[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for NCIS Season 19, Episode 6 “False Start.”]
“Would you rather I only come in here to get upset and bark orders?” Alden Parker (Gary Cole), the team’s new boss, asks at one point in the latest NCIS. “It’s what we’re used to,” Tim McGee (Sean Murray) admits. And to be honest, it’s a little strange for us as a viewer to see Parker treating the team to pastries more than once in this episode of the CBS procedural.
But just like we’re still feeling out Parker — having him around in a consulting capacity is much different from being a member of NCIS — so is the rest of the team. And it makes sense that Jessica Knight (Katrina Law) seems to be adjusting the easiest: She’s never (officially) worked with Gibbs (Mark Harmon) as boss. So while she’s happily eating the pastries, Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), who was vocal about not wanting Parker to take over, questions if their new boss is playing mind games. McGee seems a bit more open, though he definitely regards him warily. After all, Parker is willingly engaging in small talk, looking up their hidden talents, and joining everyone for a race at the end on a track. (What hasn’t changed: Parker gets the same look Gibbs did when he figures out something.) For the most part, it seems, he sits back and lets the team do what they do best.
Speaking of that aforementioned race, it ties into the case of the week: Commander Davis, who headed the Navy sports program, is found dead in his office, shot in the head with a blank round. Parker finds performance-enhancing drugs in a hidden compartment in his desk, and the athlete he’s been coaching, Felix (Joshua Brockington), isn’t too happy when he finds out they’re looking into Davis for possibly dealing. The coach helped him turn his life around, he explains. Among the suspects is Navy Petty Officer Third Class Kyle Seward (Zeus Taylor), whom Felix saw arguing with Davis. It looks like Kyle may have been using steroids — he seems to have bulked up fast, going off his photos — but it turns out the coach called him out on selling athletes’ unwashed clothes he stole. (“You sure you wouldn’t maybe just rather confess to murder?” McGee asks.)
Another suspect is Dr. Astrid Fellowes (Kelly Stables), who was buying the clothes and upset when Kyle shut down his business (when Davis threatened to report him). But she didn’t go after Davis for being responsible for that. In fact, her work — she was buying the clothes for her research studying DNA — helps them identify the killer: the father of one of Davis’ former elite athletes. Jamie was killed by a drunk driver a year ago, and Davis found out he’d been using the performance-enhancing drugs. He was going to report him, which would erase the two records he still held — and his dad, who’d been the one to supply him with the drugs, couldn’t let that happen.
During the case, Torres connects with Felix. Davis was like his family, and “I just lost some family, too,” the agent says. (Bishop? Gibbs? Both, probably.) After, he continues, “I channeled my emotions into something positive.” He urges Felix to focus on his running and is bothered when he and Parker are called after the petty officer picks a fight with Kyle. “I’ve been where you are,” Torres tell Felix. “I know how hard it is to ask for help.”
He’ll come around, McGee assures Torres. “You’re a good coach,” and McGee’s not the only one who sees it. Parker does, too, suggesting it’s Torres’ hidden talent. And so when he’s still worried about Felix after they solve the case, Parker notes they still have work to do. That’s when Torres meets Felix on the track and shows that other people believe in him: The rest of the team is going to watch as the two of them race.
So what’d you think of Parker’s first case as the new boss? Vote in the poll below.
NCIS, Mondays, 9/8c, CBS