S08E12 Kulinda

The case of the week sees the team investigate a private security firm who are under suspicion of being in cohorts with criminal gangs, and Sam is sent undercover as himself, to investigate the security firm, ‘Kulinda’, from the inside.  Undercover assignments have been scarce this season with the only one of note being Callen in the mental hospital patient.  The mission for Sam is very straight forward without any danger and does not draw on any of his talents, but not all episodes need to be full of action.

The case is used to showcase the positive impacts that individuals and organisations can have on a disadvantaged community within Los Angeles.  A local counsellor is seen addressing a small audience at a hotel reception, championing the people for getting up and making a difference to the area.  On the same vein, Kulinda works with youths to encourage them off the streets and out of gangs, rewarding them for top school grades.  In separate scenes, both Deeks and Callen displayed an understanding of the importance of keeping kids out of trouble and having a safe haven, unspoken reminders of their own youth.  vlcsnap-2017-01-10-23h44m10s082Unfortunately one particular youth needed money and agreed to work with Syrian money launderers.  The Kulinda security officer shot at the start, was a result of him confronting the Syrians to order them away from the youth.  In direct opposition to helping those less fortunate, Sam’s first job with Kulinda’s is to protect a YouTube star, who  ordering goods and films herself unboxing and critiquing them.  Callously, she has no sympathy for a woman whose business she ruined after attacking her clothing good during one of her video blogs.

Underpinning the abundance of community spirit and hope, is Kensi’s desperation to return to the field.  She turns up in the gym to find Anna Kolcheck exercising and despite her best efforts to emphasise she is not encroaching on Kensi’s territory, it is clear that Kensi is feeling pushed out.  (The day-dream sequence of her attacking Anna could well have been replayed at this moment.)  The cold hard fact is the team is a field member down and on occasion Anna fills that role, as does Nell.  Kensi reacts in a similar way to Eric, when he appears in the gym.  She clearly did not want to encounter anyone.  vlcsnap-2017-01-10-23h39m04s177

Hetty has drafted in Nate to work on Kensi’s return to the field, and the frank and honest discussion puts her actions in to perspective.  Kensi’s worse fear is not reaching 100%, never being able to return to the field which recalls her conversation with Deeks from S08E01.  Her life is being a Federal Agent and she isn’t ready to give that up for anyone. Nate tells her she’s not yet ready to return and therefore it was a deliberate ploy that the closing scene shows the team enjoying each others company socially, but without Kensi.

Kensi has experienced a lot of emotional pain in her life; from her father’s death to a fiancé with PTSD who abandoned her, to being captured and tortured in Afghanistan.  Such an amalgamation of events will eventually cause anyone to crack and actress Daniela Ruah’s maternity leave has allowed the show to fully explore the physical and emotional impacts in a way they never have before.  What was the alternative?  No Kensi on screen at all for four months?  The storyline is mature, well thought out and much better than season five’s White Ghost assignment.

The lack of scenes featuring Kensi and Deeks is indicative of her subconsciously pulling away from him, a reminder that Kensi is fiercely independent and proud.  Relationships are not all plain sailing, they take work – even more so due to Kensi’s trauma.  It is an opportunity for the characters to re-establish their own individuality rather than continually be defined by each other.  Kensi and Deeks  work so well together and have great chemistry, so surely within the next few episodes, equilibrium will be restored.  [In real life, it is an indication that Daniela Ruah has not fully returned from maternity leave.]

vlcsnap-2017-01-10-23h52m30s724This week, Deeks is not purely defined as the team jester.  He demonstrates his capability in the shooting range with Sam and opens up a little about Kensi.  Later he explains the history of the Japanese trees near the Kulinda offices, with Nell constantly waiting for the punch line that never materialises. Nell was also more consistent and believable in the field; not over zealous or a nervous rookie.  Thankfully Eric remained in Ops and was shut down by Callen when he started on a tangent about threads.  It certainly would have been interesting to see Eric approach Callen for a shooting range drill, as Deeks and Sam suggested to Eric earlier…a missed opportunity there!  Instead, the most amusing scene was a boy shutting Callen down by saying he was talking to “the lady” (Anna).

Callen gets a rare opportunity to explore his relationship with Anna, who’s turned up at his house with bagels (has Garrison moved out)?  Their actions during previous episodes makes it unclear if they are a couple; it seems they have a ‘will they, won’t they’ relationship, with neither wanting to fully commit.  Anna’s nervousness vlcsnap-2017-01-10-23h43m25s575and indecisiveness only encourages Callen to instigate a passionate kiss.  Later she starts and then stops a conversation about weekend plans, which leads Callen to ask her to continue, meaning she almost forces his hand to agree to whatever she was about to suggest – Legoland and an outlet mall!  It seems that Callen is easy going in the romance stakes and is almost allowing Anna to manipulate him.  Are her feelings genuine or is she playing him?  That leads in to the upcoming arc centring around the mole, where all guest and main characters actions may be second guessed.  Hetty’s absence was explained by her having one last card to play.  Granger’s absence remained unexplained, even though Callen has been staking out his house and voiced concerns over his health (how much has that relationship developed)?!

Overall Kulinda was a solid episode with a positive community vibe that offers hope for those in less fortunate circumstances, juxtaposed by the desperation of Kensi’s situation. There were a few clumsy moments; the killed security officer had bullet holes in his shirt before he was shot, and an extra in the YouTube scene was catching flies!

Even though many of the procedural aspects remain, season eight has developed a number of ongoing threads which are prevalent throughout most episodes.  This has made the storytelling more linear and kept a high level of narrative continuity which seems set to continue – hopefully long in to season nine and beyond.

Please leave a comment about your thoughts on this episode

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5 thoughts on “S08E12 Kulinda

  1. jeffersonmunroe

    We had a lot of similar thoughts on this episode which always makes me feel good that I’m not the only one interpreting things this way ^_^ Excellent points about Kensi and her recovery and relationship with Deeks. I think the writers have handled the whole storyline quite well so far.

    Your mention of Nell in the field reminded me that I thought they were going to develop her character a bit with more field work. But apparently not. But that’s fine because I liked this episode’s more realistic take on her better.

    I would have loved to see Eric ask Callen for shooting lessons 😀 maybe another time?

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  2. Donnamarie

    Sorry but I thought this episode was boring. As a Deeks and Densi fan I am missing them. Yes, I realise Kensi has been through alot and is still recovering but Deeks has been through alot too.. The team has been wonderful in supporting him. I would just like to see Deeks and Kensi together working through this onscreen. Loved the scene with Deeks and Sam. Hopefully the next few episodes improve.

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  3. snoopgirlz

    Great review! Agree that the whole “Kensi thing” is being done so wonderfully well .. but I really miss her presence on the show. Didn’t know how much until she was ‘gone’!

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  4. robin1028

    Unfortunatley this season is dragging, its been way to long to on the Mole situation, Hetty although she is very manultive with her people, almost jealous of her team getting in volved such as Kensi and Deeks!!! her presence is sorely missed , What ever happened with Callens Father,”nothing” really?. very dissapointing, We all Disagree with the person that said Nell was more credible in this eposote ,she is still very unbeilevable and very much disliked in the field playing at being a agent, out of the 47 of us that have faithfully watched and loved your show for the 1st 7 Seasons.. all of us would like to see her gone or at least in ops only…love Anna on the show she is a great asset to the show, not to replace Kensi by all means, No one could do that, Anna and Callen are a perfect match in the field, “as well as personal”.. Callen ,Deeks, Kensi and Eric hold that show together, and of course Hetty…Granger, someone should teach Sam how the speak he sounds slurred, muffled, hopefully he will be phased out or at least down, not much kootos for him from the REAL military seals either, 3 Navy Seals in our group
    Love to see this show get back to where it should be instead of going downhill as it has been
    Writers!! you have a 1/2 dozen of the best TV actors on your show, this could be lot better, we have all seen Callen in big screen movies and Specials and he is great ,,, come on guys”

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  5. Linda Wigington

    Thanks again for your incite into the mind of “Kulinda”. I hadn’t thought too much about the plot because it is often a back drop to the characters. I see all the interactions of the characters here as being imposed on the idea of community, positive actions and hope. I want to think that that suggests as some have, that all will be right with their world again after the mole is caught. I see that with Nate and Kensi and in turn Kensi and Deeks. I know that a lot of people want them to be back together right away but life is not like that. As you said, you have to work on a relationship and Kensi has to work through a lot. The writers have done a wonderful job of accounting for her maternity leave. It also has become a way of confronting a wider social issue. The other relationship, that of Callen and Anna, was dealt with well, I thought. I thought she came across as hesitant and not sure of how far she should go. This would happen in any new relationship and I feel she played it just right. They both should be taking things slow right now but at least there is hope for the future. Things are going to get darker in the next few episodes and I am looking forward to finding out the identity of the mole.

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