NCIS: New Orleans offered up a huge lesson on how personal relationships and domestic abuse can affect everybody in Tuesday's episode "End of the Line."
It opened with a particularly gruesome murder: an officer, strung up in the middle of the street with her eyes gouged out like something straight out of a horror movie. Not long after, we learned that medical examiner Loretta Wade (CCH Pounder) had a pretty crappy marriage at one point — one she got out of.
It was a rare moment of vulnerability and personal openness for Wade. But she got downright unsettled when she came up on the body, and her immediate, visceral reaction was totally uncommon for a pro who's seen bodies 1,000 times before. It got worse. While inspecting the body of the murdered woman, Chief Decker, Wade has a flashback to a woman who was in the same situation years ago: Janet Ortega. She was so rattled that when Sebastian (Rob Kerkovich) innocently rolls up on her unannounced, she nearly took his head off. "Don't sneak up on me like that," she said. Wade! What's going on?!
She'd seen a body like this before many years ago she said, and hadn't seen anything like it since. And if it's the same person responsible, as it most certainly looks, she knew she'd be next. Turns out the murders were linked to a man named Jack Gordon (Mustafa Shakir) a paranoid schizophrenic Wade helped get convicted so many years ago. He'd been abusive to Janet, and given his mental illness, he really looked like the person who killed her in such a horrific way.
Now, all these years later, Wade is ruminating hard on how she behaved so long ago when she testified in court. Complete with a shot of Wade in a glorious 1997-era wig, Wade vehemently asserted that Jack was the killer of Janet but today she tells Pride (Scott Bakula), "My behavior was inexcusable. The past has a way of catching up to you." She wasn't herself, she admits to Pride, having dragged in the baggage from her personal life into the courtroom. Even though these murders look identical, he had a nagging feeling something wasn't right.
That said, Jack, now out of prison, sure didn't do himself any favors to prove his innocence when she showed up in the dead of night wearing a dark hoodie out on Wade's patio, scaring the bejesus out of her. Thankfully, Pride was there to capture and interrogate him. It's here Jack makes a convincing case that he's innocent — or at least that his case deserved to be reopened. He showed up at Wade's house to try and clear his name, he said, and he'd spent all that time in the pokey reviewing his case. He had a clue: a purple necklace that wasn't on the body in photographs from the crime scene.
The team's research validated his story and in time, they connect the murders to Jack's lawyer Devon Mitchell (David Alan Basche) by using that pricey necklace that was missing from Janet's body. And sure enough, just as Wade reopens that old case, Devon pops up in the lab, attacking Sebastian (who keeps getting beat up!) and then forces Wade to destroy evidence before he kills her. Thank goodness that Pride (don't you love him?) shows up in the nick of time, and when Devon starts shooting, Wade throws hydrochloric acid on his face before he's shot by Pride and LaSalle (Lucas Black). You kind of wish he had to spend a few years with a mozzarella pizza face, given all the pain he's inflicted on others but hey, at least he's off the streets.
In the end, both Wade and Jack have full-circle moments: He's happy to be vindicated and free, yet aware that, in a way, Wade saved him because his mental illness would've caused him to do more harm and hurt people he loved. Wade offers him in for tea and from the sounds of things, they'll join forces with their story to save more innocent people from wrongful convictions.
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