‘NCIS’: Gibbs’ Rules Come Into Play in ‘Hawai’i’ Crossover (RECAP)

How fitting is it that NCIS: Hawai’i‘s first crossover features actors from another shared universe on TV? Sure, they never crossed paths during their time in the Arrowverse, but Katrina Law (Arrow) and Teddy Sears (The Flash) both have major parts to play as the action moves from NCIS to the island.

First, in “Starting Over” in D.C., Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) learns from Jane Tennant (Vanessa Lachey) that a missing witness from an old case might have turned up in Oahu. That leads to the first mention of a conference in Orlando where something happened to lead to rumors of “T’N’T.” So what happened? Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) heard they jumped off a balcony into the hotel pool. It wasn’t that high, Torres says, and they shared a few laughs, but the rumors were exaggerated.

Once they have confirmation that the witness, Kyle Jennings (David Bianchi), is actually on the island, Torres heads to Hawai’i to pick him up with Tennant. But once the agents do (arguing about their history), they come under fire. Jennings is killed, their vehicle flips over multiple times, and then we pick up with the Hawai’i episode, where the majority of the crossover action takes place.

Rule 45

By the time the dust clears on the shootout, the gunmen are gone, as is Jennings’ body. “This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been shot at,” Torres comments. Fortunately for him, he gets to spend a bit more time there as they bring in her team.

Marine Corporal Daniel Menlo died in a munitions blast five years ago in Afghanistan. Private contractor Fortress took responsibility, blaming it on improper grenade storage and specifically munitions specialist Greg Winslow (Sears). Torres investigated, but Greg had already been sent stateside and died in a single car accident shortly after. Jennings had been the only survivor of the blast and went missing. Torres has been receiving anonymous tips for years about his location, with the latest leading to Hawai’i.

Noah Mills as Jesse, Vanessa Lachey as Tennant, Wilmer Valderrama as Torres, Alex Tarrant as Kai in NCIS Hawai'i

Karen Neal/CBS

Ernie (Jason Antoon) is able to trace the vehicle that left tire tracks at the scene of the shootout to a botanical garden. As they search the area, we get a Gibbs’ rule mention: 45, “Left a mess I gotta clean up.” (As we learned earlier this season on Hawai’i, Tennant has a connection to Torres’ former boss.) Then they find Greg. Turns out he’s alive.

Rule 40

Greg did fake his own death and has been following them, but he insists he didn’t kill Jennings. Fortress did. The explosion in Afghanistan was intentional and Jennings was responsible, he says, and when he was framed, he “killed” himself before Fortress could. He’s the one who’s been sending Torres tips. “Torres is the Batman to my Robin, the Sherlock to my Watson,” Greg says. But why take Jennings’ body? It must be evidence.

When the Hawai’i team turns to the original case file, Lucy (Yasmine Al-Bustami) and Ernie find Knight (who made quips about heading to Hawai’i in the NCIS episode, a nod to Law’s time on Hawaii Five-0) waiting in his office. And Ernie is a major fan of the “legend of the REACT team, expert negotiator, total badass.” She’s also there to make sure Torres returns home without any bullet wounds since “my team has gone through enough personnel changes.” (After all, in the past two seasons, Mark Harmon, Emily Wickersham, and Maria Bello all left NCIS.)

Katrina Law as Knight, Jason Antoon as Ernie in NCIS Hawai'i

Karen Neal/CBS

Another of Gibbs’ rules (40) comes up when Torres and Tennant talk to Greg at HQ. They’re looking into his story because, “as a colleague of ours likes to say, if it seems someone’s out to get you, they usually are.” So how’d Greg find Jennings all those times? He became friends with the contractor’s mother on social media. Speaking of Jennings, they find his body too late: It’s already been incinerated at Honolulu’s Waste-to-Energy Facility.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

The ME finds high levels of aluminum powder on Jennings’ bones. His surgeon was going to operate to remove shrapnel from his back. That’s why Fortress killed him: That was evidence. Furthermore, they then find proof that someone caused the explosion, when Ernie recreates it: C4 set off the explosion, not a faulty grenade as was claimed. Jennings set up the bomb. But why?

Digging into Fortress and its CEO Brent Spooner (Clark Freeman), as well as a trip to a training facility on the island under false pretenses to get a list of operators who worked in Afghanistan, eventually leads them to the answer. First, while Greg’s looking through that list and trying to ID those who were there with him, Ernie and Knight video-chat with Kasie Hines (NCISDiona Reasonover) back in D.C. After Ernie tries to “demolition-splain” to her, Kasie informs him of just how much she’s learned about their bomb and the detonator. But when Knight then heads upstairs to talk to Greg to match the detonator to the Fortress operator, she and Tennant find he’s gone. Fortress got to him, with his lunch order and his sister’s address.

Wilmer Valderrama as Torres, Vanessa Lachey as Tennant in NCIS Hawai'i

Karen Neal/CBS

Greg’s sister is MIA — they send local police to check on her in New Mexico — and he appears to have left base with a tour group. But he did circle three photos of Fortress operators, and it’s by looking into a past mission involving them, Menlo, Jennings, and Brent that it all comes together. While working with a Marine recon unit clearing out local militia from provinces, the Fortress operators kept over $40 million in cash for themselves. Menlo must’ve realized what they’d done.

Those three operators are now on in the island and must be the ones who have Greg. But where? The training facility, since everyone’s going to be busy watching Brent’s announcement about the company going public. The two teams quickly move in, coming under fire and taking out two of the three operators on their way to Greg. It’s Torres who reaches him first (“Batman,” Greg laughs when he sees him) and fights the operator about to shoot him. Torres and Tennant end up giving that man a choice: tell them everything or spend the rest of his life running from Fortress since Brent will assume he talked or is being followed if they set him free. He spills, and Parker (NCISGary Cole) picks Brent up by posing as his driver as he leaves Fortress’ HQ in Virginia.

As for Greg and his sister, both are OK and will be reunited soon, now that she knows he’s alive. When he thanks Torres and Tennant, they argue they should be thanking him. “You kept this case alive,” Torres says. And with that, it’s time for Torres and Knight to return to D.C. … after Tennant’s team gives them a quick Hawai’i experience.

Plus, thoughts on Mark Harmon’s ‘NCIS’ absence, ‘The Cleaning Lady,’ ‘New Amsterdam,’ and more.


Torres gets the team in Hawai’i talking when he brings up the Orlando conference, calling it the elephant in the room, only for none of them to know what he’s talking about. Among the rumors: a series of dares (including base-jumping off Cinderella’s castle). Kai (Alex Tarrant) tries to get answers from Jesse (Noah Mills), since he’s known Tennant the longest. “I’ll tell you this, it involved a crashed wedding, stolen pontoon boat, and an adolescent alligator,” Jesse says. (Kai tries to get a reaction out of Tennant with “crashing a wedding” when they head to the training facility.) But when they’re under fire during Greg’s rescue, Jesse tries to get Tennant (who had worried when Knight said Torres told her “things”) to tell him what really happened in Orlando.

Then, when it’s time for Torres to say goodbye, he apologizes to Tennant for the T’N’T thing and notes he had fun. “What happened in Orlando,” she says, and he finishes, “will stay in Orlando.” So what exactly happened between them?! The only clue we have is something about getting trapped in a tower for a night.

NCIS, Mondays, 9/8c, CBS

NCIS: Hawai’i, Mondays, 10/9c, CBS

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