NCIS s09e21 Episode Script


All right, boys, it's looking pretty good.
Captain, got one! - Alive? - No, sir.
We're gonna need an M.
Send the Arson Unit down here.
: Copy that.
We'll notify M.
Arson Unit's on the way.
You better call the Navy, too.
ZIVA: What is this place? Warehouse is owned by United Equinox Electronics.
They make everything from modems to toaster ovens.
And according to, uh, insurance records, they use it to store tax records, corporate documents.
What are we doing here? Nice look, Tony.
What is that, blue-collar-meets-Ivy League? - Chic farmhand? - Ring a ding ding.
I call it practical playboy.
Yeah, well, this is what we're here for, Heffy.
United Equinox also worked Navy projects.
Including top secret weapon systems.
We're here to see if anything sensitive was damaged.
- Got it.
GIBBS: That's right.
So let's go.
Baltimore Fire Site Inspector.
I heard you guys were called in.
ZIVA: Any idea what caused the fire? Uh, for that you'll have to talk to Baltimore Police.
Arson Unit guy's around here somewhere.
- Nice boots.
- Thanks.
I'm going for a new look.
Crime scene chic.
Actually earning some style points.
One more word about your boots, you're gonna find mine up your ass, DiNozzo.
DiNozzo? Anthony DiNozzo? Jason King.
Baltimore P.
Arson Unit.
Jason? Wow.
- It's been a little while.
- Yeah.
You two know each other? Heard we're working this together, sir.
Until we officially rule out any connection to the Navy.
Yeah, that's the plan.
Well, boss, if this is a homicide I was Homicide for two years before I made Arson in February.
February? That's two months ago.
Listen, I had no idea I already started my cause-and-origin investigation.
The fire's back here.
DiNozzo, you're with me.
You two take the perimeter.
GIBBS: Duck, what do we got? DUCKY: Well, it looks as if dental records are the only hope for identification.
- This the guy who started the fire? DUCKY: I doubt it.
Arsonists rarely get caught - in their own conflagrations.
JASON: That's correct.
This man was most likely a victim.
- Wrong time, wrong place.
- Or a deliberate time and place.
Given the body's badly burned condition, I'd say it was the ignition point for the fire.
- Used a road flare to start it.
- Johnny Storm.
Human Torch? Ever see that movie The Fantastic Four? - Arson? JASON: Looking that way.
DUCKY: Yeah, but the fire was so intense it actually calcified the bone.
Ah, this is very odd.
JASON: Gasoline and butane burn off quickly and at the same relative temperature as paper or wood.
But whatever our arsonist used even scarred the concrete floor.
Guy really wanted to cover his trail, destroy the evidence.
Fire doesn't destroy evidence.
It creates it.
Well, let's find some.
Actually, I had the chance to do some preliminary processing.
Every one of these drawers is filled with burned files and paper ash.
Except this one.
Maybe the drawer was empty before the fire.
Lock was broken off prior to the fire.
Right there.
Somebody wanted whatever was in this drawer.
Went to a lot of trouble to get it.
Boss, I ran the card reader on the warehouse's security gate.
Last person swiped in at 4:03 a.
That's 40 minutes before the fire was reported.
McGEE: Carter Plimpton, 42 years old, lives in Fairmount, - Duck? - Could be.
Well, Plimpton was a civilian employee of United Equinox.
TONY: Well, if the victim's a civilian, then this isn't an NCIS case, right? Wrong.
- Boss? GIBBS: It's Navy.
King, you're with us now.
Yes, sir.
Uh, sir McGEE: Dental records confirm our victim is Carter Plimpton.
Product systems analyst for United Equinox.
Spent the last four years in their electrical component department.
This is exciting stuff.
McGEE: Tony, don't jump to any conclusions, okay? Just because the guy has a nerdy job, it does not mean that he's [COMPUTER BEEPS.]
Okay, he was single.
And he ran a "Skyrim" message board.
- How many cats did he have? - None.
But, apparently, he did have a thing for Japanese anime pillows.
Oh, that's unfortunate.
Although she's kind of hot.
It's a cartoon, Tony.
TONY: Hey, don't knock the cartoon ladies.
Got your Betty Rubble, your Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Jessica Rabbit.
Those ladies got me through puberty.
You've been through puberty? I had not noticed.
Well, you noticed Jason King.
What is it with chicks and firemen? And don't say hoses.
I wasn't going to.
Um, he's not a fireman.
But, yes, your cop friend is very, um - Hot.
- He's not my friend.
I met him once, 20 years ago.
I'm actually kind of surprised he recognized me.
Well, clearly, your first meeting was important to him.
McGEE: I, uh, assume it involved a girl? He was nine years old.
- Never assume, McGee.
- Rule number eight.
Got it, boss.
Speaking of the number eight, that's the Phantom Eight.
McGEE: Part of the Navy's Watcher Fleet.
- The bad part.
- Well, Watcher does some good, too.
They help ensure the Naval Fleet security.
I think we can all agree that Phantom Eight had a couple of bad apples.
Two of these men were murdered in the last nine months.
- Three.
- Three? Oh, look at that.
Our extra-crispy victim was a member of the Phantom Eight.
If he was black ops, it explains why there's no paper trail on his past.
This guy's not a cubicle nerd after all.
Uh, which means there could be a connection between Watcher Fleet and the fire.
Ziva, find them.
Take McGee with you.
Start with Plimpton's supervisor.
DiNozzo, dig deeper on our victim.
All the way to China, boss.
JASON: I admire your attention to detail, doctor.
People your age sometimes disregard scientific investigation in favor of instinct.
People my age? Here.
Sorry, sir.
It's just that applying scientific methods to fire investigation is relatively new.
These burn patterns show all the way through the dermis.
- Yes, they do.
It's so unusual.
- What is, Duck? Well, Mr.
Plimpton's skin was double-burned.
Once wasn't enough.
We're looking at one of several deep, uniformly-round tissue burns, about one inch in diameter.
Just happens to match this road flare.
DUCKY: The pattern and carbon sheen indicate that these burn spots were inflicted both anti- and peri-mortem.
Tortured with a flare.
Yes, however, while the right arm is covered in these burns, there are only three on the left arm.
The killer stopped torturing him.
He got what he wanted.
Which was what? - That's better.
- Jack Murdoch? You must be NCIS.
I'm sorry about the, uh The getup, but most things in here don't react well to static.
Ooh, are they working on the new l-triple-E protocol? I bought your Nexus series router two years ago.
McGEE: Actually sent in a few design suggestions.
Are you, uh, here for a refund or nerd extra credit? Excuse me? Sorry.
I just, I get tired of people assuming we're all dweebs with nothing better to do than talk shop.
I take it you're here about Carter.
Is this what Mr.
Plimpton did for you? No.
In here we create.
Carter liked to destroy things.
You know, product testing and finding failure points.
What was he doing in your records warehouse this morning? His job.
Storing non-critical reports and inventory information.
"Non-critical"? There was nothing in that warehouse with any national security implications.
I'll send you the inventory.
Classified does not mean top secret.
Were you aware of Plimpton's history with Watcher Fleet? Watcher Fleet? No.
But he was always going on about "Skyrim" and "Old Republic.
" You are talking about dorky role-playing games, right? You must be into those, huh? Until I took an arrow in the knee.
Research, Abs? Um, nope, it's lunch.
I ran out of chocolate.
- You want some? - No.
GIBBS: Pyromaniacs? - Scientists, Gibbs.
Okay, yeah, they're kind of pyromaniacs, too.
But these are chemical reactions which can be measured and controlled.
GIBBS: Hmm, doesn't look controlled to me.
That's because the fire in the video is something different.
It's a thermite reaction.
I found evidence of it on our victim.
Thermite is a simple compound of iron oxide and aluminum powder.
When it's mixed together properly and ignited, it can burn 10 times hotter than wood.
And once it gets started, you can't put it out.
It burns through metal.
Why didn't it completely destroy the body? Our killer must have added something to his mixture to slow the chemical reaction.
Which is something that an arsonist or pyromaniac would never do.
Unlike our guys in the video, our killer is focusing the power of thermite.
- Controlling it.
- Yeah.
But I have no idea why.
WOMAN: Okay, I'll let you know.
- All right, thanks.
Jason, hey! Gonna do paperwork at the station house.
- Be back in the morning.
- Back to Baltimore, huh? I miss that city.
So, arson investigator.
That's a big job, especially for someone your age.
Must have made some major sacrifices.
- What do you mean? TONY: Well, I looked you up.
You were offered a full ride at Duke.
Point guard.
I heard your jumper was almost as good as mine.
- But you gave it up to become a cop.
- That's right.
About how we last left things, I think we should talk.
Unless it's about the case, I got nothing to say.
This means you haven't forgiven me about your sister.
That's exactly what it means.
Been digging through the warehouse inventory from United Equinox.
It didn't appear that anything important was stored there.
But? I hacked into the Navy Intelligence database.
I was only able to get past the first level of security, but - You found something.
- Watcher Fleet had worked on a top-secret project called Aquamarine.
And the only reason it stuck out to me was because there was a file box in the warehouse inventory listed under the same name.
United Equinox was developing something for the Navy.
What is Aquamarine? Neither database said.
But the project was initiated four years ago during the time Plimpton was with Watcher Fleet.
McGee, that's why he was tortured.
Someone was looking for Navy secrets.
Well, they found them.
TONY: Carter Plimpton.
Take two.
McGEE: Plimpton left the Navy Watcher Fleet in '08 to take a job at United Equinox Electronics.
ZIVA: So did he leave there to work on this Aquamarine project for Equinox? And what is Aquamarine? I'm still waiting for Navy Intelligence or United Equinox - to confirm the project even exists.
ZIVA: Uh-huh.
Don't hold your breath.
TONY: So while we're waiting to find out what our killer took from the warehouse Focus on what he left behind.
- Thermite residue.
- Not many arsonists use thermite.
Which means if this guy has a criminal record TONY: We cross-reference his M.
McGEE: Boss, I got a hit here.
Billy Wayne.
Six arrests for arson-related crimes.
Two involving thermite accelerants.
Including a fire he set at home last year, killing his wife and two kids.
Serving life in prison.
- Hmm, so he can't be warehouse guy.
- No.
But he'll give us a glimpse into the mind of the person who is.
- I was about to say that.
GIBBS: Ziva.
Get him in here.
GIBBS: Thermite.
Your calling card.
These are good pictures.
- What kind of camera is this? - Billy.
This warehouse.
It's nothing but paper.
- Boxed files, right? - And that's meaningful because? The ignition point of paper is low.
Whoever lit this, they could easily have used gasoline or kerosene to do the same damage.
Why thermite? Two reasons.
- To send a message or - Or? For fun.
Thermite's tricky stuff.
Whoever lit this, they might have wanted to see how it plays.
Its speed, intensity, the ventilation and oxygen it requires.
A good torch man always runs tests.
Practices before the event.
Event? This ain't lighter fluid and matchsticks, missy.
There's a reason you use thermite.
Name one.
I did a hotel once outside of Manassas.
Used a slow-burn thermite mix in a room two floors above the boiler room.
Slow burning? The reduced combustion rate gave me enough time to get away before it burned through the floor and ignited the boiler.
It was beautiful.
Four people died in that fire.
Yeah, there's that.
Man thinks he invented fire.
Truth is, it's nature's most perfect gift to us.
Razes great cities just to be replaced by even greater ones.
Hey, Nero, you ever share your slow-burn thermite recipe with anyone? I may have mentioned it to Janice.
She's writing a book.
About me and my work.
She visited me last week.
What did you tell Janice? A magician never gives away his tricks, honey.
You'll have to buy the book.
How do you contact Janice? I just told you.
She visited me.
Wait, you're not leaving, are you? Hey, what, what's gonna happen now? ABBY: This was thermite test number four.
I used linseed oil as a possible reaction inhibitor.
So, what got you so into fire? Was it too many late nights watching Fahrenheit 451? The Towering Inferno? Wait, Backdraft? I was in a fire when I was a kid.
They never caught the guy.
It's still burning way too hot.
Burned right through.
I guess linseed oil wasn't our killer's secret ingredient.
Well, on the bright side, you can now help me keep testing.
I am a sucker for empirical data.
Still nothing from Naval Intelligence, boss.
And I can't dig any deeper into Watcher Fleet - without setting off firewall alarms.
- United Equinox.
Other than what was taken from the warehouse, they have no records of any project called Aquamarine.
Billy Wayne's biographer.
McGEE: Our mystery author used a fake ID to visit Wayne in prison.
I did pull the prison security footage.
Running facial recognition now.
- So far, nothing's popped up.
- Keep looking.
McGEE: Yup.
Boss, an alert just came from the Baltimore Fire Department.
They're responding to a suspicious blaze on a cargo ship less than a mile from the warehouse fire.
- Call DiNozzo.
Call Jason.
McGEE: On it.
What do we got this time? Got Battalions 51 and 62 responded.
Turned out to be some tarps on top of a cargo hold.
No injuries.
Get that hot spot right there.
- Hey.
MAN: Hey.
- Cargo? - Empty.
Off-Ioaded yesterday.
Load of fruit from Chile.
- Cause? - That's for him to decide.
Based on the fact that the solid steel deck showed signs of heat fatigue - Used an accelerant? - Powerful one.
Thermite? Why the hell was our guy burning tarps on an empty cargo vessel? Finding out, boss.
Been on a few more ships than you.
Been on a few more arson cases.
This way.
Ah, I can smell ashes, too.
It's not ashes I'm smelling.
I was Agent Afloat for a while.
There's a lot of fishy smells.
- Is this Lassie thing really necessary? JASON: Shh.
Ship's wiring runs through here.
JASON: Move! - I'll get the fire crew - No.
Door has an air-Iock.
Once the oxygen burns out, so does the fire.
So, Arson Welles, what the hell was that? That was a trap.
We almost got caught.
Guess we're even.
GIBBS: What do we got, Abs? The source of the flash fire on the cargo ship.
Bomb? Actually there was no bomb.
It is much more complicated than that, Agent Gibbs.
But don't worry.
We can explain.
- Then do.
- Okay.
Instead of a bomb, someone set a small and well-placed thermite charge in this junction box.
My guess is that's why the tarp fire was set.
A distraction.
Everybody's running around the ship, on and off.
Nobody's checking the crew carefully.
Our arsonist must have used the same slow-burning thermite that was in the warehouse, because it managed to melt through the wiring's insulation but to not completely destroy it.
Which left wires to short out.
An electrical fire.
But an electrical fire doesn't cause the same kind of immediate and intense fireball.
So why did this one? So very glad you asked.
JASON: Exposure to the intense heat of the thermite caused the insulation in the wires to carbonize.
And that shouldn't have happened.
The wiring is flawed.
Rather than working as an insulator, the coating on the wires actually became a conductor, - which rapidly spread the fire.
ABBY: Very rapidly.
If Jason hadn't suffocated the fire by closing the door, the wiring throughout the entire ship could've flash-fireballed.
Our arsonist knew the ship's wiring weakness.
How? Guess who manufactured the wiring.
United Equinox Electronics.
That's what was in the missing file.
Well, if it was, it still doesn't explain the connection to Watcher Fleet.
McGEE: United Equinox internal memos.
Found them encrypted on Plimpton's laptop.
You were supplying faulty wiring to shipping vessels.
Not true.
Then why did Plimpton request a recall inquiry nine months ago? He was doing his job, looking for flaws.
There are flaws in everything if the conditions are perfect.
Perfect here.
Bad wiring.
Look, I read Plimpton's memos.
Only under extremely rare circumstances could the wiring be corrupted.
A scenario so remote, its statistical probability was almost zero.
I don't know.
Sounds like a bunch of geek speak to me.
There weren't enough proven cases of flashover to legally warrant a recall or even a warning.
We were following the letter of the law.
McGEE: Somebody killed your employee, took the only detailed file about what was wrong with your wiring, and demonstrated the problem.
All in the last two days.
MURDOCH: Look, uh, I'm sorry about Carter.
But none of this has anything to do with me or my company.
Navy Watcher Fleet.
Plimpton knew about a file that matched something in your database.
Aquamarine? We think it was about your bad wiring.
MURDOCH: Look, I told you, our wiring was well within any acceptable risk model.
Besides, we installed it over four years ago.
- For the Navy.
Civilian market only.
We never sold it to the Navy.
And I told you, I never heard of Watcher Fleet.
Tony's catching up on his case reports.
What's wrong? He's been this way ever since he got back from the cargo ship.
- We have to ask him about this.
- Yeah.
Can I help you? - Is that you, Tony? - Be honest.
Is that you? - Yeah.
- You saved Jason from a fire? It was the kid's lucky day.
What happened? [TONY SIGHS.]
Final Four was in Baltimore.
We were getting ready to play UCLA.
Basketball, Ziva.
And? And I was out for a walk.
I was trying to clear my head, focus for the game.
And I saw smoke coming out of this townhouse.
I heard a scream.
So I went in.
How come you never told us? You should be proud.
It was more complicated than that.
TONY: Is anybody up here? Hello? [GRUNTING.]
TONY: Hello? JASON: Help! You okay? [JASON SOBBING.]
You all right? Okay.
It's gonna be okay.
Just hold on, okay? - Help her! GIRL: Jason, help! JASON: My sister! Help her! All right.
All right.
GIRL: Help! JASON: She's trapped! GIRL: Help! JASON: Help her! GIRL: Help! JASON: We have to get her! [CRYING.]
- Help her! TONY: Unh.
Please! Don't leave her! I had to make a choice.
Save Jason.
Or risk all of us getting killed trying to save his sister.
I chose.
She was four.
GIBBS: Okay, what have we got? Uh, we got a hit on a phone call Billy the firebug made from prison.
Yeah, and? Well, the number belongs to a Mary Gardocki.
Mary's passport photo is a perfect match to the prison security footage.
- Bring her ass in.
ZIVA: Mm-hm.
Right, boss.
You helped.
Others didn't.
I know.
Get out of here.
What? Fire.
That what you and Billy Wayne talked about? - I'm writing a book.
- Oh, bull.
Employment records.
I've been the leading sales rep at Curway Chemical three years running.
So? And so you sell C-4.
To everyone from the U.
Government to Somali warlords.
I'm good at what I do.
And it's legal.
What's your point? You ever sell to Navy Watcher Fleet? They're real? They exist? I've heard of them.
Never met them.
Maybe you could get me an intro.
The best salesmen, they're the best liars.
Are you lying to me, Mar? Absolutely not.
- Thermite burns are nasty, huh? - I can explain.
Mm, I can't wait.
I've been using Billy to develop a more stable thermite.
A patent could mean millions.
If the thermite in your burn matches our victim It won't! I didn't kill anyone.
I don't believe you.
Don't be disappointed.
I don't know anything about a murder.
I've been in a burn center for the last three days.
I swear.
I'm not lying.
McGEE: Thank you.
Hospital where Mary's burn was treated confirms she was in the ER the morning of the warehouse fire.
Jack Murdoch sent over a list of civilian ships installed with the questionable wiring.
No reported problems over the last four years.
One of them could be the arsonist's next target.
But we still do not have a motive.
Corporate espionage? Maybe a personal vendetta within the company? Or none of the above.
- Are we missing something, boss? - Yeah.
How any of this connects to the damn Navy.
TONY: Well, we haven't really heard from Abby in a while.
Maybe she and Jason found something? [PHONE RINGING.]
: Gibbs, come to the lab.
Yeah, Abs.
I'll be right down.
It's a gift.
What's cooking, Abs? ABBY: Our special ingredient.
JASON: Ammonium phosphate, to be specific.
After 47 attempts, we finally determined that our killer's been mixing thermite with Wait.
Don't ruin the surprise.
Okay, guess what has ammonium phosphate as its key ingredient? Beer nuts.
- Fire retardant.
- Wait! Fire retardant! - It's genius.
Get it? - No.
The retardant coats the aluminum particles.
It slows down the chemical reaction in the thermite.
See, there's no holes this time.
So you get all of the power and no unnecessary damage.
This is a controlled burn.
This helps track our killer? That's the very best part.
JASON: The brand of retardant our arsonist used is sold exclusively to the U.
Forest Service.
You have to buy that from the manufacturer directly.
So we have a record of who bought it.
ABBY: With photo IDs.
We've been cross-checking faces against the Baltimore P.
Database of known arsonists.
Well, meet Bruce Johnson! We already have.
It's the fire department site inspector.
It's typically a civilian position.
He must have been an imposter.
A poser.
Well, he's been a suspect in several arsons-for-hire.
None of them were proven.
I guess if you have a fake windbreaker and a Photoshopped ID I was homicide until two months ago.
There are nearly 2,000 firefighters in the department.
I missed it.
- I'm sorry, Agent Gibbs.
- Abs, what's the last known address for him? Um, I'll send it to McGee.
He's not happy, is he? - Well, he's - Hey! Are you coming? [CAR ALARM CHIRPS.]
Turn it off! Get out of the car.
I want a deal.
Turn it off.
We'll talk.
Look, the guy that hired me said Plimpton had information about some bum wiring.
I didn't mean to kill him, but the bastard wouldn't talk.
Who hired you? Do we have a deal? Turn off the car! [SCREAMING.]
TONY: No, get down.
McGEE: All right.
MAN: There you go.
Well, it looks like your basic C-4 fuel charge rigged to the ignition.
Turn it on to arm it.
Turn it off to go boom.
Gibbs, I found this inside.
The missing file from the United Equinox warehouse.
GIBBS: Well, it's a list.
- Of what? Every Navy warship that contains the faulty wiring.
They did sell it to the Navy.
The guy from United Equinox lied to us.
Geek bastard.
- What? - When Plimpton discovered the wiring was faulty, he also sent a copy of his memo to the Navy.
Current Watcher Fleet's been working with the Navy to fix the problem.
Using its top secret code name Aquamarine.
- But - But? Only a third of the fleet has been retrofitted so far.
So two-thirds are still at risk.
Whoever hired our arsonist knows how to attack U.
Blackmail? Corporate espionage? Terrorism.
Yes, Admiral, but since Director Vance is out of town, l I'll have his detail notified, sir.
Well, there's no immediate cause for concern.
If that changes, we will keep you informed.
Four cheese, four pepperoni, and four sausage.
- A lot of agents working late.
- Make them all larges, - DiNozzo.
- On it, boss.
Director Vance and Naval Command elements have been notified.
SECNAV's office is bolstering security across the board.
- There's a meeting in MTAC in five.
- Pizzas will be here in 30.
Look, until we know who's behind this, we have to believe that they can hire somebody else.
Boss, Aquamarine was kept top secret to prevent anyone from exploiting the danger to the fleet.
So how did they find out about it? GIBBS: Good question.
DiNozzo - He doesn't see it, boss.
- Help him.
Jason, hey.
Never got a chance to say thanks.
You saved my butt on the cargo ship.
I could've saved Johnson.
He would've given us answers.
It was too late for that.
No, you gave up.
Your specialty.
There was nothing we could've done today.
And there was nothing we could have done that night.
- Wrong.
You could've tried.
- I did try! Listen.
I ran into a burning building and dragged your ass out.
You're welcome, by the way.
I heard her screams.
You weren't the only one.
There's something I learned that night, Jason.
You can't save them all.
Sometimes, you have to pick one.
I picked you.
Otherwise, all three of us would have died that night.
And you know it.
She was my baby sister.
I was supposed to be taking care of her.
A lot of things changed that night.
I decided to become a cop because of a kid I almost lost in Baltimore.
But didn't.
And that's you.
For the first time in my life, I made a difference.
I did something that mattered.
And I've been trying to do that ever since.
Me, too.
I know.
And look at what you've become.
She's gone.
We're not.
Focus on the ones you can still save.
I'll try.
Something wrong, boss? Watcher Fleet microchips.
Like the one removed from Agent Levin's arm.
Is it possible that they contained information about the wiring flaws? Well, I guess so.
Access to it.
But those are all accounted for, right? [CLANGING.]