When Lieutenant Terence Keith's booby-trapped apartment triggers a bomb which kills his building's manager, the team initially believes Keith was the intended target. Their theory is debunked after Keith's fingerprint is found on the bomb's trigger mechanism. With Keith missing, the team questions his colleagues to learn he had a difficult childhood and often acted strangely. Further research reveals that Keith was rejected by Navy aviation and had been self-medicating and unstable ever since.
Tony begrudgingly partners up with the no-nonsense Special Agent Vera Strickland and they are led to the demolitions contractor responsible for selling Keith the explosives. When they learn Keith had purchased two hundred pounds of explosives from the contractor and had recently attained a civilian's pilot's license, they attempt to track his planned suicide mission only to discover that Keith is flying the plane he rented under the radar. McGee's plan to use Abby's connections and Twitter to motivate the general public into joining the search for Keith's plane is effective in tracking his destination of Norfolk, where his aviation classmates are onboard a naval ship for their first deployment. They discover that Keith's revenge is directed towards a female classmate as it was a blow to his ego to see her succeed instead of him.
After Gibbs communicates that the ship is prepared to destroy the plane and attempts to talk him down, Keith decides to end his life by detonating the explosives over the bay. Meanwhile, McGee misplaces his badge and I.D., but is spared from an I.G. investigation due to his exceptional work in the case.