S07E02 Citadel

With tantalising teasers from the press release, promo and sneak peeks, the second episode of season seven promised to deliver an insight into another character of mystery, Marty Deeks.

The case of the week involved DEA Agent Talia Del Campo’s partner of fifteen years Mark Moore, (although in season five Talia works alone after having a relationship with her previous partner).  Moore is shot dead by a security guard as he reveals to Talia that he was blackmailed in to betraying the DEA.  Talia in turn, shoots dead the guard.  NCIS are asked as an independent agency, to investigate and find the drug cartel informant list which Moore had downloaded to a thumb drive.  The common vector between Moore and the security guard was the behavioural research company, Citadel.

Citadel conducts tests on behalf of all Federal Agencies, including the HL7; a determinate of whether a candidate has the right psychological profile to be a federal agent.  All the NCIS agents, including Deeks, have taken and passed the test, with Deeks revealing how thorough they were, digging through his school records, contacting neighbours, polygraphs, leaving no stone unturned.

Naturally, Kensi and Deeks were sent to seek out Talia, who remains as flirtatious with Deeks as in previous episodes.  It is quickly apparent she has conveniently forgotten the end of S06E01, where she and Kensi had buried the hatchet and become friends.  Instead, Talia wound Kensi up, who admirably kept her cool, instead of ‘bleeding her [Talia] out’.  A shame really, as Kensi’s head butt in S06E01 was worthy of Lee Child’s fictional character Jack Reacher!

Talia is a fantastically annoying character and yet again, she serves as the catalyst to further the ‘Densi’ relationship.  She forces them to look in on themselves as individuals and as a couple, which in turn allows them to take a step forward.  Kensi required a touch more assistance and sought advice from Sam, allowing her to focus at a key point during her role in overwatch, but to also remain calm in the presence of Talia.  The end result is that Deeks took the huge leap of introducing Kensi to his mother.  Kensi stays true to herself by admitting to Momma Deeks that she doesn’t like cooking and has no intention of learning.  Her one word response to both answers were fantastic and resulted in an immediate approval from Mrs Deeks; a strong woman who knows her own mind.  This poses its own problem; in season two, Deeks did not even he know who his next of kin was, and now he has a loving mother..?

Early in the episode, Callen and Sam volunteered to infiltrate Citadel, at which point it was apparent that key insights in to Callen at least, would be revealed.  Their banter whilst debating which one would fail the test was only ever going to have one result.  Sam’s admission that he has never failed a test resurfaced throughout the episode, particularly during his one to one chat with Kensi.  He’s a perfectionist who has learned the art of ‘being’.  Callen’s deliberate attempts to make Sam fail at the ‘think of a number between one and ten’ game were typical of him, and the results highly amusing.

Callen entered the test room as his undercover persona – with attitude.  After cutting to Sam calmly looking forward to the test, the camera switches back to reveal Callen’s seemingly natural agitation, with a telling shot of his pulse clamped finger tapping nervously.  Next, Callen and Sam are shown in split screen, side by side yet in separate rooms with the same images in front of them.  First is a man cradling a baby.  Sam responds immediately with ‘father’, Callen just stares, stutters and fails to answer.  Sam responds to the next two images, yet Callen physically cannot function and his tester interrupts to ensure he is OK.  Callen and Sam's HL7 TestThe juxtaposition of his image / word association response to Sam’s, is most revealing; the machine beeps are higher pitched and more frequent in Callen’s room than Sam’s.  He likens crashing waves with ‘escape’ and a couple on their wedding day as a ‘fairy tale’.  Sam sees the latter as commitment. At the sight of Buddha, Callen says ‘father’ to Sam’s ‘forgiveness’, and his subconscious takes over with the following image of a cup of coffee.  From there on, he is lost, repeating the word ‘father’ and finally ripping off the wires and walking out at another image of a father and child.  Not only is there the visual confirmation, through the wild unkempt hair and beard, that Callen is still extremely affected by Hetty’s revelations about his father, but he has now managed to fail a psychological test through his own insecurities rather than deliberately failing under an alias.

No such test was required for Deeks, however this is another character who spent the entire episode lying to both himself and his partner.  The constant calls and texts to his mobile, the slight hesitation before he told Kensi that it was his plumber, his inability to tell Talia to stop messing with him…His ineptitude was in stark contrast to his ability to deduce how DEA Agent Moore hid the missing thumb drive in the heel of his wife’s newly handcrafted shoes.  The attentiveness and sensitivity he demonstrated had Talia questioning his sanity, yet Kensi had total faith despite not following his logic at first.

There were many parallels between Deeks and Callen during ‘Citadel’.  It was extremely ironic to have Callen chat one on one with Deeks, gently reminding him that others see things he may not, to ensure Deeks concentrates on the case in hand, when clearly Callen himself is struggling to focus.  The revelations about Deeks during the market scene continue to plant seeds of doubt about his innocence with the Internal Affairs investigation.  For Citadel’s CEO, villain Dr Susan Rathburn, to be cut off as she stated that Deeks’ HL7 results suggested he would betray LAPD, has issues with authority and will continue to seek revenge for the one time…was extremely frustrating.  Could that ‘one time’ be the reason for the IA investigation?

Hetty’s cameo role saw her out manoeuvre Dr Rathburn and reveal she invented the HL7.  Bearing in mind the information about Deeks’ results and what is already known about Callen’s in-built traits, it is a wonder that either of them actually passed this key test that Hetty created.  Maybe she had her own algorithm to ensure certain ‘types’ passed?

Overall, this was an excellent episode (ignoring the blatant continuity errors), that focused on all four main characters, Callen and Deeks in particular.  Deeks seems to be on the road to salvation with Kensi, but Callen, as demonstrated last week, seems to be regressing.  If he sees marriage as a fairy tale – clearly his own relationship with Joelle must be suffering from his behaviour?  At least Hetty is trying to straighten him out through the gift of clippers, threatening to use them on him herself if he doesn’t smarten up (visually or psychologically?), although it was disappointing there was no residual tension between them from the season opener.  Sam is re-confirmed as a perfectionist, so the natural step will be for him to fail at some point and for the team to witness that fallout.  All in all, regular writer Dave Kalstein has produced another highly enjoyable and insightful episode.

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