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NCIS – One Man’s Trash - Review

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15.17 - "One Man’s Trash"
Directed by Michael Zinberg
Written by Scott Williams
Reviewed by KathM

Ducky is puttering around his office at John Jay College in NYC, where he’s been lecturing and writing his book. He’s making himself a sandwich and offers to do the same for Kasie Hines, his trusty new sidekick and manuscript editor. Kasie, busy at work on her computer, declines. Ducky says it’s late; she can go home and continue working tomorrow, but Kasie isn’t having it. The manuscript it due next week, and unless he wants to let her make all of the editorial decisions he needs to concentrate and get back to work. Ducky sits at his desk and looks over at the television, which is running American Pickers”, and begins to watch. Kasie wants him to turn off the “procrastinators dream show” and focus.

On the show Mike, the main “Picker”, is looking at what seems to be a club with spikes on it. The kind Fred Flintstone used to roll with. You can hear Mike’s chatter in the background about condition and whether he’d buy it and asking about the history while Ducky stares at the screen, enthralled. When Mike points out that one of the spikes is missing (which apparently won’t detract from the value), Ducky grabs his cell and calls Gibbs. Jethro is also watching American Pickers (which he apparently never misses, and I totally believe that), and he and Ducky talk in vaguely mysterious terms about “it” and “after all this time”. Gibbs asks Ducky how fast he can get to the Navy Yard, and Ducky hangs up and grabs his coat.

While I do believe that Gibbs is a loyal “American Pickers” fan, I still can’t imagine him having a television in his basement, no matter how small. And even if he does, I’m still not buying that it’s wired for cable.

Did you ever envision Ducky watching “normal” television? I always figured him for a PBS-only type, but our Ducks is full of surprises. Can you imagine a UK version of “Pickers”? Ducky could guest star from time to time and tell really long stories about what certain items might remind him of (Ducky stories!) or just knows about various objects. He’d be an instant star!

There’s stapler trouble in the Bull Pen. Torres is looking for one that works, and grabs McGee’s to see if it will do the job. Bishops’ stapler is also DOA, and she bemoans the fact that NCIS only has one working stapler, McGee’s. Forgive me but wouldn’t most of their things be done online through encrypted email or something? Anyway, they’re still stapleless because McGee’s isn’t working now, either. He thinks it might be out of staples, but Torres thinks that banging the stapler on the side of McGee’s desk will solve the problem. I’m guessing his last undercover job didn’t involve office equipment.

The poor stapler’s life is saved by the arrival of Ducky, Kasie in tow. She wanted to come along to keep Ducky on schedule; the publisher wants the first five chapters of Ducky’s manuscript by next week and they aren’t even close yet. Kasie introduces herself to the Bull Pen, correctly identifying Torres, Bishop and McGee without help (which couldn’t be hard). Ducky admits to Bishop that he hired Kasie to help keep him on schedule before realizing how “emphatic” she’d be. But Kasie is determined that all the notes that yet to be transcribed and reviewed will be addressed, as well as rewriting the Unsolved Cases chapter if “this Flintstone thing” pays off.

The what? The thing on American Pickers that Ducky and Gibbs are so fascinated with, that’s what. McGee puts up the part of the show on the main television/computer screen, with Mike talking with the owners of the stick. Ducky identifies it as a ceremonial Viking War Stick. It was used by an obscure fraternal organization in the 1800s (I told you, Ducky knows stuff!), and is possibly the murder weapon in a sixteen-year-old case. Ducky pulled a spike out of Petty Officer just like the ones on the War Stick, but he never found the murder weapon. Gibbs strides into the Bull Pen, positive that it is what they’ve been looking for, and Kasie goes a little nut. I mean, wouldn’t you? I can only imagine the things that Ducky has been filling her head with about our Jethro, and she’s so thrilled to meet him that the throws her arms around him. Around Gibbs. She hugs Gibbs, who takes is well, then holds his hand for a bit. This makes him a little jumpy; a tiny part of me thought he’d pull his sidearm. Ducky wonders if the familiarity Kasie has with the team from working on the book might have gone a bit too far. Work to the rescue! McGee gives Gibbs the address for the woman who owns the stick, and he grabs Ducky and Bishop and takes off for the scene.

The place where the stick lives is fabulous, full of random things that you need hours to hunt through to find treasures. Love it. Bishop only seeks junk, but Ducky tells her that junk is in the eye of the beholder. Bishop immediately finds an old-school stapler and eyes it thoughtfully, while Gibbs finds something that looks something like a spark plug that particularly pleases him. But before they can make an offer for any of it Mrs. Keogh, the owner of stick, comes upon them on her property without permission. You always have to ask first, guys. She’s not one to take trespassing lightly, as the shotgun in her hands will attest. Ducky apologizes but I think the fact that Gibbs offers to buy the little spark-pluggy thing that really calms her down. He even offers to pay more than she wants to sell it for, which is always a good ice-breaker.

Mrs. Keogh apologizes; they’ve been besieged by crazy collectors since the show aired the previous night. They’re particularly interested in the stick, which Ducky notices isn’t where it was on the show. Well, of course; the show was filmed three months before, and a few weeks later her husband convinced her to sell it to the Pickers. Ducky wants to know who they bought it from originally, and Gibbs explained that it might have been a murder weapon. Mrs. Keogh remembers that she originally bought the stick about a decade ago at a flea market from a “nice young man” whose name was Fred. Or possibly Earl. But never fear, she’s got his card! It’s in a vintage army helmet with a pile of other cars, which means finding Fred-Earl isn’t going to be easy until they sort through all of them to find the right card.

Mr. Keogh joins them and tells the Mrs. that he isn’t happy that he convinced his wife to tell the stick. He’s just been on the phone with someone who wanted to give them $25,000 for it! When Keogh told the caller he’d sold it, he yelled at Keogh before he hung up. Ducky and Bishop think that someone who wants the stick that badly must know something that might lead them to the killer.

Later, in the Bull Pen, Sloane is educating Torres, Bishop, and McGee about how secret orders and fraternal types of organizations and how they love their totems and talismans. The stick seems to have been important to a group called the Esteemed Order of the Blue Guard; Sloane isn’t familiar with them, but she goes on to talk about how collectors are their own community who see value not in the item necessarily, but what it means to whoever wants it. Gibbs wonders what a $25,000 stick means to someone, and Bishop guesses that it might mean murder. Mrs. Keogh is still looking for Fred-Earl’s card and Torres is waiting for a call back from Danielle, who works at the” American Pickers” location in Iowa.

Sloane isn’t familiar with the case they’re talking about, which happened before any of them (except Ducky and Gibbs) were at NCIS. Petty Officer Marvin Finn was found dead from blunt force trauma to the head. There was a wooden spike embedded in his head, but neither Ducky or Abby could match it to anything. Finn was last seen by his girlfriend and his closest friend, who were weak suspects at best. And, since the last of the Blue Guard died in the 1960’s, he couldn’t be one of them. Maybe he was a descendent and grandfathered in? Sloane wonders. Too many questions; Gibbs wants everyone to dig for answers.

Down in Autopsy Jimmy is showing Ducky and Kasie the spike, which he was finally able to find in the “museum of murder”, evidence storage. Which sounds like an interesting place to play. Jimmy looks over to see that Kasie has taken over his desk, which is now strewn with papers and files. Ducky reminds her that in his notes the cause of death was blunt force trauma, not the spike itself.

Abby arrives in Autopsy, excited that they’ve found something that might heat up Finn’s cold case. She goes over to greet Kasie and give her a hug, but Kasie turns away, her arms full of files, and seems more than a little nervous. Hummm…

Abby, or course, is nosy, and leans over Kasie’s shoulder to look at what she’s doing and compliments her on all the good things she’s heard about Kasie’s work. Kasie thanks her, becoming still more uncomfortable, and then Ducky asks Abby if Kasie can stay with her while she’s in town. Kasie looks a little freaked out and telling Ducky that she likes the motel she’s staying in is just fine does no good. Abby loves the idea and tells Kasie she’s staying with her. Abby then goes over to meet the spike again, talking to it in the way she occasionally chats with evidence. She knows the spike is made from 900-year-old hickory, but until they get the stick back they won’t be able to match the spike to it.

Bishop bought the stapler the found at the Keoghs! According to my research, I think it’s a Vintage Art Deco Swingline Office Speed Stapler, which were made in the 40’s. Torres argues that it isn’t s new stapler, but Bishop says it’s new to her. For only eight dollars she now has a stapler that weighs about as much as a Mac truck and staples like nobody’s business. Torres is impressed.

Danielle from American Pickers calls McGee (since Torres isn’t at his desk, which is apparently a sore point) to tell them that Mike and the stick are at a show in Annandale, Virginia. McGee picks up the phone to call Gibbs with the address, when Torres and Bishop insist they will call Gibbs and meet him at the location once McGee sends them the address. Sarcastic comments about making sure McGee can stay at his desk abound as Bishop and Torres hit the elevator.

Mike Wolfe likes his stick and doesn’t want to sell it. He considers it a good luck charm; since he’s had it, he and Frank (his co-host) have had a lot of luck finding valuable things. Mike tells them that the Nordic sailors believed that the stick had magical powers long before the Blue Guard got hold of it. Mike agrees to let them have the stick for their case but asks for it back if the stick doesn’t end up being guilty of murder. Gibbs says don’t worry, he’ll get it back. Torres takes the stick and holds it for a bit, wondering why the killer just didn’t burn the stick or throw it away when they were done killing Finn. Mike things it’s because the person in question knew it had value, which may mean they’re a collector. Mike doesn’t think he’s ever heard of a collector killing another for a collectible.

Mrs. Keogh has found the business card of Fred-Earl, the man who originally sold the Keogh’s the stick. Only his name is really Roy Baxter, who Mike says everyone in the collectible business knows. He’s got a shop in Falls Church; Gibbs tells Bishop to call McGee to meet her at Baxter’s shop while he and Torres take the stick back to NCIS Headquarters. Mike says goodbye to the stick, telling it that he hopes it didn’t kill anyone. Torres and Gibbs look on, bemused.

McGee calls Gibbs and tells him that he and Bishop haven’t been able to talk to Baxter yet, but they’re at his store and will keep Gibbs updated. When they notice that the lights are all on despite the store being closed, the agents head around back to see if there’s a back door. Which there is, and it’s wide open. Bishop goes inside while McGee looks around the area. He finds Baxter on the ground near the trash bin, dead.

Gibbs and Torres arrive to help with the crime scene. Looks like when Baxter came outside to empty the trash he was bludgeoned to death with a table leg. Torres reports there’s money in the register inside, but that they have no way of knowing what, if anything, was stolen. Baxter’s appointment book lists three people that were coming to see him earlier in the day, and Bishop wonders if one of them was the person who sold Baxter the stick originally.

Abby and Kasie arrive in Autopsy as Jimmy is photographing the wounds on Baxter’s head. Ducky has confirmed that the spike does, indeed, belong to the stick, and Abby vows to find something on the spike to lead them to Finn’s murderer. Jimmy has also sent the chair leg that killed Baxter up for her to review, too, so Abby has a full day. To Kasie’s surprise, Abby tells her to follow her up to her lab. Kasie, looking anxious enough to vomit, allows Ducky to help her gather her things and take them upstairs while Abby waits to talk to Jimmy.

Jimmy wants to know how Kasie and Abby got along, and Abby isn’t pleased. She finds Kasie rather shy; she barely said a word to Abby and then went into the guest room (sans guest casket) and worked all night. That isn’t Jimmy’s impression at all; he sees Kasie as a bit messy and pushy at first, but friendly. She has moxie, as his grandfather would say. He tells Abby that Kasie may be intimidated by her, which Abby doesn’t understand. She proclaims that she will win Kasie over and has no idea why anyone would be intimidated by her. Because it seems that she isn’t particularly self-aware

Antique shop = antique surveillance equipment. The gang fast forward until they get to Baxter’s last appointment, Clarence Wyatt. He has a gun, but nobody seems to think it’s a big deal. Wyatt seems to be arguing with Baxter before storming out, and he may have given Baxter something, possibly a check? McGee finds a DC address that Torres and Bishop hurry off to check out. Gibbs also heads to the elevator, only to be nearly run over by Kasie, who seems to be a bit lost. She’s looking for Abby’s lab and, since Gibbs is headed down to Autopsy, they ride together. When she explains that Ducky and Jimmy were going to autopsy Baxter’s body and that was part of why she moved, Gibbs asks if it’s her first dead body. Kasie says no, but it a long story and she’s been told not to waste Gibbs’s time. By who? he wants to know. By everybody.

At Wyatt’s office Bishop shows him the footage of his meeting and argument with Baxter. Wyatt confirms that the man in the footage is him and explains that he was buying a gun from Baxter. He picks up the gun from the surveillance video and Bishop and Torres move for their sidearms, but it turns out that Wyatt’s weapon is one of General George Patton’s pearl-handled Colt revolvers. Wyatt seems to collect lots of things (Jackie Robinson’s mitt, for one), and the Colt was just another purchase. Then why was Baxter so angry with him? Because he talked Baxter down on the price, Wyatt explains. He’s a financial genius, you see. That’s how he rolls. Wyatt still thinks he overpaid, but only Baxter knows for sure.

When Bishop and Torres tell him that Baxter has been murdered, Wyatt seems surprised. No, he didn’t notice anything suspicious, blames the neighborhood in a backhanded way, then hands Torres his card and says to let him know if they need anything else from him. The card? Made from titanium. Bishop shows Wyatt a picture of the stick and he says he’s never seen it before. He guesses it could be a movie prop, and that he’d never pay anything like $25,000 for anything like that. Even if Raquel Welch used it in “One Million Years, B.C.”, he’d only pay about $1000.00 for it. He calls the stick “an ugly chunk of wood”, and Torres agrees.

Sloane have come to Abby’s lab to see the stick, which she doesn’t find an attractive good luck charm. Abby agrees and the two chat away while Kasie tries to work. Why she isn’t in Abby’s office I have no idea, unless Abby has strong-armed Kasie into staying close to her, so she can try to charm her.

Kasie wants to ask a question, even though she doesn’t think it’s her place. She speaks more to Sloane than to Abby and tells her that a friend of hers in Tucson found an interesting book about the Blue Guard, which she scanned and sent to Kasie. She goes on to say that an exhibit of Blue Guard things went around to museums around the country for years after the group was no more. One of the items included in the exhibit was a “one of a kind” Viking War Club, hardly a mere stick. Sloane asks her where the exhibit went, and it turns out that after the exhibit closed everything was stored in a warehouse in Fairfax, VA. Bishop and Gibbs head over there, only to discover that the box the War Club was supposed to be stored in is empty. They see security cameras, but the woman who manages the warehouse says they only keep the information for six months. Gibbs, did you really think they had 16 years of footage stored someplace? Bishop notes something that Gibbs identifies as blood spatter on the crate next to where the Club was supposed to be stored. Looks like the warehouse was the original scene of the crime.

In the Bull Pen, Torres wants to borrow Bishop’s stapler. Bishop pulls out the stapler and it doesn’t work! Fortunately, it just seems to be out of staples. Abby arrives, looking for Gibbs, but he’s up in Interrogation Lite, talking to Finn’s old girlfriend. Abby confirms that the blood they found on the crate was Finn’s. Abby wonders why neither Finn’s girlfriend or his friend Bill, the last people to see him alive, didn’t mention he was going to the storage facility. Bishop says she’s going to check that out with Gibbs, while Torres to go find McGee to see if he needs help with Bill. Note that McGee is not at his desk.

After Torres leaves Sloane arrives, looking for Abby. Abby was just going to come and look for Sloane, so it’s serendipity! First, Abby wants to have some of Sloane’s lollipops, perhaps to help bring Kasie out of her shell. Sloane wanted to check in with Abby, and wonders if she’s doing okay. Could it have something to do with Kasie? Why yes, it does. Abby doesn’t understand why Kasie doesn’t like her, won’t look at her and barely talks to her. Sloane says that sometimes people don’t click at first, but Abby protests. She always clicks. And Kasie must click, too, because she has a ton of awesome friends who do thinks like scan books for her. Which is yes, why Abby needs the lollipops. She wants to give them to Kasie, in case she didn’t feel welcomed by Abby. Sloane says she’ll help her find just the right color and the pair scurry off.

In Interrogation Lite, Finn’s old girlfriend is looking at the picture Gibbs has of her and Finn, marveling at how young they were. Did he ever mention that he’d been to a storage place? Asks Bishop. No. Finn just went out for a beer with Bill, who said he left Finn at 10:00 that night. What does Bill have to say about this? Let’s find out.

Down in Interrogation, Bill is being questioned by Torres and McGee. He feels guilty that he didn’t stay after the beer with Finn, because it made have made a difference. McGee says that his old base lists Finn as off duty, while Bill was listed as being on duty the night Finn was killed. He even got to deliver artefacts from the Naval Academy Museum to a storage facility in Fairfax. It’s where they found Finn’s blood, Torres tells him. Bill starts to say something, then begins to apologize. He admits that Finn switched places with him; Finn made the delivery while Bill took the time off to see his girlfriend. He couldn’t tell the police where he was when he was interviewed originally, because his girlfriend was their C.O.’s wife.

McGee wants Bill to tell them everything that he remembers about the delivery he was supposed to make. All Bill recalls was that he was supposed to transport the things from the Navy museum and then a civilian from Philadelphia, who was delivering other things from Philly, would pick him up. Ducky, who is watching the interrogation with Gibbs in Observation, is exasperated that the case went cold because Bill was sleeping around. Bishop comes in, wanting to know if they have the killer yet, and they tell her no. Just a liar.

Bishop wants to know whether either Ducky or Gibbs know anything about antique firearms. Ducky might! But he needs more information. Bishop goes on to talk about Clarence Wyatt’s Colt, which does not appear to have belonged to Patton specifically. It’s only listed in Baxter’s catalog as a WWII revolver; if it were Patton’s, it would definitely have been mentioned in the item’s provenance. Wyatt paid $15,000 to Baxter for the gun; so, either Baxter lied to Wyatt, or Wyatt lied to Torres and Bishop.

Ducky and Kasie are arguing in Abby’s office about his manuscript. He’s reading the chapters Kasie has finished, but his Unsolved Cases chapter is bothering him. He now wants to re-write the whole thing because the Club case has become so much more interesting. He goes to rip out pages from the document but Kasie tells him that there will be no crumbling of pages, that the document will be submitted as written, with the two Unsolved Cases he has along without the Club case are more than enough. Besides, they don’t even know the outcome of the case yet. However, Kasie says that they should include a proposal with the first five chapters the publisher has requested. This one will focus solely on the Club case in all its bizarre glory. Ducky tells her that she’s an acquired taste, and he’s glad that he’s acquired her. Awwww!

Once she sends Ducky away Abby appears, lollipops in hand. When she goes to talk to Kasie she shuts down again, only to become bouncy and friendly when Jimmy arrives with crates of things from the museum display. Abby slumps away, putting the lollipops on an unused shelf.

Upstairs in the Bull Pen, everyone is sure that Wyatt is their guy. He’s a billionaire rags-to-riches story who made his money in a hedge fund. When he was in high school he had a job delivering fine furnishings and artwork. Which was 16 years ago, Ducky says gleefully. But nobody can specifically link the truck that picked up Finn with the truck that came from Philadelphia, and therefore to Wyatt. Torres gives Ducky Wyatt’s titanium business card, which Ducky runs down to Abby to see if she can find any touch DNA. He also says that anything in the other crates, particularly the one that was splattered with Finn’s blood, might also have DNA if Wyatt touched it. Ducky asks Abby to get these things processed as quickly as she can, because if Wyatt doesn’t confess he and Gibbs need something concrete as back-up. Abby says she’ll call Jimmy to help her, if he hasn’t left yet, and Ducky tells her to just ask Kasie for help. Didn’t she know? Kasie’s degree is in Forensic Science. Abby looks completely gobsmacked, and asked Ducky why he didn’t tell her. Ducky wants to know why Kacie didn’t tell her. Ducky tells them to work out their crap about why Kasie didn’t tell Abby and why she doesn’t like Abby, but she does like Abby and talks to her and…yeah, the conversation is just as excruciating as Ducky said. Best for Kasie to scrub up and help Abby work the case.

The women work well together, each testing and dusting and running things to see if they can find anything to help the case. Abby notes that they are now talking, which Kasie insists that they always were. But Abby says no, that she had the impression that Kasie didn’t like her. But Kasie says it’s the opposite of that. How many people thought that Kasie had a crush on Abby? I did. But no, it turns out that to Kasie, Abby is like the Beatles of Forensics. Abby does what Kasie wants to do and basically…Kasie is a fangirl. A big-time, repressed fangirl. She freaked out meeting Abby, and Abby hopes things are better now. While she’s talking Kasie notices a small piece of something under a splinter on the inside of one of the crates. Could it be what she thinks it is? Abby does, indeed, think that’s what it is. Then she hugs Kasie, who is basically hugging the Beatles and freaking out a little again. And I still have no idea what “it” is. DNA?

At Wyatt’s office, he is amused by the story Gibbs and Ducky tell him. He admits that he did drive a truck in Philly, but he doesn’t know anything about museums and some guy called Finn. The whole time he’s holding the Colt, twirling it. He shows Gibbs to see if he’s impressed and when he isn’t, Wyatt puts the gun away. Gibbs tells him that it most likely wasn’t Pattons, and that the $15,000 was in part for Baxter’s silence, not just for the gun. When Wyatt wasn’t sure that Baxter would be silent, he waited outside the back of his shop and killed him. Sixteen years ago, Wyatt was in the storage facility, stealing valuables, and Finn tried to stop him. Wyatt killed him with the Club, then put him in the truck and dumped his body in DC. Upon hearing this story Wyatt is no longer “amused”, and he tells Gibbs and Ducky to see themselves out when Gibbs’s phone rings. It’s Abby and Kasie, and they’ve found a tiny bit of skin under a splinter. The skin matches the DNA on the titanium card, which means that Wyatt is our man! So, Gibbs arrests him.

In Interrogation Gibbs and Torres watch as Wyatt writes out his statement. Torres wants to know why Wyatt just didn’t toss the Club away, or maybe burn it. Wyatt says he should have, but Baxter gave him $2,000 for that stick, and he parlayed that money into what eventually became his financial empire. It really is a talisman, Wyatt explains. In Observation Abby and Kasie hug before Kasie pushes Ducky out of the room to finish the promised chapters of his book.

It is night, and Gibbs is in the basement. He opens a foot locker and it is looking though it when Sloane comes down with a beer for him. She declines to ask about the boat, unless that what Gibbs asked her over to show her. Gibbs says no and shows her the foot locker. He thought she’d appreciate it, as someone who also fought a war. She tells him it’s a beautiful time capsule. Gibbs takes a small box from the foot locker and opens it, then adds the piece that he found that the Keogh’s. When you put that piece together with another and then attach the blade, you see that it’s part of the handle of a razor. His dad’s razor, if you haven’t guessed. It’s hard to find parts for things like that anymore, but yesterday at the Keogh’s he got lucky. Sloane asks him what the piece he found would be worth to a collector, and Gibbs tells her not much. When Sloane asks him what the piece is worth to him, Gibbs tells her the steaks are burning. Beers in hand, they race up the basement stairs.

What I’m Really Trying to Say Is: Fun episode. Not sure about how close Gibbs and Sloane seem, but you can see a comfortable connection and I’m becoming okay with it. And Kasie was great, I am pretty sure she’ll end up being the New Abby, but you can never be 100% sure. She seems fun a good mesh with the team, bringing the enthusiasm to the job Abby seems to have lost. She does her job well but isn’t as bouncy as she used to be. Then again, the character has “grown up” over the 15 years, which is to be expected.

And the way they fit “American Pickers” into the episode? Well, I am a Picker from way back, but haven’t watched “American Pickers” in years. I feel like, how do I say this? The show has gentrified picking. Now everyone does it, and I don’t enjoy it as much as I did before. This was a brilliant idea for an episode.

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