As season 8 begins to draw to a close, the most recent episode brings immense satisfaction by bringing the show back to it’s lovable basics. No matter how interesting partnership shake ups can be with the utilisation of existing and recurring characters, 767 had everyone back where they belong and where they perform best. Nell and Eric are firmly kept in the environs of ops, the field agents are out in the field solving crime and risking their lives and Hetty is keeping an eye on things, as always.
The case of the week sees the team investigate the murder of an engineer who was working on a Navy project for a new guided missile destroyer. Investigations which quickly lead to his co-worker Aiden Tinker, who is suspected of stealing the classified files. (Yes, Callen does say Tinker and Spy in the same sentence, John Le Carré reference anyone?) As Tinker boards a flight to Toyko, Sam and Callen follow as business passengers. The rest of the team continue their investigations in LA. This means the entire team are working towards the same goal. There are no subplots or individuals syphoned off for a personal crusade or a private mission for Hetty. The team is split in to the established and expected partnerships. Kensi and Deeks work the case on the ground while Sam and Callen are back together and undercover, after what seems to be a prolonged absence from each other.
Kensi & Deeks are under the covers, as this week it’s their turn to have their romantic liaisons explored. The opening may show the two attempting to be intimate before being rudely interrupted by a call in to work, but it’s their dialogue which has real purpose. Kensi’s struggles to return to the field have mostly been physical. She has had to endure being bedridden, wheelchairs, physiotherapy as well as the mental anguish of maybe never being able to return to the field. Other aspects have not been covered until now. Kensi has been having trouble sleeping and this is the first time she has slept well, which has maybe given her the strength required to restart the sexual side of her relationship with Deeks. Deeks has supported Kensi throughout her recovery and endured his own mental anguish of questioning whether he is strong enough for his partner. Kensi is still on the path to recovery and not all aspects of this are on display – to the rest of the team at least. Both have to wait a little longer to satisfy their desires and the lighter tone of the episode is set when Deeks begs Kensi to stay in bed with him, the length of time required shortening with each moment he begs.
Deeks to Kensi: You’re the strong one.
The banter continues throughout with both sets of partners, starting with Sam and Callen in the gym and continued when Sam is given a first class plane ticket for their undercover op, leaving Callen in coach. They constantly wind each other up with their beautiful bromantic banter, which has been sorely missed recently. The two play off each other so easily, although Callen does always seem to get the bum deal, this time seated next to a large, chatty chap who clearly enjoys people. Callen on the other hand, does not, although eventually with Sam enjoying the perks of first class, Callen reluctantly relents and is shown eating the proffered chicken drumstick.
Passenger: What’s your name?
Passenger: What kind of a name is that?
Callen: A short one!
Nell and Eric’s investigations not only progress the case but also the narrative. The team have to work to find the answers and as they guess and deduce, so the viewer is enlightened as the team make the connections. There are no twists and turns. The plot is straight forward which allows the episode to flow with action and humour. Much to Kensi’s amusement, Deeks get hit on by the public relations officer at Tinker’s engineering firm. Sam has briefed his ex-SEAL contact about Deeks, who greets him as “Shaggy” and tries to negotiate a gift in return for information. There are also sweet moments with Kensi wanting a weekend get away, and Deeks discussing weekend plans, with Deeks holding out as he’s surprising Kensi with her friends, Kat, Mindy, Mandy, Tiffany and Tiffany.
The flight attendant who assists Sam and Callen seems grossly ill suited to manage an in-air emergency, displaying no decisive or leadership skills. Luckily with the support of the agents, she ups her game which will also help give her the strength to move on from such an ordeal, which neatly follows from the earlier conversations about Kensi’s psychological recovery. There is a very accurate reflection of popular culture with passengers recording the fights on their cell phones, potentially risking their own lives with the fight in such close proximity. Even the Captain is a strong character. He’s ex-Navy and even though he only makes an appearance at the end, he delivers what could be prophetic words, saying that men like them [Sam and Callen] are not designed to grow old.
Equilibrium has been restored and as this is episode 19 of 24, it will only last so long. It is the calm before the storm. The Captain’s words leads neatly to the closing scenes where Hetty shares an expensive drink with Sam and Callen. She expresses her thoughts about the dark events of the last twelve months and they toast the future and to writing the pages of this year. Unfortunately, the “hell of a story” Hetty wishes to make, is bound to test the team to their limits. Let’s hope there won’t be too many casualties along the way.
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