The NCIS: New Orleans gang tightened the noose around that shady Mayor Hamilton this week — or at least, it tried to, when a case reunited LaSalle (Lucas Black) with pals from his NOPD days.

It all started when a Navy officer, Nathan Kelly, got popped in the middle of a drug deal gone bad. Things were going so well for the guy in those few seconds we knew him, too — high as a skyscraper, hanging out in a pretty happening nightclub — when his attempt to sell a brick of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl went really, really wrong. He shot at some NOPD officer and, as one does, got killed in the process.

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The requisite gathering of cops around the body brought LaSalle face to face with officers he used to know, boys from his Vice squad days including Lt. Spencer (Wolé Parks) and Richard Marino (Jeremy Ratchford), LaSalle's mentor who's since turned into a hard-drinking lout. After some fast detective work, the NCIS: NOLA squad determined that the drugs Nathan was selling were skimmed from the NOPD's Vice group and they were at some point signed out. That meant LaSalle, a good Southern boy who's loyal to his friends, was suddenly in the position of having to investigate his mentor.

Not only that, some of those drugs (and a lot more, some $500 million worth) were bound for a ship to Panama, sending Agent Tammy Gregorio (Vanessa Ferlito) and Sebastian (Rob Kerkovich) onto the vessel in search of them. Cured of his seasickness and anxiety by special Chinese drugs Gregorio gave him, Sebastian was in rare form. His thinking helped them find the drugs — along with some big beefy dude who tried to stomp the life out of them when they found the dope. Luckily, Sebastian's newfound strength from the pills kicked in and he promptly issued a beatdown.

Back on land, it was really starting to look like Marino was truly scum of the Earth when LaSalle and Agent Pride (Scott Bakula) find that Brian Cooper, a former colleague of Marino's, had been charred to a crisp in an incinerator. That's when Pride gets a call from his girlfriend/ADA Rita (Chelsea Field) who got rammed off the road by a truck that had been following her when she was doing some digging on Audubon Industries. That's the company she and Pride are sure is seizing land from disenfranchised people in Clearwater to sell at a higher cost with Hamilton's blessing. What in the world was going on?

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Well, it wasn't long before Sebastian and Gregorio found that the little drug recycling business taking place on the ship was tied to Audubon — and that a cop with a relationship with Hamilton must be smuggling those drugs out of the NOPD to raise money for their uber-gentrification scheme. Of course, Marino — whom LaSalle arrested and given a really stern dressing down — looks like that guy, but more of that high-tech digging reveals he's too broke (and from the looks of it, too busy drinking and eating) to have calculated something this intense. All signs now point to Spencer — who, naturally, had sprung Marino from jail and was about to kill him when LaSalle and Pride figured out he's the real Big Bad.

Yup, Spencer had framed Marino, and he was about to frame him again for yet another murder when LaSalle and Pride tracked them down and got in a shootout that ultimately takes Spencer's life. While it's great they stopped the clear madman from wrecking any more havoc, the downside is that his death means the only credible witness about Hamilton's naughty doings is now dead. So they're back at square one, sadly.

The good news, though, is that they know a lot more about Hamilton's nefarious stuff than before; Marino is redeemed and Sebastian learned that those magic Chinese medicine pills he took were plain, over-the-counter allergy pills. HE HAD THE POWER ALL ALONG! How nice. Rita, meanwhile, looks like she's about to leave New Orleans to take a gig in D.C., which means the beautiful music she and Pride were making may be coming to an end. Say it ain't so!

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NCIS: New Orleans airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.

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