NCIS: Los Angeles S11E13 High Society - Review

High Society opens with the team concluding a case. Lieutenant Commander Daniel Palmer crashes through the ceiling of a yoga studio, where Sam shoots him again and again, until he is finally dead. As has occurred several times in recent seasons, the case the team believe is closed actually turns out to be not quite finished. Sam and Kensi visit the coroner to understand Palmer's superhuman moves, which are linked to a type of drug utilised by terrorist groups and coincidentally found to be the cause of death in a number of bodies stacked up in the mortuary. From here the team investigate how the drug is on the streets of LA and funding terrorist activities.

In a similar vein to the Christmas episode 'Answers', before the case takes them in another direction, the team are seen winding down. This allows interesting and somewhat crucial insights into their private lives, more so for some than others. Callen remains in the boatshed to 'finish up some things', opening his laptop once Kensi and Nell leave, with the clear intention (based on recent episodes) of searching for Anna Kolcheck. The next morning's activities are more fun with the return of Mamma Deeks, prompting the usual quick witted conversations between her and her son. Sam visits a coffee shop he knows Katherine Casillas (seen earlier this season in Provenance and Concours D'Elegance) frequents and conveniently bumps in to her, flirting and setting up the possibility for future 'meetings'. Even Eric and Nell have the opportunity to reflect on their relationship and the fact Eric struggles to handle any form of life changes.

Eric has a line which sums up the episode and in some ways the season to date: "Life has become a waiting room of uncertainty." Although he was referring to his relationship with Nell, her sick mother and the unknown situation with Hetty, it can be applied to the entire team. NCIS: Los Angeles has been in stasis. During the first half of the season there was no clear direction. Hetty was AWOL without explanation and there was no narrative arc to thread through the season. The closest has been the possibility Kensi will fall pregnant, and that Callen seemed to be reflecting on (or yearning for) his lone wolf days. The final few episodes of last year put some meat on these bones for Callen. He now has a purpose: to look for Anna and rekindle their relationship. The more crucial element is the prospect that Hetty may/will retire shortly, Callen will assume her position and a new team member will join the fold (although the team are easily working and resolving the cases without the presence of a senior NCIS manager or director).

In terms of 'High Society', there is a level of sombreness which contrasts with the more lighthearted elements. Roberta Deeks kick starts by embracing her fears, commenting to Deeks that he doesn't want to wake up one day with a heart full of regrets, eventually revealing that she’s realised she has more years behind her than in front. This is followed by Deeks (partnered with Callen on this case), cutting to the chase and asking if he has regrets about Anna, reminding Callen they last saw her in Cuba, shot in the leg with a warrant for her arrest. Finding her may not be easy. Sam later jumps in on the sombre theme, verbalising the emotions he experienced after his wife died to a suspect in the interrogation room.

The case of the week is rather forgettable with only a tentative connection to the military which could have been handed off to the DEA - in fact Deeks even mentioned Talia Del Campo. Instead the team run with it, encountering three characters previously seen in recent seasons. First is Katherine who for the third time in as many appearances, manages to insert herself in the middle of the team's operation, this time at a fashion show. Secondly is the coroner who is just as ridiculously deluded as when he was previously seen in S9 Where Everybody Knows Your Name (with the annoying FBI Agent Zoe Morris). Lastly is pathological liar Victor who brings some fun to the interrogation room and Callen and Deek's questioning. He was also seen in Where Everybody Knows Your Name, the link being both that and High Society were written by Chad Mazero. Two other characters (the waitress and the bad guys target) are extremely judgmental and presumptive about law enforcement. Both are forced to eat their words when the waitress realises video footage may help solve a murder, and the team save the target's life.

Partner swaps are usually intriguing and are often the result of team manipulation by a higher power. In this instance, it is casually referred to in a throw-a-way sentence from Callen to Deeks half way through. Sam simply asked Callen to swap partners for the day. Such swaps can be fun, changing the dynamics with one on one scenes however this week the chemistry seemed a little off, maybe caused by the lack of any drive or motivation for the switch. Maybe Sam is testing the waters of not having Callen as a partner. The fun element mostly comes from Deeks, interacting with his mother, his burgeoning bromace with Eric Beale, and DJing at the fashion show while wearing a mouse head while Kensi struts down the catwalk.

The closure of the episode continues with the now established story-arc of Callen and Anna. After everyone has left for the day, Callen utilises the Ops centre to retrieve information on Anna that suggests she is behind a series of murders in Europe. It is unlikely she has suddenly turned into an assassin for hire and as she was last seen in the company of CIA Officer Joelle Taylor, (and Hetty's last know location was Europe), Anna may be hot on the heels of the real killer. Hopefully all will be revealed in the not too distant future.

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