An NCIS: Los Angeles script by Frank Military has come to carry with it certain expectations, among them a darker tone than your average NCIS:LA episode. Picture “Spoils of War,” “Descent/Ascension,” or even his very first script for the series, “Little Angels.” “Black Budget” was decidedly lighter fare, as we followed Sam and Callen on an expedition to Tijuana to track down a possible witness. Unfortunately for Deeks and Densi fans, the couple was largely left by the wayside back in L.A. First though, the plot…
The Story This Week
We open on what turns out to be the (curiously insecure) DOD West Coast Office of Accounting and Contracting, which handles funding information on covert operations for the Pacific Rim. Masked gunmen burst in and kill all but one of the workers on the weekend skeleton crew. They steal two servers, putting the lives of dozens of covert operatives at risk. The lone survivor, Milton Mulrooney, disappears into Mexico, and Sam and Callen are off to track him down. They trail him first to a brothel and then to the home of his fiancée and her family. Only it turns out he’s not an innocent witness, but the inside man working with a group of arms dealers. They’ve framed a Delta unit for stealing $41 million dollars in black ops money from under the noses of governmental oversight committees. With some help from Mulrooney’s future in-laws, Sam and Callen hold off the bad guys long enough for Granger and the real Delta unit to ride to their rescue. Oh, and Deeks and Kensi track down a couple of minor clues.
A Flourishing Bromance
The episode was really centered on Sam and Callen, whose bromance has been on full, glorious display since the season opener. The banter has never flowed more easily between them, and they both seem to be having lots of fun. Seeing Sam get into the “clown car” and then be startled by the automatic seatbelt was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on NCIS:LA. Perhaps it was karmic payback for all the times he made Deeks squeeze into the backseat of his Challenger. I think the only time I’ve laughed harder was in “The Livelong Day” when Kensi threw the frozen apple at Deeks’ head. One-liners flew in every scene with Sam and Callen, from the brothel (“’That’s not the only thing that’s healthy?’” “It’s a character!”), to the house with the bickering sisters (“That’s usually what fiancée means”), all while they defended everyone from the bad guys (“That means you like me, huh?” “That means I’m a better shot”).
Densi, Where Are You?
This is wikiDeeks, which means we’re supposed to train our attention on all things Deeks and Densi. Unfortunately Monday’s episode was pretty darn light on these two characters. I suppose every episode can’t be focused on these two, as much as I might prefer it that way. After all, LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell do have top billing. But splitting the team up seemed to allow the couple to almost disappear into the background as all the action took place down in Mexico. I like to think that this is the writers evening out the screen time because they have some serious Deeks-heavy episodes coming down the line.
The duo did have a cute moment at the crime scene where Deeks shared his chips with Kensi, who didn’t hesitate to chow down once she was sure she wasn’t eating evidence. In one of the local CBS interviews done by Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah on Monday, they explained that the script called for Deeks to actually eat the evidence, but the NCIS advisor on-set wouldn’t allow such unprofessional behavior. I’m glad someone there is trying to support Competent Deeks!
I also liked the discussion of the $41 million theft. Kensi showed her Marine influences and defended the Delta unit’s honor, while Deeks was more open to accepting that anyone can have a dark side. And their scene in the bathroom totally reminded me of that delightful bathroom scene in “The Livelong Day,” as well as Kensi’s posing Deeks for forensic purposes with duct tape in “Disorder.”
- I’m not the biggest Callen fan in the world, but those sunglasses were a good look for him. On the other hand, what was up with Sam’s shirt? That’s a crazy undercover look!
- At least the clown car was good for something. Nice move from Callen to block the gate so they could escape the bad guys at the brothel.
- I gotta say, if we can have scantily clad “dancers” and show the effects of getting clubbed in the head with a machete, then I think a little affection between two loving adults shouldn’t scandalize anyone watching. Let’s go, Densi!
- I fear that Granger may be growing on me. Throughout the episode, he actually seemed to know whose team he was on.
- Did anyone else find the way Deeks practically whispered into Ouellet’s ear in the boatshed not so much threatening as it was sexy? I kinda wanted to trade places with the suspect.
- I do think Sam and Callen could have been smarter with their last 11 bullets. When the fake Delta team attacked the house, I couldn’t help but think about @thewingsofnight’s tumblr Bingo square of “Firefight, bad guys die, good guys escape unscathed.”
Kensi: Are you eating the crime scene?
Deeks: OK, first off, Mom, I’m wearing gloves.
Kensi: Deeks, people died here.
Deeks: Not from this food.
Kensi: Are you kidding me?
Deeks: If you have to know, they’re mine, and I got ‘em in a vending machine… And they’re delicious.
Kensi: [hesitating] Well give me some.
Deeks: Maybe they didn’t need the information, maybe they just needed it to be gone.
Kensi: So destroy information about a covert government operation …
Deeks: What, and then kill everybody that knows about it.
Kensi: Hmmm. You’re tickling my conspiracy bone.
Deeks: Oh, I didn’t even know you had a conspiracy bone, but I’m glad I tickled it.
Don’t worry, Diane will be back soon with her usual standout reviews. Next week’s “SEAL Hunter,” another Military script, could be another Densi-lite episode, although it does appear to have more potential to be in Military’s darker style. Tune in to find out, and then come back to wikiDeeks for our review. In the meantime, what did you think of “Black Budget”?
Title: “Black Budget”
Writers: Frank Military
Director: Dennis Smith
Original Air Date: October 27, 2014