NCIS recap: How many secrets did Ziva keep from the team?

NCIS -- Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS -- Acquired via CBS Press Express
NCIS -- Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS -- Acquired via CBS Press Express /

NCIS gets a little nostalgic in Season 16, Episode 13. Why did Ziva remain connected to a case and what did Gibbs do about Rule 10?

NCIS Season 16, Episode 13 starts relatively light with “Happy Random Day,” but quickly turns dark. The team finds a young girl who brings up a cold case from 10 years ago. It’s time to bring up memories from the past, with Ziva David a prominent part.

How important was Ziva in the case and why did she keep investigating a cold case? Why did Bishop initially want to keep Ziva’s involvement secret? Here’s everything that happened in “She.”

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Happy Random Day!

The episode starts with Kasie giving gifts to everyone. She doesn’t bother remembering birthdays. Instead, she picks a random day of the year and gets people their birthday gifts then.

It’s smart and she certainly gives good gifts, listening in to the things people say in passing. Well, that is it seems like she does until it comes to Torres, who gets an empty jar. You just know there’s going to be a story there.

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We don’t get to find out what that story is right away, though. Gibbs has a case. A young girl has been found in a storage unit and this girl will only talk to Bishop. Lilly lives in a basement, has never been outside until now, and doesn’t know what a coat is.

It doesn’t take long to find out that Lilly’s mom is still a prisoner in this locked basement. DNA from Lilly tells NCIS that the mom is a senior recruit, Morgan, who went missing 10 years ago. The case had been passed over to the local sheriff’s office because Morgan hadn’t been sworn in and her case wasn’t technically NCIS jurisdiction.

The local office had found Morgan’s case over a cliff with a charred body and contaminated DNA. The office decided to rule the case a suicide. It was something that ate at Gibbs and definitely something that ate at another member of the team. Yes, Ziva David was all over this.

Why Ziva kept going with the case

Despite handing off the case, Ziva kept going with it. Gibbs and Palmer both knew she did. What they didn’t know was that Ziva had an office she rented (a small hut at the back of someone’s house) and all her journals are there. Ziva documented everything personal about a case, getting out the feelings.

From Ziva’s continued search for Morgan, Bishop learns about Morgan’s boyfriend. Ziva figured out that the boyfriend had never taken Morgan, so moved on with her search. However, now that the boyfriend is involved again, he gets to meet his daughter Lilly, who Lilly has viewed as Superman.

The case had been personal for Ziva, just like so many others. She needed to figure out who did it but that’s what Gibbs is angry about. When Bishop brings it up, Gibbs states Rule 10.

Rule 10: Never get personally involved on a case.

Sure, Gibbs takes cases personally but he can also step away when needed. People who get too involved end up killed, just like Ziva. Seeing that Bishop is getting involved, he sends her home. By the end, Gibbs realizes that Bishop was right and the rule is wrong.

Finding Morgan

While Bishop deals with the personal aspect of the case, McGee, Torres, and Kasie go in search of the mattress that Lilly had hidden in to get out of the house. Morgan had told her germaphobe captor, Robert, (who had killed his own brother after Lilly escaped) that the mattress was full of bedbugs and he took the mattress to the dump.

Kasie finds bird poop on the bottom of the mattress, which helps to narrow the search. That search is narrowed further when the local sheriff’s office finally examines the remains from the car from 10 years ago and finds chemicals from a crematorium that Robert had worked at.

Sure enough, the team finds the basement but it’s too late. Robert has taken Morgan.

Bishop is the one who finds them at Robert’s uncle’s house. Just as it looks like Morgan won’t be saved, the team manage it and Robert is arrested. It’s here that Torres realizes what his jar (which Kasie confirms he never asked for but he needs it) is for. He stores some of the lake water that Bishop and Morgan had gone into.

NCIS — Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS — Acquired via CBS Press Express
NCIS — Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS — Acquired via CBS Press Express /

Is Ziva really dead?

That’s when Bishop heads out to see Robert at the hospital. She wants to read a letter to him that Morgan’s mother had dictated to Ziva before her death. However, Robert has already heard it. A woman had taken the letter from Ziva’s notebook and read it in the hospital.

Bishop takes a trip back to the office space Ziva had rented. Sure enough, the coat and scarf that Ziva had left hanging were now on the desk and chair. There was a note for Bishop, asking Bishop not to give away her secret to keep her family safe.

Next. NCIS Season 16, Episode 12 recap. dark

What did you think of the nostalgic episode? What did you think about that note at the end? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.