Hetty’s self-imposed deadline for a successful mole hunt has just expired and Under Secretary of Defence Duggan arrives at NCIS to accept her resignation. But it seems that the mole is also aware of the deadline as bang on the ninety days, the team is sent in to disarray when Granger, Sam, Deeks and Callen are all arrested by different agencies and for different crimes.The offensive on the male characters takes place early in the episode, opening with Granger, groggily waking up and finding a woman – Heather, who the team have been searching for in connection with the mole – beaten and unconscious on the floor. The blood Granger has already discovered on him means he is the prime suspect and LAPD arrest him on sight. Deeks, sent to LAPD to check on Granger, is stonewalled and subsequently arrested. Internal Affairs Detective Whiting delights in advising she has new evidence implicating Deeks in the murder of his former partner. Just as this information is relayed to Sam and Callen in the field, the DEA turn up. When Sam approaches them, he’s also arrested when a dead body and drugs are found in the trunk of his Challenger. Callen sneaks off to his neighbour’s house (for milk and cookies) to run surveillance on his own home. Cue the ATF who are tracking Callen through his cell, and chase him down using a dog; they’ve found a dead body and explosives on his property. (Maybe he should have taken Sam’s advice and moved.)
It was interesting to see the different interrogation techniques employed by each of the agencies, the different types of rooms used and the behaviour adopted by the agents. The DEA interrogation room is warmly lit with an orange hue, with Sam gently but firmly dancing around DEA Sanchez, their dialogue bouncing back and forth with the camera perpetually swirling round them. Both men are seated and there is mutual respect between them. The next cut is to Deeks in a small, drab and dreary interview room. There is more of a verbal spar between Deeks and Detective Whiting with less of the bite from season seven, and despite Deeks being under arrest, he almost has the position of power. He remains standing, prowling around the front of the box-room and literally thinking on his feet. He makes Whiting smile but she still has the upper hand. Like Sam, who requested DEA Agent Talia Del Campo and was refused, Deeks’ request to see his Captain is also denied The next scene is Callen’s interrogation by ATF Agent Morgan. His room is sparse but light, with a two way mirror, quite reflective of Callen himself. He is seated to Morgan’s standing and he bluntly plays to sensibilities which initial garners the respect of Morgan, who sits down opposite him. But his words fall on deaf ears and Callen does well to rein in his emotions and not lose his temper.
Day turns to night and the second round of interrogation scenes again all follow each other, this time starting with Deeks who seems to be going stir-crazy, slamming the walls to get attention. The mutual respect between Sam and Sanchev has worn thin for Sam who demands his phone call. The biggest contrast is in Callen’s interrogation. Like Sam, he is sitting in the same position but is much less relaxed. His room has turned dark and Morgan is bouncing a ball against the floor and walking behind Callen, creating tension which is reciprocated in Callen’s passive aggressive attitude; he tells Morgan to let him out so he can do his job and Morgan’s. Deeks may be acting like a caged beast but Callen’s stillness belies a man that loathes to be cornered. He is simmering beneath the surface. Several times now Callen has been shown escaping from handcuffs and from custody, which is a theme set to continue, judging by the promo for the next episode.
Kensi has made great progress and even though she is not cleared to return to the field, she happily jumps in the deep end when all the guys are arrested, liberating Heather from the hospital so she can be safely interrogated in the boatshed. Kensi overpowers a guard and saves Heather from a targeted drive-by shooting, and later convinces Heather to reveal who’s behind the attacks on NCIS, recognising the morse code used. Heather is working for the CIA! Is another agency really trying to take down NCIS? With Hetty watching, Kensi must surely have justified her position back on the team.
For the Densi fans, there is talk of the proposal from both Deeks and Kensi on separate occasions, albeit to the same stonewalling LAPD Officer. They may have only shared one scene in Ops, and it certainly felt that after the uncertainty of Kensi’s state of mind, her chat with Nate last week has pushed her forward again. Their relationship may still take a back seat for a few episodes though, until the mole is flushed out.
In between the arrests and interrogations, there were several shock moments, particularly one involving Granger at LAPD, and later with Duggan. It had earlier been suspected that Duggan could be the mole, until Hetty tested the waters and realised his true motives. When the face of the van driver shooting at Kensi and Heather is revealed, for a few seconds it became entirely possible that Eric could be a mole. It is only when he blows across the barrel of his gun and nearly burns his mouth, is it confirmed that the shooting was a ruse. It was a delight to see Eric was effective and normal in the field. There may not have been many laughs, yet there were amusing lines such as Deeks complaining the coffee has still not improved since the last time he was arrested by Whiting, and then there was the in-joke that Kensi would make a terrible sister-wife…
The episode closed with the men still locked up, and Kensi and Hetty escaping through the hatch ofthe boatshed’s interrogation room, after an assault by SWAT. The mole’s net is closing fast and cruelly there is a two week wait until the part two. First time episode writer Anastasia Kousakis (daughter of executive producer John Peter Kousakis) has done a grand job in displaying the true characteristics of the team when under extreme pressure. Intermingled with small pieces of action was a fast paced narrative which cut between the different interrogations and the investigations by the women. The stakes have certainly increased and a high bar has been set – parts two and three have a high standard to reach.
What were your thoughts on the episode? How many red herrings will be thrown our way during parts two and three? And who will be outed as the mole(s)?