It's a busy night at a local bar. A young man accidently splashes a girl with his beer and apologizes awkwardly, and as he keeps putting his foot in his mouth with apologies, he and his friend are eventually tossed out. He elects to walk back to the base to clear his head. As he passes an alley, he hears a small voice saying "play with me," over and over again. He follows the voice and finds a talking doll sitting in a pool of light on the ground. Curiously, he approaches the doll, but as he bends over, he is grabbed from behind, and we see the flash of a knife at his throat. (CREDITS)
Ziva arrives at the office talking and laughing on her cell phone to Ray. Tony and McGee watch her expectantly, and as she hangs up, she glances at them and says into the phone, "I miss you, too, Ray, and hangs up. Looking at them, she says, "I do – and I don't care who knows it!" McGee observes that things are getting serious, and Ziva shares that she and Ray are meeting in New York the next weekend and he is taking her to the opera. Tony asks jokingly, "Does his boyfriend know about you?" and Ziva assures him that his mother does. "You've met the 'rents?" asks a surprised Tony. McGee wants to know when they are going to meet him, and she airily assures him "All in good time . . ." Ziva then asks Tony, "So, how is your 'special new someone'?" Tony looks at her and tells her "I don't have a special anything – and it's none of your business." Tony objects that Ziva has hidden her boyfriend from them for months, but she tells him that Ray knows all about him. "Again – why haven't we met him?" asks Tony. "Because – Ray knows all about you," retorts Ziva. Tony warns Ziva that he and McGee aren't who she should be worried about – it's "Leroy Jethro Gibb's flinty, steel-eyed stare. At a look of amusement from Ziva, Tony realizes Gibbs is behind him.
A body is lying in a field tightly wrapped in plastic wrap with ankles bound. As they cut the plastic away from the body, the smell is overpowering. There is a deep cut in the neck and fecomposition has set in – he has been dead for several days. The body is very clean with no defensive wounds and wearing a captain's dress uniform with numerous ribbons. No witnesses have seen anything and the body is about half a mile from the road. A wallet and a watch were found in a dumpster near town – the ID was gone, the cash left behind. An APIS scan reveals the victim's name as Seaman Derek Balfour – not a captain. A METRO card in the lapel pocket shows a date after the time of death. Oddly, the body's eyes were physically rearranged after death, appearing to look out of the corner of his eye to the victim's right, staring towards Washington, DC in the distance.
Back at the office, they review Balfour's file: He was scheduled to ship out for his second tour the following week. He was a likeable guy, but not officer material. From his evaluation: "He works harder than anyone else, and has great devotion to the Navy." He had been written up for "drunk and disorderly" six months earlier, but passed mandatory alcohol counseling with flying colors. He was estranged from his mother, who lives in Rhode Island – no father or siblings. Ziva reports that he was with a friend at a bar the previous Thursday, and left separately after several beers. As the team disperses to check his financial, email and cell phone records, Ziva suddenly freezes. A big smile breaks across her face as she hurries to greet a man standing by her desk. "I thought you were in Miami!" she exclaims. "I lied," he responds with a smile, "I was in the parking lot." Tony, McGee and Gibbs are watching the meeting with interest – this is the mysterious Ray. "Ray Cruz – this is everyone." Her introductions are deliberately varied: "Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs – Agent Timothy McGee – and Tony DiNozzo." "Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo," Tony corrects her, shooting her a glance and shaking Ray's hand. Tony assures him that "Any friend of Ziva's is a friend of ours – of course, the last time she had an out-of-town visitor, our Director ended up in the hospital." He tells them that "he comes in peace," and adds that everyone at his agency thought they handled the situation very well. Gibbs catches on. "You CIA?" he asks, which Ray confirms. Exchanging glances with the rest of the team, Tony observes that "Ziva failed to mention your line of work." Ray tells him calmly, "It's what I do – it's not who I am." "That's a very zen, New-Agey kind of attitude for someone who installs puppet regimes for a living," Tony says challengingly, and Ziva rushes to interrupt, asking Gibbs if she can give Ray a tour. "Sure – just don't lose him," says Gibbs agreeably, and after eyeing Gibbs for the hint of double-entendre, she leads Ray away. Tony goes on a rant: "So, it's not Renaissance Ray. It's CIA Ray – he's CI-Ray!" Tony is on a roll: "There's something about this guy, Boss – his smile is disturbing. I haven't seen a smile like that since Christian Bale's barely audible Batman in the dark . . ." "DiNozzo," sighs Gibbs, and Tony gets back to work. As Tony returns to his desk, he quotes sarcastically, "It's what I do, not what I am."
In Autopsy, Jimmy is puzzled by the number of decorations on Balfour's jacket. Ducky tells Gibbs that Balfour died from a cut carotid artery, but the body had been thoroughly cleaned afterwards, down to a manicure to clean the nails and small abrasions from where the skin was scrubbed. "Meticulous," muses Gibbs. Ducky agrees, and says that the only thing they have found was traces of a rare, high-grade cleanser, suggesting a medical background. "Or law enforcement," adds Vance, entering and surprising them. Oalmer immediately begins to apologize for taking his parking space, but Vance assures him that he's only there to check on the case. Gibbs tells him, shortly, that they are still putting things together, but Vance wants an update. "Is that a problem?" he asks Gibbs, eyebrow raised. "No," responds Gibbs drily. "We just don't see you down here, much," making the point that Vance's interest is note-worthy. "Things change," Vance tells Gibbs shortly. Bypassing Gibbs, he asks Ducky for a run-down.
In the men's room, Ray emerges from a stall and sees Tony. "Ah, Agent-no, sorry, Special Agent DiNozzo," he greets Tony. "CI-Ray," Tony responds in the same vein. Ray's phone blips, but he puts it away. "Need to get that?" inquires Tony, but Ray tells him he'll get it later, he's just wrapping up an old case. Tony asks if it's anything interesting, but Ray tells him he can't talk about it. "CI-Ray business, huh?' Tony persists, and then asks Ray how long he will be in town. "As long as Ziva will have me for," Ray says, as he finishes washing his hands. Tony tries to be sympathetic: "Yeah, she's a tough nut to crack, but you know, once you navigate past that Mossad-influenced exterior and her inability to grasp cultural references, she's great . . ." Ray interrupts Tony with a simple, direct statement: "I'm in love with her. That's why I'm here." Tony keeps the smile glued to his face. "To tell her?" he asks "When are you going to do that?" Ray shrugs with a smile. "I don't know – tonight, tomorrow. Soon. You know," he says, exhaling, "it feels good to finally get it out," and goes on to tell him that he wants Ziva's friends to be his friends. "She's told me how close the two of you are," he tells Tony, who gives a little embarrassed laugh. "Oh, I wouldn't say that," Tony begins to protest, but Ray continues: "She says you're like a brother to her." The smile drops from Tony's face. Ray asks him not to say anything to Ziva as he leaves to answer another phone call, leaving Tony staring into the mirror.
Ray hurriedly tells Ziva that he has to leave to meet with an old associate, but that it shouldn't take too long. As Tony strolls back into the office, Gibbs reminds them they have work to do. They begin to review McGee's electronic finds – several charges on his debit card over the last four days, in various stores in various amounts, and his landlord reports that someone has been staying in his apartment since the day he was killed. Gibbs and Tony leave to investigate. They enter the apartment cautiously, but no one is there. The apartment is immaculate, except for a chair leaning against the refrigerator. They open the refrigerator, but it is sparkling empty. In the freezer, they find an ice cube tray with a flower frozen in a cube. As they study the ice cube in puzzlement, Special Agent E.J. Barrett appears in the doorway. "He likes leaving things behind," she offers, and Tony and Gibbs look up in surprise. "You just happened to be in the neighborhood, Special Agent Barrett?" inquires Gibbs. She ignores him and studies the ice cube. "A flower, eh? That's a new one," she muses, and announces that's she's going to take a look around and see what else she can find. She has been tracking a killer for the last nine months – three different Navy men in three different ports. Gibbs asks how it's her case, and she tells him that the killer started in Rota, Spain. "Rota – I've never been there, I hear it's nice," Tony says, and Barrett adds that Balfour's murder fits the pattern, right down to the ice cubes. "My killer – my case," she declares.
Gibbs barges into Vance's office. "I take it Agent Barrett's settled in," Vance observes drily. Gibbs objects to not being told before, but Vance tells him that it was "need-to-know", and he didn't need to know until now. He reviews the case with Gibbs – the "Port-to-Port Killer", enlisted men with throats cut, thoroughly cleaned and wrapped in plastic. Because of a clue left at the last murder, they suspected the killer was on their way to the States, so Barrett was brought in in anticipation. He tells Gibbs that SecNav wants the case wrapped up fast, and that Gibbs needs to get over his issues with Barrett running the lead on the case and find him.
In the office, Barrett is at her computer, typing. Tony is on the other side of the divider. "You're quiet," she tells him. "I'm pensive," he corrects her. "If this is a game, I'm not playing," she informs him. "No game," he assures her, but she concludes, "Oh, I get it – you don't like it when I play Boss Lady." He tells her that it would have been nice to know that she was showing up out of the blue, but she protests that he just saw her last night. "Yes. In my apartment. Wearing my Elvis Costello t-shirt. Which was extremely gratifying, but I didn't expect you at my crime scene, sifting through my evidence," he says. They argue lightly, but she changes the topic, deliberately moving her computer screen to "avoid the glare," Tony calls her on it. "A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in an enigma," she quotes, and Tony fills it in: "Joe Peschi, David Ferrie, "JFK" – nice," he agrees, but Barrett corrects him: "Winston Churchill. Russia. 1939." Tony rolls his eyes. "Smarty-pants," he mutters. Barrett sighs and tells him that she doesn't think "this" is going to work out, since they are working on the same case. "OK," Tony agrees. "Best we end it," she adds. They exchange a look, and Barrett smiles. "Or . . . not." "Dinner at my place?" Tony asks. "I'll bring wine," Barrett agrees.
Abby has identified the flower as a rare snake-mouth orchid, which only grows indigenously in seven states. Also, the victim's neck wound is absolutely smooth, a match to a surgical blade. The cleanser is an iodine-based scrub called Xenophrene, only made in Canada and only sold to hospitals, which makes them wonder if it is a medical person – doctor or nurse. While they are talking, Abby is scratching obviously at her neck, and Gibbs asks her what is wrong. "Change, Gibbs – change makes me itch," she declares, and goes on to explain how, in halting terms, that she doesn't like Barrett. As she begins to stammer, Gibbs walks up to her, gives her a big, reassuring hug and whispers reassuringly, "Abs – nothing is going to change." Abby is unconvinced.
In the break room, at a table improbably set with candles, flowers and wine, Ziva is explaining to Ray that she doesn't like or trust Barrett. Ray listens patiently, and eventually tells her that he doesn't want to talk about work – he has something to tell her -- and begins to kiss her. Ziva's phone blips with a text message, and she turns to answer it quickly, explaining it was McGee with a question. When she turns back to Ray, the moment has passed.
Barrett is conducting a review of the Port-To-Port killer to her team, aware that Gibbs, Tony, Ziva and McGee are listening on the other side of the divider. She turns and tells them they are welcome to join them, but as Tony moves to join them, Gibbs responds, "Oh, we can hear you fine." Tony stops, and turns back to rejoin his team, earning a raised eyebrow from Barrett. She continues: Suspect is a white male, 25-55, never married, no children, born into money. He is charming, charismatic, and very entitled. Ziva glances at Tony with a smile. "Are you sure we're not looking for Tony?" she inquires. Barrett continues – the murders have taken place in Japan, Guam, Spain, and now the U.S. No connection to the Navy, well-traveled, multi-lingual, adapts to other cultures easily, and possibly has medical training of some kind. Tony asks why he "gives them a promotion before he dumps them" (the officer's uniform) or leaves things behind. Barrett says that she thinks the killer is still there and won't be leaving any time soon. Gibbs asks her if that's a "hunch." Angry, she storms around the divider, and exclaims that the killer is a pathological individual – smart and incredibly high-achieving." Gibbs disagrees, and Tony is watches in dismay as Gibbs and Barrett argue. McGee has been busy at the computer and found an email to Balfour telling him that "he is crazy if he thinks he's getting away with it," and threatening to kill him. The email is from 24-year-old Bryce Leightner, heir to the Leightener timber fortune, who dropped out of med school two years before, and has been traveling the world ever since – including Japan, Guam and Spain the last year. Barrett is open-mouth in awe.
In Interrogation, Barrett sits across from Leightner, who refuses to talk. Gibbs enters, comes around the table, and whispers into her ear: "You're sitting in my chair." The interview resumes, with Gibbs seated. He lays the evidence in front of Leightner – the email telling Balfour that he was going to "take his head off," and a photo of Balfour with his throat cut. Barrett notes that he was in Japan, Guam and Spain, but Gibbs interrupts and asks where he was the week before. Barrett perches provocatively on the table next to Leightner, and asks him what it's like to "have it all." He grins at her appreciatively, but an unsmiling Gibbs grabs her arm and excuses them as he drags her to the hall to lecture her: "There are standards in there. There are rules." Barrett is uncowed, and declares she can interrogate him any way she wants. They argue. Gibbs wants to focus on pinning one murder of Leightner , and then connecting the dots. Barrett says scornfully, "That's the old-school way." "That's my way," snaps Gibbs. They continue to argue, until Gibbs gets a call from Abby. Barrett follows him to the lab, and as Abby sees them together, she asks if they had a fight. "No," says Gibbs, while Barrett says "Yes," at the same time. Abby has been checking up on Leightner – he donated blood, and it has the same virus that was involved in an outbreak in Rosa Verde, which puts him in Spain at the same time of the Rota murder – and he was in DC at the same time as the Balfour murder. Barrett is pleased, and leaves to answer the phone. "Do you want to talk about it?" inquires Abby sympathetically to Gibbs, who shakes his head, teeth gritted.
Tony and Barrett are on the elevator together when Tony suddenly reaches over and hits the stop switch. Tony warns her: "You mess with the Great White, you're gonna get eaten." She protests that she's not afraid of Gibbs, but Tony tells her that's her first mistake. She goes on to say that she gets the feeling that Gibbs and Vance aren't on good terms. "That's your second mistake," Tony says, pointing out that he has seen directors come and go – but there has only been one Leroy Jethro Gibbs. "Do the math," he advises her. She changes tactics: "Yeah – and there's only one Anthony DiNozzo," she purrs, stepping closer. Tony restarts the elevator, but Barrett goes on to say that she "could get used to this". "I look at you, and see how you've made this place work for yourself," she tells him, and he looks down at her and replies, "It's all about the people around you." "Yeah – I'm starting to get that," she says, fingering his lapel and smiling flirtatiously as the elevator door opens to find Ray and Ziva waiting for the elevator. Ziva is wide-eyed as Barrett steps back, and as she leaves the elevator, she greets Ray familiarly. "Wait – you know him?" asks a surprised Ziva. Barrett tells her that Ray is the CIA liaison for the Port-To-Port case from the start. Tony and Ziva are open-mouth with surprise. Ray turns to Ziva, but Ziva is furious. They argue as they walk outside, Ray telling her that he was trying to protect her, and Ziva angrily declaring that she doesn't need protection. Ziva demands to know if he slept with Barrett, but he says no. Ziva is still angry, thinking that Ray has been using her as a back door for information on the case. He denies it, and she scornfully tells him to tell her another lie, "like – 'you love me'." He looks at her earnestly. "I love you, Ziva." She is unconvinced – the dinners, the trips, were they all part of his plan? He assures her that they were real, but tiredly, she tells him she has to get back to work. As she walks away, he blurts out, "You have the wrong guy." Surprised, Ziva turns back and Ray tells her that Leightner is a mule for the Syrian government who has been watched by the CIA for the last 16 months – there's no way he could be the killer. "You didn't hear this from me," he adds. They part.
Ziva pulls Gibbs aside and tells her what Ray has told her. He believes her, and then joins the rest of the team, announcing that Leightner is the wrong man, he has a reliable alibi for each murder. Barrett is incensed, but as they study the photographs, Gibbs studies the ribbons – there's a mistake in the ribbons worn together. He asks Barrett if the killer has ever made a mistake like that before – he hasn't. They review maps of the crime scenes -- Gibbs blurts out "Hubs," and ask Ziva and McGee to go with him to MTAC. Barrett makes to follow, but he tells her to "Stay." "Told you not to play with the Great White," Tony tells her quietly. As McGee and Gibbs study the airlines serving each port, they narrow it down to one airline – Spree Airlines. Checking employee records for Spree Airlines, they find one who was in the murder cities at the time of the murders: Nathan Finney, a retired, highly decorated F-18 pilot, currently living in Alexandria. The team and Barrett go to Finney's house and enter – the house is immaculate, except for snake-mouth orchids placed on the lid of a freezer. As they open the freezer, they find Nathan Finney, bound in plastic like Balfour was. Ducky later tells Gibbs that Finney has been dead for at least six weeks, and his throat was cut with the same scalpel as Balfour's.
Vance is displeased – instead of finding the killer, they have found another victim. As they leave, Barrett observes they are still partners. Gibbs grimaces and starts down the stairs, but then turns around and confronts her: "Are you sleeping with DiNozzo?" he asks her, point blank. Surprised, she tells him that it's not against NCIS policy to date co-workers. "It's against my policy," he tells her, "this team operates on respect." "You don't respect me," Barrett challenges him, but he disagrees "No, I don't trust you. Except having to do with the case – leave my team alone," he warns her.
Ziva is drinking a club soda in a bar, alone. Tony joins her, chiding that she shouldn't drink alone. She starts to leave, but he grabs her arm to stop her. Letting go, he tells her that he would like a drink, and that it's depressing to drink alone. He orders a scotch, but then reminds Ziva that Ray is CIA and can't talk about what he does. "He lied to me, Tony," she says. "Yes," says Tony, "because he – cares about you." The scotch is delivered as Ziva declares that it doesn't matter, because it's over. "What about you and E.J." she asks. "What about us?" "What are you going to do when Gibbs finds out?" demands Ziva. Tony tells her, "I understand this one, Ziva, I understand her. That's why it's working." The barkeeper sets a fresh drink down in front of them and tells them it's from the guy in the booth. They turn, but the booth is empty – and the door is wafting shut. Tony turns and curiously picks up the drink. Startled, he drops the drink, spilling it all over the bar. Embedded in an ice cube is an eyeball.