NCIS: Los Angeles S12E09 Review


Jimmy Fang and his gang.  A ‘previously on NCISA’ provides a reminder that Jimmy Fang was the one who got away back in Overdue (S12E07) when he was trying to buy US high end developmental technology.  This allows for a significant shift away from last week and instead focuses finding Fang and his latest attempt to obtain military technology. 

Jimmy Fang is not fleshed out and remains a fringe character. The only threat he poses is when he’s involved in a gunfight with the team - which has happened in each of his episodes.  This effects the intensity and excitement, as well as the overall narrative. Finding Fang takes the team down various routes that involve a Nigerian working on a new defence system designed to intercept hypersonic missiles, who has an (innocent link) to Boko Haram, and a criminal gang, one of whom works for Fang. The characters involved are different from the ones featured last week, which makes it tricky to keep track of who’s who, particularly when there is a high number of characters.  It’s a shame there is little continuity in this respect.  Sabatino is still present though, chasing down the counterfeit bills which are now very much a secondary concern.  And Nell, who was conspicuous by her absence last week, is again missing in action - although none of the team seem to realise! Eric is once again up in ops.

Plugging the gaps with absent and semi-absent characters is the surprise return of Retired Admiral Kilbride, who’s checking in on the team and partners up with Sam, as Callen has taken time off for personal reasons.  Kilbride brings his own dry, no nonsense attitude, and there was a great call back to his last appearance, when he was extremely grumpy and impatient, and Callen and Sam had to act as his bodyguards. Once again there are references to different generations, pre empting conversations between Kilbride and Sam about their children.  There is no doubt a career with a federal agency and can affect personal relationships and family life.

Deeks is still at FLETC and in a reversal of last week’s trials where he was failing, he is now preparing for the graduation ceremony, with Kensi ready to fly out post-case.  They have a great bantering session, with Kensi advising Deeks he needs to be silent for ten minutes of every 100 miles during their road trip home.  Clearly Deeks had a lot to say about that!  Kensi and Sabatino remain partners and again they have fun in the field, as do Rountree and Fatima.  In more throwbacks to recent episodes, Rountree has found the TV show that starred Fatima Namazi, in her pre-NCIS days. The two work well together, evident in their early action scene where Rountree runs towards the racing getaway van and tackles a tramp out of the way as Fatima fires at the van. The scene is filmed in slow-motion and captures Rountree’s excellent facial expression, mid-tackle.  The same filming technique is adopted for the final shootout with Fang, Kensi and Sabatino. Worryingly (and not mentioned), Kensi shoots and kills the human shield Fang uses, to try and get to him. He may have been a fellow villain but he was unarmed.  Consider the ramifications Anna Kolcheck endured a few seasons ago...Sabatino also reveals his artistic side as a musician and there is a wonderful scene as he leaves to inflict himself on his next target, walking off singing ‘Cum on Feel the Noise’, instigated by Kensi.

Deeks’ impending graduation is short lived when he calls Kensi to say he’s actually washed out, and is jumping on the next flight back to LA. There is no reason given although it quickly becomes clear when he returns to the bullpen and Hetty appears on screen, that she has pulled the most messed up, inhumane trick on him (in his words), making Deeks think he’s failed FLETC when Hetty wanted to be the one to ‘virtually’ hand him his NCIS Investigator badge. A fait accompli.  

Possibly the most controversial issue of the episode lies with Callen. He’s taken time off whilst the team are in the middle of a case which is out of character (most likely due to actor availability), to surprise Anna with a marriage proposal.  He is a little frustrated when he can’t speak to anyone at Rebuild USA where Anna is volunteering, immediately followed with a flashback to Callen as a young man.  Flashbacks are seldom used in the show and character-wise have only been used with Callen to further his development.  They should have a defined purpose, for example in season 2 when he suddenly recalls witnessing his mother’s murder when he was about four. A pivotal moment was revealed in Rage (S6E20), with a teenage Callen spiralling into a life of crime until Hetty saved him. Three episodes ago, the return of a foster brother prompted the third insight into a young Callen who was not yet standing up to bullies. 

The first of two flashbacks, filmed in flashes of sunshine, partially obscuring the characters, shows Callen happy and in love.  There is no hint of the emotionally closed-off loner, and yet there is no reason to think that Callen shouldn’t have made a few friends and fallen in love whilst at college.  There is certainly evidence that he is applying skills learnt from Hetty, when his girlfriend gently accuses Callen of playing ‘Jedi mind tricks’ on her father. The sharp intake of breath and the “no” is on point for Callen, who then replies that he can tell what people want to talk about and make them feel comfortable, and so they keep talking.  The mannerisms and inflictions in his reply demonstrate a great casting choice, and deliverance of the lines. It is her comment that he’s going to be the best consultant (in Chicago), which raises questions. Has Hetty only partially trained him? Did college open his eyes to other avenues he never thought possible and he’s rebelled against his destiny?  This certainly goes against the grain of what is known about G Callen to date.

In the second flashback he’s breaking off the relationship, literally turning his back and walking away from his girlfriend while she asks him why. He fails to answer. In the back of a chauffeur driven car Hetty tells him he’s walked away from his one chance of a nice peaceful life, and it will be a lonely existence. Callen’s view is polarised, he can’t reconcile a nice peaceful life with finding his father, or discovering his name. The two options are mutually exclusive in his mind, perhaps as a result of Jedi mind tricks applied by Hetty? The inference is here is that Callen chose to be a spy rather than being groomed for such a life in the ‘Hetty Lange school of mischief’, with his ‘great potential’.  Whereas these can be explained away, what cannot is the rather awful CGI of a young Hetty.  Eric Christian Olsen had the right idea with last season’s Mother, where Hetty was only seen from behind with a young Akhos. It is a shame the same methodology was not adopted in A Fait Accompli.

Outside the flashbacks, Callen has driven to Anna’s motel only to find Rebuild USA has never booked the motel or been heard of by the owner.  Anna has been lying to him for months and the pain and confusion is evident. He had overcome his trust issues with Anna and now she’s let him down again. She did not trust him with her CIA operation with Joelle, Katya and his father (S10 Searching & No More Lies), although he would have insisted in involving himself and potentially jeopardising the mission if he had known... After the DOJ advised Anna her record was wiped (S11E18 Missing Time), they were seen setting up surveillance on Anna, to see if Katya made an appearance. It was rumoured this was the intended season 11 finale, if the pandemic hadn’t broken.

If this was not enough of a shocker, the final scene tops this when Sam’s daughter calls him for a quick hello when she’s walking to her car. As they hang up, she is attacked from behind by a masked man.  There is no hint of a current villain out for Sam, and surely he deserves not more heartache and stress of yet another family member in peril. He’s experienced this with his son, lost his wife and now his daughter has been kidnapped.

A Fait Accompli is a key episode with Deeks passing FLETC, Anna’s lies and disappearance and Kamran’s kidnapping but unfortunately the execution, muddled in with the case of the week, was rather lacking, as were the questionable flashbacks for Callen.  They weren’t really needed and it’s part of the cannon of his character, that he struggles with relationships and commitments, especially after Joelle’s betrayal.   In addition to this, earlier Kilbride advised that Hetty’s op has hit a snag but no need to worry yet, and so another seed is planted.  Generally, there was a great feeling of team cohesion, particular with the bullpen back in play, the early scene between Kensi and Deeks, and the teams in the field, with banter and an increase in the action. 

The next episode is on 14th February and titled The Frogman’s Daughter, suggesting Kam’s kidnapping will be tackled immediately. 

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