Season 9 Episode 13

A Desperate Man

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Jan 10, 2012 on CBS

Episode Recap

A real estate agent is showing a couple a loft that is for sale. It needs a lot of work, and the wife isn't convinced – especially when they find the body of a woman lying behind some debris. (CREDITS)

Tony is trying to get McGee to tell him when was the last time he was "involved" with a woman. To get Tony off his back, McGee admits that his last time was with Maxine, the gamer girl, ten months ago. "Heck of a dry spell, McMonk," comments Tony, giving McGee a consolatory hug. "A man NEEDS human affection!" McGee is skeptical, and realizes that Tony is simply trying to turn the tables because Tony isn't getting any, either. Ziva interrupts them, angrily asking McGee to block her phone from a secure government line. "It wouldn't belong to C.I.Ray, would it?" asks Tony, but Ziva angrily tells him it's none of his business. "I'll take that as a yes," observes Tony. "Hmm, back a few days, and already you're avoiding his calls? Ouch," he says. Ziva tells him that it's complicated, and that she doesn't want to discuss it. "So why don't you just zipper it up, Tony?" she fumes, storming off. Tony surreptitiously checks his trousers, and then retorts, "My zipper is fine!" Ziva's phone rings, showing "Private Number". It's Ray. She refuses to answer it. Suddenly, Tony's phone rings: Again, it's Ray, trying to get hold of Ziva. Tony hangs up on him. Ray then calls McGee, who hesitates, but Ziva insists that he not answer it. "Better hope that Ray doesn't call Gibbs!" Tony warns Ziva, but as Gibbs strides in, he says, "Too late . . ." Ziva apologizes, but Gibbs cuts her off: The dead woman found in the loft is a dead Naval officer.

The victim is Lt. Commander Maya Burris, who had been serving as an attache overseas. McGee identifies nine bullet holes in the wall with the bullets having been dug out with some sort of blade. Ducky is puzzled by the lack of blood, especially with a gunshot wound in the neck, and estimates the time of death about 6 hours earlier. Suddenly, an agitated policeman bursts into the room. The team holds him back from the crime scene, but the policeman starts crying brokenly, "Maya! Maya!" As his partner pulls him away, he explains that he is the dead officer's husband.

Back at the office, Gibbs asks Detective Burris' partner to keep him out of the way, but his partner is skeptical: "Nick's the best damn homicide detective we've got. He's like a bulldog." The partner says that Burris' loved his wife, and was the only policeman he knew still on his first marriage. Tony asks his partner which marriage he's on. Sheepishly, he holds up four fingers. Tony winces, but Gibbs is expressionless. "Not very proud of it," the partner admits. "Sometimes I wish I was more like Nick, a one-woman kind of guy." Gibbs takes a sip of coffee and looks away noncommittally, and the partner leaves.

The team reviews Maya's file. She has been accustomed to working with high-level diplomats, and was described as bright and ambitious. As they are discussing her assignments, Detective Burris staggers into the office, trailing his anxious partner. Burris has been drinking, and Gibbs suggests he goes home and sober up, but Burris demands to know the progress on the case. Gibbs sighs and tells Tony to take Burris to the conference room. In the conference room, Tony offers him coffee, but Burris is belligerent and wants answers. He doesn't have any information, but it is obvious that he loved his wife and was proud of her. "Let us do our job," Gibbs tells him. "If you don't, I will," Burris declares meaningfully.

In Autopsy, Jimmy is subdued, thinking about the profound effect of Maya's death on her husband. Ducky suggests that he is thinking about his upcoming vows, "until death do us part." Jimmy shakes his head, pondering the finality of the vow. "Why can't it be more fun, like 'until we meet again' or 'until the next sunrise'?" he wonders. Ducky reminds him that "this is the most wonderful time of your life. Enjoy it!" As Gibbs enters Autopsy, Ducky adds in an amused undertone to Jimmy, "Hopefully, you'll only have to live it once!" Ducky tells Gibbs that there was no evidence left behind, the killer went to great pains to clean up after himself. Ducky is puzzled by the fact that Maya's killer waited almost an hour to forcefully remove her wedding ring and bracelet or watch. "This is a killer with a knowledge of police procedure, someone with the skills to cover up a murder," observes Ducky.

Back in the office, Tony admits to McGee that he's "gone without" for two weeks. McGee sighs, uninterested, but Tony goes on to tell him that he had been thinking last night that he felt that there must be something more to it than an "endless stream of waitresses and veterinarians. Don't ask," he says in answer to McGee's questioning look. "You looking for love, Tony?" asks McGee in surprise. But Tony is skeptical that love exists, given the example of Gibbs and his basement. "And Ziva, she's like some bad Israeli romance novel," he adds. Ziva has returned to her desk quietly. "That's funny, coming from you," she tells Tony. Tony, surprised, straightens. "Are you calling me emotionally unstable, Ziva?" Ziva gives him a look, and McGee offers, "More like, 'emotionally challenged'." "Nobody asked you," growls Tony, but Gibbs interrupts, asking for more information. Tony reveals that Maya had a $400,000 life insurance policy, which her husband will receive, but it appears that he had already started spending it, buying a $100,000 boat a few weeks earlier. Ziva notes that Maya had made several trips between Cairo and Islamabad in the last month, but does not know the reason for the trips.

Abby has reconstructed the murder scene, and is having a hard time matching the bullet holes in the wall with the wounds found on Maya's body. She has determined that Maya was in front of the window when she was shot. Plus, the bullet found in Maya's body belonged to an MP5 submachine gun. If the shooter was as close as they originally thought, the bullet holes would be grouped closer together, and there would have been more damage to the body, which leads Abby to theorize that the shooter was across the street on the roof.

Tony and Ziva go to check out the roof for evidence. As they are surveying the room, Tony casually tells Ziva that he's going to start charging Ray for minutes. "You're talking to Ray? Unbelievable! You're supposed to be on my side!" she grouses. Tony tells her that Ray is desperate. "Stay out of it!" warns Ziva, but Tony asks her to tell him what happened. "He does not appreciate me," she says angrily, and goes on to describe that they were supposed to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner; however, he never showed or called, leaving her to wait alone for three hours, with no text or call. Tony winces in sympathy. The next morning, Ray offered no excuse other than he had gotten caught up at work. but it reminded her unpleasantly of her childhood and how her father always put work ahead of his family. She is afraid that it would be like that with Ray, too. As she glances across the street, her gaze sharpens. "There's somebody there," she tells Tony, seeing a flashlight in the loft. She and Tony quickly arrive in the loft, and give chase, catching Detective Burris.

Burris is placed in Interrogation. Impatiently, he bangs on the window: "Hello?!?! Hello?!" as Ziva and Tony watch impassively. Gibbs enters interrogation, and Burris snorts in disgust. "Are you kidding me?" Gibbs asks him why he was in the loft, and Burris tells him that he was trying to solve the case of his wife's murder. Gibbs tells him that it's not his case to solve, but Burris isn't having any of it. He's not leaving the case "to a bunch of Navy cops." Gibbs reflects his frustration, suggesting that Burris doesn't think they are working hard enough on the case. Burris snarls, "I don't think you have a clue what it feels to lose the one you love." Gibbs gives him a straight look: "You're wrong." Burris processes that for a moment, and Gibbs invites him to sit down. He asks about the boat and Maya's insurance, but Burris explains that the boat was a sudden gift from Maya. It had been a dream of his that he and Maya could live on a boat, "but now it sits in the driveway and when I look at it, I see her, I see the trips we were going to take, the kids we wanted to have . . ." He goes on to explain to Gibbs that because they didn't see each other often, that meant that they never took their time together for granted. "It meant something," he tells Gibbs earnestly. In the observation room, Tony steals a glance at Ziva, who is listening to Burris intently, but feels Tony's gaze on her and looks over at him. Gibbs, Ziva and Tony meet in the hall, and Ziva confirms that Maya's name was the only one on the boat's sale receipt, and that she put down $10,000 cash. Gibbs decides to talk to her boss, the ambassador.

In MTAC, the three of them connect with Ambassador Ely, who can't give them much insight into Maya's recent assignment. "Recently, all she talked about was getting home to her husband."

In the office, McGee has photos that the State Department took, with Maya fearfully talking to a man in Islamabad two weeks ago. They can't see the man's face, but Gibbs detects a small wireless headset in the man's ear. McGee attempts to track it. Burris calls, for the third time that day, and Tony offers to go and talk to him, policeman to policeman. Tony visits Burris at his home, and Burris begs Tony to tell him that progress is being made on the case. Tony is sympathetic, because he understands Burris: his life is about the next case, solving it, and moving on. Burris talks about how long he has been a homicide detective, and how he has become hardened to all the dead bodies and how it makes him feel. "They're just case numbers, puzzles to solve," agrees Tony, looking away. Burris is surprised at Tony's empathy, and realizes that Tony has been a cop. Tony tells Burris that he is on the other side now, and that he needs to grieve . . . and let them do their work. Burris asks Tony if he was ever married, and Tony answers, "Almost. Once." Burris guesses that his fiancee' didn't want to be married to a cop. As Tony rises to leave, Burris remembers a piece of paper he found in Maya's things, and offers it to Tony. The slip of paper says, "R. Cruz, DC Field Office." Tony recognizes the name: Ray Cruz.

In the driveway, before he leaves, Tony calls Ziva and tells her that they must get in contact with Ray to find out how he knew Maya. Ziva is silent for a moment, and then tells Tony that she will see Ray, alone.

Ziva arranges to meet Ray on thewalk outside of NCIS. He is waiting on a bench as she walks up, unsmiling. "You're still mad," he observes, but Ziva shrugs off his concern, asking him about Maya. "It's terrible what happened to her, she was a real asset to ONI," he tells her.Ziva asks if he worked with her, and tells her that he met with her in meetings in Cairo. When asked about the man she was traveling with, Ray says he doesn't know, and even if he knew, he couldn't tell her. "Fine. Then we're finished here,' Ziva says bluntly. As she walks away, Ray springs up and demands to know if she is going to keep punishing him. "This is killing me!" he exclaims. "Oh, ho, so YOU'RE the one in pain," she retorts angrily. "I don't recall ME leaving YOU at the restaurant!" "I messed up, I'm sorry!" he says, stopping her. "You're weren't there, Ray!" she shouts. "I'm here now," he tells her. "It's just one screw-up, don't throw away everything we have on one screw-up." "It's not just one screw-up," Ziva tells him, "you do not care!" "That's not true!" he protests. "Look, you're putting up walls again. You do it with me, you did it with your father . . ." "DON'T! It's not about my father!" snaps Ziva. Ray begs for another chance, but Ziva, moving away, tells him it's too late. "I love you," he tells her, suddenly falling to one knee on the sidewalk, to the interest and amusement of spectators. He withdraws a small red jeweler's box from his pocket and opens it, revealing a beautiful engagement ring. "It's now, or never," he tells her. "Ziva David . . . will you marry me?" After a moment of astonishment, she hisses at him to get up. "Not until you say yes," he tells her, still on one knee. A crowd is gathering, enjoying the spectacle, and Ziva is becoming more and more embarrassed. She drags him away from the on-lookers. "So, you don't want to marry me?" he asks. "That's not what I said!" she exclaims in confusion. He tells her that he had meant to ask her at their dinner. "What about the next time you stand me up, or leave the country for months on end?" she demands. He tells her that he has asked to be transferred back to D.C. desk duty. "I want a life with you. A big house in Virginia, somewhere . . . with a big garden, and with two kids, maybe three. And I want them to have your beautiful eyes. Marry me," he begs her. Ziva stares at him.

Back in the office, Tony approaches Ziva carefully. "So . . . what did C.I.Ray have to say?" he asks her. She tells him that Ray had not had contact with Maya in over a month. "I'm not talking about the case," he corrects her. "Spill it! Did he go all Enrico Suave on you, flowers, down on one knee?" Ziva looks at Tony in astonishment. "You knew he was going to propose?" she asks incredulously. "A marriage proposal is a sacred thing," he tells Ziva solemnly. "If a guy tells you he's going to do it, you hold it close. It's an unwritten code that all men live by." He points to his finger. "Where the rock?" he asks. Ziva looks down at her empty hand. "I told him I would have to think about it." Tony is taken aback: "That's the kiss of death, Ziva!" he tells her. Ziva explains that she didn't say no, but she has to be sure that she and Ray are ready. "Nobody is ready for marriage, trust me," retorts Tony. "If they were, the divorce rate wouldn't be fifty percent. Not to mention the murder rate," he adds, getting an exasperated sigh out of Ziva. "Getting married is a leap of faith, right?" Tony continues seriously."Is Ray the right guy for you? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you love him, you have to jump in, feet first." Ziva isn't buying it: "This, from a man who didn't even go through with his own wedding?" "Ah, but I killed the proposal!" he says proudly. "The rock, the tuxedo, I set out the candles. I even managed to shed a tear," he tells her. As Gibbs comes in, Tony tells him that he should be getting ready to play father of the bride. Gibbs is surprised, and gazes at Ziva with a slight smile. "Yeah? I'm happy for you, Ziva." Ziva explains that she hasn't exactly accepted, yet, so it isn't exactly official. "Well, it will be . . . if it's right," offers Gibbs. Suddenly, a thought strikes Tony: "Ah! You and Jimmy Palmer! A double wedding!" he says gleefully. Abby interrupts with news: She and McGee have tracked down the wireless headset, a special model made only for high security work, with only 400 sold, mostly in the Middle East. Also, Maya's browser history has shown numerous searches for the Saleh Revolutionary Corps, or the SRC.

The team goes to search the boat Maya bought, and finds a small box containing clippings about Al Queda and the SRC, and a notebook with her notes. Burris wonders why Maya never told him. "We protect who we love," Gibbs tells him.

In the lab, Abby and McGee show Gibbs notes from Maya's work, and how she had been working with a former colleague to take out the SRC. Abby runs a match of phone signals, and find one that matches Maya's identically: Barry Norton, a civil engineer in Pakistan in 1998 and recently a liaison with the Cairo embassy, who was fired for anti-American actions with the SRC, and then started working for the SRC. His picture is similar to the man in the earlier photos with Maya. Norton sold the SRC high-level secrets, accessing Maya's security clearance to obtain the information. Abby and McGee theorize that when Maya found out, she was upset and threatened to expose him. Coincidentally, Norton's cousin was the contractor working on the loft where Maya was found, which would give Norton access to the crime scene. McGee has tracked Norton's car down in Georgetown, and Gibbs tells them to put out a BOLO for it.

As Tony comes down the stairs, he overhears Ziva laughing on the phone with Ray. He pauses, and then asks, "Jumping in feet first, David?" Ziva explains that Ray is renting a jet to fly them to Miami the next day to tell his parents, "and I am seriously considering it,' she admits. "Wow . . . great! So . . . why the shift?" Tony asks carefully. Ziva explains that, having seen Burris' grief, she doesn't want to live with regrets. Gibbs interrupts: McGee has found Norton's car. It was in an accident the night before. Gibbs tells him to bring him in, but when the car is towed in, Gibbs tells McGee that he meant to bring Norton in, not the car. McGee tells him that Norton died of his injuries in the hospital.

After examining the car, Abby reports that the brake lines were deliberately cut in three places, which suggests that someone wanted to make sure Norton had an accident. Tony reports that the SRC had put a fatwah on Barry Norton, after Norton and the SRC had an argument over money: he threatened to expose their plans if they didn't pay him more money. The team realizes that Norton was probably the target all along, and that Maya was merely collateral damage. They pull up Norton's phone records in Islamabad, and as they review them, Ziva's attention is riveted on one number. Suddenly, she whirls away, heading for the elevator. The team exchange glances, and Gibbs starts to follow her, but she tells him grimly, "Do not try to stop me, Gibbs, I have something to do." Gibbs backs off, and she continues down to the lab, where she asks Abby to pulls off the numbers that have called her phone in the last two months. "Sure, but you have a really strange look on your face. What is this about?" Abby asks, but Ziva begs her not to ask, just to do it. Sure enough, the number on Norton's phone records match one of Ziva's . . . the number belonging to Ray. Ray and Norton were in Islamabad at the same time.

Ziva is striding across the airplane hanger, where Ray is waiting by the chartered jet. Confused, he asks her where her bag is, and is shocked when Ziva punches him in the face."Now you have my answer," she tells him grimly. "Let me explain," he starts, but Ziva interrupts him. "There's nothing to explain. You killed an innocent woman, and you tried to lie to me about it." He admits that killing her was an accident. "One that you took great pains to cover up," snarls Ziva. Ray explains that Norton was a dangerous man, and his mission was to take him out in Pakistan, but he got away. Ray, however, was determined to finish the mission, even if it went against CIA directives for no action on U.S. soil. "I did what I had to do. You, of all people, should understand that, Ziva," Ray tells her. "It's over." But Ziva tells him that it will never be over for Burris. "You ruined his life, Ray, do you not understand that?" Ray tries to dismiss Burris: "I don't want to talk about this any more. What's done is done." He just wants to go back to being the man she fell in love with. But Ziva tells him, sadly, "That man is gone." She turns and walks away.

She gets into a car driven by Gibbs, a pained look on her face. Gibbs tells her that the CIA confirmed that Ray violated orders by taking out Norton on U.S. soil. "He's done," he adds, glancing at Ziva, who is staring ahead. He reaches out, strokes her hair comfortingly, and asks, "What can I do?" "Drive . . . just . . . drive," she tells him tiredly.

In the office that evening, Ziva is struggling with her phone, and Tony suggests that she let McGee handle it. She declares that she can do it herself. "It's ok to ask for help," he tells her mildly, shouldering his pack and getting ready to leave. "I am fine," she repeats firmly. "Uh, huh, I can see that," Tony says, coming to stand by her. He takes her phone and, while quickly removing the battery and replacing it, he tells her not to beat herself up, that no one could have foreseen Ray's involvement. As he studies the phone, he tells her, "You'll find somebody . . . someday." She looks up at him, and then tells him, "I'm not sure I want to. I do not think that children and marriage are part of the plan for me right now. And I am . . . fine . . . with that. I am perfectly . . ." her voice cracks just a bit, ". . . perfectly content with my life." "Content . . . but are you happy?" Tony asks her. She looks at him. "Are you?" He smiles as he returns her phone, which chirps on. Burris walks in and apologizes for coming in so late, but he needed to hear it from them in person that they had found the man responsible for Maya's death. "Yeah, it's over. We apprehended him this afternoon," Tony confirms. "I'm not asking how, DiNozzo, I'm asking who," Burris demands. Tony glances at Ziva, who takes a deep breath and tells Burris. "His name is Ray Cruz . . . and he will never, ever hurt anyone again." Burris thanks them, and Tony offers to walk him out. Ziva follows, but is taken aback by Burris' casual question: "How long have you two been together?" "Oh, no . . . we're not a couple," Ziva chuckles. "Just co-workers," agrees Tony. "And friends," adds Ziva. "Yes . . . very, very good friends." "That's good," smiles Burris. "You hang on to that. You never know when you need somebody to be there for you." As they enter the elevator together, Burris turns to them. "Cherish each other. That's all I'm saying. Every day," he tells them, and then turns his attention to the elevator buttons as Ziva and Tony share a quiet smile.