NCIS Los Angeles is an office that specialises in undercover work and it’s been a while since any of the team have been on assignment. Recent cases have focused on the investigative side but watching various team members adopt different personas differentiates this show from the mothership. Episode writer Frank Military (Spoils of War, Rage, The Seventh Child, An Unlocked Mind) has set the bar high for dark, character driven episodes and once again, he does not disappoint. NSA Analyst Gary Dill has gone missing whilst investigating an ISIS cell who’s using a Mexican drug cartel to infiltrate the US. Using information from two fellow analysts, the team believe Dill may have been committed to a mental health hospital under the name of Noah Leipzig, and Callen is sent undercover as a fellow patient to make contact. Continue reading
The Queen’s Gambit picks up a day or so from the previous episode. Hetty has sacrificed herself as the mole to safeguard the rest of the team’s jobs and Kensi is still in a coma, having arrived in the States and been successfully operated on. Even with two of the team out of action, it is business as usual and the others are tasked with investigating the kidnapping of a Muslim by a female Marine. The first thing of note is that this is a proper Marine related case – yes there turns out to be a loose terrorist connection – but the Muslims are not the bad guys, and NCIS is asked by the Marine Corps to investigate. Continue reading
Season seven has been a roller coaster of a ride for all the main characters. Each has been allowed the opportunity to develop a little further and to shine in their own right. There has been no focus on one single character. And true to the show, the best episodes of the season have been the character driven ones such as Citadel, Internal Affairs, The Long Goodbye and The Seventh Child.
Like most NCIS Los Angeles episodes that feature a name in the title, the eponymous “Granger, O” focused on one character; the Assistant Director. Owen Granger first appeared in the season three episode “The Watchers” and was instantly disliked and not trusted by the team. He used them for his own means and investigated Kensi as a possible murderer, even ordering her to be held under house arrest. And in Kill House, he was responsible for Nell being captured by the bad guys. As a result, viewers generally have a love/hate relationship with Granger. Since season four, he has gradually warmed to the team and vice versa, and has even softened slightly since his poisoning last season in Traitor, occasionally showing a slightly more human side to him. Continue reading
Operational psychologist Dr Nate Getz has always been the soft-hearted good guy, and the press release for “Head Of The Snake” promised some high jinks with Nate, along the lines of ‘has he or hasn’t he turned bad’. From season two, Hetty has been cultivating Nate as a field operative, sending him to various corners of the world. He occasionally returns to the LA office to offer counsel, such as after Deeks and Sam’s torture and was last seen in season six, helping Nell after she made her first kill. Nate has also been the butt of Callen’s sometimes cruel jokes; in season four’s Paper Soldiers, he turns Nate’s caring question about his well-being back on him, by asking about how to find someone and how long he should wait before asking that someone out (Callen knowing full well that Nate spent a few years wooing Rose before they actually started dating). Now Nate has failed to check in from his undercover operation for three months, is a bad-ass and nasty, and this really does not sit quite right. But having been missing from the show for a while, anything is possible…
The case of the week began with a simple premise; a prisoner exchange goes wrong. Cuban prisoner Ricardo Pena held in America was to be exchanged for an former US Naval Officer held in Cuba. When Pena escapes the team are called in to investigate and quickly discover that it was Anna Kolchek who sprung him. The case then becomes increasingly complex, with the team challenging why Pena escaped rather than head home to Cuba, why the Department of Justice had two separate records with Pena’s details and why it was imperative that Pena be imprisoned. Eventually Callen and Anna realise Pena is actually a Russian spy who was keen to complete his mission and return to Russia. Continue reading
‘Matryoshka’ is the name given to the Russian nesting dolls. Each time a doll is opened, a smaller one is found inside until an entire family is revealed. The dolls are an analogy to the mysterious past of Callen. Every time a secret is revealed, he is a step closer to discovering the truth about himself, his family and the past he cannot remember. When he does encounter someone with information, they usually die (Eugene Keelson, Alexa Comescu, Hans Schreiber), and during the season six finale, Arkady Kolchek is also removed from his reach. Arkady is a tantalising link to Callen’s past; he’s met his father. Continue reading
Last week’s episode focused on Callen’s character, but this week the attention is clearly on Kensi, with Deeks also under scrutiny. Kensi’s back story has been explored during earlier seasons; investigations into her father’s death led Kensi to be accused of murder and to the subsequent reconciliation with her estranged mother. Kensi’s spell of living on the streets as a teenager was also touched on in last season’s ‘The Grey Man’. She was previously engaged to a marine named Jack who suffered with PTSD and left her on Christmas day. Hetty used this to her advantage when she sent Kensi to Afghanistan on the ‘white ghost’ mission. She knew that when Kensi found and recognised Jack, she would not be able to pull the trigger, and would instead investigate. But Kensi deliberately allowed herself to be captured and found Jack was also being held hostage (and that he had found peace in himself and moved on). Continue reading
Angels & Daemons is another strong standalone episode from the solid combination of Andrew Bartel’s writing, and James Hanlon’s direction. The pair have previously collaborated to bring us the important character based episode, The Grey Man (S6) and earlier this season, Driving Miss Diaz. Bartels’ episodes may not (yet) form part of the season’s arc, however they do provide amusement (S5 Allegiance) and key insights to the main characters (also think S6 Humbug and Fighting Shadows). Continue reading
At the age of fifteen, G. Callen was arrested for robbing a storage locker and sent to Southgate Juvenile Detention Centre. He spent three weeks there, describing it as hell before he escaped. This is the story of his three weeks of hell.
Warning for language and suggestive abuse in later chapters.
The anger was strong. The rage he felt at life itself coursed through his veins and made his heart pound. He barely acknowledged the sheer force of self loathing he felt; it was a daily occurrence and now part of who he was. And that was the question. Who the hell was he? All he had was a name. No scrap that, he thought. All he had was half a name – Callen. And that was only a surname. The types of kids that were called by their last name were usually those that were despised, whether that was despised as bullies, or despised as the kids no one wanted to know and just labelled as ‘trouble’. Callen usually fell into the second category but there were times when he had to be the bully if only to survive. Survival. Hell, that was a whole new topic. He had no idea how he did it, and some days he had no idea why he even wanted to survive, but it seemed to be an inherent skill. He had survived fifteen years of hell. OK, some months were better than others, but now he had reached his fifteenth year, things had reached a crescendo. Continue reading