A sniper is targeting and shooting various Marine recruiters all over the D.C. area, forcing the NCIS team in a race against time to stop the sniper before more lives are lost..
The scene opens with two teenagers, Dave (One Shot, One Kill) and Leo, playing an arcade game which involves using a plastic gun to shot at the targets on the screen. Dave is becoming increasingly frustrated with his poor marksmanship and Leo berates him, saying he truly sucks at this game.
Dave gives up and the two then overhear someone who's hitting apparently every single target.
It then shows a man wearing a Marine uniform who's constantly hitting the targets in the game, reaching the bonus level, completing the "mission" and getting a high score for his performance.
In the Recruiting Office, the Marine who is actually Gunnery Sergeant Freddy Alvarez tries to get Dave and Leo to join the Marines.
He's talking on a bit further about deployment possibilities when a single gunshot comes out of nowhere, shattering his mug and hitting him in the chest.
Alvarez collapses onto the desk, dead, and Leo and Dave just sit there in shock where it's shown that Leo has been splattered with some of Alvarez's blood on his face.
It then cuts to Alvarez who lies on the table, his lifeless eyes open and staring at nothing.
The Recruiting Office has become a crime scene and outside, Dave and Leo are busy giving their statements to NCIS Special Agent Caitlin Todd who's noting everything down on her PDA.
Gibbs isn't impressed, stating that Alvarez's C.O. is on his way, asking if they can move the body yet.
Ducky retorts that his assistant, Gerald Jackson, has mysteriously disappeared with the camera and he's nowhere to be found.
Gibbs wants Alvarez moved as soon as possible because he doesn't think that the dead man would want to be seen like that.
Once Gibbs has moved, Ducky begins rambling on about the Internet generation and how they spiral into a self-induced ADD and that they're barely capable of absorbing one ounce of information before the next one hits.
Further in the room, Anthony DiNozzo Junior is studying a hole and asks for Gibbs's knife.
Gibbs hands it over while also revealing Rule 9 is "Never go anywhere without a knife".
While Tony digs a hole in the wall, Kate tells Gibbs what she's learnt. She also states that several people reported hearing a gunshot around 13:00 but there were no eyewitnesses.
DiNozzo pulls out a flyer out of a box and glances at it where it's shown that the flyer has the picture of a Marine in uniform and DiNozzo remarks that Gibbs had no problem getting dates, wearing of the uniforms.
Gibbs is not impressed, stating, "Dating was not exactly my problem in the Corps" and continues asking Kate for more information.
She then goes out to say that the local police officers believe that the shooting might be gang-related and that Alvarez had a few problems with the locals and that the previous month, they threw a cinder block through the window.
Tony then remarks that if gang-bangers are responsible, then they've got to be packing some serious heat because the bullet went through the wall and straight into the building behind it, which seems to be a warehouse.
Gibbs wants his knife back and then leaves before ordering Kate and Tony not to return to NCIS HQ without the bullet.
Ducky then arrives at the Medical Examiner's van, opens it and finds that the gurney's gone missing as well. He mumbles under his breath but out of nowhere, Gerald emerges and tells Ducky that he's already gotten the photos Gibbs was looking for and then since Gibbs wanted Gunnery Sergeant Alvarez out of the room quick, Gerald staged the gurney near his body.
He then promptly rushes off while Ducky then closes the doors, appeased.
Kate and Tony have arrived at the toy warehouse with Tony producing a box of dolls and asking Kate if she ever played with one as a child. Kate sarcastically snaps, "Do I look like the doll type, Tony?".
Amused, Tony replies that maybe if she smiled more and did something with her hair.
Back at the Recruiting Office, Gerald and Ducky place Alvarez into a body-bag and then remove the body from the scene with Gibbs following them outside.
Alvarez's C.O., Major Dougherty, arrives and tells Gibbs that he's appalled by the situation, after never losing a man in Iraq.
Alvarez was a "legend" recruiter: never missed a quota although he did run into problems with some of the gangs of the area who don't like it when the local kids choose a career over standing on street corners in the neighborhood.
Gibbs asks for Alvarez's folders and Dougherty vows to give him Alvarez's entire filing cabinet if it would help find the killer.
Back at the warehouse, Kate and Tony are having no joy in finding the bullet from the shooting.
That is until Carl confirms Tony's suspicion that there was "a pallet or a display" in the area the bullet was supposedly in - but it went out about an hour ago. He admits he can contact the driver even if he's headed for Richmond.
"Good", Tony remarks. "Because we've got a new address for drop-off".
In the squad room, Kate is working on something when Gibbs abruptly drops Alvarez's folders down by her desk and tells her that her newest assignment is to go through seven years of Alvarez's personal and professional correspondence.
When Kate asks him what she's looking for, Gibbs remarks, "The same thing we're all looking for, Kate. A murderer" and then leaves.
Kate drops her pen onto the desk and placing her hands behind her head, blurts, "Oh. Why didn't I take the damn dolls?".
Down in the lab, Abigail Sciuto has removed all the dolls's heads from their shoulders and placed them in a separate area although DiNozzo's obviously uncomfortable about the whole thing and the fact that the dolls happen to be naked.
Abby then tells him to shush and that she's about to perform her first autopsy. She then successfully removes the bullet from the doll's head and in a Ducky tone states, "Gerald. To Abby, please".
Gibbs arrives and after stating he also wants the bullet's trajectory mock-up, Abby leaves to analyze the bullet through the ballistic lab.
"Why are all these dolls naked?", Gibbs asks.
"Don't look at me, Boss", DiNozzo replies. "Must be a goth thing".
Abby's studied the bullet and has determined the size of the gun: 7.62 mm, which has Kate realizing that it's a rifle.
While sitting at her computer, Abby then finishes by stating that the shooter was long-range. Really, really long-range.
Gibbs then figures out the truth: the shooter they're looking is a sniper.
It then cuts to Kate and Tony who look stunned by the news with Kate's mouth half-open in shock.
During the night, the squad-room is empty except for Tony and Kate, who are busy eating Chinese food.
Tony grumbles about the lack of forks and, after Kate demonstrates her chopstick skills, remarks "No-one likes a show-off" before abandoning his food and choosing to drink soup instead.
Unfortunately, Gibbs arrives in and Tony realizes that the soup is Gibbs's, remarking "Great" in annoyance.
The three then spend the next few minutes comparing notes and Kate reveals that Alvarez had something of a gift for exaggerating the opportunities that the Marine Corps offered.
Gibbs sits down and begins eating Tony's abandoned chow-mein when his phone rings.
While Gibbs is on the phone, Tony and Kate consider whether the person who recruited Gibbs told a fast one.
Tony doubts it, stating, "Can you imagine someone lying to Gibbs and getting away with it?".
Gibbs snaps his phone shut, telling Kate and Tony that their search authorization for the building that Abby believes the sniper shot from has come through.
He then tells Tony to come with him and tasks Kate with continuing to find a suspect in the remaining stack of folders.
Tony grabs some of Kate's shrimp much to her disgust before wishing her good luck and with that, he and Gibbs leave the bullpen.
Kate sits back down at her desk, grumbling about being alone and eating Chinese food again and sarcastically remarks, "Oh, what a refreshing change, Kate".
Gibbs and Tony find the building that the sniper shot from and after some intense digging, Gibbs finds that they're dealing with a shooter who's highly intelligent and extremely methodical: out of a thousand bricks in a windowless wall, only one brick had been removed.
Tony then takes more photographs and even bags the one single brick that Gibbs removed from the wall.
Next morning, Tony arrives in the office and attempts to call Gibbs to wake him up, only to realize that Gibbs has already arrived for work.
After presumably pulling an all-nighter, Kate has managed to get Alvarez's files in order and remarks that there were not complaints, but letters from people thanking him for getting them to join the Marines and that he kept in touch with a lot of his recruits after they'd graduated.
She then states that there are a few along the lines of moaning and grumbling before telling Gibbs and Tony that she's found two which sound promising and gives Gibbs a file.
Having gone through it, Gibbs states that the guy in question is threatening to cut off Alvarez's head but Kate abruptly cuts in with the news that the unnamed person in question died six months ago in Iraq and that their next best bet is a man named Sergeant Aaron Barnes.
Kate states that Alvarez told Barnes that if he signed up for a six year hitch, then Barnes would qualify for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Program or Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Educational Program.
It then cuts to a flashback of Alvarez telling someone, presumably Barnes, that nothing's good as such as a six year hitch with the Marines and Alvarez even comments that he can see himself saluting Barnes someday.
Back in the present, Kate remarks that Barnes's high school GPA wasn't high enough to qualify for the program and when he found out about it, he wanted to break his contract, causing Gibbs to remark, "That's not gonna happen".
When that got shot down, Barnes wrote a personal letter to Alvarez, vowing to look the Gunnery up again when his contract was up.
Tony isn't convinced: "It's not exactly a death threat".
But Kate has more. She tells her colleagues that Barnes's contract is up this year but there's a twist in the tale.
Two years ago, Barnes was selected for sniper school and he was so good that the people who run the sniper school brought him back as an instructor and that he is currently there.
Gibbs then jumps out of his seat and announces, "Let's roll" before grabbing his coat.
As they too grab their weapons and bags, Tony asks Kate if she had any of that shrimp last night. Kate angrily states that she couldn't because Tony shoved them all in his mouth.
Tony retorts with, "Consider yourself lucky" before swinging his backpack over his right shoulder as he leaves the bullpen.
It then cuts to the countryside where a shooting practice is taking place under Sergeant Barnes's watchful eyes. He then tells the Corporal in grass that the shots are off and if even if they're only half an inch off their mark, then in battle their target not only gets to live but gets the opportunity to shoot back too.
The two men, both wearing camouflage clothing, agree with his words, shouting "Yes, sir" just as Gibbs, Tony and Kate arrive on the scene.
After hearing his name called out, Barnes tells his men to stand by, interrupting more gunshots, before turning to meet his new guests.
Gibbs then identifies himself, Kate and Tony as NCIS Special Agents and when Barnes asks them what he can do for them, Kate simply tells him they want to know about Gunnery Sergeant Freddy Alvarez.
It then cuts to the team and Barnes exiting a jeep and as they walk through HQ, Barnes remarks that Alvarez promised things he could never deliver on although the team assure him they're not here to talk about Alvarez's recruiting methods. They then break the news to Barnes that Alvarez is dead, having been shot by a sniper the previous day.
When they ask for an alibi, Barnes states that he was busy doing individual PT with a Corporal David Stenson and Gibbs requests a map and the grid coordinates so that they can go after Stenson instead of waiting for him. Barnes complies and the three later arrive at the place where Stenson is although Kate expresses doubt over Gibbs's skills: "You sure you know where you're going?"
"Used to do this for a living", Gibbs states.
"They had maps back then?", Tony asks.
The team eventually get to where Corporal Stenson is and he eventually unwittingly exposes Barnes's alibi as a lie, forcing Gibbs to drag Barnes into the Interrogation room for further questioning.
Barnes admits that he was angry at Alvarez and that he wrote the stupid letter, but why would he re-enlist for another 6 years if he hated the Marine Corps?
While Gibbs is talking to Barnes, detailing the thrills of being a sniper, the scene shows a sniper loading a new bullet into his rifle and taking aim at a Recruiting Office where Staff Sergeant Allen is preparing to hand a clipboard over to a new recruit.
The sniper pulls the trigger.
It then cuts to Allen who falls over the table, dead while the clipboard is stained with his blood.
The team arrives at the newest scene of the sniper shooting and begin unloading their respective gear as they prepare to investigate the scene.
Unfortunately, they're in for a surprise when numerous cars containing FBI personnel pull up to the scene as well.
In the office, Gibbs and Agent Freedman are arguing about who gets the lead on the case while Kate and Tony try to scare an FBI agent who's using a laser technique which the two state may lead to impotence.
Although the guy doesn't care, Tony simply remarks, "Maybe he doesn't have to worry about that anymore".
The team regroup and remark that the competition's going to be for the bullet while Gibbs sarcastically remarks that they better help their "good friends", the FBI, find the bullet and orders Tony to make a hole.
While Ducky and Gerald keep one of the Agents busy, Tony digs into a wall and announces a secondary bullet-hole.
A few seconds later, Gibbs and Freedman get into yet another endless argument before Gibbs's phone rings.
It's Tony who informs him that Kate's gotten the real bullet.
Playing along, Gibbs agrees to the "Director" apparently demanding they give the scene to the FBI and hangs up, telling Freedman, "You win this one".
Freedman asks Gibbs not to take it personally because they've all got their orders.
"Don't get used to it", Gibbs urges and as he leaves, he finds a white feather resting calmly on the ground near the water cooler. Outside, the team are getting ready to go back to NCIS HQ with Gibbs telling the story of Carlos Hathcock, a Marine sniper legend who had thirty-nine confirmed kills in Vietnam.
Gibbs consider searching the first scene for a similar feather, while Kate considers what would it mean if the feather turns out to be a calling card.
"Yeah", Gibbs replies. "It means that he likes to meet the recruiter before he kills him".
He then slams his cap against the dashboard, causing Kate and Tony to look at each other, concerned.
In her lab, Abby remarks that the second bullet is in much better shape than the first and also reports that the shooter might have been mobile during the second kill. She tells Gibbs it looks like the shot came from a moving vehicle.
It then cuts to Alvarez's office where Tony and Kate are busy searching for a similar feather to the one found at the second crime scene.
Tony is grumbling about how floors are scummy and how the whole sensitivity to women in the workplace backfired.
Upon seeing a cupboard full of cockroaches, Kate relents and gets Tony to do the searching while she handles the floor.
Tony opens the door, only to get the shock of his life upon seeing the cockroaches crawling inside. He gives Kate the evil eye but she simply looks away and laughs.
Barnes is in Interrogation, stating he's been there for three hours and no-one has told him a single thing or what's even going on during the investigation.
When his lie "during a federal investigation" is exposed, he eventually relents and tells Gibbs that he was with a woman at the time that Alvarez was killed with Gibbs leaving to check out the alibi and stating that the whole thing regarding the affair with the woman is now between Barnes and his wife.
Back at Alvarez's office, Tony and Kate have come up empty.
A single statement about the ventilation gives Tony an idea and they soon find a white bird feather in the outlet.
A while later, Gibbs, Kate and Tony are heading back to the bullpen.
As they walk, Kate holding the feather remarks that the bird feather is the sniper's calling card. She also tells Gibbs and Tony that she believes the guy is living a fantasy world and that she can't picture him functioning into a highly-organized military environment.
When she asks why he's targeting the recruiters, Gibbs realizes it's because they turned him down and that their killer isn't military: he's a wanna-be with Kate remarking that this does fit the profile.
When Tony asks how many people the Marines turn down every year, Gibbs replies, "Thousands. And by the time we get a chance to check them out, this guy's gonna shoot again".
"If he continues this pattern, we have less than 24 hours", Kate grimly states.
"Then maybe it's time we got more pro-active", Gibbs agrees.
It then cuts to the Recruiting Office formerly owned by Freddy Alvarez where a press conference is being held.
Dougherty is giving a statement, telling them that the Marine Corps sends their heartfelt prayers out to the families of Freddy Alvarez and Staff Sergeant Allen and that they're working to bring the person or persons responsible to justice and that the Recruiting office will be re-opening tomorrow under one of their finest men, Gunnery Sergeant Thomas.
Upon being prompted, Thomas steps forward and it's shown that it's actually Gibbs who's gone undercover.
Upon being asked how he feels about being selected, Gibbs/Thomas replies, "I wasn't selected, sir. I volunteered".
It then cuts to a TV showing the conference live, before pulling back to reveal the sniper's eye, suggesting that he now has a new target in his sights and that target just happens to be Gibbs.
In the squad-room, Gibbs welcomes Kate to the Marines. Tony is annoyed about Kate being chosen as Gibbs's C.O and mumbles, "Didn't realize Kate knew so much about being a Marine".
Gibbs tells him Kate doesn't know anything about being a Marine and Kate tells Tony that she's not going to be talking to the recruits. She's going to see how they react to Gibbs and that one of them might be the sniper.
Tony tells her that she's not the only one who knows how to profile.
"Maybe", Kate says. "But with that haircut, you wouldn't pass for an ROTC student".
Gibbs then checks her vest, remarking it's not going to show and then asks about her ribbons. He then demands a report from the FBI and Tony tells him that apart from Agent Freeman having an extreme dislike for Gibbs, the FBI has agreed to help but they're not too keen on the visible part.
"Our shooter isn't a moron", Gibbs says. "He doesn't see police and FBI in the neighborhood, he's gonna think something's up".
Tony has doubts about them setting a trap as well as concerns about the fact that the sniper knows but Kate tells that part of a sniper's duty is to get into enemy terrorist. She tells him the sniper wants to prove himself and that he's not going to pass up an opportunity.
"What if he suceeds?", Tony asks.
"He won't", Gibbs vows and leaves the bullpen.
Tony then tells Kate that she looks good in her uniform and she thanks him before telling him that Gibbs said he would be in uniform too.
Tony stands up, excited.
It then cuts to Tony standing on a telephone, complaining that Gibbs gets dressed like Blue Charlie while Tony looks like one of the Village People.
"Maybe you can find a local cop and get a dance routine going", Abby tells him.
Tony sarcastically laughs and then tells Abby he's gotten the two microphones on a wireless relay and once he's placed the third and final one on the pole, it then shows all three are in place.
Tony tells Abby that if this works, then she's a genius.
"Oh, Tony, tell me something I don't know", Abby says.
Tony then admits he once dated his high school music teacher.
"Really. What was his name?", Abby asks.
Tony sarcastically laughs again, calling the comment "cute".
Abby then states that all the mikes are working and that she's set here. Tony announces he's coming down which causes Abby to remark that he's a macho, macho man.
It then cuts to the Recruiting Office where Dougherty is remarking on how good the new glass looks.
When he asks Gibbs what it's like to be in uniform, Gibbs tells him it's a little tighter than he remembered.
Kate then enters and greets Doughtery and Gibbs before Gibbs tells her to remove her cover. She does and Gibbs then looks at her ribbons, remarking that they're all wrong.
Doughtery expresses doubts about the plan but Gibbs disagrees, stating that Doughtery should allow them the honor of doing their job.
After wishing them good luck, Doughtery leaves.
Outside, Tony calls for a comm-check and everyone states that it's alright. Kate relays the information to Gibbs which remarks, "Now for the hard part. Waiting".
Kate sits opposite Gibbs and tells him that a man was murdered here three days ago. Who would choose today to join up?
"A Marine", Gibbs replies.
"Good point", Kate agrees.
Once two men have arrived in, Gibbs stands up and the undercover operation finally begins.
After a while, it cuts to Tony who's studying the Office through a set of binoculars and wonders if they're giving out Xboxes while also stating that there ten people who have come and gone.
Kate remarks that Gibbs is really good at this.
When Tony inquires about Gibbs's bulletpoof vest while also eating a sandwich, Kate glances down and sees that the vest is underneath the desk. She tells Tony that Gibbs assured her it was visible under his shirt.
Unsurprisingly, Tony goes into a rage, mumbling that if the sniper doesn't kill Gibbs, then Tony himself will and of all the idiotic things..
Back in the office, Gibbs is talking to Potential Recruit 1 who seems eager to join the Marines. Gibbs then gives the young man a leaflet and sends him on his way.
In the van, Freedman suggests calling it a day but DiNozzo overrules him, stating if they close the office, it's going to look suspicious.
Potential Recruit 2 enters and once he leaves, Kate voices her concern that he's the sniper.
Gibbs then goes to get a drink of water and finds a white feather in the water cooler before realizing that the sniper was the guy who delivered the cooler to the office.
It then cuts to the sniper who's taking aim at the office and then fires the shot, only for the bullet to stop thanks to the fact that bulletproof or bullet-resistant glass was installed.
Abby remarks the mikes picked up the shot and successfully pinpoints the sniper's location with both Tony and the FBI racing to the scene.
Tony catches the sniper and orders him to drop the weapon.
Unsurprisingly, the sniper refuses and once he's cornered, turns to fire his weapon at Tony but misses, forcing Tony to shoot back, killing the sniper which also damaging some water coolers and causing the water to spill out onto the street.
Freedman and another FBI agent arrive, thanking Tony and telling him they'll take it from here.
Tony then grabs a glimpse into the sniper's truck and it's revealed that it's full of Marine equipment before telling Gibbs and Kate who have arrived that the FBI are taking credit.
When Gibbs asks Kate where her cover is, she says, "What?".
Back in the office, Kate has finally identified the sniper: Kyle Hendricks.
She tells Gibbs and Tony that he'd gone to the Rockville Recruiting Centre on August 11, 2002 in hopes of joining up but had been turned down after a personality profile assessment revealed that he had sociopathic tendencies with anti-social behavior.
Gibbs remarks about Hendricks's skills before leaving for the night.
As Kate gets ready to go, Tony asks her about being undercover as a Captain.
"Did I make him salute me? Call me Ma'am?", Kate wonders before telling Tony that Abby thought he looked good too.
It then cuts to an overhead view of the bullpen as Kate leaves the bullpen, crackling with laughter while Tony sits at his desk.
- Gibbs says that Carlos Hathcock (the marine legend who wore a white feather; which is a trait the killer mimics in the episode) had 39 confirmed kills in Vietnam. He actually had 93 confirmed kills.
- When Gibbs shows the CO his NCIS badge he is holding the ID section upside down.
- The episode's title, "One Shot, One Kill", is a reference to a 1995 documentary about American Marines.
- When the team are heading back downstairs, the entrance to MTAC is closed yet once they're halfway down the steps, for some reason, it's open and a single line of metal is seen from behind the open door. If you also look closely, you can see the metal being dragged behind the door as well.
- The song playing in the background in the lab when Abby finds the bullet inside the toy doll's head is Phantom Vision- The Darkest Skies.
|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.|
|Gerald Jackson||Pancho Demmings||Assistant Medical Examiner for NCIS.|
|Freddy Alvarez||Francesco Quinn||A Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps who is Kyle Hendricks's first victim.|
|Dougherty||Michael Gaston||Freddy Alvarez's C.O.|
|Freedman||Andy Umberger||Agent, head of the FBI team at the second crime scene.|
|Aaron Barnes||Brad Hawkins||A Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.|
|Carl||T. J. Thyne||The manager of the toy warehouse.|
|Kyle Hendricks||Noah Segan||A self-taught sniper.|
|David Stenson||Geoff Meed||Corporal in the United States Marine Corps.|
|Potential Recruit 1||Zakk Moore||A man who was suspected of being the sniper but is later found innocent.|
|Potential Recruit 2||Blake Shields||A young man who comes to the Recruiting Office where Gibbs and Kate are undercover. His behavior makes Gibbs suspect he's the killer but he's later found innocent.|
|Dave (One Shot, One Kill)||Alex Solowitz||A potential recruit who witnesses Alvarez being shot.|
|Leo||Chad Doreck||Dave's friend who also witnesses Alvarez's death.|
|Guy Ross||Kent Shocknek||A reporter.|
|Debra Green||Sheila Frazier||A reporter.|