The episode begins with two men running away from few hooded men. The hooded men manage to get hold of both these men and they beat them up and then Joe sees that his friend Torres is being dragged away into the dark. The next day Tony arrives at work, complaining that his noisy neighbors didn’t allow him to sleep till 5 in the morning. It appears that Tony and McGee took home each other’s bags. Tony hopes that McGee didn’t snoop and he checks his bag and pulls out his instamatic camera. McGee did snoop, and he finds Tony’s boarding school picture with a weird hairstyle. Gibbs arrives with the body of the day; dead Marine First Lieutenant Michael Torres, originally from Ohio and is engaged.
Duckie places TOD at 2-3 am. The neighbors have reported a break in Torres’ apartment; a white male with blood on his clothes. They reach the apartment and find Joe Westcott going through Torres’ things. He announces that he is a Captain. Gibbs tells him that Torres is dead. Joe is in the interrogation room. Torres and Joe have been best friends and it is strange that Westcott did not call 911. They did several tours of Afghanistan and then Joe was discharged for medical reasons. It is nerve damage from an explosion that killed six Marines, eight months ago. Gibbs goes in to talk to Joe. Joe tells Gibbs that after dinner he felt that there were men following them. He then got beaten up and when he came to, he saw Torres being dragged away. He should have helped, but he ran away.
He saw the face of one of the attackers. In the morgue, Duckie tells Gibbs that the wounds show that there were multiple attackers but also there are no fight back wounds. COD is blunt force trauma. The blood samples on the wound show one set of unknown DNA. The substance from under his nails is being examined by Abby. McGee tells Gibbs about the credit card purchases and says that the security cameras of the stores were down. The footage from the alley is not clear as it has “ghost” images. This happens when the footages are being recorded o the same tape without the previous ones being erased. But judging by the time stamp, McGee does manage to place Torres amongst the numerous other people. Tony walks in and says that the attacker is Sam Mathis.
He was at the convenience store and left after them. He was looking to start a fight. He has a record. But Joe doesn’t recognize him; instead he has the sketch of another attacker. Gibbs talks to Andrea, the fiancée. She says that Torres was happy that Joe was visiting town. She also says that Torres also was worried because of Joe. Tony and Ziva go to visit Mathis’ house. When they announce themselves, he punches Tony but Tony draws his gun and they take Mathis to NCIS. Later he says that he did not follow the two men. He was at a strip club at High Point and his girlfriend scratched him. Mathis’ alibi checks out and also his DNA isn’t a match. Gibbs wants them to check on the Marines Torres served with. Tony suggests that they should talk to Joe again but Gibbs thinks that they don’t need to and moreover, there are no physical evidences that tie him to the crime.
Joe’s brother Evan arrives to meet Gibbs. He doesn’t say much and Gibbs tells him that Joe is at a hotel downtown. Next, Abby has reconstructed the attack and she says that there are only two kinds of wounds; on the front and back, which means that there are two attackers. McGee too isn’t able to find multiple attackers. Is Joe lying? Gibbs goes to meet Joe and finds Evan waiting for Joe. But Joe opens the door for Gibbs. He is surprised to see Evan even though he is the one who called him. They enter the room and it is in a mess. Evan is surprised to see that his brother is smoking. Gibbs looks at his notes and sees IJI written several times. Joe quickly covers it. Gibbs then tells Joe that there were only two attackers but Joe starts yelling about his “friends” being dead.
He tells them to get out and says that he knows what he saw. Evan wonders what is wrong with his brother and Gibbs tells him that he is confused. But Evan says that Joe is fine. Later, Gibbs wonders what IJI means. He feels that this attack is bringing back his past memories where he was wounded. The next day, Tony and Ziva arrive at the office and Gibbs tells them to find out what IJI means and also to look into the original ambush. They can tell that Gibbs didn’t go home last night. They feel that he is getting too attached to this case as he can see something they cannot. Looks like Abby too was at the office all night. She managed to get clear footage of the attack and there is only one attacker and he matches the sketch Joe made. His name is Randall Kersey and he has no military background.
There is no connection but then McGee found something else. From the footage, it looks like Joe and Torres followed Kersey. The substance they found in the nails is leather-something like from the jacket Joe was wearing. It seems that Torres was holding Joe back. Gibbs questions Kersey. He tells them that the two men followed him out of the store and Joe was yelling things that didn’t make much sense. He then tried to attack him and Torres was holding them back; getting punched from both sides. He says that he then pushed as hard as he could to get away and Torres hit the ground. He didn’t mean to kill him. He panicked and ran. He says that Joe came after him first and he was crazy. Next, Ziva cannot find Joe and so cant Evan.
They then get a call from the cops saying that they spotted Joe at Torres’ death site. When they arrive at the scene, they find Joe carving IJI on a wooden door. Gibbs tells him that his men need him and that he is not alone. Joe drops the knife and says that he needs help. Next, Gibbs tells Joe that he too had a scrambled head a long time ago. He shows him the footage and Joe tells him that he thought that Kersey was in the ambush in Afghanistan that killed his friends. He says that he didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. He says that he felt he was back in the ambush all over again, watching his friend getting dragged away. Gibbs tells him to face his fear. Next, Joe, Evan and Gibbs meet Dr. Pete. He explains to Joe about PTSD.
There are other symptoms of the same that Joe is suffering from. Pete tells him that he is not a burden. Even apologizes to his brother for not facing the truth sooner. Their father, George joins them. At the office, Tony is looks upset and he shows Ziva a picture of his when he was a boy with his mother. He doesn’t like to talk about her as it is too painful as she was the first one to break his heart. So, she was the one who took him to the movies. Back at the Pete’s, George storms out of the room. Joe thanks Gibbs for all his help. At the office, Tony manages to get the after action report of the ambush and the group that was responsible was the Ijia rebels with ties to Hamas and Hezbollah.
They pull up the satellite image of the footage and zoom in on the men; and Kersey was one of them!! So, Joe isn’t that crazy after all! Tony, Ziva and Gibbs head to the address on the file. It is empty. In his storage room, they find blueprints of a building and equipment to build a bomb. Looks like he is planning something big. To be continued.