NCIS investigate when the mummified remains of a woman wearing a single wedding dress are found in an abandoned Marine home, the room in question resembling something from the 1950s. But evidence is later uncovered which suggests that a serial killer is responsible and that he might have another victim marked for death. The team head to Jacksonville Naval Base and start working with the NCIS Agent stationed there as they attempt to find the killer's last target but the stakes are raised when the killer commits suicide, forcing the team into a race against time to save the victim before it's too late.
It opens at a site on a Naval Base where numerous workers and a digger are working on a single site.
Suddenly, one of the builders notices the ground falling out and orders the guy driving the digger to stop which it does.
The main guy then asks for a flashlight and once he gets one, shines a light down into the hole which reveals a mummified body which causes him to gasp with shock.
The site is now a crime scene and the Major Case Response Team has arrived on scene.
When Gibbs asks about Commander Hutchins, Willis tells him that the other man has a intestinal virus.
Willis then tells Gibbs that the Base closed the houses five years ago and that the plans were to change it to a park but cutbacks put the whole thing on hold.
However, since the units were becoming a security and health hazard, they brought in a private company to demolish the buildings instead.
As they head for the house, DiNozzo, unsurprisingly is concerned about being mentioned last.
Kate tells him not to worry because she believes it's probably to do with the level of intelligence and general competence.
Tony then interrupts McGee again despite McGee insisting he didn't say anything.
"It's what you're thinking, Probie", Tony replies.
Willis then tells Gibbs that as soon as they knew what was going on, all work was stopped and that the scene was contained.
Gibbs wonders if it's an old bunker but Willis tells him they don't know what it is.
With McGee using an camera, they soon discover that the tunnel leads to the abandoned house.
The team invade the house and begin checking for any possible entrances to the tunnel.
After a search, Tony finds that the air conditioning's off in the wardrobe and finds a secret trap-door under the mat.
Gibbs then orders DiNozzo to wait for Ducky while he, Kate and McGee head into the tunnel much to DiNozzo's shock.
They soon climb down the ladder and reach the tunnel, only to discover that there's a 1950s-styled bedroom with the mummified body lying on the bed.
After taking a few seconds to adjust to the sight, Gibbs states, "Let's do it".
With that, they spring into action. McGee begins snapping photographs of the scene while Gibbs and Kate examine the scene more thoroughly.
Gibbs notices that the nails at the bed-side were hammered in at a left to right angle which means that their killer might be left-handed.
"Ever seen anything like this before, boss?", McGee asks.
"Only in the movies", Gibbs replies.
Unfortunately, it's shown that Palmer is claustrophobic and the story that Ducky tells him about one of his associates at Edinburgh Medical College shutting himself in one of the drawers for 24 hours although the associate died in the process doesn't help either.
The three soon get to the scene with DiNozzo remarking that Stephen King would love it while Ducky assures the corpse that they're going to get her out of here and into somewhere more appropriate.
Palmer's touched by the words.
Ducky thanks him and then requests the bag so that they can move the body.
Palmer, looking at the tunnel with a sense of dread informs him that it's in his truck.
Ducky tells him that he knows and tells Palmer that the next time he'll remember.
Palmer is relieved and gets to work.
Kate then finds a book called "The Good Wife's Guide: Ten Steps to Pleasing Your Husband".
McGee reveals that he read something like in "Redbook".
DiNozzo's amused at McGee reading Redbook but Kate tells McGee that the date on the book is from May 1955.
When Gibbs asks how long the body's been there, Ducky tells him that it's hard to say because it looks like the victim's been dead for months.
When Gibbs asks about years, Ducky agrees, stating it might be a year but not more than two.
Gibbs then states that the housing has been abandoned for five years.
Kate then realizes that she wasn't the last tenant.
"Check it anyway", Gibbs orders.
Suddenly, there's commotion up top-side which draws the team's attention.
Back at NCIS, Kate's getting a fax from someone and tells them the team that the last person to live in the abandoned houses was Lt. Commander Carlton Halpin, his wife and two children and that they moved out January 1999 when he got transferred to the San Diego Naval Station and as far as they can tell, he's never been back.
McGee tells Gibbs that any of the materials used to create the bunker could have be bought at any Lowe's in the area and DiNozzo then tells Gibbs that a lot of the furniture in the room is from the 1950s. He also believes that the pieces came from antique shops or garage sales.
Kate then interjects with the theory about the pieces being handed down from family members which DiNozzo claims as his own before telling Kate that either scenario will lead them down a road where it won't be easy or perhaps possible to trace where the items came from.
Upon turning around and seeing that Gibbs is gone, DiNozzo focuses on McGee, asking him about Redbook.
Despite McGee insisting that it's the best way to know about them, DiNozzo disagrees, stating that the best way to know women is know them.
In the morgue, Ducky and Jimmy are examining the body when Palmer tells him he read some stories about guys who kept women in their cellars but not to talk to them.
They're distracted by the fact that the victim wore a wedding ring which was violently removed before Ducky gets onto the topic of the stories which has Palmer uncomfortable.
In the lab, Abigail Sciuto is going through the dress when Gibbs comes in. She tells him she got prints off the victim and that his team are running it through AFIS but the bad news is that he used cleanser which means that the guy's curious about having anything including his fingerprints being left behind at the scene.
"He's cautious", Gibbs states.
"So I am when I chain guys up", Abby says which draws a smile from Gibbs.
In the bullpen, Kate tells Gibbs that the victim has been identified as Petty Office Third Class, Carolyn Figgus who's twenty-two years old and that Figgus went missing eighteen months ago.
DiNozzo then tells Gibbs that he pulled the file and that it belonged to Christopher Pacci but there wasn't much on it. Figgus left for work one morning and then vanished in thin air. Due to a lack of witnesses, the case went cold.
"Yeah, well it just got hot again", Gibbs mutters.
McGee tells him that Ducky believes Figgus has been dead for about a year which means that she was in the bunker for six months before she died.
DiNozzo states that because of that, the last tenants can be ruled out. Gibbs wants Kate to tell them about her killer.
Kate tells them the basic pathology is obvious as the killer was abused as a child due to the fact that his father beat on his mother but she guesses one or both of them could have beaten on him which has McGee realizing that he's trying to create the perfect relationship.
Kate agrees, stating that control is the name of the game.
When DiNozzo remarks that the victim didn't live up to his killer's expectations, Kate sarcastically tells him why was she so sure he'd understand that part?
Gibbs then tells them that the murderer cut off her air supply, left her in an airtight chamber to die and moved on.
Kate tells them that the pathology is driven and that the killer won't stop until he's found the perfect one.
Gibbs states that the killer is playing house with someone else.
It then cuts to a woman who's lying in a bed, wearing the exact same wedding dress with her eyes closed.
However, when the camera closes up on her face, her eyes suddenly snap open.
With a lay-out of the 1950s-styled bedroom in the Evidence Garage, Kate is pacing through it while looking at crime scene photos when Gibbs remarks that something's off.
Kate takes offense at that, stating that she recreated it from the photos McGee took, that everything in the room was ALS'd, that all pertinent forensic evidence was sent to Abby and then Kate rebuilt it from the photos.
Gibbs gestures towards her.
Kate, annoyed insists that the room and everything in it was exactly as it was when they first found it.
However, Gibbs has spotted something different and heads inside with Kate sighing.
Gibbs then eventually corrects the lamp and then asks Kate what the killer's obsession with the 1950s is about.
Kate tells him that the 1950s represent an idealized time when the rules between men and women were simpler.
Gibbs believes it's an older guy although Kate thinks it's a much younger guy. She remembers that Tony said a lot of the stuff is from the 1950s but a lot of things aren't. She states that some things are from the 1960s and some are even reproductions but it isn't pure.
Gibbs believes that he couldn't get his hands on the real deal but Kate tells him it didn't matter and she believes he put the room together based on his idea of a fantasy, rather than remembering an ideal experience.
Gibbs wonders if someone who grew up with it would be more pure.
Kate states that she thinks he would want to be as close as to what he actually experienced as possible and besides, he didn't have any problem picking up and leaving everything behind.
Gibbs then asks how do they know that he didn't have to leave?
Kate then realizes he could have transferred.
Gibbs tells her that Ducky said that the wedding ring was removed.
Kate agrees, stating it's the one thing he keeps in common from one bride to the next. She then states that it might help if she observes a reenactment of the victim's life inside the chamber.
Gibbs suggests she put someone in a wedding dress.
Kate offers Tony but as it turns out, he's gone off to talk to Carolyn Figgus's parents. She then offers McGee but Gibbs tells her that he's off with Tony and Abby's out because she's running tests on the evidence.
As Gibbs leaves, Kate volunteers his name which causes him to stop for a second before he pops his head back in.
"You won't have to wear the dress", Kate says, smiling.
In the car, Tony and McGee are driving to meet Figgus's parents.
It becomes clear that Tony's jealous of McGee but McGee assures him that he's not after Tony's job and even tries to cheer Tony by telling him that Gibbs told them that Tony's case report wasn't later for once.
Back at the Evidence Garage, Gibbs has chosen Kate herself to do the reenactment despite Kate insisting she was the one who wanted to observe. Gibbs tells her that he's observing.
With the chain around her left hand, Kate realizes that while the victim could make it to the toilet, she couldn't make it to the threshold of the tunnel.
It then cuts to a flashback of Figgus in the tunnel while Kate's voice is heard telling Gibbs that she can't imagine what Figgus must have gone through for months before giving up and realizing that no-one was ever going to find her or hear her screams.
The only thing she could do was sit and stare at her own reflection.
As Kate says, the camera pans over to the mirror where it shows that Kate is on the other end of the mirror, sitting at the desk. Gibbs joins her and discovers two marks in the rug.
Kate believes that someone was standing there but Gibbs tells her that the pattern was wrong. He runs a finger over it and tells her that it's not from a shoe or foot because the pattern's too round, too large.
He then realizes that the victim wasn't standing.
She was kneeling.
Kate then gets off the stool and kneels down, remarking that it was enough to wear a permanent indentation on the carpet.
They both come to the same conclusion: she was praying.
In Abby's lab, she's found a trace of the Darkling Bettle and tells Gibbs that it's found only in extreme Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida.
When Gibbs asks about it being in Virgina, Abby tells him that someone stepped on it and a piece of it got lodged in the shoe before dislodging into the chamber.
She even calls the move very "Silence of the Lambs".
Up in the bullpen, they've identified three places where the beetle could be from: Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Mayport Naval Station in Florida or Naval Submarine Base, King's Bay, Georgia. Kate tells them that they've got a piece of a beetle that shouldn't be in Virginia and that it doesn't mean the guy is there right now.
Tony agrees, stating that the guy could have been on vacation.
McGee who has been doing some searching tells them that while no-one's gone missing from Norfolk, a woman who fits the profile has disappeared from Jacksonville.
He tells them Agent Jane Melankovic forwarded a missing person's report she filed on a Petty Officer named Barbara Swain, a Petty Officer Second Class at Jacksonville who has been missing for four months ago.
Kate remarks that Swain is close in age in Figgus and that they look similar.
McGee remarks that it's the same with her disappearance because Swain disappeared off the face of the Earth and never made to work.
As a result of no witnesses or clues, the case went dead.
Gibbs then orders that they be on the next flight to Jacksonville and to tell Agent Melankovic that her victim might still be alive on base.
Tony does just that, picking up the phone and dialing a number while McGee glares at him.
"Pretty thin, Gibbs", Kate says.
"All we've got, Kate", Gibbs replies.
A while later the team are at Jacksonville Naval Base where Agent Melankovic is telling them that the Seahawk is still searching.
Tony tries to flirt with Melankovic but she gives him the cold shoulder, instead warming up to McGee much to Tony's chagrin.
Suddenly, Melankovic tells them they've got something.
The team along with the Jacksonville personnel descend on the house and raid it, only to discover Petty Officer Third Class Darrell Baum growing marijuana plants in his home. Gibbs meets with Commander Spencer and gives him the go-ahead to recall the helo.
When Kate asks what's next, Gibbs sarcastically tells her that they ought to give up before he gets into the car.
It then cuts to Swain who is still standing in the empty, darkened room and she closes her eyes.
The team have returned to the Jacksonville Naval Base and in a conference with Abby, she tells them that the carpet fibre suggests a cheap nylon product that's available anywhere.
She's also examined the dust and has determined that the killer wasn't even good at being a housekeeper as well as being a pretend husband.
While the team listen to her, Tony's eating some nuts.
Gibbs asks about the clothes fibres and Abby tells them that that it's white cotton, probably socks and purple silks but she has no idea what it means. She then suggests a scarf or an ascot. Tony then tells them that he's wore an ascot.
Gibbs then thanks Abby and ends the conference.
Melankovic arrives with the files that they requested which solely consist of the transfers from Norfolk in the past six months.
DiNozzo then tries to justify his eating the nuts in Melankovic's desk, only to get a shock when Melankovic tells him they're for her sister who's anorexic which abruptly and permanently ends Tony's nut-eating spree.
Gibbs notes that the missing persons report noted that the last person to see Petty Officer Swain before her disappearance was her roommate, Debra Marshall.
Gibbs orders Kate to go with him and pairs DiNozzo with McGee. Melankovic wants to go but she's to stay behind to help DiNozzo and McGee.
Gibbs and Kate eventually get to the Motor Pool and talk to Marshall who tells them that Swain was fixed on finding the right guy for herself but she couldn't get the right one because all the guys she met were losers.
Marshall remembers Swain mentioning that she might even go see someone about it but when Kate presses her, Marshall admits that she doesn't know and that Swain was a very private person.
Back at the Jacksonville office, McGee and Melanknovic are the only ones going through the notes and doing any decent work as DiNozzo who's supposed to be helping them is actually slacking off, amusing himself by reading the Good Wives's Guide.
He says the wrong thing which pisses Melanknovic off and when McGee tries to jump in, DiNozzo tells him that he's only doing the reading to get into the suspect's state of mind.
Gibbs and Kate leave one of the Base offices and Gibbs tells Kate that after his second divorce, he saw the padre although Kate believes that the chaplain don't keep records.
They meet Chaplain Brett Evans who tells them all he knows and that Swain was supposed to call him and make another appointment but she never did.
Back at the office, McGee and Melankovic are still going through the files while DiNozzo reads the Good Wives Guide.
When DiNozzo answers his cell-phone, it's Gibbs who asks for a report.
DiNozzo tells him they've ID'd fifteen people who match the profile and gives the other two Agents more files before returning to read the Good Wives Guide.
Gibbs, however, knows what DiNozzo's really doing and tells them to split up and canvass the area because Petty Officer Swain could have met the killer at a local bar.
When DiNozzo tells Gibbs he'll make copies of the service records, he silently orders McGee to do it but Gibbs orders DiNozzo to do it himself before ending the call.
"Of course", DiNozzo replies. He then hangs up, grabs the two sets of files before fleeing to the photocopier.
Melankovic just shakes her head in disgust.
Meanwhile, DiNozzo has picked up on something and goes to tell Gibbs who after getting information from McGee and Melankovic eventually figures out that it wasn't Petty Officer who was praying on the carpet.
It was the chaplain, Brett Evans which means that he's the killer.
Gibbs and Kate enter the church to confront Evans but a single gunshot causes them to double-back and draw their weapons.
It then cuts to Evans whose head has been titled upwards and suddenly, blood begins emerging from his head, dripping onto the floor and as it turns out, he's committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth.
It then cuts to Swain who's still sitting in the abandoned tunnel, waiting for something.
The chapel is a crime scene and as they examine Evans's body, Kate removes the weapon while she and Gibbs look at it. Spencer then remarks after they'd interviewed him, Evans must realized it was a matter of time before he got caught.
When Gibbs asks Spencer what he knows, Spencer admits he doesn't much except for the fact that Evans was Episcopal while Spencer himself is Catholic.
Spencer remarks that he only ever met Evans at the Navy Ball where he seemed normal and Gibbs remarks that killers usually do given that they can blend well into certain environments.
Spencer tells them that the Medical Examiner's on the way and leaves to go get the search helo back in the air.
"I wonder what Ducky would say to this piece of work?", Kate wonders.
"He'd ask the Chaplain where he's keeping Petty Officer Swain", Gibbs replies.
It then cuts to Evans's house where DiNozzo, McGee and Melankovic are searching for any evidence but nothing so far.
Melankovic finds a hidden camera in Evans's wardrobe and unsurprisingly, DiNozzo tries flirting with her yet again which leaves Melankovic shaking her head, unimpressed.
Gibbs and Kate are talking to Spencer who grimly tells them that Jacksonville Naval Base has about 4000 acres and hundreds of buildings for them to cover and any one could be holding the missing Petty Officer.
Back at Evans's house, Tony soon finds the "Our Wedding Memories" in Evans's record player and as he, McGee and Melankovic look through them, they find that Evans might have more female victims that they didn't even know about in the first place. McGee takes the photo and negatives, vowing to scan them and send them to Abby.
For the first time that day, Melanknovic praises DiNozzo, saying "Nice work, hotshot".
Back at the main office, Abby's uploading the images and manages to blow one up.
When she brightens it, Gibbs realizes that Swain's being held in an ammo bunker.
Due to the overwhelming load of ammo bunkers on the Base, they all split up to go look for Swain.
McGee, Kate and DiNozzo search the bunkers by themselves while Gibbs pairs up with Melankovic. They search every ammo bunker there is but there's no luck so far.
Gibbs announces that he and Melanknovic have cleared Bunker One while Kate tells them that she and McGee are nearly finished searching Bunker Two.
DiNozzo tells them he has some more bunkers to search.
In the process, he unlocks a door and hits the jackpot. He's found Petty Officer Barbara Swain who asks him about Chaplain Evans. Tony tells her she won't have to worry about him anymore because Evans is dead and she's safe.
Unfortunately, while DiNozzo's on the phone to Gibbs, telling him he's found Swain, she responds by hitting him with a lamp that shatters on impact and knocks DiNozzo out.
Gibbs, McGee, Melaknovic and Kate soon arrive at the bunker and discover DiNozzo lying on the ground, unconscious.
Swain, on the other hand is standing over DiNozzo, holding his SIG-Sauer.
She's also confused and very agitated, asking them if the rumors about Evans's death are true before stating that they were going to get married.
When Gibbs urges her to put the weapon down, Swain responds by telling him that she's not sure she can go on without him and then puts the gun to her forehead, clicking the safety off.
Gibbs calls for Kate who then heads in the bunker, holstering her gun before talking to Swain where she tells the Petty Officer that she did everything her husband asked and that she wouldn't want to disappoint him.
Swain tells her she wouldn't.
A brief glance at the Good Wives Guide on the table gives Kate inspiration and Kate then tells Swain that the guide states that a woman must carry on in her husband's absence and urges Swain to let her show her.
The moment Kate heads for the table, Gibbs rushes in, grabbing the gun before Swain can react.
Swain then hits the floor, sobbing as Gibbs and Kate tend to her.
Outside, Melankovic and McGee look after Tony who's started to regain consciousness after being hit.
A while later, back in the office, Tony's nursing his head with an ice-bag and some aspirin although he refers to the headache as a beatnik playing bongos.
McGee is amazed at how Evans easily controlled Swain but Kate simply puts it down to classic Stockholm Syndrome which saw Swain forming an emotional attachment to her captor.
It'll take some time but Swain will soon recover.
Gibbs then breezes through the bullpen, ordering DiNozzo, Kate and McGee to join him up in MTAC.
Upon hearing that, DiNozzo realizes that all is right with the world again and as they prepare to head up to MTAC, Kate asks Tony if his beatnik's gone.
As he puts his jacket on, Tony assures her it is.
"Cool", Kate says, snapping her fingers.
- A few scenes after the Chaplain's suicide, when Commander Spencer, Kate and Gibbs are looking at a map of the Naval Base, Gibbs tells Commander Spencer that P.O. Swain only has a few hours left, if the Chaplain treats her like he treated the others (note the plural). Not until the next scene do we see McGee, DiNozzo and Melankovich at the Chaplain's home where they find the wedding album revealing that P.O. Figgis was the third victim, and P.O. Swain the fourth.
- Near the end of the episode, Tony is seen watching a portion of the episode "The Bachelor" from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Mark Harmon was the brother-in-law to Rick Nelson who grew up on the show for fourteen years. Mark's sister, Kris married Rick and was also on the show.
- The episode title is named after the movie The First Wives Club where three women get back at their husbands for leaving them for younger women.
- At the mock-up house in the Evidence Garage, Kate's sleeves go from being up past her elbows to being down again in between shots.
- Season Two Cast
|Leroy Jethro Gibbs||Mark Harmon||An NCIS Special Agent in charge of the main NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Anthony DiNozzo||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.|
|Timothy McGee||Sean Murray (actor)||An NCIS Special Agent previously assigned to the Norfolk Naval Base who is now the Junior Agent of the main NCIS Major Case Response Team.|
|Donald Mallard||David McCallum||NCIS's Chief Medical Examiner.|
|James Palmer||Brian Dietzen||Gerald Jackson's temporary replacement as the Assistant Medical Examiner.|
|Jane Melankovic||Kate Hodge||An NCIS Special Agent stationed at the Jacksonville Naval Base.|
|Spencer||Spencer Garrett||A Commander assigned to the Jacksonville Naval Base.|
|Scott Willis||Jerry O'Donnell||A Lt. Commander.|
|Brett Evans||Matt Carmody||A Chaplain at the Base and also the serial killer. Later commits suicide after Gibbs and Kate attempt to confront him.|
|Barbara Swain||Betsy Brandt||A Petty Officer and also one of Brett Evans's victims.|
|Debra Marshall||Tara Buck||A Petty Officer.|
|Foreman||Kendall Clement||A man presumably stationed at the Jacksonville Naval Base.|
|Darrell Baum||Blayne Weaver||A Petty Officer.|
|M.P. (The Good Wives Club)||Michael G. Canaan||A Military Police officer.|
|Carolyn Figgus||Emily Hardy||A Petty Officer and one of Brett Evans's victims. Uncredited role.|