A Navy journalist is shot and the only witnesses (his wife and his mistress) are accusing each other of being the murderer. The team has to figure out who is telling the truth and who is guilty. Meanwhile, a homeless woman named Susan suffering from dementia mistakes DiNozzo Senior as her estranged and long-deceased father.
Tropes in this episode:
- Bittersweet Ending: Susan's brain tumor is inoperable and its so advanced that cancer treatments cant do anything, meaning she only has a month at the most to live. DiNozzo Sr. decides to continue to play along with her delusion for the remaining time she has and apologizes on behalf of her (long-deceased) father for rejecting her as gay, allowing Susan to die believing that she finally reconciled with him.
- Captain Obvious: Jimmy saying "This is gonna be a messy one" when he sees the wife and mistress accusing each other of the murder.
- Chekhov's Gun: When Gibbs and McGee are interviewing the journalist's boss, he mentions the work's electronic cloud. It's how McGee finds the suicide note that the women deleted off of the computer.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: When Tony helps his dad find Susan's last known address, the super of the building tells them that part of the reason why she and her father parted on such bad terms thirty years ago was because she turned out to be gay. Senior even references this when he apologizes to Susan on behalf of her real father, admitting he grew up in a generation where people didn't accept those who were different.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Before his run-in with Susan, Senior is trying to find a hobby or project that can occupy his time now that he's retired.
- Driven to Suicide: It turns out that the journalist did this, and the two women made it look like a murder so they could collect the life insurance money.
- Eureka Moment: After Abby and Ducky discover that the body temperature on the victim was changed, Gibbs starts riding on one. He has McGee compare the victim's laptop to his office's electronic cloud to see if anything was deleted off of the former, has Bishop see if the victim had a life insurance policy, and then has Jimmy see if there's any gunshot residue traces on the body's hands. All of this confirms his suspision that the journalist committed suicide and the two women were trying to make it look like a murder to get the life insurance money.
- Friend on the Force: Senior uses Abby to find Susan's medical records so he can help her out. While Tony is initially unintrested in the whole thing, he eventually realizes how much this means to his father and finds Susan's last known address for him.
- Foreshadowing: When Tony and Senior are talking about Susan, the latter says that he hopes that Tony is lucky enough to become a father. Guess what happens in the season finale?
- Greed: Both the wife and mistress have this flaw; after the journalist won the lottery, he split his winnings into two accounts for each of the women. They immediately used the cash to buy expensive things for themselves, even after the money ran out, prompting the journalist to cut both of them off. Then after he comitted suicide, they made it look like a murder so they can get the life insurance money.Bishop: I can't believe you purposely let yourselves be suspected of murder.
Mistress: Two million dollars. Not much of a downside.
- Insurance Fraud: It turns out that the journalist commited suicide, and because life insurance policies don't pay out on those, the two women conspired to make it look like a murder so they could collect and split the two million dollars. The two of them knew that the team couldn't arrest either of them for the murder, because the physical evidence is so ambiguous that no matter who they charged, neither of them could be successfully prosecuted as any decent lawyer could have established reasonable doubt. It might have worked if the two of them realized that the electronic suicide note they deleted from his computer could have been mirrored through the electronic cloud he used for work.
- Let Them Die Happy: When Susan's condition is diagnosed as terminal, Senior decides to still play along as her long-deceased father, and apologizes on behalf of him for not accepting her as gay, so she could die believing that they had reconciled.
- Reality Ensues: During the first bullpen scene, Senior asks Tony if he could volunteer at NCIS, just like how one of his retired friends volunteers at the 20th precinct in New York City by helping sort out files. Tony is quick to point out that it's not the same thing; NCIS is a Federal agency, not a police station, and that there's a lot of top-secret files that requires security clearences no random volunteer would have.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: A benevolent example; Senior is told by the free clinic that he takes Susan to that they could send her prints to the police to uncover her medical records, but it's not a huge priority for them so it can take weeks for them to get it. Senior asks the doctor to take them anyway because he knows Abby will help him without a second thought.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Abby has Susan's prints run through the system so they can get her medical records even though that breaks Agency rules.Tony: You ran the prints.
Abby: of course I did, Tony. Poor homeless woman in need of medical care? That's a no-brainer.
- Suicide, Not Murder: What it ultimately turns out to be.
- Take a Third Option: Throughout the episode, the team is limited to two suspects. Then Abby finds evidence that the body temperature was changed to cover up the time of death. In the end, they both get arrested for Insurance Fraud.
- Title Drop: After the polygraph scenes, Vance and Gibbs discuss how they can't charge either woman until they find more conclusive evidence because there is so much reasonable doubt that their defense could argue that the other one had done it.
- Your Cheating Heart: One of the two suspects in this episode is the victim's mistress.