This week’s NCIS: Los Angeles episode “Missing Time” came at a time when we all could use a pleasant diversion from real life. Written by Andrew Bartels and directed by Yangzom Brauen, it largely delivered us a pleasant hour that nicely mixed personal and professional. It did feel a little surreal (and not just because of the UFO theme) to sit down to watch my favorite show as if it were any other week, but for the most part it provided an hour’s escape from real world worries.
The Kolchecks Return
The episode was definitely light on the Deeks and Densi, but I guess at this point we should be happy that Eric Christian Olsen made more than a token appearance. Other than the extraterrestrial case, the story focused on Anna and Callen. Anna has always been a controversial figure, at least among wikiDeeks readers, but I thought Bar Paly handled Anna’s dilemma and her desire to protect Callen with more subtlety than we’ve seen in the past. The fact that she’d been quarantined for a month also made me feel for her, now that I’ve finished off my first week of the same.
Her plight has never made total sense to me, considering she was undercover in prison and that Beale could probably expunge her record in an afternoon. After all, he did a smaller scale version of that for Callen in “Endgame.” Still, Callen telling her “I made the choice. I’ll stand by it. And I will stand by you,” was downright romantic. I might be warming up to these two. Callen clearly loves the woman and I want him to be happy, albeit not in the same kind of full-on yearning way I care about Deeks’ happiness.
But then… Anna had to go and be a martyr. Her decision felt a bit, um, dramatic I guess? It was hard to understand why she wouldn’t let Callen and Hetty help her, although I bet some of you Callanna fans out there could help me appreciate her decision-making.
The best part of having Anna around is that it increases the likelihood that her father will make an appearance to provide us with clownish humor to rival that provided by Deeks. Unfortunately Arkady’s appearance here began on a sad note as Anna called him to say good-bye. Again, it was overly dramatic, but Vyto Ruginis played the scene well.
But then… that humor came out full force when he patronized the Squid and Dagger. (“Martin – wodka for everybody!”) Please let him become a regular there, and please give us many scenes with Roberta playing barkeep. It would be spectacular. Arkady would definitely make an outstanding addition to my sitcom spin-off set in the bar, even if it means Anna would become a semi-regular.
Characters in Character
Bartels gave us many small touches for each character that showed off some of their signature traits. For instance, we got some fine detective work from our favorite detective, who noticed that all the clocks in Agent Anderson’s house were “missing time.” We got a wee bit of cute Densi wordplay when said detective tricked Kensi into saying “alien abduction.” And when Fatima shared that “Family is stressful,” Deeks’ response of “Yeah… yeah” carried sooo much in those two little words. Was he thinking about his terrible father or his stress-inducing mother, or both? That was a particularly well-played moment by ECO.
There was some fine action centered around Sam. The way he can pick people up and throw them across a room as if they weigh nothing is endlessly entertaining. And the tables plural were hilarious too, as was Sam’s deadpan comment that the bad guys had it easy because he could have shot them instead. I also enjoyed the foot chase at the end (give me more of Running Deeks) with its nice use of the colorful backdrops in Pershing Square, although the episode sure could have used a good shoot-out.
We also got the Beale I want to see, the one who believes that UFO’s are out there and who excels at his tech job, but who isn’t capable of dodging bullets.
But then… he announced that Bulletproof Beale had recovered and was ready to take on the bad guys – not the change I wanted to see.
Fermi Paradoxes and Great Filters
The UFO storyline was fun, as it has been in previous episodes with crazy, paranoid ufologists (a new word for my vocabulary). Beale’s small grin grin at the first mention of UAP’s (unidentified aerial phenomena, otherwise known as UFO’s) was perfect.
But then… what would have felt like a light storyline any other time pulled me right back into the real world with its discussion about our odds of finding intelligent life in the universe. Agent Raines’ interpretation of the Great Filter theory, that “we’ll destroy ourselves before we ever get a chance to make contact,” shattered the lightness and diversion the episode had provided, pulling the real world crashing back into my consciousness. Obviously this wasn’t Bartel’s fault, but it was how I experienced parts of the episode. When the camera flashed to Eric’s sad expression at the idea, I just thought, Oh, Eric, if you only knew.
Raine’s words to Beale, “Self-annihilation. It’s in our nature,” also reminded me of “Touch of Death,” where the team raced to stop a smallpox epidemic. If only we could summon up such a team to stop our current pandemic. Here’s a memorable scene from that episode that feels relevant now:
Deeks: Do you know that we live on the only planet in the known universe with life on it? A planet with a fragile ecosystem; small, breathable atmosphere, all of which could be wiped out in a second by a meteorite or a mega-quake or…
Kensi: This isn’t your B’ak’tun ’12 end of the world apocalypse theories again?
Deeks: No, I’m just saying, it’s a shame, you know? We’re all alone on this rock, and yet we’re still finding ways to kill each other.
Kensi: Oh, don’t get philosophical on me. It creeps me out.
Deeks: What’s the worst that can happen, right? Global pandemic, wipes out half the world’s population.
Kensi: Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
Deeks: How’s that?
Kensi: Well, sometimes you don’t know how lucky you are to have something until you realize you might lose it.
Maybe we should all adopt Eric’s attitude and say, “The Great Filter can bite me.” Regardless, let me take this opportunity to give a special shout-out to two of our wikiDeeks contributors, Brenda, who works as an ER nurse, and Jericho, who works as an EMT. They are heroes every day of the week, but that heroism has never been more obvious than it is right now. To all the first responders, health care workers, grocery store and utility workers, and delivery people who are all tirelessly working to help others, I’m in awe of your selflessness and I thank you.
OK, back to the diversions…
- I rarely get hooked on the pre-credits opening scene, but I found the “Top Gun”-esque UFO encounter exciting and intriguing, and it nicely set the stage for the story to come. It was well edited using what I assume was stock footage with some special effects and voice-overs.
- I love that Anna gave Deeks an enthusiastic yelp review for his loco moco. I didn’t even need the scene of him reading it at length to Kensi because it was already so clear in my head.
- I was not a fan of the lighting throughout the episode. Most scenes were so dark I thought it was nighttime. That conference room chat with Agent Raines was really odd because the table practically glowed while the characters remained in shadows. Why?
- I was not impressed with Terry Maratos, who played Jason Ward, nor with the odd handheld close-ups of him and parts of his face while he was in interrogation. The jumpy camera work made me a little nauseous. I assume it, as well as the dark scenes, were designed to conjure a creepy vibe, but I just wanted them to put the camera on a tripod and turn on some lights.
- I’m also not impressed with Kensi’s ability to tail a suspect. This isn’t the first time she’s practically tailgated her tailee.
- Is the angelic bathmat returning? Deeks’ great line to Callen about how he was growing out his hair for Anna seemed to hint at it: You’re growing your hair out. I mean it’s almost imperceptible but it’s beautiful and I want to pet it and I won’t – but I’m just saying it gives everything away.
- For me, the hour’s highlight was actually the quick shot of Deeks during the “Stay tuned for scenes” voiceover, moving and shooting and long blonde hair flying, just as Deeks is meant to be doing.
I hope all of you out there, wherever you are in the world, are hanging in there and supporting one another as best you can. While you’re hopefully chilling at home, tell us what you thought of “Missing Time.” Did you enjoy the plot? How about the Callanna romance? Do you think we’re going to see any more Deeks- or Densi-centered episodes with the few remaining hours this season, or will we be left waiting until a (fingers crossed) Season 12 for the next juicy storyline for our favorite character?