NCIS: Los Angeles S09E12 Review

Sometimes an episode is enjoyably solid, with an interesting case despite there being no character development and this week’s instalment of NCISLA is just such an example.  Under Pressure sees the team investigate after napalm is detected at the scene of a brush fire, with one fatality who may have links to terrorism.  Well, it’s the team minus Deeks who is sent back to LAPD for a mandatory active shooter course (actor Eric Christian Olsen was on holiday for the filming of this episode).  He is present for the opening and closing bull pen scenes that bracket the episode which for once provides the usual banter when Deeks poses a logic question to his colleagues. 

The absence of Deeks meant that Kensi was paired with Hidoko again and whilst the women work very well together, there is the lack of sparkle and energy from the easy going banter that Deeks and Kensi have as partners.  It does allow for some more serious conversations and as the case of the week touched on high school and cyber bullying, the women discussed their own very different personal experiences from school.  To episode writer Joe Sach’s credit, the predictable race card was not played with Hidoko.  Instead she was teased for being a gifted student.  Kensi’s high school bullying links back to her refusal in season five to be a supply teacher, but is also a missed opportunity about how her living on the streets affected her.  In the same way, there could have been a conversation between Sam and Callen, who both sympathise and are very sensitive to teenager Amanda Delgado but that is as far as it went.  No one could imagine Sam being bullied as a child, however Callen, a foster child who must have swapped schools frequently.  Another missed opportunity for Callen fans only (as this does nothing to detract at all from the episode).

In addition to bullying, the case touches on climate change and environmentalism,  cyber and high school bullying.  The brush fire victim/suspect Zack Fuller was a twenty year old with no electronic footprint and no family.  He had no extremist religious links and was into no particular ideology unless you include oceanography.  Zack dropped out of Navy Boot Camp when the military replaced the dolphin Marine Mammal Programme with one involving underwater drones.  It is rather ironic that cause was saving the planet yet his method involved tapping in to 1920s oil fields  beneath LA suburbia to reach natural gas, with a view to dropping napalm down the hole to create a mass explosion.  

The remaining villains were father and son Gavin and Carson Tweed who were introduce early on with the solar panel business.  This in itself was a clue they were the bad guys and only confirmed just before the final confrontation.  Their reasons and willingness to die as martyrs for their cause didn’t quite sit right - maybe there was a lack of real conviction and the contradiction in their method.  They believed that by wiping out LAs natural gas supply people would have to convert to solar and wind power.   The deaths being a bonus as less people means less demand for energy.  Flawed logic.  It was also curious why the father had a dead man’s switch, which is usually associated with suicide vests.  Regardless, Kensi and Hidoko saved the day, improvising by pouring concrete on the Tweeds, and bumping fists to celebrate their success.

It was good to have a slightly more serious case, without the silliness that Deeks can sometimes bring, although Eric did provide a touch of the cringe-worthy comments.  It was also Eric who referenced Hetty with his comment “In the words of a great woman, I sense impending mayhem.”   Hetty’s story has become virtually forgotten due to the lack of consistency across the episodes.  At least with Kensi’s stories (Afghanistan in S5 and her ongoing recovery last season) she was present each week even if she was away from the team.  The good news is that next week signals the start of the team’s efforts to launch a rescue mission.  Should Hetty be successfully rescued and return to her previous role, it will  be intriguing to see the dynamics between her and Mosley.  The Executive Assistant Direct was more involved this week operationally, presumably because they are without an Operations Manager.  Hetty has still not been replaced so Mosley has no option.  She does seem to be warming to the team though. 

The closing bullpen scene partially reflected this with Kensi wondering if they should invite Mosley.  It is of course Callen who believes they shouldn’t.  Deeks returns, battered and bruised from his LAPD course and the team return to answering Deeks’ riddle.  They Googled the answer!  Fittingly in an episode where the mother did not realise the extent of her daughter’s bullying, Sam closes the scene by calling his daughter, reminding her she can tell him anything - even if he’s in the middle of a shoot out.  A lovely, amusing and heart-warming ending.

What did you think of the episode? Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

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