How ‘NCIS’ Just Set Up a Troubling Season 20 Finale (RECAP)

Wilmer Valderrama, Katrina Law, Sean Murray, and Gary Cole in 'NCIS'
Spoiler Alert

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for NCIS Season 20 Episode 21, “Kompromat.”]

Remember those four Russian spies earlier this season? Remember the one who broke into Senator Miller’s safe for a hard drive of personal photos? Well, NCIS picks up that thread in the penultimate episode of Season 20.

After a security guard is killed in the National Archives Museum, the team looks into what file was stolen, leading them back to Russia. Once Palmer (Brian Dietzen) narrows down the time of death, it’s just a matter of checking the visitors’ log, only to find that the only one who entered the archives around that time was Senator Miller … who’s at Parker’s (Gary Cole). Yes, they’ve been seeing each other.

In fact, Parker is her alibi for the murder, and security footage shows the man who somehow made contacts to match her retinas to enter the archives. (Later on, they find it was done using hi-res photos of her from an event.) She doesn’t recognize him, nor is he in any database when Kasie (Diona Reasonover) runs his image through facial recognition.

And this is when things get tense between NCIS and the State Department, specifically Stuart Greco. Those aforementioned Russian spies? They’re being extradited to Russia in exchange for international political prisoners, and all Greco cares about is the deal is too good to pass up. They are able to get 10 minutes with Nate Billings in holding on to the U.S.S. Cortland during his transfer. Knight (Katrina Law) and Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) fly out to talk to him, and once he sees the photo of the man who copied Miller’s retinas, he’s more than happy to talk — and beg to not be sent back to Russia. That man is Yuri, his handler, who seems to have taken matters into his own hands after Nate failed. If he’s involved now in the field, doing his own dirty work… well, it’s not good. And then Nate is found hanging from a bedsheet in his cell; he killed himself after their visit.

The team is able to narrow down the file Yuri took: a Russian defector, Ilya Sokolov, 1985. And fortunately for them, they know someone who knows who that is from the NCIS days: Ducky (David McCallum)! via video from stop 14 in his 35-city lecture tour in Scotland, he tells them Sokolov was a brilliant scientist whom the Soviets put to work in every field under the Berlin Wall came down. He defected, changed his name, and pursued a quiet life as a college professor. His new name? “Something from an old television show,” Ducky says. Ivan Kuryakin (The Man From U.N.C.L.E. reference!) Ducky is “still the best,” McGee (Sean Murray) says. “I do what I can,” Ducky allows. (Oh, how we’ve missed him!)

By the time they find Sokolov, it’s too late: Yuri has tortured and killed him and is showering off the blood. But it’s very worrisome that he doesn’t care that he’s been caught; he’s ready to go to prison and serve his time because there’s nothing left to handle. He’s accomplished his mission. His call history shows he spoke with someone in Russia, likely relaying the information he tortured out of Sokolov.

When they stumble across photos of Miller with Yuri at an event, she once again ends up in interrogation … and Parker’s the one on the other side of the table. (Awkward!) She still doesn’t recognize him, explaining she took a lot of photos that night. When their conversation takes a personal turn, Vance turns off the sound to observe.

And as interested as the team is in Parker’s relationship, they have something more concerning to focus on: Two other spies part of the exchange “fell off a balcony” upon arriving in Russia. Refusing to let whatever the last one Evelyn knows to die with her when she suffers the same fate, the team stops the exchange from happening, much to Greco’s annoyance, offering her a different deal. She tells them that Yuri ghosted her once she didn’t get him what he pushed her for, but he did tell her he wanted global chaos, revenge, and destruction. Uh-oh.

Miller then reveals her source told her that the prisoner they were to receive for Evelyn died three weeks ago of natural causes. Vance (Rocky Carroll) joins her, Parker, and Greco to inform the state department lawyer that the FBI wants to talk to him about his finances; it seems he has a portfolio with the central bank of Russia. He’s done. Also, done? Parker and Miller’s relationship. Besides, she adds before walking away, he’s still in love with his old girlfriend.

The team then once again connects with Ducky in MTAC. He learned from a Russia contact that before Sokolov defected, the Soviets had him working on a most troubling project: something that falls into the category of weapons of mass destruction. If Yuri got the details out of Sokolov when he tortured him, Russia could already be building a prototype. And with Yuri in jail and not willing to make a deal… Well, it sounds like we know how Torres ends up in prison in the finale!

Katrina Law, Gary Cole, and Brian Dietzen in 'NCIS'


Elsewhere, in happier news, Palmer accidentally blurts out “I love you” to Knight as he’s leaving … and tries to cover by telling Torres, McGee, and all of NCIS the same thing. (According to McGee, “It was pretty epic.”) It’s not how he wanted that to happen, he tells Kasie, and he’s hesitant to reach out, worried he embarrassed her or she doesn’t feel the same. “Are we back in junior high school already?” Kasie asks. Knight refuses to talk about it — she prefers professional discretion — until Parker is so frustrated with only getting bad news with the case that she offers up something good, announcing, with everyone present: “I love you, too, Jimmy.” Palmer kisses her.

Something tells us that might be one of the last bits of joy of the season.

NCIS, Season 20 Finale, Monday, May 22, 9/8c, CBS