As Washington D.C. gets ready for Christmas, the NCIS team find their holiday plans being put on hold as they investigate when a mysterious illness strikes young children from military families with the disease quickly spreading. As the team race to stop a devastating outbreak, Abby and Jimmy work with the Naval Medical Research Center to determine the strain of illness, all in hopes of delivering a cure before the holidays begin while Vance struggles with forgiveness as his estranged father-in-law makes a surprise visit to his home.
In a kitchen, as "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" plays in the background, Audrey Daly is busy putting the finishing touches to a cake titled "Welcome Home, Daddy", her son, Tommy remarks that he thought she was making him a Christmas cake.
"Well, who says Christmas can't be patriotic?", Audrey wonders before she states that they were all out of green.
Tommy attempts to touch the cake but Audrey slaps her son's hand away.
Audrey then wonders if that's a clean shirt.
"Clean enough", Tommy replies.
Audrey explains that the man is flying 6,000 miles to be home for the holidays and that she thinks that they can do better than "clean enough".
Seconds later, Navy Lieutenant Kevin Daly arrives, carrying his suitcase and a teddy bear with Kevin shouting, "Ho-ho-ho! Hello?".
This has Audrey going "Oh my God" and stopping her work as she and Tommy look up.
"Dad?", Tommy wonders.
Once Tommy's out of the kitchen, Kevin greets him by stating there's his big man.
Audrey is surprised that Kevin's early with Kevin wondering if she's complaining.
The two then embrace and kiss with Tommy telling his father that his mother made all his favorites. Tommy explains that she made a meat loaf and some mashed potatoes as well as a weird Christmas cake.
As Audrey smiles, Kevin wonders where Tommy's younger sister, Emma is.
Audrey explains that Emma wanted to wait up for her daddy so bad but that Emma had to come home early from school with a low fever.
"Oh, poor peanut", Kevin says.
He then asks to see Emma while holding up the teddy bear.
"Oh", Audrey says before pointing her husband in the direction of Emma's bedroom.
As Kevin heads off, Audrey tells Tommy to help her get supper on the table with Tommy agreeing.
A few minutes later, Kevin heads into Emma's bedroom where Emma lies in bed, fast asleep. He then greets her but there's no response.
Placing the teddy on the bedside locker, Kevin then checks Emma's forehead but says "Damn" after realizing that she's burning up.
Kevin then asks Audrey how low the fever was.
Audrey arrives in, stating that it was less than a hundred an hour ago.
She then places her own hand over Emma's head and says, "Oh my God. She's burning up".
Kevin then gently shakes Emma, hoping to wake her up by informing her that he's home.
Despite that, Emma doesn't reply.
Kevin listens for a heartbeat and then grimly tells Audrey that their daughter is barely breathing.
Audrey calls for Emma but gets no response.
Kevin tells Audrey to call 911.
As Audrey races off to do that, Kevin calls his daughter again.
It then cuts to a shot as Kevin continues his daughter with Kevin begging her to breathe.
In the bullpen, McGee reveals to Gibbs and Bishop that the victim is Lloyd Grunfeld, a 71 year old recently widowed Vietnam vet.
The next morning, Vance arrives in, heading straight for the Bullpen.
As he heads in, an overhead shot reveals that Tony, McGee and Gibbs are all siting at their desks, working while Bishop sits cross-legged on the floor in between the space between Tony and McGee's desks, her laptop resting on her knees.
Vance simply arrives in and pauses.
As this happen, Tony yawns, obviously exhausted.
This has Vance wondering if Tony has been working all night.
Startled at being caught yawning, Tony clears his throat and states, "Yes, Director" before greeting Vance.
"Morning, sir", Bishop pipes up, prompting Vance to slightly cock his head.
On the floor, Bishop, sitting cross-legged on the floor is examining something on her laptop with her right hand while eating some candy with her left hand while two packets of candy and a can of Coke lie beside her. She reveals that she's got Navy Ensign Dorothy Williams, volunteered at the Annapolis party four days ago.
"Williams at Annapolis", McGee says. "Check".
Vance then glances over where it's shown that the monitor now contains a map of possible carriers of the mysterious illness.
Gibbs then greets Vance and remarks that Vance is in early.
Vance states that he is, that he couldn't sleep before wondering what all this is.
"Looking for patient zero", Gibbs states.
McGee picks up by stating that they're cross-checking volunteers at all military base holiday parties.
Bishop reveals that 27 of their afflicted kids attended at least one of them in the last week.
Tony then announces that he got Petty Officer Mike Russo and that Russo volunteered at the Navy Yard party three days ago.
"Russo at the Navy Yard", McGee says. "Check".
Still glancing at the map, Vance wonders are they all military personnel?
Gibbs tells Vance that they don't have to be and that they could be anyone, caterers, Santa's helpers, guy blowing up the balloon.
"Any progress on the diagnosis?", Vance wonders.
Gibbs states that he's about to check with Abby before holding up a piece of paper in his left hand but Vance tells Gibbs that it's okay and that Vance himself will go before Vance tells Gibbs to keep at it.
As he walks away, Vance states that he can't say that Gibbs isn't thorough.
As Vance prepares to leave the bullpen, Gibbs calls him back.
Vance then stops and turns around.
"You ever hear of a Hail Mary?", Gibbs wonders.
Vance then leaves.
It then shows an overhead shot of the bullpen with Gibbs, McGee and Tony working at their desks while Bishop has moved from the floor to her desk.
In the lab, Carol is staring an iPad just as the elevator rings.
Vance then heads in, greeting them and causing Carol to look up.
Abby straightens her lab jacket while greeting Vance with a smile while Palmer sits on the floor, his glasses in his mouth as he examines some files.
As he walks over to the center of the room, Vance wonders how everyone's holding up.
Pressing a button on her iPad, Carol grimly remarks that her office just sent these.
Palmer then takes the iPad as Carol reveals that the lesions have started turning purple which narrows the search down a bit but not enough.
As Carol tells Vance that, Palmer's scrolling through the photos.
"Not yet, anyways because we're not done", Abby declares.
"I am so not having kids", Palmer mutters before he places his head in his hands.
Abby's had enough, telling Jimmy that does it. She then apologizes to Vance or the Director, stating that something's gotten into Mr. Palmer and that she would like to get it out now.
"Well, don't let me interfere", Vance states.
Palmer tries to tell Abby to listen but she tells him to listen.
Meanwhile, Vance having headed for the door stops.
As Palmer stares at her, Abby tells Palmer if he knows what's infectious during the holidays?
As Palmer puts his glasses back on, Abby tells him that optimism is infectious, optimism and joy. She then tells him that it's joy and...
"Kindness", Carol pipes up.
"Kindness", Abby states.
Carol then adds in curiosity.
Abby adds in charity with Carol adding in "generosity".
Abby adds in "gratitude" while Carol adds in "selflessness".
"Compassion", Abby finishes.
Vance looks on.
"Forgiveness", Carol suggests.
Abby states that forgiveness is huge.
Carol adds in "kindness" with Palmer reminding Carol that she already said kindness with Carol stating that she likes kindness.
"And faith, Jimmy", Abby finishes.
She then remarks that faith is infectious.
She then states that life isn't always perfect but sometimes things will work out for the best if you just have faith.
Palmer nods and then clears his throat, saying "Okay, Abby".
Abby just looks at Palmer.
"Okay", Palmer states.
"Okay", Abby says, getting straight to business. "Where were we?".
"We were.." Vance stammers, "Well, you were...".
It's then shown that Carol, Abby and Palmer are looking at Vance.
"As you were", Vance says before telling them he'll have some fresh coffee sent down.
"And some no-bean caffeine please?", Abby asks.
Vance silently nods before leaving the lab.
Abby smiles but then stops upon hearing Gibbs's voice from the monitor.
It then cuts to reveal that Gibbs and McGee are staring at the monitor from the bullpen as Abby tells Gibbs not to sneak up on her like that.
Gibbs wonders if there's any chance that this bacteria came from Africa while Tony rubs his hands and Bishop sits cross-legged at her desk, working on something.
"Africa?", Abby says.
Carol states that if it's specific to Africa, that would help explain why they're having so much trouble finding it.
Abby then turns back, asking Gibbs "Why, Gibbs? Who's from Africa?".
"Possibly patient zero", Gibbs states.
"Otherwise known as Santa Claus", Tony pipes up.
McGee then hits a button and the monitor shows an elderly man dressed in a Santa Claus outfit at a party with various children gathered around him.
"Santa Claus?", Abby, Palmer and Carol all say together.
McGee then explains it's also known as Marine Captain Louis Boggs and that the guy's played Santa Claus at military base parties for years.
The information then pops up in the monitor in the lab, allowing Abby, Palmer and Carol to look at it for themselves.
Tony explains that Boggs recently returned from a special operation in the Congo.
"The Congo", Carol states.
Tony continues on by stating that Boggs is the only person who's been to every military party in the last few weeks.
"Which means that he's come in contact with nearly every kid at every party", McGee finishes.
"What we don't know is how he came in contact with Grunfield", Gibbs states.
"Yes, we do", Bishop announces, surprising everyone. She then leaps off her desk and states that she knew that she'd seen a red suit on Grunfield's counter and tells Gibbs that this is from a week ago.
It then shows that Bishop's laptop is playing footage of Boggs at the dry-cleaner.
Gibbs tells the team to find Boggs and get him quarantined until someone figures out what Boggs has got.
Abby pipes up that the "someone" is about to be them as McGee, Tony and Bishop head to their desks to search for Boggs's whereabouts.
Gibbs asks Abby if the Congo gets them closer.
She tells him that the Congo gets them there.
"I got it", Carol announces.
She reveals that it's meningococcal A.
"A as if Africa?", Palmer chimes in. "See? You'd never find that here".
"Why we couldn't find it before", Abby explains.
"Can it be treated?", Gibbs asks.
"Yeah, with the right antibiotic, sure", Carol replies.
Gibbs tells them to call the hospitals with Abby stating that they should call everyone.
As Abby, Carol and Palmer high-five each other, Gibbs slaps a folder onto his desk, telling his team, "Great job, everybody" while the monitor goes back to normal, the conference call having ended.
McGee nods before focusing again.
Gibbs then looks over and sees Bishop on the phone, sitting down and presumably staring at her laptop, smiling. She then looks at Tony who sits there, impassive.
Gibbs silently nods as The Alternate Routes- Nothing More begins playing in the background.
At the hospital, Kevin and Audrey look on, waiting to see if Emma will wake up.
Seconds later, with her mother's hand resting on her head, Emma stirs and opens her eyes before she glances at her parents with Kevin and Audrey both smiling as the realization that Emma has come out of her coma hits home.
"Hi, Daddy", Emma whispers.
"Hi, honey", Kevin says while Audrey smiles.
Outside the room, Bishop and McGee look at the scene before glancing at each other, the two exchanging a smile. Inside the room, Kevin is busy saying something to his daughter as Audrey looks over at the window and sees Bishop.
The two then smile at each other with Bishop silently nodding.
At a center, Jimmy and his wife, Breena are talking to a surrogate mother and presumably a social worker with Breena admitting that Jimmy is excited with Jimmy agreeing.
In the Vance living room, Vance stands there with Kayla and Jared, stating that this is the man that he told them about.
In front of them stands Lamar.
Vance tells them that it's Mr. Addison, their mother's father and their grandfather.
Kayla looks on.
Vance then steps back.
Lamar cautiously approaches, holding out his left hand which Kayla accepts before Lamar uses his right hand to shake Jared's hand.
Lamar looks at Vance who silently nods.
Lamar then brings both Jared and Kayla in for a group hug before saying "Thank you", Lamar's voice choked with emotion as the realization that he's embracing his grandchildren for the first time sinks in.
At NCIS Headquarters, McGee remarks that it's time for a long winter's nap.
In the bullpen, as Gibbs sits at his desk, working, McGee, DiNozzo and Bishop are all busy getting ready to leave for the Christmas holidays.
As she grabs her coat and scarf, Bishop remarks that she'll grab hers on the red-eye.
"Oh, that's right", DiNozzo remarks. "Oklahoma time".
"Family time", Bishop states.
"Amen to that", Gibbs says.
As she puts on her coat, Bishop remarks that her husband's meeting her at the airport with DiNozzo asking Bishop if she needs a ride.
Bishop stammers, stating that she was going to grab a cab.
As he swings his backpack onto his shoulder, DiNozzo tells Bishop that it's nonsense and that he and Mr McGee are just heading out for a cocktail and as he grabs his coat, DiNozzo remarks that they'll drop Bishop off at the airport.
McGee protests, saying that he never agreed to a cocktail.
DiNozzo tells McGee that he never asked before he asks Gibbs or Ebeneezer, "eggnog?".
"No", Gibbs replies. "Go on" before telling DiNozzo that he'll see him tomorrow.
"Bah, humbug", DiNozzo grumbles.
"Night, Boss", McGee calls.
Still focused on his monitor, Gibbs just nods.
As the three all prepare to leave, McGee asks DiNozzo what part of a long winter's nap does DiNozzo not understand with DiNozzo telling McGee that one little McToddy won't hurt McGee.
Once they've gone, Bishop attempts to join them but stops, instead turning back to Gibbs.
Heading to Gibbs's desk, Bishop remarks that she almost forgot and she states that since Tony mentioned that Gibbs like cinnamon, Bishop thought Gibbs would be interested in trying her mother's coffee cake.
Bishop produces a box while saying that it always makes her so happy and well, they all deserve to be happy.
She gives Gibbs the box with Gibbs examining it.
In the background, a bell rings, revealing that the elevator has arrived.
"Especially this time of year", Bishop finishes.
Gibbs then studies the box for a few seconds before placing it down onto the desk and looking at Bishop who wishes him a Merry Christmas.
"Merry Christmas to you, Bishop", Gibbs remarks.
The two exchange glances for a few seconds before Bishop nods and walks off.
As she grabs her suitcase and heads for the lift, it's shown that McGee is still holding the elevator door open for Bishop.
Meanwhile, at his desk, Gibbs pulls out a little silver tray of some kind which has a cake inside. He takes a piece of the cake and pops it into his mouth, testing it.
At the lift, Bishop stands there, glancing at Gibbs before she turns around and heads for the lift.
At his desk, Gibbs smiles, implying that he's enjoying the cake.
He glances back just in time to see Bishop entering the lift and McGee standing aside, allowing the doors of the lift to close at last.
It then cuts to a shot of the bullpen with Gibbs still sitting at his desk, savoring the taste of the cake while in the background, various people walk around the NCIS squadroom as it continues to snow outside with the NCIS Christmas tree located outside the Bullpen the main focus of the final phoof.
- Lamar Addison, Jackie Vance's father is introduced for the first time.
- It's revealed that Gibbs likes cinnamon.
|Leroy Jethro Gibbs||Mark Harmon||Special Agent in charge of the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Anthony DiNozzo Junior||Michael Weatherly||Senior Special Agent and second-in-command of the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Timothy McGee||Sean Murray (actor)||Special Agent of the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Abigail Sciuto||Pauley Perrette||Chief Forensic Specialist for the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|James Palmer||Brian Dietzen||Assistant Medical Examiner for the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Eleanor Bishop||Emily Wickersham||The NSA/NCIS liaison officer.|
|Leon Vance||Rocky Carroll||Director of NCIS.|
|Donald Mallard||David McCallum||Chief Medical Examiner for the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Carol Wilson||Meredith Eaton||Abby's old college friend.|
|Kayla Vance||Kiara Muhammad||Vance's daughter and Jared Vance's sister.|
|Jared Vance||Akinsola Aribo||Vance's son and Kayla Vance's brother.|
|Breena Palmer||Michelle Pierce||Jimmy Palmer's wife.|
|Emma Daly||Alyvia Alyn Lind||The daughter of Kevin and Audrey Daly and sister of Tommy Daly.|
|Lamar Addison||Ben Vereeen||Leon Vance's estranged father-in-law and Jackie Vance's father.|
|Max Comey||Gabriel Tigerman||A man who appears in the episode.|
|Audrey Daly||Holley Fain||The mother of Emma and Tommy Daly and wife of Kevin Daly.|
|Tommy Daly||Luke Colombero||The son of Kevin and Audrey Daly and brother of Emma Daly.|
|Kevin Daly||Matt Biedel||Lieutenant in the United States Navy, husband of Audrey Daly and father of Emma and Tommy Daly.|