NCIS recap: Is a suicide sometimes just a suicide?

Photo Credit: NCIS/CBS, Eddy Chen Image Acquired from CBS Press Express
Photo Credit: NCIS/CBS, Eddy Chen Image Acquired from CBS Press Express /
Photo Credit: NCIS/CBS, Eddy Chen Image Acquired from CBS Press Express
Photo Credit: NCIS/CBS, Eddy Chen Image Acquired from CBS Press Express /

Gibbs and his team are called to investigate the apparent suicide of a naval lawyer, but somethings are more complicated than they seem.

Murderers can often make their victims deaths look like a suicide, so when NCIS is called to the apparent suicide of a female naval officer, they start to question whether it’s really a murder. As the episode of NCIS opens with parents of the victim, Melissa, walking in to find her hanging, “Dark Secrets” continues the shame of the BDSM community, rather than owning it and accepting it for what it is.

First, let’s start with the case of the night. Melissa is found hanging and there are some signs that it could have been a murder rather than a suicide. Her parents share that she religiously uses the alarm when she’s alone in the house, so her dad was annoyed that she’d chosen not to put it on that morning. Well, it’s no surprise that fingers start to point to murder with that clue.

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The last call Melissa made was to her best friend, but over the last three days she’d also made calls to “Rita.” Who’s Rita? That’s what NCIS wants to know, as it’s nobody Melissa works with or went to school with.

The fiancé is quickly ruled out

Suspicion lies with the fiancé at first. He was called away on urgent business the morning that Melissa was found, which clearly seems convenient. Gibbs’ rule of “no coincidences” is broken, as it really is just a coincidence he was called away. It’s very quickly made clear that the fiancé. He couldn’t hurt a fly and definitely didn’t leave some of the bruises that Palmer found on Melissa’s body. They hadn’t even had sex (and were waiting on Melissa’s insistence until marriage), although it turns out Melissa had sex with someone in the days before her death.

Gibbs pays a visit to Melissa’s CO, who just happens to be Bud Roberts. He’s shocked, but has an idea that he may know who wanted to hurt Melissa. A man she put away in 2015 for sexual assault was released two weeks earlier. It turns out that was just a red herring.

Most of the focus is on a video diary that Melissa was obsessive about using. She records daily, apart from in the days before her death. Jack takes a look at the diary for any clues about her behavior and suggests that there is probably a diary from when she was a teenager somewhere.

The burner phone is found

The video diary does lead to a clue. Bishop hears Melissa’s voice and realizes there are some major similarities in the voice of Melissa and that of Rita. Abby quickly confirms that the two voices are a 98% match, so the gang decide to ping the burner phone. It’s still on and takes Bishop, McGee and Torres to a sleezy motel.

Photo Credit: NCIS/CBS, Eddy Chen Image Acquired from CBS Press Express
Photo Credit: NCIS/CBS, Eddy Chen Image Acquired from CBS Press Express /

Sure enough, the burner phone is in a room, along with sexy dresses, stiletto heels and some kinky gear. Unfortunately, this is the point NCIS starts shaming BDSM. Really, it’s a trope that needs to stop. There is nothing wrong with BDSM as long as it’s between two consenting adults.

Bishop also finds that this Rita was using a video diary. Sure enough, it’s Melissa. She is living a dual life, which means she’s knowingly keeping these two parts of her life compartmentalized. It’s an important factor for Jack, as it means something happened in her past that makes her want this roughness in her relationship.

The knowledge of BDSM is a shock to Melissa’s best friend, who was sure Melissa was asexual until meeting the fiancé. All Melissa asks is that Melissa’s parents don’t find out about this side of their daughter. This part is understandable. Regardless of BDSM being perfectly fine for consenting adults, parents don’t really need to know everything their children get up to in the bedroom.

What NCIS really needs now is the diary from high school. Melissa’s dad says that Melissa definitely kept one in high school. Melissa was a troubled teen until her senior year and her dad had read 10 pages of her diary to find out what changed. He never did and he doesn’t know where the diary is now.

McGee finds a hidden clue

After all the focus on the video diaries and Melissa’s other life, McGee realizes that he missed something earlier in the investigation. He’d forgotten to find out why Melissa had Googled her local newspaper in the days before her death. She’d never even bothered reading it before.

Well, it turns out one of her high school teacher’s bodies had been found in the woods three days before Melissa’s death. And not just any teacher. He molested young girls, including (likely) Melissa and her friend. NCIS really needs that dairy to find out more.

Photo Credit: NCIS/CBS, Eddy Chen Image Acquired from CBS Press Express
Photo Credit: NCIS/CBS, Eddy Chen Image Acquired from CBS Press Express /

Melissa’s fiancé knows where the diary likely is. One of the cupboards has a false bottom, which is where Melissa kept all her important documents and passport. If the diary is anywhere, it’s there.

Sure enough, that’s where it’s hidden and the last entry is incriminating. Melissa wanted to get revenge on the teacher that had molested her. It’s time to haul the friend back in, who admits that the two of them took the teacher out to scare. They never intended to actually hurt him, but he had a heart attack. So they buried the body and left it at that.

When the body was found, Melissa wanted to come clean after 14 years. She was so depressed and anxious about it that she ended up killing herself instead. The friend found the body with a suicide note, where Melissa confessed to everything. The friend took the note and ran, not wanting anything to come of the events of 14 years ago. So, the suicide really was a suicide.

Next: NCIS winter premiere recap: Bishop and Torres go undercover

Did you expect to learn Melissa actually killed herself? Were you disappointed about the BDSM shaming? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

NCIS continues on Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.