NCIS: Los Angeles Season 9 Episode 20 Review

After a number of recent episodes where the team has been separated, Re-entry reconciles the four main characters in their familiar partnerships.  Sam and Callen are out in the field, tracking and recovering valuable pieces of a rocket that blew up shortly after launch, leaving Kensi and Deeks to interrogate suspects and follow the leads in LA.  Unfortunately for fans of Nell and Eric, this week it was their turn to be split up.  Nell went on the field trip with Sam and Callen, monitoring their progress from base camp, and Eric held the fort in ops - although not without lack of trying to get out of the workplace.

This season there has been a continual build up that seems to be leading to Deeks making career and life changing decisions.  This week the featured opening bull pen scene has Deeks explaining slow TV to Kensi, after he watched eight hours of a boat crossing a Fjord.  It follows from his confiding in Callen last week that he wants a safer life; and like Callen, Kensi doesn’t understand.  In fact she comments that she was waiting for explosions and pirates - anything that picks up the pace and provides an adrenaline rush.  In this context, it is breaking the conventions around how Kensi defines herself in comparison to Deeks.  Thinking back to conversations earlier in season nine’s The Silo, as well as the bar scene between Deeks and Callen last week, Kensi will  not give up her career and so the give in the relationship may well have to be driven by Deeks.  In next week’s episode he shares his dream of opening a bar with Kensi, which surely opens up the question of his future and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the rest of the season.

In direct contrast to Deeks’ desire to slow down his pace of life, Eric is either on a caffeine or sugar rush, summoning the pair to ops, running up the stairs and almost running out the door in anticipation that he’s going in to the field to analyse programmes and codes to investigate why the rocket exploded.  Although this was ‘over the top’ Eric, it didn’t fall in to the clown version that has a tendency to emerge.  His eagerness and enthusiasm are contagious and even Mosley seems taken with him.  Her asking Kensi and Deeks to ‘manage’ Eric was rather endearing.

With the exception of Eric, the slower pace of this episode allowed Hetty to interact with Harris Keane, who was rescued alongside Hetty  in Goodbye Vietnam.  Keane is having trouble adjusting to life in LA and Hetty offers various methods of support. She has provided a roof over his head (which looks like the safe house used for Jack Simon back in season seven’s Come Back), and encourages him to step out with her.  They visit the grave of a former colleague who has recently died from Agent Orange, and they open up to each other. This builds on seeds previously sown last season when Granger first revealed he was dying from Agent Orange after his time in Vietnam.  Hetty refers to the ‘time she has left’, again intimating that she has / will also succumb to this specific cancer.  A character such as Hetty is not meant to retire or resign - as she has failed to do this countless times.  It allows for Hetty to be written out in a realistic manner in a controlled way that manages the audiences expectations.  Although a character such as Hetty is just as likely to be killed in action (or assassinated).  Hopefully Hetty will continue to survive for several seasons at least.

It is questionable as to whether Keane’s return is purely to allow that very conversation to take place.  He has not been mentioned since the rescue so bring him up six episodes later is curious.  It allows Hetty to follow through on her promise that Keane’s home is with them and highlights his PTSD after his years of abandonment in Vietnam.  Hetty eventually brings him to ops where Keane almost relaxes over a glass of whisky.  The sense of family then comes to the fore when the team return, bantering as they enter ops.  Although that prompts Keane to raise his barriers again, it underlines how close the team are as a family, how they love and support each other, through good times and bad, confirmed by Hetty’s words.  It could be a precursor for the finale and Mosley’s plans to split the team up permanently.It also was the catalyst for Keane to later pick up Nate’s business card, suggesting that he will at last seek professional help.

Hetty:        “It's so good to see them happy.  They've had a rough couple of years but they look out for each other.”

Elsewhere it is very much business as usual as the field agents investigate the case around the rocket explosion.  Kensi and Deeks tackle the interrogations and track the bad guys to a golf driving range which of course led to some amusing scenes with an impromptu undercover mission.  Deeks even managed to have a bet with the minor bad on the range - before all his equipment was thrown off the top deck piece by piece in an exaggerated yet hilarious move.  Sam and Callen searched for the rocket’s missing payload which was discovered by a pair of young campers, prompting a race against time to find them before the other bad guys did.  It was the Iranians who wanted the payload and the reasons why the traitor in the field (a seemingly flustered NRO Chief of Staff, Melissa Gates) assisted them, was never explained.  It was a good twist though, as the team finally realised there was an insider. 

Re-entry is a solid episode that draws on all the elements of what the audience enjoys most about the show.  The four main characters are back in their established partnerships which allows the banter between them to flow seamlessly.  It was great to see the team arriving back at ops together at the end; their camaraderie illustrates how close they are and how much they need each other. 

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