NCIS: Los Angeles Review S10E06

After last week’s rather confusing outing, this week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles is a marked return to form.  ‘Asesinos’ has a fluid and coherent narrative, with a serious topic as Mosley is wanted for murder after killing a hitman and is believed to have turned against her team.  There is also a healthy dose of humour as expected in an episode penned by showrunner Scott Gemmill.

There is much to enjoy, particularly with Callen and Sam back together as partners and in full on bromance mode.  The opening post-credit scene saw Callen padding round his current abode - the boatshed - with Sam surfacing from the sea through the hatch in the interrogation room.  The banter turns serious when Sam reveals his SEAL buddy Tom has sailed off with Mosley’s son Derrick to keep him safe.  Ironically Callen is rather miffed to discover Sam was going to keep it a secret.  There banter continues throughout, particularly with the drone scene, where the pair of them manage to destroy four prototype drones, on loan to NCIS via Hetty for beta testing, intercut with Eric’s reaction to the their incompetence.  Fun though it was, the scene went on too long and became repetitive.  Callen successfully controlled a small drone when he went rogue in season seven’s Active Measures and Eric should have taken control much earlier.  The same can be said for Sam driving the Challenger with Callen as passenger with the hood on fire.  Neither could see through the windscreen and the scene was too long.  It did allow Eric to say he thinks the car is on fire, probably keen to understand why it was still being driven.  Luckily (and obviously), Sam managed to drive to in to a car wash.  It also transpires that Callen plays golf with Sam, clearly a new hobby as Callen has in the past said he’s never played a game in his life.  The fact that Sam says he cheats at golf though, is very Callen!

Bromance may have been in full swing but Kensi and Deeks were separated, presumably as actor Eric Christian Olsen had limited availability for filming.  There were a number of partner swaps and missing partners last season, most of which involved Deeks and added very little to either the episode or to the development of his character.  This time, Deeks is used in a constructive and humorous manner as he is the first of the team to be interviewed by Special Prosecutor John Rogers.  When Deputy Director Ochoa asks if Deeks can stall Rogers, Callen  tells Kensi to ‘unleash the beast’.  Deeks is in his element, talking non-stop and mostly nonsense to frustrate Rogers and tie him in knots several times.  This was integral to the narrative as it allowed the team to track down Mosley and also showed how the investigation in to the team’s unauthorised mission to Mexico was fairing.  What was disappointing was the expectations which had been built from earlier episodes and from conversations in Asesinos, were not fulfilled. In fact they were ignored.  Ochoa explicitly warned Callen that the DOJ would dig deep in to the team and not limit the investigation to Mexico, and this included his relationships with Anna and Joelle.  Hetty too, warned Callen things may get worse for both of them before they get better.  In Asesinos, Ochoa briefly talks to Kensi about her relationship with Deeks, confirming his position as one of the good guys by saying the agency may frown on it but he’s not interested in their personal lives - although Special Prosecutor Rogers will use it against them.  Not once did Rogers challenge Deeks about this.  It is possible that Deeks and Kensi agreed on the same story that they were not together when they went to Mexico, however the opportunity for Rogers to dig deep and use their relationship against them was not taken.   

Most of this episode focuses around Mosley who is taking drastic steps to safeguard her son and their future. Unlike the finale, she is no longer making a desperate play but is instead strategic and calculating. The first seen sees her at a hotel bar, going back to a strange man’s hotel room, pretending to make a play and pulling a gun from her bathrobe when he attacks her.  The clue she was not just hooking up for a one night stand is when the man says to her ‘Is it me or does it feel like everyone’s out to get you in LA?’  The fight is intense, with Mosley holding her ground and winning.  NCIS does breed highly capable female agents!  Mosley’s plan is to play two cartels against each other, initiating contact by offering to sell the identities of her fellow agents in Mexico.  The example she shows is a sheet of personal information on Callen, which clearly has his next of kin as ‘Jason Tedrow’, Callen’s defunct alias from season one.  The data is clearly fake, however as the team are only listening to her conversations, they believe she is selling them out, which is particularly believable due to her ruthless behaviour in the finale. There may be doubt too from the viewers if the data on Callen was not spotted, and with people keen to see Mosley as pure evil.  The team hunt her down with Callen cornering her and letting her go, in a scene which was reminiscent of how he let Jada Kaled go in season seven’s The Long Goodbye.  The re-emergence of Arlo Turk was also confirmation that Mosley had a plan. Turk is not the type to would allow anyone to get the drop on him so when Mosley suddenly appearing and holds a gun on him, another piece of the puzzle begins to fall in place - especially when Turk in lying on the ground at the meet, his hands cuffed in front of him.  Like Callen, such a character could easily escape from handcuffs and so it had to be a ploy. The enjoyment though, is doubting Mosley’s actions and motives.   

There were yet more throwbacks when the team were interviewed by Rogers.  They have all agreed on the same script and the scene cuts to different members telling the same story about Mexico, moving their story forward seamlessly from the previous agent. This was similar to the Marines in season three’s Vengeance, who all shared the same story and recited the same summary of the film they’d seen at the cinema. The agents’ story also made sense of why Callen’s reference to Hidoko’s death in the opening, sounded rather cold and harsh.  It could be how he emotionally distances himself, but Hidoko, who is no longer alive to defend herself, has become the scapegoat for Mosley and their unauthorised mission.  Rogers clears Mosley, Hetty and the team of any wrongdoing, effectively drawing a line in the sand.  Is this really the end or will there be further ramifications from Mexico?  What did Mosley promise to Rogers during their off the records chat in his car, at the end of Hit List, a few episodes ago?  And in the same episode, why was Callen warned about how the investigation could affect him?

The little throwbacks to previous episodes are always fun, especially for hardcore fans and it was curious to hear Ochoa refer to OSP as the graveyard, as nickname in Quantico with the deaths of Granger, Duggan and Hidoko (not to mention Renko and Hunter). This also meant there was continuity, including Sam asking Callen about Anna and Turk asking about Deeks. The lack of clarity and mismanagement of expectations leaves a slight taste of disappointment.  Yes the episode was strong and fun, yet there was also an element of over the top scenes and reactions. With a little more thought in these areas, Asesinos could have been great. 

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