Kill Chain is the twelfth episode of NCIS Season 11 and the 246th episode of the entire NCIS series.
This is also the first ever NCIS episode to have Emily Wickersham (Eleanor Bishop) in the opening credits. As such, Wickersham becomes a series regular and also a member of the main NCIS cast, officially replacing Cote de Pablo who left NCIS for good after the second Season 11 episode, Past, Present, and Future (episode).
As the NCIS team investigate the death of a Petty Officer, they realize that a drone that was recently stolen could be responsible and that the elusive terrorist Benham Parsa may be behind the attack. As the investigation progresses, Gibbs finds himself reuniting with someone from his past while potential tragedy lies in wait for one associate of the NCIS team.....
In a park as various people past or go by her, Erin Pace waits nervously, her eyes darting from side to side.
Seconds later, Navy Petty Officer First Class Daniel Coyne arrives, touching Pace on her shoulder and saying "Hey".
This has Pace turning and instantly embracing Coyne with Pace telling Coyne that she was so worried.
Coyne tells her that it's all right.
"I thought you wouldn't come", Pace says.
Coyne tells her that it's okay now, that everything's gonna okay before he asks Pace to tell her what's going on.
They then break apart, Pace glancing at Coyne.
Overhead, an eerie humming noise is heard.
Coyne hears the noise and becomes concerned.
Pace tells Coyne to wait and that they have to get out of here.
She makes a run for it but Coyne stays behind.
Seconds later, Coyne is shot and as he falls to the ground, Pace looks behind her, having heard the shot.
This has people screaming and fleeing while Pace screams, "NO!".
She then races over and kneels down beside Coyne's body, burying her head in his chest as she grieves for him while her left hand is later drenched with blood.
Pace looks up at the sky.
It then cuts to an overhead shot of Pace getting to her feet and running off, leaving Coyne behind.
In the Evidence Garage, as Abby processes the wreckage of the explosion, Bishop sits cross-legged on a table, ruing over the fact that it was her first time and also the first time she fired a weapon and she states that most agents never even fire a weapon in anger but that she blew up a weapon.
Abby tells Bishop it was kind of a smallish building.
Bishop asks Abby if she wonders how much trouble Bishop herself is in and to forget the fact that she took out a multi-million dollar Navy drone, she killed their one link to Parsa.
While examining something, Abby then remarks, "No, you didn't" before stating that this did.
Bishop gets to her feet and joins Abby, obviously confused.
Abby explains that it's the detonator that set off the explosives inside the storage building. She believes that it's C-4 although it'll take Abby herself some time to confirm.
Bishop is stunned at the fact that Yusef martyred himself.
Abby puts the device back and tells Bishop that she did her job.
Bishop nods, remarking that they're still no closer to finding Parsa.
Abby tells Bishop to come on before Abby grabs a clipboard and heads over to the other table with Abby remarking that Bishop is a puzzle solver much to Bishop's dismay.
As she follows Abby, Bishop remarks that this isn't like any other puzzle she's ever solved.
Abby tells her that's just why she has to stay organized. She then reveals that she's split all the stuff up into quadrants and that the first one is bomb components, the second one drone parts and the third just miscellaneous.
Abby then hands Bishop the clipboard and a pen with Bishop thanking her.
As Abby heads over to where some of the pieces lie, she remarks that this would be their left-wing thruster from the Angeles UAU.
Bishop scribbles something down on the clipboard.
As this goes on, the elevator bell dings.
It then pans up to show McGee approaching Abby and Bishop but McGee isn't wearing his usual work-clothes: he's wearing a suit.
Abby gets to her feet, stunned.
Once she's recovered, Abby admits that McGee looks like the top of a wedding cake with McGee thanking her, he thinks.
Bishop wonders if McGee's going to the Conrad Gala.
McGee reveals that the immediate threat of a terrorist attack is over and that he knows that Delilah wants him there so he's going.
Abby remarks that she'd hug McGee so much right now if she weren't covered in hazardous materials.
They then decide to fist-bump each other instead as Bishop looks on.
Once it's over, McGee thanks Abby.
Abby silently nods.
With that, McGee heads back for the elevator.
As the iris scanner scans McGee to give him access to the lift, Abby and Bishop resume their work.
Abby then reveals that the piece she has is also the left wing thruster.
Bishop looks confused.
Gibbs then wonders what Abby is telling him.
A while later, Abby and Bishop are up in the bullpen, Abby explaining everything to Gibbs while Bishop stands there.
Abby reveals that they went through each and every part and that there's two left thrusters, a couple of rusted-out axles and a mangled motherboard but none of it connects.
She then reveals that it's spare parts and that it's pieces from old drones that have been decommissioned for years.
Bishop reveals that the serial numbers don't match, let alone Angelus that went down in Pakistan. She then tells Gibbs that the C-4 from the storage unit was supposed to go off.
Abby reveals that the trigger from the bomb used a radio signal.
Bishop picks up, stating that Yusef probably meant to set off the bomb after he left but changed his mind when he was cornered. She also grimly reveals that Parsa wanted them to think that the drone was destroyed.
Suddenly, Gibbs's phone rings.
As he prepares to answer it, Gibbs is in disbelief at the fact that the drone's still out there.
Bishop just looks at Gibbs.
Gibbs then answers his mobile, revealing that the caller is Ducky.
In the morgue, as Gibbs arrives in, Ducky remarks that their victim is not what he seems.
Gibbs remarks that he's been hearing that a lot lately.
Ducky reveals that when he was examining the body just now, Ducky noticed a crescent moon tattoo on the victim's palm and that the crude design and improvised metallic link suggests that it was acquired in prison.
As he says that, Ducky takes the victim's left hand and shows Gibbs the tattoo with Gibbs realizing that it was a symbol of Yusef's conversion to Islam.
As he lays the hand down again, Ducky states that it also piqued his interest in Yuesf's other tattoos.
He then points out that the dagger represents La Vida Mala and that this one percent tattoo on Yusef's arm with the Vandals Motorcycle Club and several other unpleasant organisations.
Gibbs realizes that Yusef got around.
Ducky remarks that this all suggests that this man was quite mercenary in his affiliations, joining these groups not for philosophic reasons but because they offered protection in prison and employment on the outside.
As he says that, Ducky sits down on a stool next to the slab.
Ducky then states that Yusef is a survivor and not the type of man willing to martyr himself for a cause.
Gibbs realizes that Yusef isn't a suicide bomber with Ducky agreeing.
Gibbs puts two and two together and figures out that someone else detonated the bomb at the storage facility.
Gibbs states that Parsa played them.
Ducky believes that Benham Parsa is the type of man who revels in deceit and misdirection and that nothing is ever what it seems.
A while later, Erin Pace sits in Interrogation, wondering why she's here as Bishop and Tony look at her.
Tony tells Pace that the main objective is to unsettle her.
Pace admits that it's working as Tony scribbles something down.
Tony remarks "Terrific" before asking Pace how her marriage is.
Pace states that it's fine.
Tony remarks that Pace helped America's most wanted terrorist design a weapon because her husband was being threatened but Tony doesn't buy it, stating that he hopes Pace's marriage is a little more than "fine".
Pace admits that it's good.
Bishop remarks that Pace hasn't seen him in eleven months with Pace stating that he works overseas.
Bishop states that the two haven't spoken, emailed, Facebooked or even written a postcard.
Tony remarks that maybe they're estranged because Pace's husband left her saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt before believing that it's gambling, right?
Pace remarks that she doesn't know what this is.
Bishop states that Pace is underwater, desperate for money so when Parsa approached Pace, Parsa didn't threaten Pace like she had claimed earlier: he bribed Pace.
Tony then darkly remarks that it had to be a lot for Pace to betray her country and Petty Officer Coyne.
Bishop then remarks that Pace herself told Parsa Coyne was involved in the attack and took out his compound and with disgust clearly evident in her voice, Bishop states that Pace herself signed Coyne's death warrant.
Pace remarks that since they've looked at her correspondences and her finances, they'll know that she hasn't received a penny from anyone.
Tony isn't convinced before asking Pace about Palm Ridge.
Pace looks stunned and then reveals that it's the assisted-living facility where her sister is. She then reveals that her sister was hurt in a car accident in college, a traumatic brain injury and that she's been there ever since.
Bishop reveals that Pace's parents set up a trust to take care of the living expenses for Pace's sister and that Pace herself is the executor.
Tony then remarks that three days ago, that trust received an infusion of cash, five million dollars.
He then tells Pace or Erin to listen, either her sister who's in a catatonic state somehow colluded with Benham Parsa to commit high treason or..
"You did", Bishop finishes.
Suddenly, Pace's facade finally cracks and she reveals that they beat her. They tied her up and she states that she's a victim.
Bishop sits opposite Pace, stating that Daniel Coyne is a victim and that whoever else has been targeted is a victim while Pace is a terrorist who's going to be serving fifty years in federal prison.
"Minimum", Tony pipes up.
Pace just sits there, awed and reveals that they're incredible.
Tony just looks at Pace.
Bishop simply looks away.
Pace then states that these weapons she helped built. She then leans forward, remarking that they sit behind a computer monitor, point, click and thousand of miles away, total destruction.
Tony just looks at Pace, his face emotionless.
Pace then tells him that Parsa thinks it's only fair that they get a taste.
Bishop just looks lost in thought.
Up in the bullpen, Bishop announces that that the drone's been loaded with hundreds of pounds of C4 explosives and that it's out there now.
Tony remarks that Pace doesn't know the target.
Mann believes that Pace could be lying.
Bishop, on the other hand disagrees, stating that Parsa wanted them to catch her and that it's his plan. She also believes that Parsa kept Pace in the dark.
Mann states that they need to find Parsa.
Bishop reveals that there's a team at NSA helping the FBI run a high-frequency trace or any unexplained radio signals but Gibbs believes that it won't be in time.
Gibbs then rounds on Bishop, wondering what Parsa's target is.
Tony remarks that Parsa wants revenge, right? Because they took out his training camp.
Mann believes that it could be the Pentagon or military bases?
Bishop states that Parsa's targets are symbolic. She believes that he doesn't just want to take out some soldiers.
Gibbs demands to know what Bishop is thinking.
Bishop states that the people Parsa kills have meaning, like Coyne who helped take out Parsa's compound in Pakistan. She then stops, stunned.
Gibbs quickly gets there first and tells Tony to call McGee.
Bishop then realizes that Parsa is targeting the Conrad gala and half the counter-terrorism community is there including people who have been hunting Parsa for years.
As he leaves, holding his coat, Gibbs gives the order to call McGee.
With that, Gibbs and Mann leave the bullpen.
Meanwhile, in downtown D.C., the drone edges closer to its destination.
At the gala, numerous people are heading downstairs in preparation for the black-tie gala, McGee and Delilah among them and as they head down the steps, McGee stops upon seeing Tony on his cell phone.
McGee answers it, telling Tony that he figures that Tony would try to upstage McGee's one night off.
McGee wonders what Tony's saying with Tony trying to say that there's going to be an attack but it's not getting through.
McGee tells Tony to hold on with Delilah wondering what is it.
McGee states that he doesn't know, that he can't hear before telling Delilah that he'll meet her inside with Delilah agreeing.
With that, McGee heads outside while Delilah heads downstairs.
Outside, McGee asks Tony what's going on.
Tony tells McGee that Parsa's drone was destroyed and that he's using it on the Conrad gala before Tony tells McGee that Homeland and Metro are on their way with Tony yelling at McGee to get everyone out of there right away.
Suddenly, the sound of a drone flying overhead catches McGee's attention and he looks up at the sky, puzzled.
In the car, with Gibbs's phone on speaker, Gibbs and Mann are racing to the scene, Gibbs behind the wheel and Mann in the passenger wheel.
Bishop tells Gibbs that SIGNIT team got a hit on the radio frequency and that they traced the source...
Suddenly, the sound of an explosion stops everyone cold and they look over to see an explosion and a ball of flames coming from the Conrad gala, revealing that the drone has struck its target.
Gibbs and Mann get a quick glimpse with Mann muttering, "Oh my God", horrified.
Bishop asks Gibbs if he's there.
Gibbs quickly recovers, telling Bishop to give him the address.
Bishop agrees, telling Gibbs to stand by.
Mann turns back, wondering if they're going to McGee.
Gibbs disagrees, stating that they get Parsa.
With that, Gibbs increases the speed of the car as Mann looks on.
A while later, Gibbs and Mann scour the entrance, both agents wielding flashlights and their respective guns as they hear men talking in a foreign language.
They soon reach a closed door with Gibbs and Mann both bracing themselves.
They then head through the door, their flashlights off with their guns out.
As Mann kneels down, the camera pans over to show three men discussing something in a foreign language.
Now that they're both in position, Gibbs yells "Federal agents!".
Suddenly, the men panic and gunfire is exchanged.
The first two men are gunned down while the third escapes with Gibbs giving chase while Mann secures the crime scene.
Slipping into the corridor, Gibbs produces his flashlight and sees the third man fleeing. He turns two corners, only to see glimpses of the man as he flees.
In a small alleyway, the third man continues to run.
As he reaches the end of the alleyway, Gibbs emerges, identifying the man as Benham Parsa and yells at Parsa to put his hands above his hand.
The man stops and then turns around, revealing that he is in fact wanted terrorist, Benham Parsa.
As Gibbs has his gun trained on Parsa, an SUV pulls up and Parsa gets in just as Gibbs fires off a series of shots, shattering the passenger's side window and injuring the driver.
Gibbs fires again, the gunshot shattering another window.
Despite that, the SUV drives off into the night.
Gibbs runs over to the end of the alleyway but can only watch as the SUV drives off into the night while in the background, sirens are heard blaring loudly.
A while later, in the NCIS Squadroom, Mann who clips the NCIS Visitors Badge to her jacket greets Gibbs, Mann remarking that she's escorting Erin Pace to federal detention and that she'd been hoping she'd see Gibbs before she left.
Gibbs just smiles, telling Mann not to be a stranger.
Mann laughs wryly and as she prepares to go, she produces her phone while telling Gibbs to keep that bottle in a safe place and that someday they'll finish it.
As Gibbs prepares to head off, Mann calls him back, stating that Gibbs will get Parsa, Gibbs always does.
With that, Mann leaves.
Seconds later, the elevator pings and Tony arrives in, holding his backpack and coat while also remarking that he just came from the scene.
He also reports that McGee's okay and that McGee wasn't in the hotel when the drone hit.
Gibbs wants to know the casualties.
Tony remarks that four people are dead so far and that more than a few dozen have been wounded.
As they enter the bullpen, Bishop asks about Delilah.
Tony grimly reports that Delilah was hit with a lot of shrapnel and that Delilah's in surgery before telling them that they're doing what they can.
Bishop is conflicted, wondering if they should go to the hospital.
Gibbs shuts that down, stating that they should find Parsa.
Bishop wants to know how.
Gibbs tells her that they start at the beginning.
For a second, Bishop sits there, stunned, her mind elsewhere.
Gibbs then grabs the folders, telling Bishop to come on and that this is what she does. He also grabs Bishop's laptop while telling her to come on.
He then dumps the stuff over where the monitor is and just a few meters away from McGee's desk.
Bishop simply stands there, frozen, swallowing heavily, doubtful.
Gibbs then calls her again.
Tony looks at Bishop.
Bishop's eyes then dart over to Gibbs who tells her to come on.
Finally motivated, Bishop leaves her desk and heads over, sitting down cross-legged on the floor and as Gibbs dumps the files on the floor, Bishop opens each one as well.
Meanwhile, Tony gets to his feet and heads over.
Gibbs tells Bishop to get to work with Bishop agreeing.
As Tony looks on, Bishop continues opening folders.
To aid her, Gibbs then helpfully redirects the lamp normally used for McGee's desk over to where Bishop is sitting on the floor and as Bishop continues opening more files, placing photographs on the floor while creating her own pattern of things, Gibbs tells her to get this son of a bitch.
It then cuts to an overhead shot of the bullpen which shows Bishop sitting, cross-legged on the floor, opening yet another file as both Tony and Gibbs look on.
- It's revealed that a year has passed since the events in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (episode).
- This is the second episode of the NCIS series where a terrorist group are seen using a stolen drone loaded with explosives to attack a military-related target, the first being in the Season 2 finale episode, Twilight (episode) where Ari Haswari and his terrorist cell used a stolen drone to attack Navy ships approaching the Norfolk Harbor but the drone was stopped by the NCIS team although the operation ended in tragedy for NCIS when they lost one of their own while here in "Kill Chain", the drone was successful in hitting its target, resulting in numerous fatalities and injuries.
- The episode's title, "Kill Chain" or "Kill chain" is a military concept related to the structure of an attack; consisting of target identification, force dispatch to target, decision and order to attack the target and finally the destruction of the target.
- This episode was referenced in The Big Bang Theory during the season 7 episode The Hesitation Ramification, which had premiered five days prior to its airdate.
|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||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.|
|Delilah Fielding||Margo Harshman||Special Agent Timothy McGee's girlfriend.|
|Hollis Mann||Susanna Thompson||Gibbs's ex-girlfriend and a former Lieutenant Colonel with the Army CID who now works as an investigator or agent for the Department of Defense.|
|Benham Parsa||Karan Oberoi||A terrorist and also the main leader of the Brotherhood of Doubt.|
|Stone||William deVry||Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy.|
|Erin Pace||Julie Ann Emery||A woman who appears in the episode.|
|Hal Beem||Brandon Gibson||A man who appears in the episode.|
|Patrice Gates||Vanessa E. Garcia||Petty Officer First Class in the United States Navy.|
|Bashir Malik||Ravi Kapoor||A man who appears in the episode.|
|Daniel Coyne||Justin Cuomo||Petty Officer First Class in the United States Navy and the murder victim.|