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NCIS: Torres' Dirty Past Blows Up in His Face

His deep cover days resurrect some old sins

Malcolm Venable

NCIS started so sweetly -- if you discount that Marine getting shot in the head, that is -- with Bishop (Emily Wickersham) chastising Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) for not RSVPing for her painting-her-place party. Well, she won't be getting cheap labor from him anytime soon, since he's called to investigate the murder of that Marine Kyle Campbell. At the site, he finds tracks from a dirt bike that seem to vanish into a truck.

The dirt bike is quickly tied to a bank robbery, and Abby (Pauley Perrette) finds key clues about the robber through surveillance footage. He was wearing a helmet, and judging by his demand for money from the front of the drawer, this guy knew what he was doing. The most important clue though? He sped away on a dirt bike, which Torres immediately recognizes as his.

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Torres, we soon learn, spent some of his deep cover days mixed up with a dirt bike gang called the Rosewoods, answering to the name Nick Medina. During his stint, he befriended a guy named Royce (Johnny Ray Gill) who's now in a witness protection program after Torres made him cough up intel that got head bad guy Mitch Monroe sent to jail. Bishop and Gibbs go to Monroe in jail to see if he's responsible for this murder, but all they really seem to learn is that the tattooed gangster plays chess.

Torres pleads to Vance (Rocky Carroll) for a greater role in the case and when Vance demurs, Torres announces that he's going home -- not to quit, but to get the notebooks he filled during his years undercover. When he gets home, he opens his garage to find his dirt bike there -- resulting in a confused look on his face and very ominous music. As he gets closer, the bike explodes! But, after meeting with Abby, he insists that the bike bomb wasn't meant to kill him -- whoever did it wanted him alive.

Quinn (Jennifer Esposito), meanwhile, helps track down Kyle's girlfriend, who says her dead boyfriend was a nice guy -- until about six months ago when he got into fantasy baseball and started accumulating debts. Then he was mixed up with, you guessed it, the Rosewood boys and she was getting worried. Tired of his suspicious behavior, she did what any concerned girlfriend would do and put a GPS tracker on his car, learning that he spent his free time down at the racetrack. That leads Gibbs, Quinn (Jennifer Esposito) and McGee (Sean Murray) down to the track (is no place family friendly anymore?!) where they get a hunch about one of the dirty goons; back at the office, they determine him to be Alonzo Marcel (James C. Bristow).

As they get ready to dive into their leads, Torres slips away with one of his remarkably meticulous notebooks in hand. Before we know it, he's at Royce's door. The old pals catch up; Royce is surprisingly calm about being confined to a new life of seclusion and Torres' betrayal. He's even taken up pottery! Torres asks him to help out by sharing intel on this Alonzo guy.

Meanwhile, Abby tracks down the phone used as a detonator to blow up that bike that almost killed Torres, and in no time they're at Alonzo's house. He's in bed with another man! Luckily for the apparent couple, they can't be embarrassed by being caught in bed... because they're dead. As the NCIS crew finds the bodies, Torres gets a call from a blocked number and when he answers, a mysterious voice tells him that now that the trail is cold, he better give up the investigation now, or else.

Wilmer Valderrama, NCIS

Wilmer Valderrama, NCIS

Cliff Lipson, CBS

Gibbs can no longer pretend to ignore whatever Torres is hiding, and when the two are alone in an elevator, Gibbs confronts him. Torres admits that he planted evidence on this Alonzo creep back in the day -- but only to prevent more people from getting killed. Even gang members have a code of ethics, he infers, and his hiding a gun was the right thing to do. Ironically, it's just a little later that his own code comes back to smack him in the face: Abby determines that residue on the bodies is from clay and who else peddles in clay?! We're back at Royce's house.

The blood brothers have an awkward reunion. Torres learns Royce had been the mastermind all along: Royce had Kyle killed because he was a lowlife gambler; he had Alonzo killed because he was getting greedy. But for whatever reason, Royce isn't aware his world is about to collapse. He instead tries to blackmail/bribe Torres with audio of him admitting to some dirty cop business back in the day in exchange for some $200,000 swiped from Alonzo's safe. Torres hands over the bag containing money and... handcuffs. But before Torres can make the arrest, Royce hits him over the head with -- what else? -- a clay vase and makes a run for it on -- what else? -- a dirt bike.

Torres soon catches him though -- knocking him off the bike with a kick -- and then goes back to his life as one of NCIS' finest. In the office, Gibbs tells Torres that the audio Royce was blackmailing him with was muffled beyond recognition (wink, wink) letting him know know that, since he'd done something bad for a good purpose, he'd look the other way. Hey, we've all done something we regret, right? It's nice to be forgiven.

NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.

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