It’s rare that a random NCIS: Los Angeles Case of the Week can come along and really pull me in, but “Home Is Where the Heart Is” did just that. It was a delightful mix of simple but strong case, Sam-Callen bromance, Neric sweetness (and weirdness), and Densi fluff (and angst). Oh, and there were also a few booms, which reminds me, did I mention that it was written by Joseph C. Wilson? Everything, including the booms, was nicely directed by Eric Pot. But it wasn’t the explosions that I enjoyed the most. It was all the little moments that had me saying “Awwww.”
Go in there and be her father
One of the case’s strengths was its simplicity. I’m not stupid, but sometimes I have trouble keeping up with NCIS:LA plots, which throw a lot of twists and names around in an effort to keep the team on their toes. This was a straightforward story about revenge, and it featured a likeable target/ex-Mossad hit man. It reminded me of one of my favorite Case of the Week episodes, “Allegiance,” in the way it made me care about the guest actor and his plight. And while every so often they can overdo the whole Callen-knows-about-growing-up-alone thing, I thought it worked nicely here when Shaked went to see his daughter in the hospital. I might have even teared up a little, and definitely found myself saying “Awww” when she woke up and threw her arms around her dad.
The streets of LA just got a little bit more dangerous
It looks like the showrunners are determined to try every possible partner combination. This time it was Nell who got stuck with Anna (or is it the other way around?). I was a little disappointed that Deeks didn’t end up riding with Anna- I was curious whether Eric Christian Olsen, who has amazing chemistry with everyone, could actually get some better results with Bar Paly than everyone else who’s tried. Still, Anna was a little calmer here. She even managed to look upset when they were giving Carla mouth to mouth. Still, I really don’t think she belongs with this team or with this group of actors.
Taking it day by day
Speaking of Kensi, we definitely seem to have jumped ahead in time a bit from the end of the previous episode. Kensi has her bearings and isn’t happy about them. But before we talk about Grumpy Kensi, how charming was that opening scene? That was the first “awww” of the episode. I liked having confirmation that Deeks was staying by Kensi’s side, right where he belongs and where he wants to be. And was Kensi just lying there watching him sleep? (I totally don’t blame her, but I am happy they finally brought in a couch for poor Deeks to sleep on!) They were so adorably domestic in such a non-domestic setting, with the good morning kiss and the joke about the clean house. It was nice to see Kensi laugh, even as her plight seems ever-present in her mind.
Deeks: …You want me to get you anything?
Kensi: A limo to take me home?
Deeks: I can’t do that.
Kensi: I don’t want to be here anymore.
Deeks: I know you don’t want to be here but this is where you have to be if you want to get better. Right?
Kensi: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Deeks: I’m gonna be here as much as I can.
Kensi: You don’t have to.
Deeks: I know I don’t have to that, I wanna do that. Besides you’re gonna be out of here in a second. Although the house is so clean right now.
Not only was it a sweet moment where Deeks pulled Kensi ever so briefly from her sadness, but it was also a great illustration of the episode’s title, with Deeks needing to be where his heart is, with Kensi, rather than back at his ultra clean house.
When I saw Kensi in the promo I immediately started a mini-rant on Tumblr about the lack of a cast, and was helpfully informed (thank you typingtess, chicgirl89, and ecmartinez76) that you don’t need a cast if you have an “IM rod” implanted. I did a little more reading and apparently an intramedullary rod is inserted straight through the bone marrow canal in the center of long bones like the femur. It sounds like a fairly common way to treat such a break. Apparently the rod is designed to stay in place forever, and not only do you not need a cast, but you may be able to put weight on it very quickly. On the other hand, most femoral fractures take 4 to 6 months to fully heal.
Alas, Kensi is struggling to wrap her head around not just the ramifications of a broken leg, but the much less clear outcome of her spinal injury. At various times in the past, some Kensi fans have expressed concern over how she’s been characterized. Here I found her dismay, frustration, and even anger perfectly in keeping for anyone in that situation. And while anyone would have those feelings, it’s got to be particularly frightening when your very livelihood is at risk, especially when you define yourself through your work, and when you are accustomed to dealing with problems by taking physical action.
I think when facing such an overwhelming situation, it’s also perfectly normal to lash out at loved ones. Still, Deeks’ face when Kensi left him at his thoughtfully arranged take-out lunch just about did me in. Eric Christian Olsen nailed this scene, and I loved the way he underplayed the moment, barely moving and yet effortlessly communicating Deeks’ sadness. Coming just after his talk with Granger, where he had again expressed doubt at his ability to support Kensi, made it easy to understand that he’d see her reaction as confirmation of those doubts. And then the specific reference to Kensi’s bulgogi dance from the end of “Omni,” when he had been in such a dark place and she had successfully pulled him out, provided yet another harsh contrast that could only make him feel like a failure. (Nice job with the call-back, Mr. Wilson!) At least Deeks was able to gain a little solace from his teammates.
But how’s Deeks doing?
Those teammates have been doing a fantastic job. In “The Queen’s Gambit” we had Nell, then last week we had vintage Hetty showing him that they cared and offering support. This week we had both Sam and Granger coming through. Sam’s support was more understated but coming from him, it meant so much- to me as a viewer and I have to believe to Deeks as well. First he reached out for a shoulder squeeze (“awww”) when Deeks referred to the limits of his charm (by the way, I personally don’t believe it has such limits). Then he gave him a little fist bump (again, “awww”) after they rescued Carla. The mouth to mouth resuscitation had me flashing back to “Descent,” and I wonder if it passed through their minds too? In the last scene, I think Sam would have actually been happy to take Deeks to the game over either Eric or Anna. I know that’s a low bar, but there was a time when Sam wouldn’t have felt that way. Sam was the topic of this week’s Top 3, and there were a few commenters wanting to see more between him and Deeks. His timing was perfect.
Then Granger had pretty much the same talk as Hetty did last week, but he was so full of wise words I just didn’t care that it felt a bit repetitive. This conversation earned a couple more “awww’s.” What was particularly impressive to me was the way it set up the scene in the hospital courtyard, which had been written and filmed weeks earlier.
Granger: So how’s it going?
Deeks: Kensi’s got a long journey ahead of her, but she’ll get there.
Granger. Mmm. But how’s Deeks doing?… Listen, you gotta roll with this a little bit here, help me out.
Deeks: Um, honestly I don’t know. At this point I can’t tell if I’m, if I’m comforting her or just myself.
Granger: Well if it comforts both, does it matter?
Deeks: No, no I guess it doesn’t, does it? You know what’s crazy about this is that, you know, we say these things like ‘we’ll go to the ends of the earth for somebody,’ but then you’re called on, and you realize you don’t know how. And I don’t… I don’t know how.
Granger: You’re at a place in your life right now where you have to realize you’re not just responsible for yourself. You’re responsible for all the lives you touch.
Deeks: Yeah, no, I realize that, and I’m, and I’m trying. Kensi, God bless her, she puts on a good face. I just don’t know if I’m doing a great job.
Granger: The only way you’ll fail her is if you quit. So don’t quit. You got this.
Deeks: Thank you, Assistant Director.
Granger: All my friends call me Granger.
It was perfect advice and I was happy to see Deeks using it as he headed off to see Kensi that evening, despite her “no visitors” proclamation.
The whole episode had me grateful that Deeks has such a supportive team around him, and really wondering why he hasn’t decided to sign those papers. I actually thought Granger might be about to bring up that very topic. My current theory for Deeks’ reluctance is that Counselor Deeks has read the fine print and decided that he and Kensi are less likely to be separated as partners if he stays LAPD. Maybe someday we’ll find out the real reason.
- Hah! Turnabout is fair play, with Deeks getting to interrupt whatever the heck was going on with Eric and Nell and their weird “training”. ECO played the humor of the situation very nicely.
- I did think the second Neric scene with the hug was actually quite sweet. Another “awww” moment. And poor Eric, replaying the explosion and worrying about Nell.
- I liked how Deeks’ favorite word (“awesome”) has worked its way into Granger’s vocabulary. He used it when Deeks assured him he could look after Kensi and still do his job.
- I loved Sam this episode, from his “I have to take up botany” zinger to his crashing through the wall at the end. He also doled out a little comfort to Anna and Nell by making physical contact with each one before leaving them to the paramedics. LL Cool J has made him into a wonderful character and the true leader of the team.
- Not sure I understood the purpose of the first boom. As Deeks would say, wasn’t it a bit excessive? Still, I’m pro-explosion so I can roll with it. It was also nice to see the team suffer some physical consequences of their job. They may be able to dodge bullets, but not bombs.
- In the second boom, I thought one shot actually looked like the back of ECO’s head, and one like his brother in a wig? What did you think? The last little boom (“Yeah, I definitely got him”) was all ECO.
- I didn’t mind that Densi didn’t get the final scene. It was nice to change things up a little and end on a happy team note. Mr. Carl is back and apparently Mr. Carl loves football.
- I didn’t realize that Hetty had been absent the whole time until after the episode was finished. Didn’t miss her, mostly I suspect because there was so much else going on.
- Did we know Deeks had Rams season tickets, or was Tess just eerily prescient in her What We Did on Our Summer Vacation fan fic?
With the exception of an uninspiring mole storyline and Anna, I’ve really been enjoying Season 8 so far. Let’s see if Frank Military can keep things going next week. Before then, come back this week for Deeks’ Surf Log and – finally! – a new entry in Kensi’s Journal. Plus another great Drabble and Edit of the Week. This weekend we’ll be back as usual with the Classified Preview for “Crazy Train” and the Top 3 Cheekiest Moments.
In the meantime, what did you think of “Home is Where the Heart Is?” Did you eat up the morning kisses and Sam support as much as I did? How did you feel about Kensi’s characterization? And are you enjoying having so many weeks in a row with a new episode? I love not having to wait. Tell us all your thoughts in the Comments!