The Truth Is Out There
S1 episode 17 Aired on March 16, 2003

At a late night rave, the lifeless body of P.O. Chris Gordon comes crashing down through the men’s bathroom ceiling, and by the next morning Gibbs (MARK HARMON), Kate (SASHA ALEXANDER) and Tony (MICHAEL WEATHERLY) are on the scene with Ducky (DAVID McCALLUM) to investigate. As Ducky determines he died sometime around 1 a.m., and was killed by head trauma before being stuffed into the ceiling, the agents interrogate the rave organizer about having seen the officer in the crowded melee. They also check out Gordon’s quarters at Pax N.A.S., where they find that he had a penchant for watching reality television, and particularly the celebrity prank show “Punk’d.” But, more troubling, they find $40,000 in non-sequential bills squirreled away in a false speaker box.

Then questioning his C.O., Vince Nutter, the detectives try to ascertain if Gordon – who worked with his C.O as one of the “Five Musketeers” with his fellow officers Carter, Wong, Bowman and Morgan – might have been on the take with vendors at the supply warehouse where all the men worked. But Nutter insists that Gordon wouldn’t have had that type of access – nor was he the personality type – for such illegal moves. Bringing in Gordon’s fellow “Musketeers” for questioning at NCIS, the agents gather a suspiciously consistent, and possibly rehearsed, story from the men: they took Wong’s car, a Ford Taurus, to the rave to find women with the caveat that any man who got lucky was on his own to get home. Gordon supposedly left with a beautiful woman. But when the detectives talk to the rave’s bodyguard, Antwane Mann, they learn that Wong – not Gordon – left with that pretty woman.

Meanwhile, Abby (PAULEY PERRETTE) learns that tire marks in the rave’s parking lot are consistent with a Taurus model. To complicate matters, the team also analyzes Gordon’s cell phone records to uncover the number of Bartex Corporation, a conglomerate servicing the Navy that could have been giving Gordon kickbacks. They also learn that Nutter has ties to Bartex – and begin to suspect him – until they realize that his alibi checks out and he is actually considering leaving his commission to go work for the company.

As the agents resume their investigation at the rave’s locale and extend their search for clues into the parking lot and a nearby empty field, Gibbs finds some latex on a fence post, while Tony uncovers some cigarette butts. Testing that possible evidence, Gibbs learns that the latex is consistent with a mask from a nearby theatrical supply company, that DNA on the butts matches Morgan’s and – with help from Gordon’s recovered cell phone on site – pieces together the chain of events that night. He then goes with Tony and Kate to Wong and Morgan’s quarters.

Spotting an X-Files poster in the men’s quarters, Gibbs immediately knows his hunch has once again proved correct. Allowing the men to believe that they’ve been cornered – and producing the mask that Gibbs knows was crucial to the crime scene – the agents listen as Wong reveals a hoax that targeted him and went horribly wrong. At the rave, his friends had convinced a woman to distract him with kisses as the other Musketeers set up a “Punk’d”-worthy prank in the abandoned field by the rave location. Once the woman lured Wong to his car, the other officers set up flashing lights reminiscent of a UFO landing. Then, Gordon emerged with an alien mask as a freaked Wong panicked and – instead of reversing the car out of the situation – accidentally gunned right for Gordon, killing him. The others then tried covering up the death, obviously to no avail. As for the money, the agents learn that the death wasn’t the Five Musketeers’ only criminal act: they were, in fact, also taking kickbacks.