NCIS: Los Angeles S09E03 Review

Asset’s case of the week involved the fatal shooting of Navy Lieutenant Naomi Elder, on leave in LA and staying with old college friends.  Elder was located at Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam, where she specialised in monitoring classified intelligence.  The team at first investigate her murder but soon discover she was in possession of highly classified intelligence documents on China that she was willing to sell to the highest bidder.  While Kensi and Deeks chase down leads on the sniper who escaped by motorbike whilst Sam and Callen investigate the victim. 

The sea of change permeates through many characters in Assets, some of which are food for thought as to the future.  Sam has turned to his former SEAL friend Tom Olsen to clear his house and not Callen.  The latter only finds out Sam’s house is for sale when he drives past.  Roles are very much reversing between the two of them.  Early in season one, Callen was homeless and contemplated living on a boat (and actually stayed on Renko’s boat).  Now Callen has a house, roots and Sam is ripping up his,
putting painful memories of his once happy family home behind him in favour of his own boat.  There was also talk in abundance by Deeks in particular who is not only concerned about his future at NCIS but is also questioning the sanity of raising a family with both parents in such a high risk job.  

Deeks initially is keen to remain with NCIS although he rambles when responding to Mosley’s question about why he wants to stay with NCIS, so much so that he cannot provide a reason, just literally recites their mission statement.  Later, Deeks randomly asked Kensi if she thought Hetty had retired for good which triggers the topic of change generally.  He voices genuine concerns that everything seems different with Hetty and Granger gone, and with Mosley and Hidoko in their stead.  Gallantly Deeks talks about leaving NCIS, maybe spurred on by his talk with Mosley in the gym and lack of ability to formulate valid reasons for staying. 

Talks of little Princess Sunshine Deeks, in typical Deeks style, soon take a light-hearted turn and there is a return to the status quo - at least for the moment on the ‘Densi’ front.  It is also notable that as well as the reversal of character traits between Sam and Callen, particularly on the home front, that a comparison can be made between Kensi and Deeks, and Sam.  Sam has lost his wife and his children have left home for boarding schools.  He has gone from having his family close by (OK, Aiden is much older), to being on his own.  Kensi and Deeks are trying to bridge that divide.  They want what Sam once had but are aware of how easily, through the course of their jobs, that it can be ripped away.

Deeks is quite right to be wary of Mosley.  In the premier she sent him back to LAPD and now challenges why he wants to stay.  He does manage to get a smile out of her and is safe for another day at least.  Away from the team, Mosley plans to make more changes, firstly by getting an office build for her by her own contractors.  She correctly analyses that Hetty’s open office space allowed her accessibility to her team at all time and vice versa.  Mosley clearly wants a barrier and for the hierarchy of rule to be clear.  More alarming is that Mosley confirms her plan to break up the team which surely must foreshadow at least one future episode.  Admittedly this is only to Hidoko who sees the team works seamlessly as they are.  Again it seems Hidoko is siding with the team, which contradicts her desire not to partake in a shooting competition with Callen and Kensi.  Is she really just Mosley’s eyes and ears on the ground or one of the good guys?  Certainly Nell and Eric disagree with each other on their thoughts of Mosley and Hidoko, no doubt reflective of the audience base. 

To voice opinions through the characters is reflective of how emotive the presence of two new cast members can be.  Many people do not like change, yet it follows most through their personal and professional life.  Mosley has been brought in to fill a void in the operations structure left by Granger and to create drama and tension.  She is not meant to be liked.  So far her end goal is simply to make the NCIS team the best possible and changes will be in the best interests of NCIS.  In this respect she is unlike Hunter who replaced Hetty in season two/three and she too split up the partners for no discernible reason.  It is Team Leader Callen who attempts to defend the team after Mosley reiterates they cannot confirm if the stolen intelligence was a one off or part of a larger ring as the team killed all the suspects.

Despite the undercurrent of unease and change, there were many light moments particularly when Kensi asks Deeks to move to his ‘other left’ and when the pair discuss their theoretical daughter, Princess Sunshine Deeks.  Sam has moved on from likening Callen to a reclusive sociopath with no ties to having a house that screams he’s an international spy and Callen of course cannot believe how prepared Sam always is, carrying a tool with a Phillip screwdriver on him. The most amusing scene featured the entire team discussing Kensi’s shot up Audi.  For special agents they seem rather unobservant with Sam not realising Kensi’s had her car for a year, and Callen (the international spy) thinking Sam’s had the same Challenger for five years, when he got a new one last year!  An unintentionally amusing moment was when the bad guys on the motorbike shot straight at Deeks using automatic weapons and still missed.

There were little surprises within the plot and despite Elder’s now married college friends who secured a reasonable amount of screen time, the easy path of having one of them involved was a cliché that was not to be.  The case itself remained unresolved, serving as a reminder that not all cases are tied up neatly with a bow, as Mosley pointed out.  And not everything needs to be shown on screen.  Deeks boasts his basketball skills to Mosley who counter-boasts but feels no need to prove herself.  Why should she?  After all, she is the boss?

Assets should have aired last week and was switched with Se Murio El Payaso in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings.  Certain elements missing from Se Murio now make sense, for example the disappearance of Mosley and Hidoko.  There was no progression of Hetty’s adventures which featured heavily in last week’s episode.  Assets also tackles more of Sam’s journey through grief and ends on a poignant note, with Sam talking about his boat, Michelle, and of eventually sailing her with the kids to Carmel to scatter his wife’s ashes. Overall, change is certainly in the air and is a overriding theme for the season so far, and this week laid bare.

What did you think of the episode?  Like it, loathe it or indifferent?  Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

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