Bête Noire is the sixteenth episode in NCIS Season 1 and the 16th episode of the entire NCIS series.
A normal day of the NCIS team which involves doing paperwork associated with an old case takes a turn when a mysterious terrorist invades the morgue after hiding in a body bag. The terrorist takes Ducky, Gerald and eventually Kate hostage, triggering a hostage situation with the terrorist having a simple demand in mind: he wants the dead terrorist's body and personal effects. It now falls to Gibbs, Tony and Abby to come up with a way to get their colleagues out safely and hopefully before it's too late..
Ducky's annoyed about the emergency call and even more so when Gerald reveals that it was the Israeli Embassy who requested the body be taken to NCIS.
Ducky's mood further goes sour when he discovers one of Gerald's gloves in his desk.
While Ducky fixes the problem and then rambles on about the different "Royal Navies" of the world, Gerald removes the body bag from the cooler before unzipping it and removing the seal. He then freezes in shock and Ducky eventually heads over to see what has stunned Gerald into silence.
"Good God", Ducky whispers.
Inside the body bag is an unidentified man aiming a gun at them and urging the two men to stay quiet.
Almost immediately, the terrorist orders all the lights be switched off. Gerald obeys and the morgue is plunged into darkness.
When the terrorist asks about the video-camera, Ducky and Gerald don't say anything, but both look towards it, prompting the terrorist to fire a single gunshot at the camera which destroys it instantly.
He then springs out of the body-bag while Ducky and Gerald apologize to each other.
Almost immediately, the gunman then announces a series of rules and that if they lie to him or if the gunman suspects he's being lied to, Gerald will get a nine millimeter hollow point slug in one joint of his body.
Ducky then requests that the slugs be put in him instead but the terrorist refuses before demanding that the red sign in the hall (an infectious body warning) be lit. He then demands to be brought greens and breathing gear.
When Ducky demands to know what he wants, the terrorist tells him all questions will be answered in due time and once Ducky has revealed his surname, the two begin talking about the Mallard, a British steam locomotive that ran from London to Edinburgh, although in 1938 the Germans insisted it was a slight downgrade when it had set a new speed record.
"Typical", the terrorist grumbles.
While Kate states she's never had a nightmare, Tony tells her his phobia as a child was a vampire and that his mother was into Louie the Fifteenth furniture.
As they head for the lift, Kate expresses surprise that Tony was proud at five.
Tony just gives her a knowing smirk.
Once they've reached the squad-room, they continue talking about the nightmares but once they're in earshot of their boss, NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs who is also the leader of the main NCIS Major Case Response Team, Tony tries to stop the conversation.
As Gibbs wants to know what they were talking about, Kate uses the French term "Bete Noire", and while Tony tries to explain it, Gibbs says he knows it means "nightmare".
They then compare notes in regards to the dead terrorist, Yasir Qassam, who was scheduled to launch a terrorist attack against the Norfolk Naval Base thanks to intel acquired from "Gitmo" (Guantanamo Bay) but given that Qassam is in the morgue, they've got no further leads which means they don't know when the attack will happen or what it will consist of.
Gibbs then begins expressing his annoyance at technology and storms off, insisting he needs coffee.
When Kate asks what the whole thing was about, Tony replies, "Gibbs's Bete Noire".
Down in the morgue, Qassam's body is produced and the terrorist, Ducky and Gerald are all wearing breathing gear.
Once they've removed the plastic covers, the terrorist then studies the wounds and determines that Ducky hasn't done an autopsy yet.
When he asks about the forensic evidence, and how to reach the lab, he realizes that Ducky has tried to trick him into taking the stairs.
In response, he aims his gun at Gerald's left shoulder but Ducky insists that he followed the rules, since deception wasn't a condition.
The gunman remarks that it is now.
Up in her lab, NCIS Forensic Scientist Abigail Sciuto has just arrived for work and answers a phone call from Ducky who demands that she bring the evidence regarding the dead terrorist down to his lab immediately.
When she brings up her newly-acquired phobia of autopsies, he answers that she would merely leave it outside, because they're doing an infectious autopsy.
But Abby is still convinced she couldn't do it, so Ducky suggests she should get Gibbs to do it, "stat".
With that, the terrorist stops the conversation and considers whether they used some codeword to alert Abby to what's really going on in the morgue.
When Ducky insists that they're scientists and not Special Agents, so they don't use codewords, and since Gerald agreed that Abby's been avoiding the Autopsy room for a while, the terrorist then tells them that he fears butterflies, which Ducky states is good because at least the terrorist can understand what Abby is going through.
But then the gunman throws a surprise by demanding to know who Gibbs is.
Ducky looks stunned.
It then cuts to the gunman who smiles.
Ducky's taken aback by the question but regains himself just in time to tell the terrorist that Gibbs is the one person Abby would turn to for help.
When the terrorist asks if Gibbs is a Special Agent, Ducky admits that it's true but then insists that the only thing he's trying to do is give the terrorist what he came for so that he can leave without causing any damage.
Upstairs, Abby is sitting at her desk, agitated.
She then takes a sip of her Caf-Pow for courage and heads out into the main area of her lab.
Once she's removed her rings and placed gloves on, she begins collecting every single thing belonging to the dead terrorist and places it all in an Evidence Box.
However, once she's finished, she grabs the box, only to see an image of herself lying on a slab in the morgue, dissected.
She eventually grabs the box and heads for the lift but can't bring herself to press the button that will take her downstairs.
Instead, she opts for the top button which brings her up the squad-room, the bullpen and also into contact with Gibbs and the team.
In the morgue, Gerald is talking about how Ducky's stories can be called "trivia", which leaves Ducky surprised.
When the gunman talks about Abby, both Ducky and Gerald tell him that she slept in a coffin and that she's a Goth, which causes the gunman to wince in dismay.
Abby soon arrives up from her lab and sees that Kate's the only one at her desk because Gibbs is with the Director and Tony is in the "head" (toilet).
Abby soon cracks, telling Kate that she had a nightmare about a month ago about Autopsy and ever since then, she hasn't been able to go down to the morgue because it scares her.
Kate soon relents and agrees to take the evidence down for Abby but then, confusion arises when Abby tells Kate that Ducky's doing an infectious autopsy despite Abby not having tested the blood yet.
Puzzled, Kate rings Autopsy, only for Ducky to answer it and tell "Abby" that they'll see her in ten minutes, which leaves Kate more puzzled than ever.
In the lift, Gibbs is talking to NCIS Director Thomas Morrow and giving a recount of the Little Creek incident that resulted in Qassam's death.
When Morrow asks what else Qassam was planning to do, Gibbs tells him he has no idea but that he was hoping to get some help from Gitmo or Bahrain.
The two agents tell Gibbs and Morrow what they've uncovered about Qassam's past and Snyder insists that it doesn't make sense he'd die on a mission in the States because he would want to kill Israelis.
Once the conference is over, Morrow expresses disbelief that Hamas has never attacked anyone on American soil for fear of losing financial support from pro-Arab Americans.
When Gibbs wants to know how anyone could support a group that lets their children blow themselves up, Morrow tells them that according to the leaders, suicide bombers are all they've got.
"Sir, when Hamas leaders start blowing themselves up, I'll consider it", Gibbs replies and leaves MTAC.
Downstairs, Abby is at the NCIS Most Wanted Wall, pacing back and forth while debating about how to conquer her fear of Autopsy.
Gibbs soon meets her and she tells him that she didn't get a chance to test any of the terrorist's belongings because Ducky wanted everything back "stat" and since Ducky and Gerald were busy and that she couldn't go down herself, Kate took it down instead.
This sets off alarm bells in Gibbs's head and they go into overdrive when the TV reveals that the autopsy camera isn't working and that there's nothing but static on the screen.
Unaware of the danger, Kate arrives down at the morgue to drop the Evidence Box off and even plays along with Ducky's act of calling her "Abby".
Unfortunately, it's blown out of the water when the gunman sees her gun and he emerges from autopsy, his gun drawn. Kate attempts to draw hers but she knows she won't have time.
It then cuts to the gunman who wonders when did lab rats start carrying SIG Sauers?
Up in the bullpen, Gibbs, having realized that there's a possible hostage situation calls the Director and orders a command post be set up in MTAC.
He then orders two agents be posted in the Receiving area of the Evidence Garage and two more in the elevator.
At his desk, DiNozzo takes off his jacket, revealing that he's wearing a leather holster that has his SIG and back-up gun. He then puts on a headset and gets on the phone, making preparations.
With Abby's help, Gibbs plans to put a camera down through a hole drilled into the Forensics Lab's floor, so that they can see what's going on in the morgue.
To get a quicker glimpse of that, he and DiNozzo go down the stairs to watch first-hand.
In the morgue, with Ducky and Gerald sitting in front of a slab with their hands on the back of their head, Kate lies down on a slab while the gunman checks her body and her clothes before removing her ID badge and reading it, revealing that she is Agent Caitlin Todd, not Abby. He then removes her weapon and asks her if she's ever fired it in anger.
"I would love to right now", Kate replies.
The terrorist soon begins questioning Kate about Qassam but she remains silent, refusing to say anything.
Once Ducky's finished telling her about the rules of the "game", due to the fact that Kate played along with the ruse and that they lied to him, the terrorist shoots Gerald in the left shoulder, causing him to fall to the ground in pain while Ducky and Kate look on in horror.
Just as that happens, Gibbs and Tony descend the stairwell, armed with their guns; but since the room is "dark" (no ceiling lights on) Gibbs asks for status reports from NCIS Agents Christopher Pacci and Balboa before running back up the steps to MTAC to "make a phone-call", which leaves no doubt in Tony's mind that they've got a hostage situation.
In the morgue, Ducky places Gerald on a slab, assuring him he'll take care of him.
Enraged at the gunman's disregard, Kate insults him by calling him a bastard but the gunman simply ignores her.
Ducky soon urges her to help by getting a morphine syringe from his bag.
Up in MTAC, Morrow rings Autopsy after asking the tech to record the call.
In the morgue, Ducky's still struggling to stop Gerald's bleeding while the phone rings. The gunman demands Ducky answer the phone or else Gerald will get a bullet in his knee.
Ducky soon relents and instructs Kate on how to apply pressure on the wound; under duress, he is forced to lie to Gibbs that Kate has already left and he is too busy to explain the situation.
"I can't wait to weigh your liver", Ducky hisses before storming off just as the terrorist smirks.
In MTAC, a live feed of Tony hiding in the stairway is being played as he relays information regarding the gunman's description back to the centre. Morrow then hangs up and informs Gibbs that the FBI's HRT- Hostage Rescue Team will be on site in seven minutes and that they need "an eye" in autopsy.
Gibbs leaves to do just that.
Back in the morgue, Gerald's left shoulder is now wrapped in a bandage and the bleeding's stopped but if they don't get him to an ER, then he'll lose his arm.
The terrorist asks again about the evidence collected from Qassam's room, and Kate reveals it's in Lockup, in the Garage.
When Kate avoids a direct answer by stating she doesn't know how he came in, the gunman tells her he came in a body-bag through a garage, and Kate sarcastically replies, "Same way you're going out".
Up in Abby's lab, Gibbs has managed to drill a hole in the floor and get a camera down to the morgue.
Abby is dismayed at Gerald having been shot, stating that she should be in there.
Gibbs tells her that maybe the only reason she's not is because she's supposed to be out here.
Unfortunately, the feed only lasts for a few seconds as the gunman spots it and smiling, he aims his gun at the camera before shooting at it, destroying it.
This causes Gibbs and Abby to flinch.
"Guess he knows we're on to him", Gibbs says.
In the morgue, the terrorist has swapped the greens for a black uniform and is trying to seemingly chat up Kate but she tells him in no uncertain terms that she has no interest in getting to know him better.
The FBI Hostage Rescue Team led by Horowitz finally arrive just as the building is being evacuated and Gibbs tells him that the hostages are his people and that because of that, he's in charge.
Horowitz gets the idea and leads his team out.
It then cuts to Gibbs who looks on.
In MTAC, Morrow is updating Cassidy, displaying the photo they took before the video probe was disabled, and asks if she knows who he is.
Cassidy tells him she doesn't recognize him and that the detainee who gave up Qassam might be helpful.
Synder arrives in, telling them he was on with Tel Aviv and asks if Qassam was working at Little Creek.
Gibbs says he did, and Synder reveals that's the connection: the Israelis are at Little Creek, training on Hurricane boats.
Gibbs berates himself, stating that he should have known that.
Morrow then tells them that even though the gunman in question is working for Hamas, they still don't know what he wants.
A woman identifying herself as Arkin, a Hostage Negotiator, steps forward and volunteers to find that out from him but Gibbs says there's no need, stating that he already knows the terrorist is after Qassam's body and blood.
Morrow demands the CDC be called before asking, "Infected with what?".
Tony, Abby, and Gibbs arrive down at the Evidence Garage still discussing the threat Qassam planned to launch.
Tony then demands the evidence he and Kate signed in this morning from Charlene (Bête Noire), who's dumbstruck at what's going on.
She eventually hands over the evidence and insists that they sign for that.
With no time and very little patience, Tony grabs a pen and signs Charlene's left hand before sarcastically telling her not to wash it.
While Gibbs and Tony dig through Qassam's belongings, searching for any possible items, Abby wants to start testing some of the things immediately but Gibbs refuses, stating that they'll need duplicates since they're not giving the terrorist the virus back.
Abby then states the pharmacy would have similar medication. She then quickly produces her own PDA and begins looking for the nearest tea-shop.
Once she's finished, she grabs the evidence bag back from Gibbs's hand and heads for the lift with Gibbs and Tony looking on, dumbstruck.
"How long do you think it would have taken me to find the nearest tea shop?", Gibbs asks.
"An hour sooner than me", Tony replies.
In MTAC, with Morrow looking on, Arkin tries to reason with the terrorist but her efforts to buy time fail, as the terrorist seems to know the ballgame.
After Morrow gives her a slight nod, signalling approval of the demands, the terrorist states they will have 10 minutes to deliver the evidence and hangs up.
The camera also shows that a facial recognition program is busy scanning the terrorist's face, hoping to get a match on a database.
In the morgue, Ducky is preparing the body for transport when Kate grabs a scalpel and attempts to attack the terrorist but his reaction blocks her strike, and she is quickly incapacitated.
The gunman then tells them they have work to do if they're to survive this.
Kate just rolls her eyes in disgust and heads after Ducky.
In MTAC, the group watches as Abby tells them that she found a basic variola smallpox (not the fatal flat or hemorrhagic types) in the nasal spray which she notes gives the term "up your nose" new meaning.
The terrorist then calls again, demanding that Qassam's belongings be returned to him by an alone and unarmed Gibbs.
Tony arrives back with the duplicate items and voices his unwillingness to let Gibbs go down there, unarmed and solo.
Gibbs says that with Ducky, Gerald and Kate's lives at stake, they don't have a choice. Moreover, he needs Tony to oversee the Receiving garage, since he believes the terrorist is not suicidal and has a plan to get out.
Gibbs then gets into the lift, joining the HRT pair that have been securing it.
Despite being relaxed, Abby and Tony hint that they're both worried.
Gibbs then heads to the morgue where he soon meets the gunman and notices that Gerald is lying on the table, either sedated or unconscious.
In a twist, Gibbs reveals that the nose spray is just an ordinary nasal spray and that the real one with the smallpox virus is on its way to CDC.
The gunman then challenges Gibbs to a duel, providing him with the only weapon available: Kate's handgun.
For a single moment, they stand at opposite ends of the morgue.
"Why?", Gibbs asks.
"Why not?", the gunman replies.
Spinning around, Gibbs fires two shots into the terrorist's chest, sending him to the ground while a single gunshot goes through Gibbs's left shoulder, sending Gibbs to the floor as well.
He then hears a smoke grenade going off just as HRT invades the morgue.
Through Gibbs's blurred vision, it shows a man in HRT uniform (presumably the real gunman) heading for the lift with the doors closing after him.
Gibbs then falls unconscious.
A little while later, Gibbs awakens to the sound of Tony calling him and sits up despite Tony telling him not to.
With Gibbs clinging to him, Tony tells him that his shoulder injury is just a through-and-through, nothing vital, and that the EMTs are on their way; Gibbs instead asks "Did I get him?", and Tony states that yeah, he got the gunman.
Up at the lift, Abby is psyching herself when the door opens and a lone HRT man (possibly the real gunman) emerges while the paramedics rush in.
The HRT man intends to resume his post of securing the lift, but when Abby tells him she has to get down there, he gives up the space, letting Abby into the lift.
In the morgue, it's chaos as Ducky and Kate are removed from body coolers and escorted out of the morgue, as Abby looks on from outside the doors.
Gibbs is still being treated for his gunshot wound and is being given oxygen to help him. He then heads over to the body of the supposedly dead terrorist and, after Horowitz asks him how he got him, kicks it over.
It's then revealed that it is actually Qassam, not the gunman Gibbs spoke to, causing Gibbs to realize that the real terrorist is still out there.
Gibbs just states, "I didn't".
Upstairs, Kate and Tony are at their desks, filling in their late night reports and paperwork over the incident.
When Tony states Gibbs's theory that the terrorist was wearing a bullet-proof vest, and needed someone shooting him to kick-start his escape plan, Kate says he was since she felt it.
Pressed for details, Kate goes silent, so Tony gets up and heads over to her where she tells him that she was close enough to stab the terrorist with the knife (actually a scalpel) in her hand but she can't explain how she couldn't do it.
When Tony asks if it was Stockholm syndrome, Kate replies that it's not possible for someone to identify with their captor in an hour but Tony suggests it might be like falling in love: happening in a blink of the eye.
The camera then closes up on Kate's face where she's clearly struggling with her failure to stab the terrorist.
Ducky leaves the morgue and as a result of conquering her phobia, Abby spends the night on one of the Autopsy slabs.
In Gibbs's basement, he's busy nursing his injured arm while studying his gun. He pauses for a second before taking a deep breath and then aims his weapon, firing it twice.
It then cuts to the target, a photo of the unidentified terrorist where it's shown that the rounds have hit the picture in the forehead.
- Special Agent Christopher Pacci (or "Chris") is introduced for the first time.
- The episode title is French and means literally "dark/black beast", also "beast of the night". The term actually means "anathema" (an object of aversion, the bane of one’s existence), and can be considered a synonym for "nightmare."
- The song Abby turns on in her lab is "Stained," by Android Lust which was also heard earlier, during Minimum Security (episode).
- Despite his name not being revealed, the subtitles on the Region 2 DVD give the terrorist's first name as being "Ari".
- This event would be referenced several more times in later episodes, such as Kill Ari Part 1 (episode) where McGee recalls when Kate described the incident to him and her confusion about not stabbing Ari.
|Leroy Jethro Gibbs||Mark Harmon||An NCIS Special Agent in charge of the main NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Anthony DiNozzo Junior||Michael Weatherly||The Senior Agent of the main NCIS Major Case Response Team and also the second-in-command.|
|Caitlin Todd||Sasha Alexander||A Secret Service Agent previously assigned to the Presidential Protection Detail on Air Force One and who is now an NCIS Special Agent as well as Tony DiNozzo's partner.|
|Abigail Sciuto||Pauley Perette||A Goth who is also the Chief Forensic Scientist and who also works for the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Donald Mallard||David McCallum||NCIS's Chief Medical Examiner.|
|Thomas Morrow||Alan Dale||Director of NCIS.|
|Gerald Jackson||Pancho Demmings||Assistant Medical Examiner for NCIS who is shot in the left shoulder by the unnamed terrorist.|
|Ari Haswari||Rudolf Martin||The terrorist whose name is not revealed. He invades NCIS in a body-bag and takes Ducky, Gerald and eventually Kate hostage.|
|Paula Cassidy||Jessica Steen||A NCIS Special Agent stationed in Gitmo.|
|Daniel Snyder||Robert Cicchini||An NCIS Special Agent stationed in Bahrain.|
|Christopher Pacci||Tim Kelleher||An NCIS Special Agent.|
|Arkin||Jennifer Gatti||A Hostage Negotiator.|
|Yasir Qassam||Ali Afshar||A Hamas terrorist who infected himself with smallpox to launch a terrorist attack against the Norfolk Naval Base but died when Gibbs shot him. His body and belongings were taken back to NCIS for an autopsy when the hostage situation arose.|
|Balboa||Matthew Del Negro||An NCIS Special Agent.|
|Horowitz||Joe Sabatino||H.R.T. Leader.|
|Charlene (Bête Noire)||Constance L. McCrory||An clerk in the NCIS Evidence Garage.|