A work crew is tearing down abandoned military housing in the Norfolk Air Station Base when a front-end loader uncovers a deep hole. The foreman yells at the crew to stop, and carefully shines a flashlight into the hole. He is shocked when he sees the skeletal remains of a woman in a wedding dress lying on a bed with a shackle around her left wrist.
Lt. Commander Andy Willis from Base Security meets Gibbs and the NCIS team at the scene and tells Gibbs that this section of base housing has been closed for five years. When the units began becoming a health hazard, they brought in an independent company to demolish them.
DiNozzo, walking behind with Kate and McGee, wonders aloud about the way Gibbs introduced the team – he introduced Kate first, then McGee, and then him. He finds it very strange that Gibbs mixed up the seniority order that way. While McGee tries to assure him that it doesn't mean anything, Kate jokes that it doesn't have anything to do with seniority – it has everything to do with intelligence and the general level of competence of the team members.
Gibbs asks Lt. Cmdr. Willis if the hole could have opened into an old bunker, but Willis admits that he doesn't know what it is. McGee uses a scope to get a better view of the underground chamber. Watching on a monitor, Gibbs notices a tunnel opening that probably leads to the house nearby. The team enters the abandoned home to search for the entrance to the tunnel. DiNozzo finds an air vent in the back of a closet and when he opens the vent the smell of decay is evident. Calling to the rest of the team, he rolls up the carpet from the closet floor to reveal a panel. Under the panel he finds a ladder leading down into the dark. When Gibbs tells DiNozzo to wait for Ducky and leads Kate and McGee down the ladder, DiNozzo is again taken aback.
Gibbs, Kate and McGee make their way through a narrow tunnel to find the room containing the corpse. The three begin taking pictures and collecting evidence, finding the room to be furnished with a bed, vanity, toilet and sink. The chain attached to the dead woman's shackle is nailed to the wall – Gibbs notices that the nails were driven in at a left to right angle, indicating they were pounded in by someone left-handed.
Ducky and Palmer arrive and DiNozzo points to the ladder telling them that their body will be found "9 feet down, 12 feel over." To try to get Palmer over his fear of entering the small, dark space, Ducky begins telling a story about Edinburgh Medical College and how a colleague tried to overcome his fear by shutting himself in one the morgue drawers for 24 hours. Unfortunately, Ducky relates, he died of a massive coronary. Palmer is not very encouraged by the tale. Slipping the shackle off the dead woman's wrist, Ducky asks Palmer for the body bag for transportation and Palmer realizes he left it in the truck. He eyes the narrow, dark tunnel entrance with dismay.
Kate finds a book on the end table next to the woman's bed – The Good Wife's Guide: Ten Steps to Pleasing Your Husband . McGee mentions that he read something like that in Redbook magazine, but Kate says this book was published in 1955. Ducky believes the woman has been dead for maybe one, but certainly not more than two years, even though the housing has been abandoned for five years.
Back at NCIS, Kate finds that the last tenant of the house was Lt. Cmdr. Carlton Halpin, his wife and two children. DiNozzo has found that the furniture in the room dates back to the 1950s, and may have been purchased from antique stores or yard sales, or been handed down from family members. They will not be able to trace it.
Down in the morgue, Ducky and Palmer discuss the body. Ducky finds her to be a Caucasian woman between 20 and 27 years old, and the cause of death is non-specific asphyxiation. She wore a wedding ring that was removed violently. Abby is in the middle of checking the mounds of evidence brought back from the scene when Gibbs walks in. Abby tells Gibbs that the wedding dress was made in 1952, and the woman was wearing it for months before she died. There were fingerprints all over the room, but they were all the dead woman's – Abby was able to pull prints from the body. Any other prints were removed with cleanser.
The fingerprints match Carolyn Figgus, Petty Officer 3rd 22 years old, who went missing 18 months ago. Since Ducky puts her death at one year ago, she was held in the bunker for approximately 6 months before she died which rules out the last tenants. Gibbs asks Kate about the pathology of their killer. She explains that he probably grew up in an abusive household and is trying to create the perfect relationship. This woman did not live up to his expectations. This man will not stop until he finds the perfect wife, so he has probably taken another woman and is holding her right now.
A dark-haired woman in a 1950s wedding dress lies motionless on a bed in a room that could be the twin of the underground chamber. Her left arm is chained to the wall.
Kate has collected all of the evidence after Abby's analysis and has rebuilt the underground room from crime scene photos, but Gibbs believes something isn't right. Standing at the doorway of her make-shift room, he motions for her to get out the way, and, as she insists that everything is perfect, he moves the table lamp on the nightstand a few inches to the right. Kate believes that the criminal's fixation on the 1950s is because it is an idealized time when the rules between men and women were simple. He probably didn't grow up in the 1950s as the items in the room aren't all from that era. He must not have been attached to the items as he had no trouble leaving everything behind when he abandoned his victim. He may have been transferred and had to leave suddenly. The criminal removed the wedding ring because that is the one thing that he keeps in common among all of his victims. Kate suggests that they put someone in the room so she can observe what the victim's behavior might have been like. She thinks Tony would look cute in the wedding dress, but Gibbs tells her that DiNozzo and McGee are off interviewing the victim's parents. When Kate flippantly suggests Gibbs do it, he simply glares at her.
In the car on the way to interview Petty Officer Figgus' parents, McGee is enjoying DiNozzo's choice of music just a little bit too much, so DiNozzo changes the station to a country-western station. McGee tells DiNozzo that he isn't after Tony's job, and that Gibbs must think of Tony as his right-hand man, even though he's never said so. DiNozzo demands to know what "nice things" McGee has heard Gibbs say about him. The only thing McGee can come up with is when Gibbs described DiNozzo's last case report as "not late, for once."
Kate is beginning to regret asking for a reenactment of the victim's actions when Gibbs locks the shackle around her wrist. Walking around the room, Kate finds that she can make it to the toilet, but not to the threshold of the tunnel. Carolyn Figgus had nothing left to do but sit and stare at her reflection in the mirror. Gibbs notices two round indentations on the rug next to the bed that are too large to be footprints. He and Kate realize that someone was kneeling next to the bed praying for long enough to leave permanent wear-marks in the carpeting.
Abby has found a wing from a Darkling Beetle among the evidence. This beetle is native to southern Georgia and northern Florida, not the Virginia area. She suspects someone transferred it to the Norfolk scene on his shoe. DiNozzo finds three bases in that area – Jacksonville NAS and Mayport NAS in Florida, and a Naval Submarine Base in King's Bay, Georgia. McGee finds that a missing persons report was filed by an NCIS Agent from Jacksonville. Petty Officer 2nd Barbara Swain has been missing for almost four months. The team flies down to Jacksonville and meets up with NCIS Agent Jane Melankovic. She has Seahawks out searching for thermal anomalies, but their search is taking a long time. Agent Melankovic warms up to McGee when they begin discussing the recipe section from Ladies' Home Journal, but gives DiNozzo the cold shoulder. When the search teams find a heat signature, the team heads out to the home of Petty Officer 3rd Darrel Baum, guns drawn. When they break into the house, Gibbs finds Petty Officer Baum tending to his large crop of marijuana plants. Baum is not the man they are looking for.
Commander Spenser is impatient with Gibbs' investigation, noting that all 423 housing units have been cleared of any heat signatures. He tells Gibbs that he is going to recall the helicopters. Gibbs returns to the team, irritated and frustrated with the situation. When Kate asks him what to do next he snaps at her, and gets into the car.
The dark-haired woman stands holding her chain in the small underground room.
The team gathers around a computer on Agent Melankovic's desk at NCIS Jacksonville to speak with Abby. Abby explains that she has completed all of the testing on the evidence from the underground room at Norfolk. The only other thing she has to report is that she found a few purple silk fibers that may have come from a scarf. Melankovic brings the team a pile of files concerning everyone transferred from Norfolk during the past six months. According to the report on Petty Officer Swain, the last person to see her was her roommate, Petty Officer Debra Marshall. Gibbs orders DiNozzo and McGee to go through the transfer files while he and Kate speak with Swain's roommate. Agent Melankovic mentions that she did the initial interview with Petty Officer Marshall, hinting that she should go along, but Gibbs ignores her.
At the motor pool, Gibbs and Kate speak with Petty Officer Marshall. She is fatalistic about the chances of finding her roommate alive after all this time. She tells the agents that everyone liked Barbara, and the only thing that was particularly on her mind was men. Barbara wanted to get married, but she only ever seemed to meet losers, and believed there must have been something wrong with her. She mentioned that Barbara might seek professional help about the situation. Petty Officer Marshall tells them that she never met any of the "losers" that Barbara Swain dated.
While McGee and Melankovic are systematically going through the files, DiNozzo is amusing himself by reading The Good Wife's Guide. When Melankovic calls him sexist and insensitive and then asks McGee's opinion, McGee hesitates. DiNozzo is quick to remind McGee that he is only a Probationary Field Agent, and that DiNozzo is using the book to find out the criminal's state of mind.
Gibbs and Kate cannot find any record of Petty Officer Swain seeing a Naval psychologist. Kate believes that she may have gone to a civilian to keep her personal problems private, but Gibbs points out that she didn't have to see a "shrink". During his break-up with his second wife he "went to see the Padre."
Chaplain Brett Evans remembers speaking with Barbara Swain, but that she didn't say much. She was attracted to men who didn't fulfill her needs on a spiritual level. She didn't mention any men by name. She was supposed to call and make another appointment but she never did.
When Gibbs calls, DiNozzo quickly gives out more files to McGee and Melankovic, but Gibbs seems to know what DiNozzo is doing and tells him to put down the book and begin checking local bars for men who knew Petty Officer Swain. DiNozzo tries to get McGee to make copies of service photos of the men who fit the profile, but Gibbs tells him to do it himself. While DiNozzo is making copies, he sees something and returns to the office to phone Gibbs. The man he suspects is left-handed and was transferred to Jacksonville six months ago from Norfolk. This man is also a chaplain – a chaplain who wears a silk stole around his neck which can be purple depending on the season. Gibbs hangs up and turns the car around, heading back to Chaplain Brett Evans. Kate remarks that it wasn't Carolyn Figgus who was praying beside the bed in Norfolk, it was the chaplain.
Gibbs and Kate rush into the chapel to find Brett Evans sitting alone in the first pew. He turns to look over his shoulder at them, and then faces the altar and shoots himself.
At the crime scene, Commander Spenser tells Gibbs that he didn't have much contact with the chaplain, and, when he did the man seemed normal. The commander tells Gibbs he will get the helicopters back in the air to continue the search for thermal images under the ground.
At the chaplain's home, DiNozzo watches one of the chaplain's tapes of "Ozzie and Harriet" while McGee and Melankovic search. Melankovic finds a red light in the chaplain's closet and calls DiNozzo over. They find camera equipment on a shelf behind the clothes: the chaplain had been using the closet as a darkroom. He could have a stash of pictures of his victims.
Commander Spenser shows a large aerial map of the base to Gibbs and Kate, noting that there are quite a few places Evans could have stashed his victim that would not show up on thermal scans. There are hundreds of buildings on over 4000 acres – it will take days to search. If Evans cuts off the oxygen to his victims when he knows he won't see them again, Petty Officer Swain only has a few hours to live.
Back at Evans' apartment, McGee finds over 50 love letters full of romantic verses. DiNozzo compares them to old Nelson Eddy songs, and McGee notes that DiNozzo seems to have a lot in common with Brett Evans. DiNozzo is about to come down hard on McGee when he stops a moment. An old-fashioned phonograph catches his eye, and he takes it out and removes the turntable. Underneath it he finds an album titled: Our Wedding Memories. Inside, he finds pictures of many young women in wedding dresses posing with the chaplain, including Figgus and Swain. All of the women look terrified. DiNozzo hands the album and the negatives he's found to McGee to send to Abby. He comments to Melankovic that, when he was a kid, he used to hide things in his record player.
Over the computer link, Abby tells the team that she was able to find some details in the background of the negative that were not captured by the print. She found a riveted doorframe that Gibbs immediately identifies as an ammo bunker. The NCIS team, Commander Spenser, and MPs meet at an abandoned ammo bunker that is the only location on base with riveted doorframes. There are six bunkers to search that contain dozens of corridors and hundreds of rooms each. Each team takes a pair of bolt cutters and they begin to search.
Cutting off padlocks as they go, McGee, Kate and DiNozzo search bunker two, clearing it room by room. Gibbs and Melankovic head to bunker one to do the same. Walking carefully down the pitch-black hallways, McGee hears a tapping noise from up ahead. He and Kate go to investigate, calling Barbara Swain's name, but they hear no reply. When they open the door and shine their flashlights inside they find a leaking pipe making the noise. Gibbs and his team finish with bunker one, and McGee and Kate have cleared their side of bunker two, but DiNozzo is still searching. He finds another locked door and flings it open. Petty Officer Barbara Swain sits on the bed in the wedding dress – she is as shocked as DiNozzo. He kneels down in front of her to see if she is all right, and she asks, "Where's Brett?" DiNozzo tells her that she's safe, that her abductor is dead. He turns to call Gibbs to report that she is in bunker two, corridor C, and Swain hits him over the head with a lamp, knocking him unconscious.
When Gibbs and the team arrive, DiNozzo is lying on the floor and Petty Officer Swain is standing over him holding his weapon. She is confused and agitated, wanting to know if Brett is really dead, as they were going to get married. She puts the weapon up to her own head, saying she doesn't know if she can go on without him. Kate puts her gun away and steps closer to Swain, telling her that she doesn't want to disappoint Brett now. She looks at The Good Wife's Guide sitting on the table next to the bed and reminds Swain that a good wife carries on in her husband's absence. When Swain moves as if to check the book, Gibbs grabs the gun out of her hand. She collapses to the floor sobbing.
Back at the NCIS offices, DiNozzo chews aspirin and holds an icepack to his head, describing the pain like a beatnik playing bongos. McGee and DiNozzo are surprised by the amount of control Evans had over Swain, but Kate explains that it is a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome – she formed an emotional bond with her captor. She will recover over time. Gibbs walks through the bullpen and calls DiNozzo, Kate and McGee to MTAC. DiNozzo suddenly feels better – Gibbs called his name first!