NCIS: Los Angeles S09E15 Review

Written by Kyle Harimoto, Liabilities brings the show back to where it belongs with action, banter, fights, explosions and food for thought on how the remainder of the season may progress.  This is a team based episode that breeds familiarity in the format and brings Hetty back in to the fold.  Also returning is Granger's daughter Jennifer Kim, who is brought out of a remote location to assist the team's investigation in to a rogue North Korean spy, Keith Stiger.  Keith was introduced in the third episode of the season, "Assets", as the seemingly innocent friend of murdered Navy Lieutenant Naomi Elder.  At the time it seemed commendable that "Assets" didn't venture down the predictable route of Keith Stiger or his wife being the villain.  Now the screen time devoted to Keith is justifiable and Sam and Callen have been investigating him in their spare time due to their suspicions.  Interestingly Kyle Harimoto also wrote "Assets" which allows for smooth continuity.

As with the best episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, the case itself is both interesting and straight forward, and in this instance, allows for closure to be placed on the mystery surrounding Assistant Director Owen Granger. The team are still very much in the dark about their relationship, so much so that Sam asks Jennifer the personal question about why Granger helped her to the lengths that he did. The revelation that he was her father and they spent time after he discharged himself from hospital resonated with Callen, with the camera cutting to his expressions. It was a suitably respectful and bittersweet ending to discover Granger had passed away and Jennifer had buried him in the very spot, so he has an eternal view over the valley. A simple, fitting tribute that brought tears to the eyes.

Hetty’s ‘retirement ‘ thankfully seems to have been fake and post rescue, she is back at work and finding her feet with the presence of the two newcomers, Hidoko and Mosley. Hetty basically introduces herself which allows for the exploration of both characters. Hidoko has a deceased husband and is struggling a little in the sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles. When Hetty first interrupts Mosley, she can be heard on the phone, confirming that someone has 'no record of that name being registered at any schools in the area'.  Mosley is searching for her son who is somewhere with his father. Hetty makes no comment but has most likely done her homework on Mosley too and this suggests that Mosley and her son will feature in an episode before the season's end.

They have several interesting conversations about the team with Hetty referring to them as 'her' team and that she handpicked each of them.  Mosley acknowledges by confirming their extreme loyalty to Hetty.  Hetty trusts the team to complete their objectives independently and against the odds.  A trust which Mosley lacks.  

Mosley: I'm staking my reputation on your team.
Hetty:    As you should.
Mosley: You don't ever doubt them?
Hetty:    No.
Mosley: Why not?
Hetty:    Because I handpicked each and every one of them.
Mosley: Well, if that's the proven playbook, then my decision about what to do with this team may have just gotten a little easier. 

Their final conversation leads on from this earlier exchange and Mosley admits she’s been sent to disrupt the team, to which Hetty already has her suspicions.  It has been a number of episodes since this subject has been broached and again, this is setting the scene for (at least the threat and possibly temporary) change amongst the field agents.  All scenes featuring the interplay between Mosley and Hetty are fascinating. Both women are testing the waters with each other and certainly in their first meeting Hetty leaves with the upper hand, although the expression on Mosley’s face is one that suggests she knows this and is amused, rather than threatened.  A challenge to be relished.  There is a light tension between them, some gentle sparring and even a wary respect.  They are both intelligent women, albeit very different.  The wise money though, is on Hetty.

Elsewhere the team investigate the case, unaware of the play back in the office.  The race to find Keith Stigers and the bomb take the team to the Metro tunnels that run beneath LA.  It is dusty and deserted and a refreshing change of location to the usual basements.  The team also provide most of the banter, as expected but not to the detriment of the plot and not to the point of being ridiculous.  Sam ribs Callen about getting beaten up by Jennifer Kim when he arrested her, Deeks has his usual moments, in particular when he reveals he's pulled his hamstring after an intense knife fight.  And in other news, Sam has finally managed to diffuse his first bomb of the season (a point kindly highlighted by Callen). 

After the disappointment of last week's episode, Liabilities has pulled NCIS: Los Angeles back into familiar territory.  The team is working well together, Granger has finally been put to rest and Hetty is back where she belongs.  Worryingly though, the scene and tone has been set for Mosley to further take actions towards splitting up the team.  Have her orders come from SECNAV or the Director of NCIS?  Who wants the team split up and why, as Mosley has been sent to LA for this purpose...

Did you enjoy this episode?  Please leave a comment and let me know your views.

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