NCIS: New Orleans started out on an unusual note this week -- kicking off not with a call after a gruesome crime but Agent Pride (Scott Bakula) looking like he's about to get his groove on with an old friend Rita (Chelsea Field), a D.A. and Reserve Navy Commander in the JAG Corps.
It's not long after Agent Tammy Gregorio (Vanessa Ferlito) starts sniffing around for evidence Rita spent the night -- literally, she's looking at a lipstick-stained glass for clues and would probably have started rooting around in the trash if she had more time -- when we learn Rita's presence in town has a purpose. She's looking for clues in the disappearance of one of her own, Jack Noah. The NCIS: NOLA squad learns his computer had been wiped clean and he apparently had been creating some details plans on the Fort Macarthur military school, leading them to believe he was digging into the school and dug too deep. Some more fancy detective work leads them to locate Noah's body, way out in the misty nether regions of Louisiana 'gator territory. He'd been chewed up but not, as Wade learned, before he was shot.
Rita -- Pride is on a first-name basis with her so there's no reason we shouldn't be! -- at this point is convinced one of the school's kids, Terrence Lewis, with a lengthy rap sheet did it. Which, as Pride noted, made zero sense and had us for a minute suspicious she was in on this mess. "We'll find out who killed him," Pride said, prompting her to say, "If you don't, I will." Sounds cover-upy, don't it?
When Sebastian (Rob Kerkovich) goes back to Misty Swamp place for more clues he finds -- oh no! -- Lewis' body too. Turns out he'd been badly beaten with soap, a clear sign he'd been hazed. This sends the crew back to the school, where the cadets' weapons are being searched one by one. During the inspection though, one of the young recruits, Cadet Lieutenant Commander Max Cabral (Kelvin Harrison), knows something is up and it's not long before the uniformed guy has turned his weapons on the NCIS: NOLA team. Before they knew what hit them, LaSalle (Lucas Black) and Percy (Shalita Grant) are handcuffed -- but not in the way the would-be lovebirds might've liked -- as Cabral has the whole place on lockdown.
As Wade calls through with more clues -- Lewis had fragments of some Civil War-era wood in his head, with some gunpowder residue -- making it seem like the old guns in the curio of the Fort Macarthur General were in on these deaths. It's an inopportune time for Pride and the gang to be inside his office, for sure.
But the commanding officer in the room, Captain Will Dorsey (Brandon Fobbs), senses trouble. And when he scoots out with a "Ruh roh" expression on his face, we know what's up. As the cadets are barricading themselves and hunkering down for a full-on shoot out with the NOPD and a SWAT team under the seeming direction of Cabral, the truth comes out: Dorsey was the real mastermind behind it all. He'd apparently gone nutso trying to install discipline in the young men, permitting a culture of brutal beatdowns that went too far. He's able to stall the authorities a bit longer by convincing them he can get the situation under control but it's just a matter of time before Cabral turns his weapon on him -- a weapon Gregorio is able to shoot out of his irrational paws thanks to her expert sharpshooting skills. As they do, the NCIS: NOLA squad nabs the bad guy and calm is restored.
By the end of it, Rita and Pride are cooing at the piano -- and teasing that they're not done making music together. She'll be back next week.
NCIS: New Orleans airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.