On the first ever three-part crossover of NCIS, members from each team were in town to celebrate the retirement of their favorite professor at FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center), Retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant Dale Harding (Robert Picardo), but the party gets canceled when the professor suddenly and very surprisingly dies by suicide.
While this action occurred because Harding was under duress (something the audience knows from the get-go), it becomes the mission of all three teams (from NCIS, NCIS: Hawai'i, and NCIS: Los Angeles) to find out the truth behind his death. Their collaboration, however, is not without the collision of a few egos, which is established early when the three field teams collide at the crime scene and painstakingly work out who's calling the shots.
The three back-to-back episodes start in DC on the flagship show, then move to the island and conclude in L.A. In doing so, they provide some shocking twists, but what was perhaps even more fun for fans was the ribbing, the call-backs, and the surprising pairings we'd like to see more of. Here are the highlights of the NCIS Crossover Extravaganza:
As the plot behind the professor's death thickens, a server hack revealing the theft of top secret Defense department files is traced back to McGee's (Sean Murray) login credentials. Is McGee a traitor to his country? Of course not. As he gets interrogated by the L.A. crew, McGee is quick to point out that Sam Hannah's (LL Cool J) favorite car once disappeared right in front of his nose and Callen's (Chris O'Donnell) identity was recently stolen. (Both look suitably embarrassed.) McGee does, however, recall leaving the phone alone with the professor a few days prior while he used the bathroom, giving him an opportunity to swipe his login data. But why did the professor break into the database and frame a former student in the process? To ensure his top students are on the case, should something happen to the Professor, no doubt.
A trip to the famous Gibbs cabin, where a shootout ensues, reveals that their prime suspect is Simon Williams, a rogue operative wanted for espionage, treason, and murder. Williams, who supposedly once was the professor's trainee, has been running for 30 years, but Harding cut him from the program because he was "a lone wolf and not a team player" — the same exact words he once called Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), and words that haunt him to this day. When the cops locate the man who called the professor right before he died, he identifies himself as Simon Williams — yet he is not the man in the picture. "We are all Simon Williams," he says before dying from his gunshot wounds.
On their way to grab one last team meal before the Hawaii crew leaves DC, Dr. Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) and Agent Jane Tennant (Vanessa Lachey) disappear. Agents Jessica Knight (Katrina Law) and Torres find their fellow agents' phones in an empty alley near the diner. The last we see of Jimmy and Tennant in Episode 1, they are being held hostage at gunpoint. But they are not the only ones kidnapped — Hanna was taken too. Jimmy's expert skills — namely how regular his bladder is and his olfactory senses — help the trio figure out their location. And although it seems like the three are outnumbered and at the mercy of their captors, the agents from three corners of the States finally figure out how to synchronize their efforts by taking out their enemies. Turns out Jimmy has some some surprising skills in the martial arts department, too. Who knew?
As the case progresses, the other NCIS agents aren't exactly working in perfect harmony to solve it. When DC's FBI Agent Kate Whistler (Tori Anderson) and Hawai'i's Agent Kai Holman (Alex Tarrant) investigate the AirBnB of one of the two fake CIA Agents out to get them, Whistler finds herself in a stand-off with Callen. (Have these agents never seen photos of each other, or attended some NCIS training sessions?) So much for friendly collaboration. Once the guns are down we come to find out that, much like there's more than one Simon Williams, there is more than one person wanting to take our multi-city NCIS team down. Someone has put a $200,000 bounty on each of them on the dark web. Oh, and Callen is a bit of a legend to Holman, having, in his youth, heard stories about his crazy cases — cases Callen now says he made up. Never meet your heroes.
It turns out Simon Williams is not a person but a CIA assassination program, set up to eliminate enemies of the state. The professor was a Simon Williams, and even Callen and Hanna's boss Kilbride (Gerald McRaney) is also a former Simon Williams. One of the former assassins has agreed to testify about the program and that's why the old Simon Williamses are dropping like flies. When Kilbride goes missing, the team travels to L.A. to figure out if he's in hiding or been captured. It is once we're in L.A. that we discover that former supervisor Hetty (Linda Hunt) has, in fact, not perished in Syria. We never get to see her, but a message lets us know she is alive and well.
Of course, after final showdown in the Mojave desert where the teams ultimately gel and Kilbride saves the day, all ends well. And these episodes were not without some lighter highlights. The kidnapping and subsequent rescue of Agent Roundtree (Caleb Castille) brings him all the closer to partner Agent Fatima Namazi (Medalion Rahimi). Will they be the second couple on the current NCIS: LA team? And speaking of Agent Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), can we please get more buddy cop banter between him and Torres? That was the true crossover gold we never knew we needed.
NCIS usually airs at 8 p.m. Mondays on CBS, while NCIS: Hawai'i normally airs at 10 p.m. Mondays on CBS. NCIS: Los Angeles airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on CBS. You can also stream all three shows