The Curse is the fifth episode in NCIS Season 1 and the 5th episode of the entire NCIS series.
While in a forest, a hunter discovers a cargo pod containing the mummified remains of a lieutenant commander. The NCIS team investigate and discover that the officer's disappearance is apparently connected to a cold case where ten years ago and after vanishing without a trace, the commander in question was dishonorably discharged from the Navy for allegedly stealing one million dollars from the ship he was serving prior to his death. It now falls to the NCIS team to determine once and for all if the commander was really guilty or if he was framed by someone else.
In a forest, a deer hunter misses shooting a deer with his arrow striking a tree instead. He prepares to give chase but instead trips over something and falls to the ground.
He then brushes the leaves aside and upon producing a knife, whacks on the thing a few times before popping the hatch open.
He peeks inside and pulls out a military bag with the words "LCDR FARNSWORTH" scribbled on it.
Just below the name is a Navy symbol.
Glancing back into the pod, the hunter spots a pair of golf clubs and then a corpse that appears to have been mummified.
It then cuts to the hunter who staggers back, obviously stunned at the sight before him.
After exiting the lift, NCIS Special Agents Leroy Jethro Gibbs tells his team of fellow agents Anthony DiNozzo Junior and Caitlin Todd to grab their gear as they're going to Saint Mary's River State Park in Maryland to look at a drop-tank which has Navy markings on it and also a body inside.
Gibbs tasks DiNozzo to gas the truck and Kate to get Donald Mallard.
Unsurprisingly, DiNozzo protests about getting to gas the trunk but Gibbs tells him NCIS does have people to do that.
At the scene, State Trooper Dan Lynch guides the team to the scene where the tank is lying, buried in the dirt.
Upon getting a look, Ducky guesses that the aircraft drop tank was airtight which means there's no air or bugs inside.
"And more importantly, no bacteria", Ducky announces proudly but when Gibbs asks for a time of death, Ducky sarcastically tells him it's very amusing, causing Gibbs to smile in amusement.
The deer hunter states that he originally suspected it was a missile or a bomb until the point he cleared the leaves away and found the hut. He didn't touch anything after he found the mummy who he calls "King Tut".
Gibbs also requests the deer hunter's fingerprints just to rule him out, to which he happily agrees.
While drawing, Tony states that the container is a 370-gallon external fuel tank from an F-14 Tomcat.
Gibbs interjects with the news that tomorrow's going to be the second anniversary of Tony joining NCIS.
Tony states he's touched but Gibbs believes that it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Gibbs glances inside the pod and discovers that the supposed sailor is actually a Lieutenant. He then asks Kate to ride back to HQ with the pod on a flatbed, stating it wasn't a suggestion.
In the evidence garage, as the team looks on, Forensic Scientist Abigail Sciuto is busy slicing through the pod with a single power saw before stopping and informing Gibbs that she got some partial prints off the hatch that aren't the hunter's.
She should be able to obtain a serial number from the bottom of the pod although the number's worn off.
Gibbs wants the TFOA report for this pod which Tony states means "Things Fallen Off Aircraft" much to Kate's disbelief.
Meanwhile, Abby has finished and Gibbs and Tony lift the pod, finally revealing the inside of the pod.
Kate notices his shoes are missing while Gibbs gets the dog-tags and Abby reads that they belong to a Lieutenant Mark Schilz.
Ducky notices the wedding ring and states that the Lieutenant must have left someone behind.
The team then begin studying the other leads with Abby remarking that they're going to crack the secret of the mummy's curse much to Ducky's annoyance and the team's amusement.
Up in the bullpen, Kate produces Schilz's service record which reveals that he was reported missing off the U.S.S. Eisenhower on March 4th, 1994 and he was listed as a deserter thirty days after disappearing.
As such, Schilz received an dishonorable discharge and was later charged in absentia with stealing 1.2 million dollars from the Eisenhower's safe. Schilz also happened to be the ship's disbursing officer.
Tony returns, armed with the TFOA report and reveals that Lt. Commander Farnsworth was the pilot of the Tomcat that dropped the pod containing Schilz's body and that the golf clubs belonged to Lt. Lynch, Farnsworth's Radar Intercept Officer.
Kate considers that Schilz may have been trying to make his getaway in the cargo pod but Gibbs disagreesthat due to the fact that the air would be nearly unbreathable at flight level for an F-14 ("air is cold and thin at 30 thousand feet"), and the missing money was not in the pod.
Gibbs then gives them assignments: Tony is to locate the on-board NCIS agent from the Eisenhower investigation while Kate is set to locate Schilz's widow which she's still doing but having no luck with yet.
Gibbs arrives in the morgue to discover Schilz's cause of death and Ducky tells him that the victim suffered a broken jaw postmortem from one of the golf clubs striking him in the face when the pod crash-landed and that the amount of bleeding could have only happened when Lieutenant Schilz was still alive.
Gibbs then states that it looks like Schilz was murdered and his body placed in the cargo pod to which a surprised Ducky agrees to.
It cuts to Gibbs who looks grim-faced.
Back in the bullpen, Kate is searching for Schilz's widow and Gibbs arrives in with the talk turning to Gibbs's love of coffee and then the circumstances regarding the theft and murder.
After the talk ends, Kate finds the location of Schilz's widow, grabs her things and leaves just as Tony arrives, armed with the name of the NCIS Special Agent who investigated the crime: Richard Owens (The Curse). He mentions that Owens is currently located at NCIS Pearl Harbor.
Gibbs looks through Owens's notes and begins to find evidence of a sloppy investigation.
Mary also reveals that due to Schilz getting a dishonorable discharge, she didn't get any death benefits or dependent support from the Navy for her daughter.
As such, Kate becomes obsessed with clearing Schilz's name so that his family can finally get the long overdue benefits they deserve.
In MTAC, Gibbs and Tony talk to Owens via video conference.
Owens insists that Schilz is guilty and remarks that the Schilz case is the only bad thing that's been on his record for the last twelve years.
Taking matters into his own hands, Gibbs orders Owens to return to Norfolk on Saturday morning given that the Eisenhower is currently doing crawls in the Atlantic.
When Owens attempts to argue, Gibbs abruptly ends the call.
Gibbs and Tony arrive down at the evidence garage and find Abby studying the pod. She tells them she has learned that the pod is attached by two hooks and the release mechanism was not activated by the pilot.
Instead, it was set up to fall off the plane on its own and whoever set it up hoped it would hit the ocean but it hit the ground instead.
Kate soon arrives back from the Wiles's house and tells Gibbs that Schilz called his wife at 05:33 on the morning the robbery took place and the call in question lasted for twelve minutes.
Tony looks over Agent Owens's report and mutters a name: Ensign Wiles.
"Wiles? Randy Wiles?", Kate asks, surprised.
When Tony asks her how she knew, Kate replies that Mary Wiles didn't tell her that Wiles was the assistant disbursing officer.
No, in fact, Kate tells Gibbs and Tony that Randy Wiles happens to be Mary's new husband, a fact that stuns everyone.
Tony looks up.
It then cuts to Gibbs who looks stunned.
It's a cold Saturday morning and Tony's busy doing the crossword while NCIS Special Agent Richard Owens who got a priority ride and spent twelve hours freezing his ass off walks up and down, losing patience.
Tony remarks about the case and makes a reference to Abby believing that there's a curse before changing the subject and then asking Owens how old he thinks Gibbs is.
Gibbs and Kate arrive at a shooting range to talk to the manager, former Ensign Randy Wiles with Gibbs being left impressed by Randy's shooting skills.
The two then realize that Randy hasn't told his new wife, Mary, about the fact that he served with Mary's former husband, Mark Schilz.
Randy tells them that he attended the memorial service for Lt. Schilz and he fell in love with Mary at first sight.
Kate compares the love story to the movie "Bounce" and states that she believes him.
Gibbs is blunt and gets straight to the point with his theory being that Randy stole the money, set up Schilz, murdered him and then married his wife.
"That is sick", Randy insists.
"It sure is", Kate agrees.
Gibbs then turns on Kate, saying that after she's been here for more than a month, she's going to realize that there's a lot of sick people in the world before asking Randy if he's one of them.
Randy insists he's innocent and tells them that being on the shooting range is his day job. At night, he does freelance accounting. He and Mary rent a house, Alicia attends public school and Randy himself drives a six-year old Saturn. If he had a million dollars, then would he keep on living the way he is at the moment?
Gibbs sarcastically remarks that Randy was doing well before and then asks about the disbursing clerk, Petty Officer Erin Toner.
Back at the Eisenhower, Gibbs is talking about the case. Owens insists that Lt. Schilz is responsible and that Wiles and Toner are innocent because Wiles attended an all-night poker game and Toner was in female country which Owens tells him that the Navy ran like a sorority and that no men were allowed.
When Gibbs demands to know how many women got pregnant, Owens replies, "Quite a few".
Gibbs's phone then rings.
It's Kate who is seen driving in an NCIS-issue car and using a hands-free headset so that she can drive freely. She then tells him that Lieutenant Farnsworth and Lynch died in a ramp strike two years ago.
Gibbs then begins expressing concern about Kate's feelings in regards to the case.
Kate tells him she wants Schilz's wife and daughter to get the death benefits they deserve.
Gibbs asks if she's had any luck in tracking down Erin Toner.
Kate states that she has: Toner is in West Chester, PA, and Kate's on her way there right now.
Gibbs then hangs up.
In the car, Kate glances at her phone before hanging up and continuing her driving.
On the Eisenhower, Gibbs breaks the news that Farnsworth and Lynch are both dead to DiNozzo and Owens before stating he doesn't want to hear DiNozzo say the word, "Curse".
"Would I say that, Boss?", Tony asks.
"You said it to me", Owens replies before heading off and joining Gibbs.
"You said it first", Tony snaps.
In the meantime, Kate has arrived at the country club and interrupts Toner teeing-off with another man, Ben, both expressing dismay over the fact that someone like Kate, with no golf etiquette, managed to get into a private golf club.
Kate then pulls her jacket aside, revealing her badge and gun before giving the others a sarcastic smile.
With that issue settled, Kate and Toner sit down for a talk with Toner remarking that she's sorry to hear that Mark's been dead all those years.
She then produces a winning ticket she got from the Ohio Lottery and invites Kate home to look at a newspaper article which claims that she won two million dollars before smirking at Kate.
In the morgue, Abby arrives into the room, yelling "Fore!" while Ducky simply ducks and orders Abby never to do that again. He also tells her that it's a reflex when one is a golfer and calls Abby by her first name, "Abigail", to which Abby replies "Please don't call me Abigail".
Ducky then reveals to Abby that Lt. Schilz died due to the fact that he was stabbed by a thin, sharp object. He also requests that she recheck Schilz's uniform for anything regarding some unexplained hairline fractures to the pelvis and lumbar vertebrae.
On the Eisenhower, Gibbs, Owens, and Tony are in the disbursing office where Lt. Greg Pallini is remarking that the robbery is something of a legend on the ship and that knowing Schilz didn't get off with the money is probably going to start a treasure hunt.
He then excuses himself.
Gibbs notices that Owens looks uncomfortable.
Owens tells him that the safe hadn't been jimmied and that when he'd interviewed Petty Officers Wiles and Toner, they had both told him that the cash was the only thing missing.
Gibbs drops a hint that Owens and Toner may have had something going on with one another but Owens tells him he wasn't screwing around with Erin because she had something else going on with an airman, Petty Officer Ted Martínez.
Kate calls back with information regarding her interview with Toner and when she admits she couldn't double-check since the Ohio State Lottery Board was closed for the day, Gibbs tells her to call them in the morning before abruptly hanging up again.
The silence on the other end causes Kate to remark, "Can you hear me now?".
Back on the ship, Tony has found information on Petty Officer 2nd class Martínez along with the fact that he was honorably discharged in June 1994.
When they realize he was working on the flight deck, Owens tells Gibbs that the easiest access to the pod would have been for the pilot, the RIO, and the plane captain.
When Tony suggests Gibbs shouldn't strain his eyes reading the file off the computer screen, Gibbs responds by head-slapping him before asserting that it's no coincidence that Martínez was the plane captain on the Tomcat that dropped the pod containing Lt. Schilz's body.
It shows Tony, Gibbs and Owens staring at the computer screen.
Gibbs arrives in Abby's lab to find her going over Lt. Schilz's uniform again and she pulls a small orange fiber of the clothing.
She also tells Gibbs she's matched some of the prints that were on the pod to Martinez and that it's no big surprise since he was the plane captain.
Abby also informs him that she's got one print that doesn't match and she's been trying to find it. since before the anomalous orange fiber off Schilz's uniform.
Gibbs states that he could lower the scope of the search for her by giving her a name and a serial number.
"Oh, that might help", Abby remarks sarcastically.
Up in the squad-room, Agent Owens's presence surprises Gibbs but he probably sees the eagerness to make up for a mistake and so orders the Agent to do a search for Martinez.
When DiNozzo tells him he's looking for Martinez too, Gibbs states that he's getting coffee.
The next afternoon, on a Sunday, Kate arrives at the office, carrying a mug of coffee and finds that Gibbs and Tony have fallen asleep in their chairs. Agent Owens, though, is still working.
Unsurprisingly, the smell of coffee wakes Gibbs up and forgoing his manners, he grabs it out of her hand and drinks it as a shocked Kate looks on, disgusted.
Tony and Owens regularly interject with what they've gotten so far including the fact that they tracked Martinez to Guadalajara, Mexico before losing him.
Gibbs orders them to check with the local police there, remarking that a guy usually goes home when he's separated, and then announces he's going somewhere.
"For coffee?", Kate interrupts hopefully.
"To the head", Gibbs states.
Gibbs soon arrives back down in the lab, bringing Abby some coffee. She remarks that she's found nothing good enough to take to court but if her life depended on it, she'd say that it was "her" right middle finger that made that print.
Abby then thanks him and announces she's studied the fiber more closer.
It's cotton canvas, dyed Orange Number 7, but it's not a life preserver because they're made of urethane-coated nylon.
Suddenly, Gibbs has a flashback of watching someone drag a mailbag through the ship's corridor and leaves yet again, causing Abby to remark, "Orange mail bag? Cool".
Upstairs, Kate is talking to the Ohio Lottery and she discovers that Toner hit the lottery for $37,000 which means that Toner lied and that she and Martinez stole the money, not Schilz as everyone had originally thought.
Owens eventually discovers that Martinez was killed in a motel in Piedra Negras with Kate believing that Toner is a Black Widow.
After Gibbs tells Kate that Toner has to come voluntarily, Kate heads back to the golf club and confronts Toner, stating they need her in regards to a recreation of the theft for Martinez's trial - they want to have a solid case that would convince the Mexican authorities to extradite.
Toner refuses, causing Kate to appeal to Toner for the sake of Schilz's family who have been denied his death benefits.
Unsurprisingly, Toner, having grown used to her luxury-filled lifestyle, replies "Tell them to play the Lottery".
Losing patience, Kate then produces some orders and tells Toner that if she doesn't come to D.C willingly, then Kate's going to sign them, which means that Toner will be recalled to active duty and will also be a material witness in the case.
The threat does get through and Toner agrees to come to D.C.
Back in the bullpen where everyone has gathered, Abby's showing a recreation of the theft including a little jig that "Schilz" does because he was overjoyed about hearing that he had a newborn daughter.
Toner is unimpressed with the animation quality (not quite Disney-like) yet claims the scenario's working for her.
Gibbs disagrees, stating that Schilz had to have known that Martinez was going to kill him and due to the fact that Schilz would have resisted, "especially in passageway full of sailors", then Martinez would have murdered him in disbursing.
They then talk about the mail-bag theory with a fingerprint match later popping up on the second plasma, causing Gibbs to remark he'll get back to it.
Gibbs mentions that Martinez should have gotten some unwanted attention about the orange mailbag he was dragging through the ship. Owens then says he recalled how Toner was capable of turning heads simply by walking-by.
Toner tries to leave but Kate insists she stay because the show's not over yet.
Abby then produces a second animation scenario she created.
This one shows Martinez dragging the mailbag through the ship while Toner follows him, flirting around to keep anyone from noticing Martinez.
Toner states while the animation is better, it isn't evidence and she threatens arrests for assault and unlawful detainment.
Gibbs tells her she's free to go.
As she attempts to leave, Gibbs produces the second fingerprint and tells her that it's hers, and they got it courtesy of the Mexican authorities: it came from the pistol that she used to kill Martinez in Piedra Negras.
In no certain terms, Toner is threatened. Either she confesses or she gets a one-way trip to Mexico.
Hours later in the squad room, Owens remarks that in Hawaii, it can take forever to get any kind of information out of the Mexican federales with Tony assuring him that they've got the same problem in D.C as well.
Owens is stunned to learn that the fingerprint match was faked.
As the team pile into the elevator, Owens finally realizes that the team are crazy which they agree with.
Seconds later, the elevator doors close.
- It's revealed that Tony has been an NCIS Special Agent and a member of the main NCIS Major Case Response Team for two years.
- It's revealed that a month has passed since Kate became an NCIS Special Agent.
- Tony gets his first official Headslap from Gibbs.
- The rank on the collar was that of a captain not a lieutenant
- Lieutenant Mark Schilz, the victim, is named in honor of executive producer Mark Schilz.
- The first appearance of Gunnery Sergeant DeLuca, an uncredited role. Chris Ellis later reprised the role in a credited appearance in the Season 2 episode, The Bone Yard (episode).
- The Navy term "TFOA" is revealed to mean "things fallen off aircraft".
- When Tony, Abby, and Gibbs are examining the cargo pod, Abby says something to Gibbs in sign language that is never voiced. She signs, "Tony's weird", to which Gibbs says, "Oh, just figuring that out now?".
- When Abby says "Sailor in a half-shell", she's paraphrasing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a 1990s cartoon about four mutant ninja turtles which uses the expression "Heroes in a half shell" in the opening theme song.
- When Kate says "Can you hear me now?", she's referring to to a series of commercials by the telecommunications company Verizon, in which a Verizon employee repeatedly asks "Can you hear me now?"
- The song playing in the lab when Abby finds a tiny fragment of an orange-colored item on the mummy shirt's and she then goes on to explain her latest findings to Gibbs is the Newlydeads- Melting.
- Despite finding Lt Schilz's murderer, the team never find any trace of the missing money.
- Clips from this episode were later shown in the 48 Hours: NCIS episode A Sailor's Honor, which dealt with the real life NCIS case that this episode was based on.
|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 Perrette||A Goth who is also the Chief Forensic Scientist for the NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Donald Mallard||David McCallum||NCIS's Chief Medical Examiner.|
|Richard Owens (The Curse)||David Ramsey||NCIS Special Agent who investigated the theft of the payroll aboard USS Eisenhower and the disappearance of Lieutenant Schilz.|
|Erin Toner||Melora Hardin||Former Petty Officer in the United States Navy.|
|Randy Wiles||Jim Pirri||Former coworker of Lt. Schilz who ended up marrying Schilz's widow. Is a former Ensign in the United States Navy.|
|Mary Wiles||Lauren Bowles||Married to Randy Wiles and Lt. Mark Schilz's widow.|
|Mark Schilz||Travis Aaron Wade||Lieutenant in the United States Navy. Uncredited role.|
|Dan Lynch||Bill Birch||Senior State Trooper on the scene.|
|Greg Pallini||Jonathan Wade-Drahos||A Lieutenant in the United States Navy who is stationed on the USS Eisenhower.|
|John Deluca||Chris Ellis||Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and also Army CID. Uncredited role.|
|Ben (The Curse)||Robert Pine||Golfing companion of Erin Toner.|
|Deer Hunter||Tommy Hinkley||He discovered the mummified remains of the victim.|