NCIS recap: Goats, flamingos, and spray paint?

NCIS -- Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS -- Acquired via CBS Press Express
NCIS -- Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS -- Acquired via CBS Press Express /

What starts off as a case of a missing wall, turns into something much grander in scale. Here’s everything that happened in NCIS Season 16, Episode 7.

After a week off, the NCIS team returned with a case that initially leaves you scratching your head. When a group of thieves cut a hole in a bank wall but don’t take any money, everyone is left wondering why. Well, it turns out that the wall had artwork from one of the top-selling street artists in the area.

And from this point, the case gets tricky. It’s time to figure out how this street artist connects to Bishop and what goats have to do with “A Thousand Words.”

The dark web’s version of eBay

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Once the team is called in on the case, it doesn’t take long for Kasie to figure out why theives would see a wall or for the team to figure out where that wall is now. Well, at least, where the selling of the wall is.

Off to the dark web’s version of eBay (or maybe Amazon?), the wall is found and is selling for 100,000 Bitcoin. That’s a crazy amount, but why would it be so valluable?

At the gallery, Bishop and Torres learn that the wall was painted by Ritz, a famous but reclusive artist. A passing fan of the painting shows where a hidden QR code is within a the “Whale Street” painting. That QR code takes the gang to a website to save whales. Last month, Ritz would take people to a website to save the spotted owl.

Now it’s off to figure out who this Ritz is. And that doesn’t take long. He’s called Jared Clarke, a man who recently targeted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This Ritz guy didn’t like the service contracting a company that leads the big-game hunts in Africa. The government agency refused to take Ritz down, though, knowing he had millions of followers.

Or is that the only reason?

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The plot thickens

With this knowledge, NCIS digs more up on Ritz, including Ritz. He’s covered in spray paint and is dead from five rounds to his chest and ash in his mouth. Who would want him dead?

Well, there were 28 corporations and people Ritz was targeted because of animal cruelty, with Maryland State Senator Brady Spencer one of the top ones. Spencer killed himself after being exposed for accepting contributions from gas companies. And it was Ritz who exposed him.

This isn’t a case of “he who is without sin throw the first stone.” Ritz was dirty and Gibbs a little is added to Rule #73: Never meet your hero (or scroll through their browser history). Ritz was benefiting through charity pages and crowdfunding. And not in a way to help others or wildlife.

With the social media info, Kasie is also able to find that Melanie Keller left Ritz threatening messages. When they get to her house, she has plastic flamingoes everywhere because, as Gibbs puts it, you can never have too many of these things, right?

The red herring

When Melanie tries to flee but is stopped by a car not starting (that was some bad writing, guys!), she’s brought in for questioning. Here, she gets the chance to claim that she’s Ritz and Clarke was pretending to be her. Sloane isn’t convinced but Melanie proves it by spray painting an image of Gibbs and Bishop.

Bishop is convinced of Melanie’s innocence when the phone GPS shows Melanie was out of town when the Fake Ritz was murdered. And it looks like NCIS are back to square one. But are they?

Melanie points the team to the Treble Integrated Defense System, which uses low-frequency active sonar that has led to the deaths of dolphins, whales, and many other marine life. It’s caused low birth rates and altered migration patterns. Melanie is sure that Treble has killed the person posing as Ritz to avoid the safety reports being leaked.

Sure enough, Kasie and McGee find the evidence could point to Treble and the CEO of the company does confess to fraud. But he doesn’t admit to killing Fake Ritz. There was someone else after this guy, so sent a message to Ritz’s Twitter account. Melanie knew Clarke was being followed and it doesn’t take her long to ditch her phone and become untraceable by NCIS.

Finding the killer

With Melanie out, most of the team immediately wonder whether she is the one they’re after. However, Bishop remembers that Melanie used blacklight and checks the painting Melanie did of Gibbs and Bishop to find a license plate. That takes the team back to Senator Brady Spencer.

This connection (and the fact that Palmer figures out the ash was the remains of someone born in Spencer’s year) leads the team to Luke Green, Spencer’s former chief of staff. He also happened to be the fan who showed NCIS the QR code in the painting. Luke very quickly rolls over and admits to killing Clarke.

How is Bishop connected?

Melanie later arrives at Bishop’s laundry room to tell Bishop that she needed NCIS to investigate the deaths of the marine light. At least she gave the license plate number, which was actually something Clarke had passed onto Melanie.

Melanie knew that Bishop is an artist, although Bishop claims that she hasn’t painted since a good friend died (Reeves). I’m honestly not sure if we’ve ever seen Bishop paint, but I’ll over look this for now. It’s her love of art that connects her to the street artists, so nothing major like I’d hoped. This episode does lead to her painting again.

But if that wasn’t enough, Torres gets a notification that a painting Ritz has done appeared in Sydney, Australia the previous night. Just who is this Ritz? Is there only one?

Next. NCIS recap: Jimmy finds a ghost in his lab. dark

What did you think of NCIS and the connection to Bishop’s love of painting? Did you guess who was really involved? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.