Hey everyone and welcome to the review for
“Smokescreen,” another great episode for this season that continues to impress me with some really great writing, directing, and acting. I had high expectations after the heartrending Better Angels, an episode full of emotional energy for Kensi and Deeks and solid action for the other team members as well, and I was not disappointed. Kudos to writer Andrew Bartels and director Dennis Smith!
Okay, let’s jump into this week’s show so I can give you my thoughts and reactions.
First off… WOW! What a way to open an episode. We had Deeks driving Sam’s car like a lunatic with Callen hood surfing trying to catch a horse trailer with a large IED that Sam is attempting to defuse while Kensi is doing what Kensi does. Usually when a crime/drama opens this way, after the opening credits, we get the “12 Hours Earlier” and some backward time jump… but not this time. What a pleasant surprise! What a way to shake up the standard show format!
With the bomb defused with one second on the clock (yeah guys, I think Sam is just trying to show off or amp up the rush) and the bad guys either dead or on the way to the emergency room, the exhausted team heads in to debrief and Director Ochoa gives them a much need day off. But just when you think the team is going to get a break, two FBI agents are killed and the only suspect still conscious escapes and soon the entire city is seemingly under siege.
Talk about excitement! After the heaviness of the last episode, this one kept me on the edge of my seat for entirely different reasons. The team has now come up against a well-financed and dangerous terrorist organization that is hell bent on causing as much pain as they possibly can. Soft targets are national security nightmares and this episode gives us just a glimpse of what havoc can be wreaked on a defenseless civilian population. This is one of the reasons I dislike large crowds in locations where egress is limited… just like the movie theater in tonight’s show.
Is it me, or is there some underlying discord between Eric and Nell? There appears to be a lack of communication going on with the meerkats at work… does this mean there is some discord in their relationship that we have not seen? I love the characters but I am still not a fan of the romance side of them and I wonder what would be the ramifications if they broke up. Would that compromise their efficiency up in Operations?
Oh, the Densi.
What a tender moment we got to see between these two! Kensi watching Deeks ‘sleep’ to mimicking the whistling sound he makes was simply adorable. Their continuing discussions about the job and how they cannot continue to do this forever seems to weigh heavily on Kensi, especially after her encounter with David in and his tragic death in “Better Angels.” Kensi would charge the gates of hell with a pellet gun and Deeks would be right there beside her, all the way.
I keep hearing rumors about a wedding episode, but just like everything else with this group, I will wait until I actually see it before I believe it will happen. I have faith that even when we get the nuptials, it will not be everything that we are expecting… I bet it will blow us away!
This episode gave us a lot of Kensi lost in thought: from watching Deeks sleep, the unconscious step closer to Deeks at the burned out SUV when finding out the young FBI agent had just become a father, to watching the homeless camp… she appears to have something on her mind. She was completely zoned out while staking out the homeless encampment and I bet she was remembering her time on the streets and the harsh reality this world can be sometimes. Her interaction with the woman “with the good name” was very well done and even though it was not long, it was a powerful reminder of all of those who live outside society’s norms and the struggles they face.
The past few cases have given her lots to think about and Sarraf’s revelation about “To Live, To Love, and To Be Loved” provided a chance for her to prioritize her life and this week’s offering should only reinforce that belief. I just wonder which path she will choose. Having only one second left on the clock will put things in perspective. I just wonder what her decision will eventually be; she’s had a lot reminding her that life is short and what we put off for tomorrow may never happen.
We jump from Densi to Sam finding Callen trying to find clues about Hetty’s location and fruitlessly searching for his father. To be honest, I have really missed Linda Hunt and her commanding presence on my favorite show. I guess they had to remind us that she has not been around for a good little while and I hope that Linda is mending from her auto accident last year. Waiting for her healthy return may be why they are holding off on the wedding. Get well, Linda… we miss you!
I am loving (most of) the new characters that have been introduced this season. From Arlo (although, after what Arlo pulled on Deeks last week, I was hoping that Kensi would have kicked him in the nom de plumes!) to DeChamps to the beautiful Fatima Namazi (played splendidly by Medalion Rahimi – what a cool name), who brought a wealth of information (and a solid left-hook) on this newest threat and a new dynamic into the Operations Center. She fit in seamlessly with the Wonder Twins, turning out to be a fangirl of Nell and I do hope we get to see more of her.
Speaking of Fatima (the name means captivating), I am glad to see that with a Muslim terrorist organization, we also have a Muslim agent working from the opposite side of the case as well. It must be shown that there are both good and bad on both sides instead of the one-dimensional view we are treated to so often in these scenarios. When we paint any group, belief, religion, party, country, etc. with a single broad brush, we do a disservice to not only the group, but ourselves as well.
Even though the terrorists were one step ahead this time around, it was refreshing to see an enemy that did not provide an easy punching bag for the team, with a simple solution and easy answers. When the bad guys are always a bunch of knuckleheads with two left feet and nothing but thumbs, it makes it look like the team has no challenge. This season has given us quite a few dangerous and intelligent groups for the team from OSP to take on and tonight’s new threat is as scary as they can be. Rigging the theater exits with explosives was just the beginning with the possibility of a mass shooting or even more explosives rigged throughout the city. On top of all that, they leave us with a three week hiatus until we get the second part.
Just a quick point; what was Jalal trying to say to Callen and Sam right before he blew up at the top of the stairs? “You have to… “ was all I could get off my recording on the DVR, but what did he mean? Was he trying to warn them? Was he truly a terrorist or simply a human bomb forced into the situation? I guess we have a few weeks to mull it over before we find out.
After the explosions, the male victim wandering out of the theater while in shock and missing an arm, and Deeks having to wrestle the desperate husband looking for his wife… well, that was tough to watch. As a first responder, I’ve seen these types of scenarios and yet this one affected me, even though I knew it was not real. The expressions on the team’s faces as the situation became more and more dire tore at me, knowing the hopelessness that was slowly beginning to surround them. The wounded on the inside could not be helped and those on the outside could only watch. For some reason, this episode has shown us the true result of terrorism, with victims that are simply people going about their lives and then then the horror strikes. Most of the time, the team saves the day at the last moment and even when there are victims, we (the viewers) see them from a distance… this time, they had faces and voices. This makes me dread the next installment even more.
This episode had everything that I love about this show: great character interactions, a tense case with a dangerous foe, actions and reactions that are logical, intensity that involved more people than just the team, and a cliff-hanger on top of the rest.
So, what were your thoughts on “Smokescreen”? How does this new threat stack up against foes that the team has faced in the past? Who is really calling the shots for the terrorist cell? I think Omar and his wife are more involved than we have been led to believe. And what’s going on with Kensi? Is she beginning to see things from Deeks’ perspective, and what changes could that bring to them and their future together?
There’s plenty to talk about, especially since we will not have the conclusion for a few weeks, so let us know how you feel about “Smokescreen.”
And as always, Semper Fidelis!