Danny Price is heating up a microwave dinner in his Baltimore apartment, when he suddenly hears the dogs outside start barking. Cautiously, he grabs his gun and peers outside, but sees nothing. He brings his dinner and a bottle of beer in front of the TV and begins watching TV. Taking a sip of the beer, he frowns, then sniffs the beer. Alarmed, he realizes that the beer has been drugged. He grabs for his gun, but falls to the ground, paralyzed. The door opens slowly, and we see someone come to stand beside him. A latex-gloved hand reaches for the beer bottle, and slowly pours the remaining beer into Price's mouth. A glazed look passes over Price's face . . . (CREDITS)
Morning at the office. Tony is in a tizzy – he can't find his cell phone, and begins tearing his desk apart looking for it. Gibbs spares a withering glace at Tony's frantic search, and then takes McGee to task for the high-tech language in his report regarding the eyeball. McGee explains that the retinal scan of the eyeball is in MTAC's access director, but the name attached to it is classified. They don't know who put it there, but the search is postponed because Barrett and her team has left for Hawaii to investigate another possible Port-to-Port killing. Gibbs tells McGee that he wants the identity tracked down, and then impatiently asks Tony what he is doing. When Tony laments his lost cell phone, Gibbs tosses him his cell phone. Tony turns his nose up at it, because it's not a smart phone, but is startled when the phone rings – "Dead guy, Navy Lodge."
The team finds another body tightly wrapped in plastic – just like the Port-to-Port victims. The victim has been dead for about 12 hours. They carefully unwrap the body, and find a fortune cookie in the victim's mouth. Tony is busy taking photos, but when the face is revealed, Tony freezes – the body is his old police department partner, Danny Price.
In Autopsy, Ducky reveals that Price was sedated prior to his death. Tony is carefully not looking at the table containing Price's body as Gibbs and Ducky speculate why the Port-to-Port killer chose Price – Tony tells Ducky that he and Price worked Homicide together in Baltimore, and when Ducky asks if he had any military experience, Gibbs offers that Price was a Navy reservist. Ducky and Gibbs dismiss the idea that Price's murder was a coincidence. Ducky also notes that, while the other victims were in perfect health, Price had advanced cirrhosis, indicating an alcohol problem. Tony admits that he had lost touch with Price, and wasn't aware of any problems when he knew him – but it had been a while, and a few years after Tony joined NCIS, Price had been "asked" to retire. "He came from money – not that he saw much of it – his dad wasn't around much, and his mom died when he was a kid," Tony tells them, and Ducky observes that Price and Tony had a lot in common, and is surprised that Tony has never mentioned him. Tony tells him that times goes by, people lose touch – and he drops his gaze to glance at a tattoo of a scorpion on Price's arm.
Flashback: Baltimore, 2001 Tony and Price are in the squad room, admiring Price's new tattoo – a scorpion. Tony is dressed very casually, wearing a hoodie and jeans. "Very Robert Mitchum, 1955, Night of the Hunter, eh?" comments Tony, as Price rolls his sleeve down carefully. As he shrugs on his dapper suit, Tony asks ironically if the tattoo really goes with the suit. "It's Nino Cerruti," brags Price, name-dropping the designer, "and forgive me if I don't take fashion advice from a man who still wears tube socks!" "What's the matter with tube socks?" asks Tony. "They're very comfortable – and they give you traction!" "For what?" asks Price skeptically. At that moment, a prisoner breaks free and tries to dash away, but Tony casually sticks his foot out into the aisle and trips him, sending him sprawling. Price is mildly impressed: "You didn't need tube socks for that," he mutters as he turns away. Tony then announces to the squad room, "I'm disappointed PCP addicts are Friday night – it's Saturday night, it's Hooker Night. Where are the hookers?" he asks plaintively. A high feminine voice calls from the back of the room, "Hey, Tony!" He is slightly abashed. "I mean – the call girls. Hi, Sapphire!" The girl smiles at him as she is escorted by, asking him "When is the big day?" "Uh – thanks for those Christmas decorations!" he tells her and she grins and tells him "No problem!" as she's led away. The major hushes everyone up for some announcements: Tony has won the station house pool contest for the second year in a row. He hands Tony a brown paper bag with his prize – a Mighty Mouse stapler. Back to work: He hands Tony a file having to do with a murder case – finger prints have come back belonging to "Joey Peanuts"
Today: Abby and Gibbs are reviewing the evidence from Price's murder – to Abby's chagrin, everything is identical, leaving no room for mistakes. However, the fortune cookie has a fortune in it: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." From a trademarked burned into the cookie, she identifies the cookie as being made at Dao Huang Fortune Cookie Company in Baltimore. From the fortune, Abby worries that the killer is giving a warning – "Tony knew the victim!" she worries aloud. Gibbs reminds her, "Not just Tony – I knew him, too."
Flashback: Tony and Price are on a stakeout in their car, waiting for Joey Peanuts. Tony is talking to an informant as Price wolfs down Chinese food. When Tony returns to the car, he is annoyed that Price has eaten his mu shu. "I didn't see your name on it," objects Price, but Tony silently points to his name written on the box. Price offers him a fortune from a cookie as a consolation: "Love is for the lucky and the brave – why is that a good one for me?" laughs Tony, and Price comments that Tony asking his high school music teacher is "brave." "Wendy asked me out, remember?" says Tony. Price sighs that Tony can attract any woman in spite of dressing the way he does – today, he's dressed in a turtleneck, a peacoat and jeans . "It's a good luck, but one of these days, the looks are going to run out," he warns Tony. "I plan to be safely married by then, Danny," Tony tells him. "Well, if not – you might want to consider a new wardrobe – seriously!" he admonishes Tony. "With the right clothes, you'd be unstoppable!" Price spots their suspect, and they begin to approach him. Joey is taking to a man with a cap pulled down low over his face, carrying a briefcase. As they get closer, Joey and his contact look up in alarm and make a dash for it. Price chases Joey as Tony pursues the other man. "Freeze, dirtbag!" Tony yells at the man as he ducks into an alley, "You can't outrun me – I'm wearing tube socks!" A flying leap, and both Tony and the man go down. After a brief struggle, where the man punches Tony in the face, Tony pulls his gun and tells the man, "I said 'freeze, dirtbag'!" The man holds out his arms – and we see that he is a younger Gibbs.
Today: Ziva and McGee interview the owner of the Dao Huang Fortune Cookie Company, who confirms that the cookie was made with one of his baking sheets, but that the coloring of the cookie is wrong, and the fortune is not one of his sayings. He is sure no one in his firm could have made it, but suggests that possibly it was made with one of the cookies sheets stolen in a robbery five weeks ago.
Flashback: In the police squad room, Tony hangs up the phone. "It's confirmed – he's a cop," he admits to Price, as Gibbs sits by the desk, handcuffed. "A Navy cop – Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs." "Oops, we're sorry," says Price insincerely as he unlocks Gibbs. "Maybe next time, you'll remember your identification." "You don't do a lot of undercover work, do you?" asks Gibbs with a grin. "Do you? You just got arrested," sneers Tony, and Gibbs tells him that he let Tony arrest him. Tony disagrees: "I had you like a gazelle on the Serengeti!" he declares. He then asks Gibbs what he's supposed to call him. "Leee-roy? Jethro? No, that's a little Beverly Hillbillies. OK, 'Gibbs' it is, then." Tony and Price tell Gibbs that Joey is suspected as being a part of a murder, Gibbs tells him that he thinks Joey knows the person who is laundering money through a Navy payroll office. As they discuss Gibbs' plan, Tony realizes that Gibbs has used them to gain "street creds" by getting arrested. "I don't like being played," says Tony, "but – well played," he compliments Gibbs, as Gibbs tastes a cup of station house coffee, grimaces, and then tosses it away.
Today: Back at the office, McGee and Ziva report on the fortune cookie robbery, and Tony adds that there was no evidence left at the robbery, but even though a crack addict did see a car at the scene, the police didn't put out a BOLO for it, because the witness wasn't credible. Gibbs is trying to read a report, and impatiently looks for his glasses, which are lost, and then orders McGee to put out a BOLO and Ziva goes to track the crackhead. Gibbs pulls Tony aside. "Talk to me," he says. "About what?" asks Tony with a stoney look. "Are you ok?" Gibbs asks. "I'm fine," Tony declares shortly. At a skeptical look from Gibbs, Tony elaborates: "This has nothing to do with that – ancient history." Gibbs looks away for a moment, and then tells Tony, "Yeah, but that doesn't make this any easier." Tony's face softens just a bit, and he assures Gibbs that he's fine. "I'm more worried about Abby's theory that the Port-to-Port killer is targeting our friends," he admits. "We can't protect all of them." "We protect them by catching the killer," Gibbs reminds him, "The same as you did before."
Flashback: Tony and Price are interviewing Joey in connection with their murder case. He tells them that a week ago, he picked up a duffel bag with $50,000 for his boss from a client – he is only a courier, his boss launders money for clients. After a disagreement with a client, his boss "may" have been angry enough to kill the client. He doesn't know the boss' name, but he knows where he will be to deliver the money.
Today: Ziva has finished interviewing the crack addict – and is complaining strongly at the man's smell. "I am not going back into that room until it is absolutely fumigated!" she declares. At a sniff towards the room, Gibbs agrees: "Twice!" Ducky comes hurry down the hall with some information, but is distracted by the stench coming from the Interrogation Room. "Whaaa-t?! What was that smell!" he asks in astonishment, reeling back from the door. He then goes on to tell him that he received an email from Abby alerting him to a minor error on one of his internal reports five weeks earlier – the knot used to secure the victims' feet was supposed to be a double-constrictor knot, not a constrictor knot. Gibbs initially dismisses it as a typo and tells Ducky to just fix it, but Ducky points out that the knot on the latest victim was a single-constrictor – almost as if someone had used Ducky's notes to plan the murder. Because the original Port-to-Port killer is almost pathologically devoted to identical murders, this aberration suggests a copy-cat murder. And not only that, a copy cat who has access to NCIS internal records.
In the office, Ziva and McGee realize that the copy cat killer may not be as methodical as the Port-to-Port killer, and may have left a trail from his purchases of wrapping film, rope, etc. Tony announces that he has found his phone – he left it at E.J.'s. (This news is greeted with stares from the rest of the team). He goes on to play a message he received from Price just before his death, a somewhat cryptic message that ends with "But I'm not the only one who saw what he wanted to – we need to talk. Better late than never, eh?" Gibbs suggests that Price probably knew his killer. "And that means that I might, too," says Tony.
Flashback: Tony and Price have Joey wired and under surveillance. Joey is going to attempt to get his boss to admit to the murder in return for a greatly reduced sentence. Price tells Tony, "We have to talk," and shows him a ring box that fell out of his jacket. "You planning to propose to Wendy, or something?" Price asks, and Tony smiles and tells him, "Actually – I already did," and goes on to tell Price that he has to take the ring back and get it resized. Price is surprised: "And she said . . .?" "She said 'yes', dumbass," a smiling Tony admits. Price wants to know why Tony didn't tell him he was planning to propose, but Tony said that he wanted to ask her, first, before he told anyone. Price congratulates him. A man with a military haircut and shoes pulls up to Joe's rendezvous spot, and Joey greets him. As they watch the conversation, Tony muses "How did we end up doing the Navy cop's job for him?" Price offers that "he's smarter than us," but Tony disagrees. "More devious, maybe. I don't know about smarter . . . Who would want to be a Navy cop? I'd rather have the plague!" declares Tony.
Today: In the lab, Abby is bemoaning the fact that Tony had lost touch with his partner – she can't ever imagine losing touch with her "Three Musketeers." She has run publicly available receipts of people who have purchased three or more of the items involved in the murder, and has identified 26 possible suspects. Gibbs, glancing at the array of suspect photos, suddenly points to one picture and says, "Him." McGee is astonished. "You know this – how?" Gibbs tells him that the man in the photo was at the crime scene. They run a facial recognition program and it's the same guy – he's a computer technician, who may have been able to hack NCIS computer information. Abby wants to know how Gibbs identified him. "Rule 35," says Gibbs. McGee and Abby exchange a grin and repeat in unison: "Always Watch The Watchers."
Flashback: In the major's office, Price and Tony are reviewing the audio tapes from Joey's meeting, and they decide they have enough for an arrest, if they can tie ballistics to him. Gibbs calls and tells them that the man is Lt. Ian Floyd, a disbursing officer in the payroll division at Quantico. Hearing a phone in the background, Tony asks Gibbs if he needs to get it. "No, it's just my wife," says Gibbs impatiently, and Tony suggests that they wait until ballistics on the murder weapon are done. "Done," says Gibbs as someone hands him the evidence bag with the bullet and report. Tony is incredulous – "I don't think so!", and is chagrined to find out that Gibbs had the evidence transferred to NCIS. The weapon is a Walther P99, and Floyd has two registered to him. "Pick him up," Gibbs finishes. Tony wonders how Gibbs got the test done so fast, but Gibbs is interrupted by another phone call: "I've gotta get this one," he tells Tony, "it's my divorce lawyer." Tony hangs up, impressed with the speed of the ballistics test. Meanwhile, Gibbs murmurs to the man who hands him a file – "Detective DiNozzo's personnel file."
Today: The team arrives at the Peter Sear's apartment, and crashing through the door, find their suspect hunched over a figure on the floor wrapped in plastic like the murder victims. Strangely, the suspect seems elated: "This is so exciting!" Sears tells Tony as he is handcuffed and read his rights. McGee kneels by the figure on the floor – but it's a mannequin, not a real body. The walls are covered with news articles on the murders. In Interrogation, he acknowledges that the evidence seems overwhelming, but that he didn't do it. Tony points out that he used a knot that was only mentioned in an NCIS internal report. "I'm the worst loser on the entire planet – I haven't even done anything yet, and I was still arrested!" He is adamant – he was practicing to be a copycat killer, but had never carried out a murder. He's just crazy enough to be believable – and he has an alibi: He moonlights as a birthday clown, and had a job at the time of the murder. Tony wonders, "Where is the Pre-Crime Unit when you need it? Remember that movie? Minority Report?" Gibbs is dismissive. McGee has a lead on the fortune cookie company robbery – at an arrest in Ohio, the two robbers were arrested, and one of them wants to talk. In other news, it turns out that Barrett sent out an update on the Port-To-Port Killer to all law enforcement agencies in the area, which included Ducky's typo. Sears picked it up when he was doing free-lance IT work at the police department. Ziva realizes that the copycat was probably someone who had access to that incorrect report. Tony is thoughtful . . .
Flashback: Tony is chasing Ian Lloyd through the streets of Baltimore. "I have a degree in physical education, I played varsity basketball for Ohio State – this isn't going to end well for you!" he yells after Lloyd as they dash through back alleys and narrow streets. Flying out of an alley, Tony runs hard into a car and falls to the street, but picks himself up and keeps up the pursuit. Lloyd suddenly turns and points a gun at Tony. "Is that a Walther P99 – nice! Now we don't have to look for the murder weapon!" Tony quips. Price creeps up behind Lloyd, gun drawn, and Lloyd puts his gun down after he and Price exchange a few words. Tony gives Price a puzzled look, but takes Lloyd into custody.
Today: Tony enters Price's darkened apartment on a hunch – not much has changed in the last ten years. He sees a picture of Price, Tony and their major posed at a desk, framed and in a place of honor. McGee calls Tony and tells him the Ohio arrest is a dead end – their alibi has been confirmed for the time of the murder. Tony replays Price's last message . . .
Flashback: Tony walks into Price's apartment and confronts him – he saw the look in Floyd's eyes, and realizes that Floyd had already known Price. After pulling Price's phone records, he found numerous phone call between him and Floyd, and accuses Price of being a dirty cop. Price explains that he was sending potential clients to Floyd, and if they laundered money through him, he got a kickback. But he didn't know anything about the murder. "Did he seem like a killer to you?" he asks Tony desperately, and Tony tells him, "You see what you want to see." Price asks Tony what he's going to do, but Tony doesn't answer him. He leaves to take a walk – "I guess if you're still here when I get back, I'll have my answer . . ." he says resignedly. As Tony stands in Price's living room, thinking, he hears a noise at the door and draws his gun – but it's Gibbs, who has overheard everything. "What am I going to do?" asks Tony plaintively. "He's your partner," shrugs Gibbs, to which Tony replies, "Yeah – what am I going to do?"
Today: Again, Tony hears a sound at the door, draws his gun – and it's Gibbs. He and Gibbs talk about why Lloyd never ratted on Price, and then realize that it was because there was another cop involved. Gazing at the photo of him, Price and the major, he tells Gibbs, "There was a silent partner that Danny didn't know about, but he found out after all these years. 'Better late than never' is right. He was looking for redemption." "Let's go give it to him," Gibbs tells him.
At the Baltimore police station, Tony and Gibbs enter the squad room to a raucous greeting. "Ladies and gentlemen, the legend is back – Anthony DiNozzo, Jr.!" calls one of the detectives, but Tony is unsmiling. The major greets them jovially: "Agent Gibbs, isn't it? The man who took my best detective from me?" Tony shows him the logs from the evidence locker and comments that since the major had come up hunting serial killers, he knew how to make it look real. The major pretends confusion, and Tony accuses him of being the killer, not Lloyd – and when Price figured it out, he killed Price, too. "Major, you knew that Tony wouldn't leave it alone," admonishes Gibbs, and Tony accuses him of trying to hide the murder among the other Port-To-Port murders. Gibbs handcuffs him, and they lead him out past a now-silent squad room.
Back at the office, Tony is leading the major as McGee and Ziva watch. McGee asks Ziva, "Can you imagine having to arrest Gibbs?" Ziva tells him that she's rather arrest her father, "and I may have to one day, for that matter," she adds. Ducky and Abby join them, and Ducky asks Gibbs if he remembers the email Ducky received from Abby. A small problem: Abby didn't send the email. As the team wonders who sent it, Ducky tells them it was someone who wanted them to know that they were chasing a copycat killer. There's only one person it could have been: the real one.
Tony turns the major over to other agent for processing, and stands lost in thought, staring down the bright orange hall, remembering . . .
Flashback: Tony enters the NCIS office with a cocky walk, wearing a leather biker jacket, sunglasses and a guest pass. Gibbs meets him as Tony takes his first look at the office: "Wow – I'm not not a big fan of the orange. And the glare off that skylight is ridiculous!" Gibbs motions for him to follow him. "Are you going to ask?" he asks Gibbs. "No," says Gibbs, and Tony tells him that he's not pursuing Price's money-laundering. "It was wrong, way wrong – but . . ." "He's your partner," Gibbs finishes. As they walk down the hall, Tony tells him that he has quit the force and isn't going back, musing, "I don't know what I'm going to do – maybe being a cop isn't for me." At that point, Gibbs delivers a ringing head slap to the back of Tony's head. Astonished, he turns and confronts Gibbs. "Did you just physically assault me?" Gibbs looks at him calmly and tells him, "I don't have a lot of rules, but Rule Number 5 is 'You don't waste good.' You're good." Tony accepts the accolade with a 'thanks', and then, rubbing his head, warns Gibbs "Don't make a habit of that!" Gibbs reaches forward, gently pats Tony on the cheek, and then points to the sign on the door behind him: Agent Application Division. As Gibbs strolls off, DiNozzo calls after him, "Did I mention you were a devious man, Gibbs?" As he walks away, Gibbs retort drifts behind him, "Boy, I've got vision, and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals." Tony is charmed by the reference to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, then stares at the door for a moment. With a little sigh, he charges through the door, bestowing a dazzling smile on the pretty young woman seated behind the desk.