, gun aimed at Cade. Tony accuses Cade of killing Wright and wanting to get his hands on Levin's microchip, too. Cade is confused. He got a message from EJ to come back to Washington DC and the next thing he knows, he's being hunted. He received a text message from EJ to meet at this particular alley. Surprised, EJ says that she hadn't sent Cade the message. In fact, she received a text message from Tony for all three of them to meet at the alley. Tony got the same message from EJ... They've been set up!
Blam!, Blam! Cade is shot in the heart, and EJ is shot just below her heart. Tony turns, seeking the shooter, takes a shot to his heart and slumps to the ground, unconscious.
Cut back to the present. Tony realizes that he had not fired his gun -- someone else did. Gibbs explains that Metro Police found Cade's body along the river; the badge was his. The shot that killed Cade was from another weapon, not Tony's... but the shots from Tony's gun that hit Cade were post-mortem. Someone planted the badge to make it look like Tony had killed Cade. Gibbs prompts Tony for memory once again, "The photo was always Cade, wasn't it?" "Yeah," Tony says. "I knew EJ didn't do it but I needed her help to bring Cade in. SecNav was positive it was him." They realize that they were all used. Someone wanted the microchips. "You saw the shooter, Tony. Who was it?" He thinks back...
Cut back to the alley. Tony is turning, gun ready to fire. In slow motion, Casey Stratton steps out from behind a dumpster, gun aimed directly at Tony, and fires.
Cut to Vance's office. Gibbs sets Cade's badge and the microchip on the conference table. Vance wants to know who Casey Stratton really is -- FBI doesn't know anything about him. Jarvis and Latham are sitting around the conference table. Jarvis is angry -- the mission was always about Cade, and this wasn't supposed to happen. "Agent DiNozzo is alive, Mr. Secretary," says Latham, "Guess he got lucky."
Cut to the interior of a ship. Latham holds his forearm to a scanner and enters a control room. He takes Levin's microchip out of his pocket, and sets it next to Wright's! He congratulates a man standing nearby... it's Stratton! "Things turned out for the best," Latham says, "Jarvis is none the wiser. You know who's still missing?" "Unfortunately," Stratton acknowledges. "Find her," commands Latham. They turn to a bank of computer monitors and start a video conference call with figures from around the world. "Gentlemen," Latham says as he shows an image of the two microchips. "Who would like to start the bidding?"
Cut to Gibb's basement. He pulls out a cardboard box that has Mike Franks' name on the side. Inside, there's a folder containing classified information about the "Phantom Eight" project. Among other pages, there is an old photograph of eight men posing for a team photo. We see Gayne Levin in the back, standing next to Felix Wright. Sean Latham is towards the front. And there, crouching at the bottom, is Casey Stratton.
Phoof. Roll the credits.
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