[SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers for “NCIS.”]
Director Leon Vance's job is on the line when an agent he fired in his past turns up and frames him for a crime. Of course, he can't take it sitting behind a desk, so he goes back into the field with Gibbs as his partner.
It all starts when Navy Seaman Apprentice Brian Dokes robs a bookie located in the back of a lingerie shop and winds up dead in what appears to be a car crash. But when the body is turned over and his eye is missing, it looks a lot more like murder. What is confusing is why there is a bag with more than $200,000 cash in his car and a crate of grenades in his trunk.
Out of the blue, Kip Klugman, who is the former NCIS Special Agent that Vance got fired for stealing drugs and cash, turns up at the office and tries to insert himself into the investigation, telling the agents he know who Dokes robbed. He offers to work the case, but Vance says it isn't going to happen and has Gibbs show the guy the door.
Even so, they check out Kobe Karver, the guy who Klugman claims was robbed. But by the time DiNozzo and Bishop get there, the back office has nothing but ladies lingerie in it – and Karver's attorney Laura DePalma.
Later, Vance is at home working his punching bag when Klugman shows up with his face beat up. He accuses Vance of hitting him, and then collapses, necessitating a trip to the hospital. Vance professes his innocence, saying it is like old times with Klugman trying to frame him.
It's looking bad for Vance when the Secretary of the Navy shows up, telling them Klugman is threatening a press conference. But he will drop the charges if Vance steps down. She tells Vance maybe it is time for a change. Maybe he should spend time with his kids.
But Vance thinks it would be a bad example to set for his kids.
Meanwhile, back in the autopsy room, Ducky figures out that Dokes died of respiratory failure, and whoever gave him the drug knew they were giving him a concentrated dose that would be lethal. And it was absorbed through the skin.
Vance is worried. He tells Gibbs and Ducky, "It isn't about innocence. It's about perception. Gibbs, you are not the only one seeing things change and trying to roll with the punches. It seems now I am fighting the political forces that I am accused of being one of. Klugman is a con man with an end game."
So Vance asks to ride with Gibbs as a member of his team, and is surprised when Gibbs says yes. Of course, Gibbs can't resist teasing him, and calls him probie.
Gibbs and Vance wait for Klugman to leave the hospital and they tail him … to the same lawyer's office – DePalma – who represents Karver.
They joke about being Butch and Sundance … or Batman and Robin, but before we figure out which is who, the lawyer comes out and busts them. They all go into her office, where she threatens them and calls SECNAV. Surprisingly, SECNAV shows up and asks to speak to the lawyer in private for a moment, giving the guys a chance to search DePalma's office.
SECNAV gives Vance enough rope to hang himself and Gibbs is along for the ride. She tells them that the Secretary of Defense wants the case solved by EOD, or it will be transferred to Alexandria and she will announce Vance's retirement.
Abby finds a tracker in the money bag that she can trace to the lingerie shop. The team gets a warrant and arrests Karver. They get him to admit that he doesn't use a tracker, so they figure out that Klugman is tracking the money. They plan a sting, figuring Klugman is framing Vance to get the case transferred to Alexandria so he can steal the money when it is being transferred.
Vance and Gibbs drive the van with the money and the evidence, waiting for the heist. But it turns out that Klugman doesn't show up -- just his henchman Lump. They let Lump steal the money, but he is smart enough to get rid of the tracker.
Vance is upset, but then Gibbs tells him that he had Bishop stick his phone in the evidence box, so they can track that.
They follow the money to the lawyer's office, where they make the bust. Leon gets shot in the vest. He says, "I didn't lose my edge. I gave up being an agent because I got sick of this crap."
SECNAV shows up and she's not happy about Lump's dead body and the news vans. It isn't the clean wrap up to the case she was hoping for. Heads may still roll!
Next morning, Gibbs and Vance return from a meeting with SECNAV, and Vance says, "I am still in charge. Get back to work. You are stuck with me."