A Navy lieutenant is having a birthday celebration in a PG-rated strip bar, as all good TV airmen do. His friends pony up $120 for a private lapdance, but as soon as it begins he collapses and begins foaming at the mouth. One of his friends and the stripper also collapse so whatever is going on, it's not due to anyone's allergy to being in close contact with fake breasts or Russian-sounding strippers.
The investigation begins at the same place it begins in nearly every episode: in the little alcove that contains the desks of Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), G. Callen (Chris O'Donnell), Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) and Sam Hanna (LL Cool J). Kensi is frantically searching through her desk for her W-2, but all she finds is a vacation request form from 2011. She worries she can't get her taxes done in time and Deeks offers to do it for her. If that offer doesn't end with an audit, than the show's writers must have turned off their predictable comedic plot twist filter this week.
Then they're called for their briefing and shown surveillance footage from the strip club's backroom that is inexplicably so clear it might have been shot in HD. They learn the dead officer is Joshua Gordon, a pilot for the carrier early warning squadron. He was poisoned with cyanide, as was the now-dead stripper and his hospitalized Navy buddy. A Jihadist group has taken credit for the event, but no one seems convinced and the investigation kicks off in earnest. Kensi and Deeks arrive at the club and discover that the dancers are gone and the local police have identified the source of the cyanide was a water cooler in the club. The detective has more details to share, but before he does he has to do a veeeeery slow unfolding of his Windows 8 tablet & keyboard. With a five second closeup that probably made CBS a nice bit of integration money.
The police found a small puncture mark in the lid of the tampered-with water bottle and after a bit of dumpster diving Deeks finds a discarded syringe that is big enough to inseminate an entire generation of elephants. The bad news is that they learn that enough cyanide was recently stolen from a warehouse to kill 800,000 people. Now if they can just track down a suspect with a crate of jumbo syringes, they'll have a case.
Callen and Hanna go to speak with an ex-Naval worker who had a run-in with the deceased officer. He's teaching kids math in the park and seems about as dangerous as a cheese sandwich on white bread. But it's quickly apparent this suspect is a dead end, although he did share his thoughts that the late Lt. Gordon had a lot of secrets. He said some of the other officers thought he might have been gay, but whatever was going on in his life, he didn't share it with anyone.
After that, the false leads and misdirection come fast and furious. The bottle at the strip club was loaded by the janitor, who is Arabic. And HE'S MISSING. Oh, he's not missing, he just took the day off to visit his cousin. But he did see a suspicious and seedy-looking fat guy at the club two nights in a row. Which in L.A. narrows the suspect list to construction workers and lower-level talent agents. Then it turns out that there is actually enough cyanide missing to kill FOUR MILLION PEOPLE. But luckily, the first wave of deaths are limited to three homes in the San Fernando Valley. Apparently the bad guys have opted for a small select Beta program of poisonings. Oh, and the dead Lt. Gordon wasn't gay, he was just a celibate practicing Buddhist.
The next day they investigate the affected neighborhood and Kensi stumbles across one house that's being used as a set for porn films. Leading to the logical conclusion that, hey, maybe we're dealing with a homegrown terrorist group that doesn't like near-naked people. They then discover a vacant house being used as a staging area for the attacks and uncover a group that promises violent insurrection as a means to get more money for education. No, really. They're supposed to be some cross between the PTA and an anti-defense department terrorist group. Sounds logical to me.
They decide to infiltrate the group by having Hannah show up at a protest dressed in his Navy blues. Callen will be there pretending to be a protester and he picks a fight. Luckily for the investigation, Callen's antics draw the attention of the group's ringleader, who blindfolds Callen and takes him to meet the rest of the group. Meanwhile Kensi and Deeks discover the cyanide was stolen with the help of a rental van, which was traced back the strip club's janitor. Or does it? No, the rental form is a fake and they conveniently find traffic footage of the van being driven by the rental business owner. You know, if L.A. wasn't covered in perfectly-positioned full-color traffic cams, this investigation stuff would be a lot harder.
Callen meets the group's leaders, who turn out to be the discharged Navy man and the rental business owner (who is also his cousin). It wouldn't be an evil plan if they didn't lay it all out for Callen before they kill him. It turns out that at 1:00 am the city's water will be contaminated. For a plan that is supposed to help improve the country's education system, it sounds awfully idiotic. Commit mass murder in the hopes that more money will be poured into schools as....I don't know, the logic gets fuzzy after that and I start to get a migraine. The group offers Callen a choice: get shot by a nameless henchmen who hasn't had a line of dialogue or drink a glass of water poisoned with cyanide. The group locks the dying Callen in a storage room and escapes, but luckily Hanna manages to find the correct door in the middle of a maze of buildings. Callen is okay, thanks to the injection of a syringe of anti-cyanide antidote that the bad guys apparently didn't notice when they frisked him. Oh, you're a diabetic? Sure, keep the syringe.
It's a big city, so how do you find out where that attack is going to take place? Luckily, surveillance tapes discovered several unauthorized work crews near the city's water treatment plant earlier in the day, so they're off to make an arrest. Have I mentioned how many cameras there are in L.A.? They find the bad guys and Callen has a chance to make a speech about "doing the right thing" and "making the world a better place." The world is saved and just in time for Deeks to be the recipient of the old "fake IRS audit" joke, arranged by Hetty (Linda Hunt).
No, wait....how did the writers go an entire episode without threatening someone with imprisoning them under the Patriot Act? Clearly, someone didn't get the official rules of this show.