The episode begins on a ship at sea in a storm. The Captain gets a call saying that one man is seen on the deck. The Captain orders two men to go to the deck and get this man inside. The two men go up on the deck and see a man lying on the deck. He is not moving. The two men fight the terrible storm and go close to the body. The man they see is the doctor, Dr. Haber and he is dead. At NCIS, Ziva and Tony notice that McGee is late. Gibbs arrives declaring the body of the week aboard the USS Borealis. McGee is volunteering by playing big brother to a guy named Adam. He is driving him to his field trip in Colonial Williamsburg because Adam’s mother is sick.
Next, the team arrives at the crime scene and they see that the body has been moved by NCIS Special Agent, Stan Burley. Stan tells them that he had to move the body to the sick bay. He adds that the body was pretty contaminated due to the storm. McGee arrives and he is an hour and 46 minutes late. Duckie examines the body and points out to a puncture mark on the neck. He says that it could be from a syringe. He also says that the victim was on the move when he was jabbed. The officer on board, Navy Lieutenant Carlton Mane wants to talk to Gibbs. Mane is the admiral’s aide and he is worried about keeping the admiral on schedule. Gibbs tells him that the admiral cannot leave the crime scene. The Admiral arrives to talk to Gibbs and McGee looks at him with interest. It is his father. The Admiral insists that he has to leave.
McGee arrives and tells him that he cannot. Later, John McGee, Gibbs and Tim sit down and talk. As expected, the father and son end up in an argument, where John critiques about his son’s life. Gibbs makes it “very clear” that John will not be able to leave the ship till they arrive at some conclusion. Next, Ziva and Stan interrogate Petty Officer Graves. Graves tells them that Haber was supposed to come forward with a crew member’s illegal drug use, an amphetamine/ADHD cocktail. The crew members use this drug to stay awake for long hours, but he doesn’t know the name of the crew member Haber was about to report. At NCIS, Vance tells Gibbs that the Naval Secretary has ordered that John should be allowed to leave the ship because he is on a fast track to attend a cabinet meeting. Gibbs isn’t too pleased to hear this.
On the ship Tony finds Haber’s medical records of the crew. Stan and Ziva pair up and leave for further investigation. In the morgue, Duckie tells Gibbs that they found a part of the needle in Haber’s neck. They have sent the blood sample to Abby and are awaiting the tox results. Duckie points out that despite the squall, the killer managed to puncture Haber’s carotid artery. At NCIS, Tony tells McGee that Stan is trying to hit on Ziva. He feels that Stan is trying to take advantage of Ziva’s present vulnerable state. Gibbs arrives and asks Tony for updates. Tony tells Gibbs that he went through Haber’s reports and noticed that Petty Officer Wyeth made several trips to the sick bay for minor issues. Wyeth also has a juvy drug record and he was also suspected for giving drugs to other sailors.
Gibbs tells them that they will have to go back on the ship. On the ship, Tony tells Stan that he should go easy on Ziva. Stan finds this amusing and tells Tony that he is engaged. They see Officer Wyeth and tell him that they want to talk, but Wyeth runs. They chase him and manage to grab him. Next, Wyeth is at NCIS and is being interrogated. Tony goes through his blood reports and sees that Wyeth is on five different drugs. Tony also notices that Wyeth has the shakes due to extensive drug use and concludes that he could not have jabbed Haber’s carotid. In the lab, Abby tells McGee that the person who stabbed Haber was very skilled and trained. She then tells him that she is aware of the tension between him and his father and she feels that McGee should stand up to his father. McGee gets a call and leaves.
Adam is at NCIS and he tells McGee that he could not share the motel room with a bully. McGee tells him that he should stand up to it. Gibbs gets a call from Stan. On the ship, Stan shows the team the surveillance footage of Haber being stabbed, but the face of the killer is not seen. Later, they see Officer Graves sneaking into Haber’s office and removing data from Haber’s computer. Next, John is talking to Vance. He asks Vance about McGee’s status in NCIS. He doesn’t want his son to end up being an overpaid paper pusher. Vance tells him that McGee is a valuable asset to NCIS. He then asks John about the sudden interest in his son’s life. John says nothing and leaves. On the ship, Ziva and Stan are looking for Graves.
Stan gets a call saying that an ambulance is waiting to pick up a crew member with ruptured appendix. Stan and Ziva suspect that it could be Graves. They check the ambulance and find Graves in it. In the interrogation, Gibbs tells Graves that half his crew gave in on him. Graves tell Gibbs that he was trying to get rid of the paper trail from the doctor’s computer. He says that he did not kill Commander Haber. Next, McGee takes a walk with John. John tells him that his mother never likes it when they fight. McGee says that they should stop fighting. John seems a little lost and quickly leaves for the White House meeting.
At NCIS, they find a payment of 10k made to Greave’s account. They think that Graves is trying to cover up for someone. They track the trail to a missing tablet in John Hamilton University. Tony and McGee go to the University to track the tablet. They find the tablet at a basket ball game, where one on the players turns it in. He tells them that he found it in trash. At NCIS, they find that the last person to visit the doctor was Henry Newbolt and this is not a crew member. McGee tells the team that Henry Newbolt is a British poet and one of his father’s favorites. Gibbs infers that the Admiral used a pseudonym to meet the doctor.
Gibbs brings in the Admiral for interrogation. The Admiral tells him that he is sick; Stage 4 and no one could know this. Gibbs figures out that Haber was going to report his illness. This gives the admiral a motive to kill Haber. The Admiral tells Gibbs that he may be a lot of things, but not a murderer. McGee is in tears on learning about his father’s illness. Next, Vance wonders as to would stand to gain from hiding the Admiral’s illness. Ziva points out that the Admiral did not even tell his son about his illness, so whoever knew about it, had to be very close to the Admiral. Gibbs tells Tony to run the Admiral’s aide, Carlton Mane. Mane is a former intel officer who worked for black ops.
They find a letter in his file from the Admiral asking Mane to go with him to the White House if he is appointed. The whole team along with the Admiral confronts Mane. Mane tells them that he had to do something to keep Haber quiet. He says that he learned it from the Admiral that commitment to success comes first. The Admiral is upset and accepts that he was wrong.
Next, McGee gets a call from his father. They go for a walk again. McGee asks him if the rest of the family know about his illness. McGee suggests that his father should call his mother. John tells him that he cannot call his mother out of the blue. He thinks that his mother would like them just taking a walk together. The episode ends.