In the Zone is the fifteenth episode of NCIS Season 5 and also the 109th episode of the entire NCIS series.
When a Marine Captain is killed during a suspected mortar attack, Ducky soon discovers that he was actually shot and that the mortar attack was cover for the murder. While the investigation continues in the U.S, both Tony and NCIS Intel Analyst Nikki Jardine are sent to Iraq to investigate what really happened..
In downtown Baghdad, Iraq as numerous civilians go back and forth, under the watchful eyes of various groups of Marines, a large group of Marines are engaging in a game of basketball.
As one scores, Captain John Rankin tells his fellow Captain "Good shot" before telling his team to go.
One Marine shouts, "Ball out. Ball out".
Seconds later, the game begins again with both sides battling for control of the basketball with the ball being thrown to Allan Hayes.
Rankin takes it back and prepares for a shot he calls "The half-court martial" but the ball doesn't go in, prompting the other team to call foul.
The game resumes again for a few seconds but abruptly stops when someone yells "Incoming". This has everyone ducking for cover and seconds later, an explosion rips through a wall, sending people falling to the ground.
As the Marines get up, one curses about the Green Zone.
As one asks the other Marine if they're okay, the other Marine remarks that he is and that they should have renamed the Free Fire Zone.
As the group examine the scene, someone is heard yelling "Question your people".
As they stand there, examining the damage, someone asks about the Captain.
It then shows Captain Rankin lying on the ground, unmoving.
The other Marines rush over and roll him over, revealing that Rankin is bleeding on the right side of his body.
One Marine asks for a Corpsman with another yelling for a Corpsman.
It then cuts to show the two Marines examining Rankin's body while in the background, everyone else is still studying the damage from the explosion.
A while later, Tony arrives into the bullpen, throwing a unopened packet of crisps into the air with Ziva behind him.
As they enter the bullpen, Tony glances at the plasma and asks McGee before wondering why there's no pictures of McGee's girlfriend.
"My dog's name is Jethro, Tony", McGee states. "Jethro. It's a boy, not a girl".
- With Jenny taking a few weeks of personal leave (as mentioned at the end of Internal Affairs), Vance takes over the day-to-day running of the agency.
- It's revealed that McGee has officially adopted Jethro, the dog Abby exonerated in Dog Tags (episode).
- Nikki Jardine performs her first autopsy and overcomes her OCD.
- It is revealed that Nikki has a brother named Eric who was injured while serving in Iraq and is in a coma.
|Leroy Jethro Gibbs||Mark Harmon||NCIS 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.|
|Ziva David||Cote de Pablo||Mossad Liaison to NCIS and also a member of the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Timothy McGee||Sean Murray (actor)||NCIS Junior Special Agent and a member of the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Abigail Sciuto||Pauley Perrette||Forensic Specialist, NCIS.|
|Jennifer Shepard||Lauren Holly||Director of NCIS. Despite being credited, Holly does not appear in this episode.|
|Donald Mallard||David McCallum||Chief Medical Examiner, NCIS.|
|Leon Vance||Rocky Carroll||NCIS Assistant Director|
|Nikki Jardine||Susan Kelechi Watson||A Tech Analyst.|
|Ike Varnai||Josh Stamberg||A Major in the United States Marine Corps who's stationed in Iraq who accompanies Tony and Nikki when they're in Iraq.|
|Kelvin Ridgeway||Rick Hoffman||A suspect.|
|George Stenner||Patrick Fischler||A man who appears in the episode.|
|Dina Rankin||Jennifer O'Dell||Marine Captain John Rankin's wife.|
|Allan Hayes||Matt McTighe||A man responsible for killing Marine John Rankin.|
|Jim Gilroy||Brooklyn McLinn||Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.|
|Hamida||Anne Bedian||A woman who appears in the episode.|
|John Rankin||Tony Daly||Captain in the United States Marine Corps and the main murder victim as well as the husband of Dina Rankin.|
|Jameel||Elie Khoury||A young man who appears in the episode, he helped Nikki Jardine's brother.|
|Iraqi Militia Guard at Road Block||Sammy Sheik||A man who appears in the episode.|
|Iraqi Militia Guard at Shed||Wolf Amer||A man who appears in the episode.|
|Iraqi Woman||Ektimal Shbib||A woman who appears in the episode.|
|Nurse (In the Zone)||Samantha Klein||A woman who appears in the episode.|
|Tabina||Aleene Khoury||A young girl who appears in the episode.|
|Iraqi Militia||Alex Parlar||Uncredited role.|
|Iraqi Street Vendor||Hash Patel||Uncredited role.|