NCIS Los Angeles S07E11 Review

‘Cancel Christmas’ is another fun-filled forty-three minutes where the case yet again plays second fiddle to the characters, meaning there is a little something for fans and followers of all characters.  There are insights into Callen and his relationship with Joelle, important conversations between Deeks and Kensi, and Sam is once again panicking over Christmas.  Nell and Eric are indulging in their dressing up fantasies, Granger is confirmed as the Grinch, with a twist, and Hetty is - well, just Hetty!  Overall the Christmas spirit and humour was overflowing, and those on the naughty list got their comeuppance.

The episode opens with the characters in their pairs, discussing their plans for Christmas.  A grumpy Granger is firing rounds in the shooting range and disturbed with Nell and Eric practicing a dance for charity in the armoury.  Christmas spirit is also lacking when Sam picks up Callen, berating him for not decorating his house, and prompting Callen to show off his sole Christmas card.  The card is from his nemesis, Marcel Janvier, who sends Callen one every year from his supermax cell.  Callen finds this amusing whereas Sam is alarmed, especially as the card is next to a photo of his family.  Is this some foreshadowing?  Janvier is one villain who may return with a vengeance at some point, and hopefully when everyone least expects it. 

Callen is unusually happy and chilled; he’s broken up and got back together with Joelle, who wonders through his house wearing only his shirt, as both would otherwise be spending Christmas alone.  Sam however does seem to be turning in to another Grinch.  In previous seasons he’s been seen desperately searching for the year’s must have Dancing Pony toy, next year, he was desperately searching for the Christmas present he had bought early and hidden, to avoid a repeat of the Dancing Pony incident.  This year, he is moaning about Callen, refusing to place antlers on his precious Challenger, complaining about having two sets of Grandparents arguing over Christmas - and is adamant he does not want to work a busy case.  Kensi and Deeks meanwhile, are discovering that being a couple brings its own Christmas challenges.  Both are trying to bring their mothers together, but each  is insisting on cooking Christmas dinner themselves.  The couples solution is to ditch their mothers and spend Christmas together alone. 

The jingling of Eric’s Elvin clad feet signal a case that Sam does not want to work.  The team are asked to investigate the death of a suspected North Korean spy Jason Lam, who is knocked over by a truck carrying Christmas Trees.  Upon closer inspection, he was injected with a syringe full of poison and died trying to reach the antidote in his car.  An associate of his, petty criminal Mike Hobbs, was released from prison the previous day, and is the prime suspect.  So the team interrogate him, explore the spy links, search Lam’s furniture store and arrest the female caught snooping there....then set up the bad guys and take them down.  Fairly standard fair, although unusual for writer Joey Wilson, there are no BOOMs!

The case forms a backdrop for the characters to explore relationships, particular the two sets of main partners.  Deeks is still flirting with a sexy Santa, before quickly suggesting Kensi should wear that outfit.  Kensi turns the tables on Deeks to suggest he dresses up as Santa, which is  fulfilled in the final takedown scene.  Now they have been ‘all in’ for a year, their banter has changed from harmless flirting to sexy innuendos.  But amid the light-heartedness, there is a crucial scene referring back to last week’s Internal Affairs episode which ended on a serious note, with Deeks pondering if and how he should tell Kensi that he did indeed kill Francis Boyle.  It was a scenario that had fans wondering whether this would be dragged out as a sub plot through the remainder of the season.  Would the ‘Densi’ relationship gradually suffer if Deeks kept his dark secret to himself?  It turns out there was barely any wait, and as is standard practice for Kensi and Deeks, the most inappropriate of times is chosen for this conversation to take place.  Broad daylight, and in the middle of a stake out.  Deeks chooses his words carefully, clearly concerned about Kensi’s reaction - only to have her admit that she knew, not that she knew but in her heart she knew Deeks was guilty.  The beauty here is that their relationship is strong enough to withstand such a revelation - at least for the time being...

For other characters, Deeks’ ordeal with the LAPD appears to have been forgotten and normal service has resumed.  Sam continues to quiz Callen on his Christmas with Joelle, which confirms he really has no idea about women or relationships.  The  bromantic banter is overflowing during their scenes, although the episode is a little light on Sam who disappears half way through to meet Aidan from the airport.  Sam’s return for the take down of the bad guys his perfect, although Aidan disobeys his order to wait in the car.  Instead he is in awe of the NCIS team, and of course Callen winds Sam up, promising to tell Aidan all about being an agent at Christmas.

Callen’s good mood continues throughout and he spreads Christmas cheer with former suspect and (dumb) petty criminal, Mike Hobbs.  He gives him a lift home and supplies him with a suit he can keep so Mike can visit his ex-wife and his son. When the team realise Hobbs is in deeper than they thought, Callen gets his revenge by finding a suitable alternative to the boatshed.

Without Sam for back up, there is of course an obligatory fight scene for Callen, who luckily overcomes his opponent, Jennifer Kim.  Resident dark horse Granger interrogates her and reveals he knew her mother - she shot him in the ass in 1989!  He seems to accurately guess Kim’s spy training and it is a welcome glimpse into yet another NCIS man of mystery, one which Hetty challenges with Granger at the end.  Did he make up the story, or did he really know her mother?  And is there another connection that might be explored later?  Shane Brennan has promised an episode entitled ‘Granger,O’ this season.

The episode’s closing scene proves that Joelle is just not comfortable with the real Callen and his chosen career.  Her New Year’s resolution is not to date people who might not come home at night.  Callen will never give up his job but at least they are both are happy to enjoy each other until then.  Sam solves the problem with Kensi and Deeks’ mothers (and his own in-law issues) by inviting them all over for Christmas, and Granger actually smiles and tells Nell and Eric they look good, dressed up for their charity dance. 

‘Cancel Christmas’ is a fun-filled, feel good episode.  Kensi and Deeks remain strong, with honesty fuelling their relationship, Callen and Joelle have a bitter-sweet ending and Granger again reveals he has a heart.  Nell and Eric were not too odd in ops, with their dancing and dressing up fetish, although Kensi’s one sided conversation about baby tiger’s was a revelation, as was the fact that Callen has some more furniture.  The banter was laugh out loud funny, and the slightly dumb petty criminal Mike was great.  With a warm fuzzy feeling, NCIS Los Angeles has reached its winter hiatus with a gem of an episode.  The second half of season seven will be a hard act to follow.

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