In the time-honored tradition of NCIS finales, one of our favorite agents is framed for a murder he didn't commit. And in the time-honored tradition of NCIS finales, the rest of the team steps up to help.
This week, the agent in question is Alden Parker, who's been a bit of a mystery to his team all season. Pastry connoisseur? Bird watcher? Cloner of Kasie's tomato-potato hybrid plant? Sure. But what was he doing before he joined the FBI? The team laments not knowing more about his background, but that doesn't stop them from jumping into action when his ex-wife is kidnapped.
Michael Yarish/CBS Sean Murray and Katrina Law in a scene as part of the 19th season finale of CBS' 'NCIS'
Yep, the episode opens when a birdwatcher captures photos of former FBI agent/current DOD UFO investigator Vivian Kolchak being drugged and stuffed into her trunk while she's on a jog. But the bird aficionado's in on it; he responds to a text asking how it's going with, "It's done. We have her."
When NCIS receives the anonymous photos, they pull Vivian's phone records, and Parker's surprised to see that her last call was to his father's senior living center (which looks a lot like the hallway of the DiNozzo/McGee apartment complex).
During the visit with his dad, we learn that Parker's glorious head of hair is genetic and that he's the only non-Navy member of the family—and no, NCIS doesn't count. Also, Papa Parker declares that Parker divorcing Vivian "was an affront to God." Then he offers up her jogging location, and the team zips to Wyatt Lake.
There, they find sunflower seeds on the scene, which Kasie links to Parker's former FBI partner Frank Ressler, who was fired last year for taking bribes. When they get to Ressler's house, they find Vivian's car and Ressler's body in his garage. Things get dicey when Parker admits that he knew Ressler was a fan of sunflower seeds and paid him a visit the night before.
FBI Deputy Director Wayne Sweeney's suspicious about all of this. After all, Parker's the one who got Ressler fired, then Ressler sued him for defamation—and this was all before Parker got canned for not arresting Gibbs. But Vance refuses to let the FBI take over the investigation.
In the middle of the investigation comes a little relationship drama. Kasie wonders how many dates with a coworker constitute an actual relationship for the HR disclosure forms, and Knight muses that it's more quality than quantity. But when Palmer suggests disclosing their relationship, she questions whether their coffee outings really count. Amusingly, Ducky's ears perk up when he finds himself in the presence of this hot goss. Oh and also, Palmer found defensive bruises on Ressler's arms, and the DNA under his nails belongs to Parker.
The team heads to Parker's apartment and are shocked to discover that he's the owner of a thriving greenhouse. Listen, we all knew Parker was a daddy, but I never expected him to be a plant daddy. Anyway, Vivian's also there, having escaped and flagged down a passing car before heading straight to Parker, the only person she can trust.
Parker uneasily settles into the interrogation room, where he swears he doesn't know how his DNA got under Ressler's nails but suggests that it must be a case that connects him, Ressler, and Vivian—all former FBI agents.
Vivian, who declines to share the details of her divorce other than "there are some things even a happy marriage can't survive," tells Torres and Knight that she was held someplace that smelled like a hamster cage. Thanks to that and the wood shavings the kidnapper left in the car, they find a former pet store in an abandoned strip mall with the word "Nevermore" written above the door. Yep, the Raven's back, he of the extremist group and the bioweapon that almost killed Palmer and Kasie.
In Parker's plant paradise, McGee, Torres, Knight, and Ducky drop the news that the FBI's investigating Parker for fraud because they believe he owns the offshore account with Ressler's dirty money in it. (Parker's response? "If I had an account in the Caymans, I'd be using it—in the Caymans." Hear hear!)
At this point Parker announces that he'll surrender to the FBI so nobody takes unnecessary risks for him. "I'm not Gibbs, okay? You don't owe me anything."
At the office the next day, the rest of the team glumly agree with Parker's decision. After all, they don't know him that well. But at Ducky's gentle prodding, they acknowledge that Parker's had their backs over and over, which is really all they need to know about him. So off they go to keep investigating.
But first! Palmer pulls Knight aside to apologize for overstepping on the relationship disclosure forms. But she hesitantly suggests they have something good going, and they step closer and kiss. Aww! Ande finally! And aww! Moments later, Kasie hears a crash and discovers that they've knocked over the pomato plant Palmer returned to her.
The pomato didn't die in vain, however; the pot contained an FBI bug, which means if Parker turns himself in now, they'll never know what's really going on with the Raven and the FBI. McGee reminds Parker of Rules 5, 8, and 15 (don't waste good, never take anything for granted, always work as a team), and Vance stalls Deputy Director Sweeney while Parker escapes with a go-bag and a burner phone.
Parker's uneasy running, but the team assures Parker that he's not a fugitive; he's family. Kasie sends him off with a hug and a list of accounting firms that might have a lead on that offshore account. And just like old times, every one of them could lose their jobs for this—or worse.
Vivian goes on the run with him, reminding him of "for better or for worse," but while she digs through her bag for their elopement mixtape, she slyly answers the text "How's it going?" with "It's done. I have him." Betrayal!
And with that, NCIS season 19 ends on a big ol' cliffhanger.
Some of my favorite quotes from the finale:
First up is Parker's dad: "See you on Sunday for Risk." The family that plays together, stays together.
Next, McGee: "You think Parker married the real-life Agent Mulder?" Listen, I served with Agent Mulder. I knew Agent Mulder. Agent Mulder was a friend of mine. Vivian Kolchak, you're no Agent Mulder. But I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you'll double-cross the Raven to protect your ex (or that you'll dramatically die in his arms trying to save him). Also, Kolchak's totally a Night Stalker reference, right??
Let's not forget Knight: "What had happened was…" as she tries to cover for whatever acts of passion she and Palmer got up to in the back of the lab. Yes, queen! We're happy for both of you!
Finally, there's Ducky discussing dating: "At my age, who needs the labels?" Yes, king! We're happy for you and your not-girlfriend!
So, here ends the first non-Gibbs seasons. I don't know about you, but I was overall satisfied. This group of agents has great chemistry, and the cases were a nice mix of the twisty, the predictable, and the personal. See you next season to discover how the Parker and the team will outfox the Raven!
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