NCIS Recap: The Searchers

By Kitin Miranda | 2 years ago
NCIS Recap: The Searchers

NCIS” Season 12 Episode 7 “The Searchers” aired on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, at 9:00 p.m. on CBS. In this episode, an investigation on the death of a retired Marine led to a quest to search for the missing remains of a Marine that was killed in action in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop (Emily Wickersham) got her overall probationary field evaluation. However, her happiness over a good grade was temporary when she finally realized what it meant. Read on to learn more about this episode.  

At the beginning of the episode, two young boys went down to a garage belonging to Old Man Hawkins. Inside, they found some old army gear, such as old army helmets. As one of the boys pretended to shoot enemies in the air, he stopped as he saw blood. They then discovered that Old Man Hawkins was dead.


The next day, Special Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) talked to Special Agent Timothy “Tim” McGee (Sean Murray) regarding the cat that had followed him home. He was not sure whether he was going to keep it or not. He also informed McGee that his fish, Kate and Ziva, were safe from the cat. He had placed the fish inside a closed bathroom so that the cat would not get to it. In front of them, Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop (Emily Wickersham) was afraid of opening up her overall probationary field evaluation. They told her that it was all about managing expectations. McGee got a 63; Kate Todd (Sasha Alexander), the agent before Ziva David (Cote de Pablo),got a 60; Ziva David refused to tell them what she got; and Tony got a 58. However, both Tony and McGee started to wonder as Ellie got an 82. However, before they could say anything else, their boss, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) told them to go with him to Norfolk, as they had a case.

The victim was a retired Master Sergeant and a “career Marine” named George Hawkins. He died of two gunshot wounds to the chest. He also held a dog tag which belongs to a Marine named Charles James “CJ” Kent, who they discovered, died in action during the Vietnam War.

While Tony processed the garage, Ellie and McGee gave their update to Gibbs. They discovered that Kent had been Hawkins’ squad leader during the Vietnam War in 1969. Kent had been killed in action when their team was attacked by the Vietcong during a reconnaissance mission in the Kwantree Province. However, after the attack, Kent’s body was never found. There were no records that stated that Kent’s dog tags were recovered.

Upstairs, Gibbs talked to Kent’s daughter, Alice, who informed him that Hawkins, or “Hawk” as they fondly called him, made it his mission to always be there for Alice and her little girl, Greta. He always made videos and told Greta stories about her grandfather. He had been consumed by the quest to find his missing friend’s remains so that it could be brought home to them. She told them that it had been devastating for Hawkins to see his friend get hit and then to discover that the body went missing. However, she did not know anything about her father’s resurfaced dog tags.

In autopsy, Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard (David McCallum) informed Ellie that Hawkins only had some months left to live as he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The bullets that they had found in Hawkins were used in a 38 special revolver, which was currently with Forensic Specialist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette). Ducky then took the opportunity to give Ellie a little pep talk regarding the way Gibbs graded his probationary agents. She then learned, much to her disappointment, that the lower the score, the more Gibbs believed that there was potential in you. He purposefully gave low scores in order for them to be motivated to do better.

Meanwhile, while processing the garage of Hawkins, Tony informed McGee that he had decided to keep the cat and that he would call him Rick Blaine. In the garage, Tony had found a bunch of recordings where Hawkins recorded stories about Kent for Greta.  McGee had been combing through Hawkins’ files and discovered that he had spent a lot of money to pay private investigators and to anyone who claimed that they could help him retrieve Kent’s body.

At the laboratory, Abby informed Gibbs that the dog tag they had found was fake as its was new. It only looked old as it had been artificially weathered. Moreover, the tag said that Kent’s blood type was B+, when his blood type was B- and that Hawkins had known about it. She also informed him that the blood trail had been caused by Hawkins. He had dragged himself to the table in order to get the dog tag to warn them that the dog tag was fake.

Tony ran in late as his cat had sat on his alarm clock and closed it. They then noticed that Ellie was silently agonizing over her score as she now knew what it really meant. They then split up the list of people Hawkins had paid recently. This included several private investigators and some charities. Gibbs then instructed Ellie to get in touch with JPEC in Vietnam to see what they had found with regards to Kent’s remains. She then discovered that they had found plenty of objects, including an unidentified necklace with a lotus flower on it. They had found nothing to tie Kent to the objects found in the area where he did. This meant that he could have been easily been taking by the Vietcong afterward. It only meant that the body could be anywhere in Vietnam.

 Back at the laboratory, Abby had recovered an interesting envelope that had been addressed to Hawkins. It had the same rust inside as the fake dog tag. Its upper left-hand corner had been ripped off, leaving behind a partial of the logo. She traced to a travel company called Blue Summit Travel.


At the office, Tony and McGee realized that a former employee of Blue Summit Travel, named Henry Caldwell, had the same handwriting as the one on the envelope. Gibbs and Ellie went over to his building, but he managed to get away because instead of covering the back, Ellie had fallen for Caldwell’s distraction as he had crashed several pans down to the floor in the kitchen of the pizza parlor he had escaped through.  

Back at the office, Ellie agonized about her mistake, especially as they could not find the murder weapon in Caldwell’s apartment. However, according to McGee, Caldwell’s laptop revealed that he had been running a scam. He had been targeting clients of Lost Heroes Alliance. It is an organization that helps relatives of missing prisoner of war soldiers to find the remains of their loved ones. He then would send over some fake dog tags to the person and then ask for more money in order to fund the search. Ellie then realized that they should stake out Volta Pharmacy. He had ordered medicine for his type one diabetes and had not yet picked up. He would not go anywhere without those. Tony and McGee left to stake out the drug store. Ellie apologized to Gibbs as she knew that it was her fault that Caldwell got away. However, Gibbs only told her that it was okay and to continue focusing on looking for the remains of Kent.

Ellie then spent the entire night working on her laptop on the floor of autopsy. She then discovered a recording in which Hawkins had told Greta that Kent had once told them to help a Vietnamese boy, who had just lost his parents to the Vietcong, in burying graves for them. As proof, he showed a picture of the boy with Kent after they had done it. She then confided in Ducky, who had walked in and who had been surprised to find that Ellie was still there. She told him that she was uneasy as Gibbs had not gotten mad at her for losing Caldwell. That, plus her score, made her seem to doubt everything that she did. Ducky then told her to try to accomplish one little thing at a time. Ellie realized that the necklace the Vietnamese boy was wearing was identical to the unidentified necklace that had been found by JPEC in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, McGee noticed that Tony was suddenly in a bad mood during their stake out of the pharmacy. Tony then revealed that his landlord had told him that his cat had escaped by going down the elevator. However, after a while, they were able to arrest Caldwell, who had finally come in to get his medicine.

At the interrogation room, he confessed to running the scam. He was surprised when he discovered that Hawkins had been killed. He then told Gibbs that his partner, Todd Price, the owner of Blue Summit Travel, wanted to scare off Hawkins, who threatened to go to the police, as he knew that the dog tags were fake. Price was the one who created the dog tags and worked behind the scenes in their operation.

They discovered a 38 special caliber Smith and Wesson in Price’s apartment, which Abby confirmed was the murder weapon. However, McGee discovered that Price had just left the country as he had bought a ticket to Da Nang in Vietnam. Ellie then came in and begged to go to Vietnam with them. She discovered that the necklace found in Vietnam by JPEC was identical to the one in the picture, which was taken in a village called Anh Mi. She then told him that she knew that her evaluation score meant that he was going easy on her. Now, she wanted to have a chance to prove herself. Gibbs then asked if that was the reason why she had gone into the kitchen instead of covering the back exit the other day. He told her to relay the information to JPEC.  

In Vietnam, their JPEC contact told them that Ellie’s lead had been very helpful. They then discovered that since plenty of graphite machines. These were used to make fake dog tags had been left after the Americans had pulled out of Vietnam during the war. It was impossible to trace.

Back at the laboratory, McGee and Abby discovered that Price often went to Vietnam, where he had bought the graphite machine. However, as he had never shipped the graphite machine back to the United States, it meant that he had other business in Vietnam. They then discovered a hidden business in his records, which revealed that it was used in order for him to correspond with his girlfriend in Vietnam. They then traced back the emails to Price’s girlfriend’s house in Da Nang, where Gibbs and Tony were able to arrest him. They also found the graphite machine there.

Their JPEC contact brought them to a Vietnamese man named Ky Van Tu, the boy in the picture. It turned out that he had seen Kent die. Since he did not know that Kent had family that would have wanted his remains back, he had honored and thanked him for helping him bury his parents by burying Kent near his parents and had left his necklace at the ambush site, as the lotus flower symbol was sacred. Thanks to this, Gibbs was able to get Kent’s real dog tag to his family.

Gibbs told Ellie, who was typing up her report for JPEC on the floor, that she did good work. He then revealed to her that he had been going easy on her as he had felt that he had been doing something wrong.It was because he had lost the previous two agents who had occupied her desk. However, Ellie reassured him that Tony and McGee had come out well and that she wanted to be like Gibbs, Tony and McGee. Therefore, Gibbs should push her as hard as he pushed all the others. He then agreed and told her to sit on the chair as the floor was no place to work.

And that was all for the recap of “NCIS” Season 12 Episode 7 “The Searchers.” For more news and updates, including and recaps, on “NCIS” and other television shows, keep following Movie News Guide (MNG).

Catch “NCIS” every Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. on CBS.

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