Only Prince of Darkness Frank Military would open an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles by blowing up an adorable little boy. Heartbreaking, terrifying, and instantly riveting, “The Seventh Child” was one of the season’s best episodes. Written and directed by Military, it gave all four leads some wonderful moments to shine. Plus OMG a surprise Densi proposal!?! We’ll talk about that…
…But First, The Plot
We open with a young boy in a public restroom, desperately trying to remove the explosives strapped to his chest. He and another identical boy flee from a group of men but- in what might be the saddest boom in the show’s history- one boy is killed. The other takes refuge in a water tank on a nearby roof. The team tracks the boys via facial recognition to a family in Israel, only to find out the parents think they have only one child, who’s safe and sound at home. It turns out that a shady fertility doctor in India implanted extra embryos in the surrogate they used, and then sold the extra babies on the black market to terrorists. Yep, it would be hard to come up with a darker storyline than this.
While Callen tries to keep the boy, named Nadir, from blowing them both up inside the water tank, the team tracks down the bad guys, only to find that Nadir and his brother weren’t the only children turned into bombs. Sam manages to talk a group of them out of blowing themselves up, the bomb squad rescues Nadir, and Callen helps him reunite with the parents he’s never known. And no, those weren’t tears. Just allergies, I swear.
Dark and Intense
The episode exhibited its trademark Military darkness in the first few seconds. As soon as little Nadir opened up his jacket and we saw the bomb, my heart went out to him. Then to see his brother blown up was simply heartbreaking. Has there ever been such a sad opening? But it worked to get me instantly involved in the plot. With most NCIS:LA episodes, I barely pay attention to the story, only waiting for the funny banter and Densi magic. Here I was on the edge of my seat throughout. Every new development just ratcheted up the suspense too: realizing that Nadir was brainwashed and wouldn’t let Callen help him (you just could hear Callen thinking “Oh crap.”); the bomb squad telling Callen they couldn’t defuse the bomb, highly unusual in a world where Sam usually comes in and snips a few wires to end the danger; and all the bomb squad manipulations to fool the bomb into thinking Nadir was still attached. I was completely invested in every turn of events.
Gavin Lewis, the child actor playing Nadir and his two brothers, was fantastic. It must be a crap shoot to choose guest actors, never knowing how well they’ll perform and fit into the show, but here the casting director hit a home run. Nadir might not have known about dinosaurs or DNA (I’ll keep my political jokes to myself), but he was clearly very bright and very afraid. I liked that he was written as smart without being overly precocious. The way Callen used his personal experiences to relate to him felt unforced. I was highly amused when Nadir told him he didn’t care about his name (I may have reached that very same point some time ago). I do have to say though that it felt like I was watching maybe 40% Callen but 60% Chris O’Donnell, father of five.
I was moved when Callen reassured Nadir he wouldn’t leave him alone, and again when Callen talked about the people who come into your life who make you feel safe. We can all probably think of people like that, family or not, who’ve made a difference in our lives. And the final moments in the boathouse, with Nadir repeating those words back to Callen and using his first name. Seriously, show, stop it already! [Sniffle.] My only quibble with that scene was the background music, which belongs with my all-time favorite scene at the end of “Impact,” and should be reserved for special Densi scenes only.
Sam too (Callen’s “partner and friend”) had his moment to shine. In a scene from the promo, we found out why Sam had told Deeks to evacuate the building. I was shocked to see those children. I hadn’t expected it and again, it upped the intensity another notch. I loved Sam’s determination to save them, and how he used his knowledge of Islam to do it. You always have a choice… Feel with the heart that Allah gave you. This scene was as just as emotional for me as Callen’s. And Deeks’ reluctance to leave Sam’s side, staying close enough offer support, was touching. These two seriously need their own adventure together.
Deeks and Kensi finally had that long-anticipated discussion about children. Coming after so many apparent hints about kids in so many previous episodes, it was interesting to find out where they both actually stood. They’d clearly each thought about what they might have to give up to become parents. I have to disagree with Deeks- he’d be the most awesome stay-at-home dad ever. And how wonderful is it that they are able to talk about these things now- they’ve come so far! The dialog was beautifully written throughout their scenes (just as it was through the entire episode). The way they discussed their future as a given, both assuming that they would surely be together, warmed my heart. They are so all in.
Deeks: Yeah, but having kids means the end of a lot of amazing things.
Kensi: Like our partnership?
Deeks: I don’t know if I’d make a very good stay at home dad…
Kensi: So what are you saying, it’s just not going to happen at all?
Deeks: I didn’t say that. Having kids is also the beginning of some amazing things.
I worried that the bullpen conversation might be all we’d get, like in “Exchange Rate” where there was no follow-up about the argument over neatness. But the discussion continued throughout the episode, and even tied into the case. Military very artfully wove it in, so that it felt natural and made sense as the story progressed. It’s an example I wish more writers could follow. Even the way FBI Agent Rand’s and Sam’s parenthood was brought up in the face of the dangerous situation they faced added to the running theme. If I can’t save this child, then why am I doing this job? What a tough choice to put yourself in harm’s way to protect other people’s children, while you risk abandoning your own if the worst happens.
Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah were wonderful in each scene. Deeks’ doing the detecting thing, surmising that bigger house + baby magazine meant that Kensi was pregnant, was perfect. You could just see the wheels spinning in his head. And the seriousness with which he talked about the commitment of parenthood was so appropriate for someone with his childhood experiences. The way they looked at each other as Deeks marveled at how they got to this point- again, perfect. And Kensi’s bravado about home birthing “their” child was adorable.
Put a Ring on It
I was thrilled with the episode as it was, but to get that final Densi scene as they left the bullpen was icing on the cake. What a wonderful surprise they saved for us! It’s so nice that it had never been offered as a spoiler by TPTB, or included in a sneak peek. I think I did the same double take as Kensi’s “What did you say?” She was delightfully sassy in response to Deeks’ query, and her expression when she turned away was the absolute cutest. These two are so adorable I can barely stand it. I like to think that Deeks has already bought the ring, and that he may have already asked Julia’s permission to pop the question. I feel like his big admission in “Cancel Christmas” was the last hurdle. It was so refreshing to see him taking the lead, after Kensi has seemingly been the one propelling them forward since “Humbug.” In the moment here, he was truly all in and ready to take an official “Yes” from Kensi and run with it.
Deeks: I just wanted to know if you think it’s too crazy for two people to… two people to get married.
Kensi: No, I- I don’t think it’s too crazy for that… no.
Deeks: Sorry, is that- is that.. is, are you saying yes?
Kensi: I’m not going to say yes in the hallway at work without a ring on my finger.
Deeks: Oh so you want me down on one knee?
Kensi: It would be a good start.
Deeks: You want the beach and the sunset with the ring?
Kensi: Yeah… maybe then you’d have a chance.
Deeks: OK… Hey, that’s still a yes, huh? Baby? Uh huh-that’s a yes!
My biggest fear at this point is that we’re not going to get to share in the actual proposal- we’ll just get the scene the next day in Ops when they announce it to the team. We’ve missed out on their first time sleeping together, their first “I love you’s,” and their decision to move in together. Why show, why? At this point I’m kinda convinced that we won’t even get to see the wedding, and we’ll just see them coming back to work after their honeymoon. Come on show, throw us Densi fans a bone!
- Seriously, were Deeks and Kensi saying they only have one bedroom in their (I love saying “their”) house? It sure looks bigger than that to me.
- Deeks’ “Okay, that’s interesting, because I think we do our best work on top of each other” was hilarious.
- Granger too was hilarious amid the discussion about where to give birth. I could see Badass Blye- Please, I think I can handle it- toughing it out without drugs or doctors or a hospital. Deeks, not so much. And I’m not even going to touch that circumcision discussion!
- Hetty on the other hand, only focused on the case and was ever so quick to pronounce the brother dead. She can be so cold.
- Did Callen go a little Wikipedia on Nadir when he dropped the dinosaur trivia?
- Has there ever been an episode where not a single shot is fired?
- On a super shallow note, thumbs up to the form-fitting white shirt.
If the episode hadn’t been so well written, I might have had a very negative reaction to the manipulative nature of putting so many children at risk. But I’m warning you now, Mr. Military- leave the puppies and kittens alone. That’s where I draw the line. As it is, it was tough to rewatch it given the latest horrific news from the real world. This episode was way more emotionally affecting than a normal case, and was well suited to its 10pm time slot. It’s a great example of how well this show can be done.
Now when the heck are we getting the official proposal? While we wait, join us for another new episode next week, plus Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal (I can’t wait to hear what they both thought about that last discussion!) and the Edit of the Week. In the meantime, tell us what you thought of “The Seventh Child.”
Title: “The Seventh Child”
Writer: Frank Military
Director: Frank Military
Original Air Date: March 21, 2016