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Review: NCISLA “Divided We Fall” (S13E05)


This week writer Andrew Bartels teamed up with director Terence Nightingall to give us a quiet, serious, and suspenseful episode that added new layers to several characters and gave us one fantastic scene for Eric Christian Olsen. Its structure provided opportunities to play with our expectations even as it reinforced continuing themes about troubled parent-child relationships and the high costs of the job. All in all, this very strong episode was the first I’ve looked forward to rewatching in a long time.

One Hour Later

It’s a relatively common technique to start an episode part-way through the story, and then jump backwards in time to before everything went to hell. As a matter of fact, it happened just last week in “Sorry for Your Loss.” It’s more unusual to skip over the “everything going to hell” part to the aftermath, which is what we got this week. I found myself worried that we’d been cheated out of the action or that the action would lose its suspense because we knew the outcome, but it didn’t play out that way. Instead, moving backwards and forwards in time through the entire episode held my attention and engrossed me in the story.

It wasn’t just the time jumps that made this episode so engaging, it was the shifting point of view. Having each character relay their own version of how Laura Song (well played by Sandrine Holt) died added another layer of complexity. Whereas we regularly encounter plot holes and discrepancies in the story, here elements that at first felt like a mistake were really Bartels letting each character tell the story as they remembered it, including small differences that helped us understand that maybe we couldn’t trust everything everyone said. It added to the suspense over exactly how Laura had died and how badly our team had screwed up.

Most of those differences were inconsequential, like whether Fatima or Rountree won their magnet game, or as Sam so firmly pointed out when Inspector General Ali questioned whether Laura had been drinking scotch or bourbon. Fatima seemed to do a little less whining in her own version of events than in Rountree’s, but it was nice that she got a chance to talk more about her faith and how it fits into her work, and I did appreciate the genuine remorse she expressed at losing Laura.

Bartels artfully explored the concepts of truth and deception throughout. Each character’s apparently truthful yet inconsistent depiction of the events in question was just the start. We also saw Admiral Kilbride assuring Lily that he he trusted the team with his life, which Kensi had to explain to Deeks was a lie. There was Laura’s apparent long-term deception that had been carried out over decades, impacted her daughter, and continued throughout her interactions with the team. In the lobby she spewed “the truth” at Kilbride, that she’d been working for the Chinese the entire time, making us think about the very nature of a double (triple?) agent who by definition lies for a living. Then the Secretary of the Navy forced poor Ali to lie in his report about Kilbride’s “perjury” because “the truth makes us look weak”, and Kilbride proceeded to lie to the team about his own actions and their perceived failure. In sum it was a pretty bleak picture of human nature (perhaps that’s why I enjoyed it so much).

The movement back and forth in time also planted questions in my head that then, in an unusually satisfying way, were answered. Questions like, “Are we going to miss out on all the action?” but also, “Why is Laura so reticent to use the panic room and why does she keep asking for a gun?”, “What is going through Deeks’ head as he listens to Lily talk about losing her parents?”, “Why did Laura seal Rountree and Fatima into the elevator shaft?”, “Did they fake her death?” and “How did she end up dying in the lobby- if the bad guys wanted her dead, why didn’t they just shoot her?” Every time I thought a question revealed some sort of plot hole, the hole was filled by new information. 

Bartels and Nightingall also made the limited locations and characters really work. The episode was very quiet (except during the shoot-outs of course), and normally the lack of people and the reliance on only a few sets might result in a lack of energy, the feeling that budgets are being cut, and the loss of the show’s signature location shooting style. But here it worked well to focus us in on the characters’ varying tales and somber emotions.

Expiration Dates

It turns out that Kilbride and our favorite Ghurka Jebediah Thapa have something in common. They both believe that every warrior carries with them an expiration date. As Laura told Sam, “Sometimes we don’t leave so peacefully. But we chose this life and the risks that go with it.” On first watch, Laura seemed to connect with Sam over their similar family situations, both having lost a spouse and feeling guilt over allowing boarding school to raise their daughters in the aftermath. As Sam told Ali, “It’s not easy protecting your family from the dangers of the job, I know from first-hand experience… It can take a toll.” The conversation initially came off as carrying forward a theme of the episode, which introduced the idea of losing a loved one with Kensi’s reminiscing about her dad, “my best friend, my whole world,” in the opening scene, and continued the discussion of losing a loved one in the line of duty with Deeks’ later conversation with Ali.

But once we learned of Laura’s true nature, we could see that conversation with Sam in an entirely different light. If she knew that Callen worked for Hetty, she likely knew all about Sam’s past too. Instead of innocently stumbling into the fact that Michelle had been killed in the “line of duty” (although it was Sam’s line of duty that killed her, not her CIA past), Laura likely was much more calculating than that, using the situation to either earn Sam’s trust or throw him off balance, or maybe both. 

Before that conversation, she’d done the same with Callen, earning trust with her familiarity with Hetty, offering him a drink as a way to throw him off his own game, and describing Kilbride’s pulling her into “the world of espionage” much as Hetty did to Callen. As Kilbride said, she was “the best” he’d ever known. It’s hard to know how much of anything she shared was genuine. I do think her repeating, almost to herself, her own line that “Every operative…” in reference to Michelle had to be her thinking about her own expiration date. Or might she have been remembering back to her husband’s death? Might he have been in the same line of work? Operative or not, maybe he discovered who she was really working for. Or perhaps he was an innocent victim, caught in the crossfire of an op gone bad.

Remaining Operational

An episode highlight was Deeks’ conversation with Ali. ECO just crushed the scene. He had already shown us the wheels turning in Deeks’ head as Lily told them about her dad dying in a car crash. But was he thinking about Kensi’s dad dying when she was young? About his own dad dying in a car crash? About being without a father at age 11? I couldn’t tell and I was very curious.

It turned out he’d been thinking about a parent continuing to risk their life for the job even after their spouse had been killed. He’d been thinking about what would happen if he and Kensi experienced the same scenario, specifically, if Kensi died and he was left to raise their child. 

As you may already know based on your fancy file you have in front of you, Agent Blye and I are trying to adopt a child. As hopeful parents and law enforcement officers, getting killed in the line of duty has obviously crossed our mind once or twice. And I fully recognize everyone deals with trauma differently, but if Kensi… if Kensi, um, died, I don’t… I just can’t imagine remaining operational with an 11-year-old. And yet that’s exactly what Laura Song chose to do… So I just thought that information should be relayed to Sam.

We saw so much flash across Deeks’ face: utter seriousness that we don’t often see from this character, long pauses that let us watch his mind in action, the struggle to even say the word “died” in relation to Kensi as if he was actually seeing it happen in front of him, the look of genuine puzzlement over Laura’s decision, and the way he looked away at the end, maybe feeling like he’d revealed too much of himself. The only word I could use to describe it all was gravitas. The lines were well written but ECO wrung every possible ounce of meaning and emotion out of them. Nightingall deserves credit as well, planting the camera on his face and leaving it there, without any dramatic movements, letting us fully focus on the performance.

It would appear that apparently Deeks has shifted from wanting them both out of danger before they have kids to just hoping to keep one of them alive to care for their child, likely the compromise he’s made in order to keep Kensi happy. Like Laura, it’s actually easy to imagine Kensi returning to work if the situation were reversed and Deeks were to be killed. Their work gives both their lives purpose. A child would obviously provide a new purpose, but I’m not convinced it would be enough for her. It made me think about their rooftop conversation at the end of “The Silo,” about how devastated Deeks would be if he lost her. 

Deeks’ strong need to let Sam know that Laura’s husband had died confused me a little. After all, Sam continued working after his own wife had been killed, so it shouldn’t have seemed like a red flag. Yet had he gotten a small inkling that everything wasn’t as it seemed? Or maybe he’d just wanted them to know to drive home how important it was to protect her?

Layers to Make You Cry

Much like Deeks’ assessment of Kilbride as an onion with layers, “And every single one of ‘em will make you cry,” this episode had its own layers. We spent the hour peeling them back to get at the truth (although thankfully, no tears were involved). The biggest surprise was of course Laura’s duplicity, but that surprise was amplified by learning that Kilbride had been the one to kill her. He “pulled her into the world of espionage,” and then “pulled her out.” I fell for the whole thing (despite all those lingering questions that had popped into my head), and really enjoyed the twist. It was the third episode in the row with a good twist, an impressive streak.

We are absolutely heading for some sort of story about Kilbride’s son, given this is not the first time he’s been mentioned. Laura telling Kilbride he was, “The perfect mark. The man with the broken family looking for a second chance,” showed us that he’s been suffering over something pretty big for quite awhile, two decades in fact. But if we get a “Kilbride, H.” episode before a “Deeks, M.” I think my head might explode.

It would appear that Kilbride had the choice of telling the team about Laura’s true nature, and chose to keep it from them so they’d play their parts to the end. It reminded me of “The Debt,” only Kensi’s life was never in danger in her dealings with Bates. Here, the whole team could have been killed, sacrificing themselves to save their “protectee.” I think he owed them the truth but I see the grey here and understand the difficult choice he made. 

Sadly, the team’s perceived failure hit them hard. It was initially so exciting to see the core four in the bullpen together, but there was no joy to be had. Kilbride might have tried to make them feel better by at least reassuring them that they’d done everything they could, that it wasn’t their fault. But unfortunately, he was too busy “wallowing” in his own angst to take a minute to reach out to them. He seems to suffer from some of the same self-centeredness as Fatima. 

Memorable Moments

  • Densi provided a few moments of lightness with their “useless commentary” about how Kilbride was spending his weekend, and later in the boatshed as Deeks realized Kensi might be right about Kilbride’s “compliment.” I also liked Rountree and Fatima discussing L.A. vegans.
  • Was that entire apartment building a safehouse? Or were there other residents who all stayed behind closed doors?
  • I do have to question whether bringing books or playing games is the best way to monitor a wall full of cameras.
  • So Fatima, at least in her own mind, refers to Rountree as “Tree.” That’s kinda cute.
  • The duo also handled their share of the action well. The shoot-outs were well directed, with a fantastic shot of the bad guy coming through the skylight, and an interesting turn of events in the elevator shaft.

That’s it from me. What did you think of “Divided We Fall”? Did the time jumps and twists work as well for you? What’s your take on Kilbride? And have you rewound the scene with Deeks and Ali as much as I have (OK, probably not)? Tell us all about it in the Comments below. 

And be sure to return later this week for new editions of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal. Then Lyssa will be back a week from Saturday with a preview of “Sundown.”

About Karen P (250 Articles)
wikiDeeks Writer & Assistant Editor. I never wrote for fun before... until my ECO-obsession. Now I love to analyze any and all aspects of the best character on television.

60 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Divided We Fall” (S13E05)

  1. From the live tweets, this episode looked mighty interesting. Though, knowing that it wasn’t going to end with someone going off to Syria convinced me to watch it live.

    I admire this episode’s multiple twists and turns, even though some of them were confusing, and I knew it wouldn’t end with anyone going to jail or suspended.

    There’s 1 good thing that this episode did though: It proved that KIlljoy is not to be trusted completely.

    Before anyone says that what he did means that he’s just like Hetty, here’s some facts: Hetty is sassy, witty, hilarious, has a warm smile (that gives me the warm fuzzies), has a motherly feel to her, legit loves her team, is very wise, has a lot of creative ways of getting the job done, and so much more!

    What does KIlbride have? Like really? All he’s done is prove to be a severe annoyance, just like every other temporally useful idiot.

    I fully predict he’s going to go off the deep end in a way that’s similar to the Season 9 finale, and that Hetty or her whole team will take him down, and I will absolutely love seeing it!! (Date Prediction made: November 7th, 2021)

    If I had to choose any boss to lead the team, it would be Hetty, every single time. Because despite her different ways of doing her job, she is still more trustworthy then KIlbride.

    One last thing: If Hetty DID set up that safe house, I doubt she would’ve made the dumb mistake of putting in a skylight.

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  2. Thank you so much for another amazing review, Karen
    Finally, a good episode with a good story twist and emotions and the actions were great, although I got suspicious that there was more than meets the eye when Laura insisted to have a gun instead of entering the panic room, but I’ve to confess that the discrepancy in stories between Callen & Sam, Fatima & Rountree fooled me and thought there would be something wrong with the Intel they’d received.

    That’s the second time Kilbride brought a case to the team with personal interest at least this one was approved by the SecNav.

    Looks like the team can’t take a break from their superiors who manipulate them and keep them in the Dark like Hetty did with the white ghost & the mole, Granger with his witch hunt, and keeping the team under the radar especially Kensi to find out that “peter Clairmont” was alive and killed Kensi’s father, Mosley to get her son back and now Kilbride with the support of SecNav but at least they got to know the truth eventually with the latest, but here he kept them in the dark while he sees that this mission is taking its toll on them as they haunted and blaming themselves by Laura’s death and they didn’t return to their old selves but they kept it together as the show must go on.

    I did not know whether to hate Kilbride or feel sorry for him this time but I am inclined to the latter if he keeps treating the team like that.

    Like you Karen I remembered Thapa when Laura said that every operative has an expiration date

    I also agree with you that Sam returned to his job after Michelle’s death but as I recall he took some time off and he came back to support his team.

    Sam was angry that Callen left him without back up that was absurd they leave each other all the time for the greater good, also Why did Sam feel like he needed to check the floors again despite Rountree having assured him that he checked them does this mean he doesn’t trust him with big operations?

    I feel like the writers are trying so hard to establish the characters of Fatima and Roundtree and make the audiences sympathize with them but it didn’t sit well at least for me. Especially when Rountree didn’t even try to help Fatima when she’s got shot, he didn’t even bother to ably pressure her wound!!!!

    Deeks &/or ECO’s face when Lily was telling her story was heartbreaking he didn’t get to say a word in that scene but his emotions were all over his face, you can see his struggle and the pain of the idea of losing her, and his confusion of Laura’s behavior and trying to connect the dots and stays professional all at the same time it was extraordinary torment.

    Then again he expressed his fear and vulnerability, and I can’t even count the times Deeks has expressed his fear of losing her whether for the job or another sociopath trying to get to her or hiding secrets from each other or even for having a baby like in “Yellow Jack”.

    The idea of losing her is unbearable for him and the way his voice cracked it was like he was choking on his own words as if his worst nightmare would manifest if he says the word out loud. Honestly, It couldn’t have been portrayed better ECO never ceases to amaze me with his performances he is soooooo underrated.

    I believe that all events of last year have come crashing down on him and it blows to his confidence, sense of self, and security that nearly brings him to his knees.

    Do you think Deeks & Kens will hide their identity from their kids also to protect them like Laura did or will follow Sam’s footsteps and be honest with them?
    This brings me to the pressing matter here will they address the elephant in the room (Leaving their Job) I think such conversation was long overdue.

    On a final shallow note, Did Deeks and Kensi swap their outfits during the interrogation and boatshed.

    I think it was a really good one, with a remarkable balance of parts and characters’ contributions, a well-written script, except for a couple of moments (but I will not talk about them now), and amazing performances by all the cast. So kudos on a job well done.

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  3. OT: A couple of BTS pics for Episode 12 definitely have me curious (for now), like. A couple of them (like this recent 1 I saw of ECO with the episode director) definitely look like they’re outside of the city and possibly California! Which just might suggest something important! (like um, the starting block for addressing what Hetty is doing in Syria, perhaps?)

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  4. I thought that this was one of the best episodes we have seen in a long time. It was a mixture of character revelation, surprises, and melancholy – the makings of a good story. It was a nice change and seeing the fabulous four at their desks in the bullpen was great ! It left us with a sense of them coming together for the first time in a long time. They needed to be together in that last scene. Finally a bravo! But my gut tells me we are being set up for all of this to come together for the series to end. I see hints of ideas emerging as to how things are going to play out in the final episodes. I hope I am wrong as I would love to see them continue on their journey forever as they have all evolved so well with time. Being realistic, I do not see that happening.

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  5. Debra Gillespie // November 10, 2021 at 1:06 AM // Reply

    Excellent review, Karen.
    This was a gripping episode….I haven’t been “sucked in” to the storyline as I did with this one, in quite a while it seems. I usually associate Andrew Bartels with Callen-centered episodes, but he really came through in this all-team one. The action scenes were crisply done, and the time jumps and flashbacks really added to the suspence. I was foolish wondering why Callen and Sam didn’t give Laura Song a gun even though she kept insisting…no doubt if she had gotten one, she would have shot both of them on the spot. And after this was over, I decided she at least got her final wish….that she would die in the open and not in a (panic) box.
    The closeup scene with Deeks and Ali was superb….the nuances of expression on ECO’s face when he struggled to talk about if Kensi died was heartbreaking. So different from the playful banter with Kensi in Ops before Kilbride talked to them. And it looks like Deeks has a feeling that something is off with Laura Song’s background….if he is the first one to figure out the truth despite Kilbride, it could make for some great angst.
    Wow, the final few minutes of the show, especially with the disclosure from Laura Song and Kilbride. I did. not. see. that. coming. I suspect Ali the interrogater is fairly new to his job and still nervous and unsure, which is why he was selected for this…it would be easier to make him intimidated by Kilbride and SecNav to keep silent.
    I agree that Kilbride’s son probably will show up, and I really hope that this story arc continues. Frankly I find this possible storyline more interesting than the long drawn out Katya-Russia one, which I keep hoping will be resolved by midseason. There has been a lot of talk on other social media fan sites that possibly Lily Song will turn out to be Kilbride’s daughter, and even though similar to the Granger-Jennifer Kim plot from a few years ago, I wouldn’t mind seeing that happen. To the other writers on the show – more episodes like this, please!

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  6. Really liked the way the episode was set up with the flashbacks, but it had a lot of plot holes and other issues, for example; why on earth assign Fatima to this heavy-duty mission when she is allowed to hop-skip-and-jump to say a prayer??

    ECO was heartbreakingly good and deeply sad, settling for bringing a child into the world with at least one parent making it home alive at the end of the day, saddling the child with the job of doing whatever it takes to make her/his mom happy, as he is doing, no child should be born with a job.

    I wish they had shot the opening scene between Deeks and Kensi the way they shot the ending scene in Love Conquers All, with Deeks and Kensi kissing when Hetty popped up on the screen behind them. It would have given us the Densi intimacy we’ve been pleading for and could have made for a funny Killbride reaction.

    More over the weekend!

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  7. Ivelina Plamena Georgievi // November 10, 2021 at 10:22 AM // Reply

    Fans need DENSI KISSES!!!

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  8. Should have ask this for the “Indentured” episode but I just watched “Divided We Fall”.

    Is no one concerned that after 2 Years 7 months and 22 days (since the wedding) that Densi have not had one scene with really close contact in S13? Hugs notwithstanding, there has not been any indication that this couple is any closer than during Seasons 2-4. No peck on the cheek or peck on the forehead or a good night kiss after Kensi was undercover and received the call from Mia and decided to not call Fatima until the morning. This lack of any romantic interaction if kind of disconcerting in Season 13.

    I am at a loss as to why we have not had scenes similar to “The Silo” and “Better Angels”.
    If someone like Karen P. could shed some light on the way the episodes have been written, I would appreciate it.
    Why are they messing with success!

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  9. I finally caught up with the episode. I agree, best for ages. Plot holes aside, especially Fatima the Lightweight. Rountree needs more screen time. He’s former FBI and working alone when the team first encountered him Let’s see what he can do – without Fatima.

    Karen P was right about Kilbride’s grey area. I think, though, it was more avoidance of personal embarrassment than a national security matter. Hetty would probably have confided in Callan, her sounding board.

    ECO. His background is improv but jeez, that man can act. TPTB don’t allow him to show his talent as often as they should, certainly not as often as we’d like. His soliloquy about Kensi and dying in the line was only a few words, yet his face told us of his anxiety and horror of that ever should happen – for real. ECO should have received an award nomination way back in the day for ‘Impact’ and his chat on the beach with Nate. The soliloquy about Kensi should be noted as another example that ECO is disgracefully underrated by TPTB. Perhaps Eric needs his own spin-off show ‘Agent Surfer Dude’, which should give him the wider recognition he deserves.

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  10. In my humble (but mostly long and nit-picking, lol) opinion, this was definitely ECO’s episode. All his fears and doubts and stress, but most of all the unspeakable: Kensi dying, drifted to the surface and he brought it out in every scene.

    Not just with words during the scene with IG Ali but his facial expression in the boatshed when Lily was talking about losing her father. You could see the wheels of despair spinning in his head. I say ‘despair; because I don’t think he sees any way out of the situation he is currently in: A wife he desperately loves and a child he desperately wants combined with the knowledge that this has now become an emotional impossibility, and perhaps finally recognizing what he has not been wanting to face: Kensi’s selfishness in all of this.

    I understand why Deeks felt the need to call Sam to inform him about the details surrounding the death of Lily’s father. Sam needed to know what they were dealing with: A woman (not much different perhaps like his own wife) who puts the job and the mission over everything and anything, including her own child.

    A lot of people on social media remarked that Sam also remained a functioning parent. The thing is, he did not. At the time of Michelle’s death in season 8, Kam would have been anywhere between 10-12 years old (as she was around 8-10 during season 6’s ice skating rink scene). Sam sold his house, bought a boat, and sent Kam off to live with his teenage son who was in a military academy at the time. What a functioning parent does in a situation like this is change jobs, take your little daughter to be with your teenage son to try and heal.

    To Karen’s remark that Kensi would most likely stay operational and that Deeks has shifted his stance about having a child, I’d say that this is heartbreakingly in no way an acceptable manner to choose and bring a child into the world.

    Song herself made a few remarks about her parenting in this episode, how she’d rather die out in the open than go into a panic room, that she chose this life and its risks, and thereby completely ignoring the fact that she also chose to have a child. It is bad enough this girl lost her father but her mother remaining operational, giving her to caregivers and boarding schools and, at that moment, refusing to go into a panic room but rather die out in the open is unacceptable. Then either do not become pregnant or give your child to people who desperately want a child.

    Kensi telling Lily it turned out to be okay because she was there for her mother shows where Kensi’s state of mind is as opposed to Deeks’ state of mind: It is not the child’s job to be there for a parent, it is a parent’s job to be there for the child.

    As I stated earlier, and as a few people pointed out again; why still this distance between Deeks and Kensi? The opening scene could have been shot as the ending scene in An Unlocked Mind with Deeks and Kensi kissing and Kilbride popping up on the screen behind them. But again, TPTB wasted an opportunity by having them go to opposite sides of the table. It makes me wonder again if ECO and DR simply have not been wanting to do intimate scenes anymore due to RL family relations, which should really not be allowed to be an excuse if you are a TV couple. As “Sarge” so aptly pointed out in his comment: It’s been 2 years, 7 months, and 22 days.

    I did like the way the episode was set up: The interviews with the flashbacks, and the whole story playing out this way. It was a good way to keep everybody’s attention. However, writing an episode this way comes with paying attention to detail, which this team of writers have shown to greatly lack.

    I found the “you left me” shout-out from Sam to Callen rather absurd, like Jessie. It was 10 seconds, not to mention that getting her into the panic room was an impossibility as they had lost all power and would not be able to get the panic room door to open (details!). It also emphasized to me how there is no team spirit or loyalty left. They are all over the place, as they have been since the start of last season and has worsened since the start of this season.

    Callen should absolutely have given Song a gun. At that point, he knew no better than she was a fully trained operative and to leave her completely unarmed and defenseless while being under a full blown attack made zero sense. His argument to IG Ali that it “was our job to protect her” did more harm than good, as it simply was not very believable.

    I think the action shoot-out scene with Fatima and Rountree really belonged to Deeks and Kensi and I found it disgraceful the writers chose to give this big operational scene to these – for the vast majority part – disliked and lightweight newbies while our beloved veteran OGs were stuck in wasted scenes in a boatshed with a teenager. I can also really do without the slow-mo action scenes. It’s distracting and annoying.

    I do not get why Kilbride continues to snap at Deeks. He snapped at Deeks about ‘useless commentary’, but he went out of his way to help Fatima find an apartment last week. Things like this get under my skin. Why is Deeks always relegated to the one being stepped on, snapped at, degraded and belittled?

    Like Karen, I was also confused by the safe house. It brought back memories of Hetty’s safe house when Deeks and Kensi were sent to protect Jack. It looked like an abandoned building while this looked like the lobby of a luxury high rise. To make matters worse, as opposed to a demure Toyota or a Honda, Fatima and Rountree sped up to the curb in a bright red sports car.

    Why was Fatima assigned to this significant task if she needs to go and pray 5 times per day? If that is the case and she wishes to remain devout, she should be in an office job and not in the field. Absolutely ludicrous. From what I understand Sam is also a Muslim but this never gets in the way of a mission.

    And IG Ali fawning over Fatima’s “impressive career”? She was a wannabee actress who failed; which impressive career? Meanwhile, he is cracking down on Callen and Sam over what exactly they were drinking. Who writes these dialogues?

    And finally, like a said, writing an episode this way comes with responsibility. Sure, the ending had a twist. It was also a reprehensible cover-up of corruption at the highest level with SecNav involved (what Hetty did to Kensi in Afghanistan comes to mind).

    Putting the lives of agents at stake because “they are good but she was the best I’ve ever known” outraged me. The OG team was used as if they are dispensable at the snap of a finger. Kilbride noted that he killed a traitor, but how does he justify his own part in all of this? He stated he had nothing to go on but his suspicions and needed the team to keep performing their parts until he could confirm his suspicions. It all boiled down to him putting all of their lives at stake for an old flame.

    I’d also like to know when exactly he discovered Song really had turned (because she was dead within only one hour, per the episode’s time stamp), informed SecNav and got the okay to continue with the operation with the end goal of killing her, risking the lives of everyone in the field? Just to preserve ‘the image of being strong’? I found it inexcusable and cause for removal from his position.

    Seeing them sit in the bull pit, rather speechless and despondent, was a no for me. You don’t go through something like that and come out emotionally okay and up the stairs to your next mission.

    As I stated above, writing an episode like this comes with the responsibility to details, which were hugely lacking. At the minimum, there should have been a scene where the team at some point was made aware of Kilbride’s suspicions to, if anything, protect themselves and to keep their state of mind intact. After going on 13 years of loyal service, you don’t write them into a scenario where they are made out to be dispensable and replaceable, just another number.

    To top it off, Kilbride stated that “if they wish to wallow in their own angst, they can feel free to do so’’, showing zero care for their emotional state of mind and instead going into his office staring at a picture of Song. For me, he crossed the line. Granger would have never.

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  11. I find they’re writing Kilbride the way they normally do Hetty, but she had a few years of audience goodwill to bank on while he does not. The differences between those two and Granger become more stark with every passing episode. Granger was hard on everyone, but I always thought he was hardest on himself at the end of the day. I think that’s one of the reasons he and Deeks bonded the way they did.
    And as for Rountree being former FBI…so what? NCIS LA has always shown the FBI as a bunch of suit-wearing screwups. We’re supposed to suddenly forget all that because the new golden child happens to be from there? And M’s point about Fatima is spot-on. Sam is indeed a declared Muslim, but seems to observe mostly in the breech (or when they need a plot element…not unlike his parenting or lack thereof).

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    • Deeks and Granger were a lot alike deep down inside, I agree, only difference being that Deeks is an extrovert and Granger was an introvert.

      I am not sure if they are writing Kilbride the same way as Hetty or if it is a matter of portraying the character. I don’t remember Hetty treating Deeks with the outright disdain Kilbride does. Hetty’s flaw was in never teaching respect in the workplace, especially towards Deeks.

      Don’t get me started on “The Golden Children”. Deeks was chewed out for “ useless commentary”; which consisted of one sentence, but Fatima is rewarded for looking for an apartment during work hours by Kilbride personally calling in a favor….? As far as Rountree being former FBI…he couldn’t pull off credibility as a mall security guard, sorry. As you stated before, they are forcing these two down our throats whether we like it or not. That big shoot-out scene should have been Deeks’ and Kensi’s.

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  12. OT: Dani shared a pic of the script for Episode 14, it’s called ‘Pandora’s Box’. And at this moment, I’m very interested in the episode because an episode with that kind of title has got to be good! (I’m probably gonna regret saying this in a few months.)

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  13. Based on Karen’s observation that Deeks’ stance on having children seems to have shifted, I re-watched the break-up parking garage scene (9/23 – 9/24) in which Kensi clearly states “I wouldn’t do this if we had kids”, and it makes we wonder when and why her stance shifted.

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    • It pains me to say they probably forgot. Or decided a conversation like that would somehow “feel” better coming from Deeks. They’ve also been steadily regressing Kensi into a mini-Sam, so there’s that, too.

      Part of the reason I said they’re writing Kilbride like they did Hetty is her treatment of the team started shifting steadily around the time of the whole mole thing. Plus she always had her favorites (Nell) who could do pretty much anything without repercussions. I think the disdain for Deeks is carrying over from how Mosley treated him…which is NOT the role model to be taking for any kind of bureau or operations chief.

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      • I think ‘forgot’ is sadly the right term. They seemed to have forgotten so many details that viewers are constantly in a state of having to correct or remind, which does not appear to make much of a difference anyway.

        Kilbride is over for me after this episode. The constant unnecessary yelling and degrading as opposed to respect without any form of actual leadership had already become cringeworthy, but exposing this entire team to what very possibly could have been the last days of their lives because he was been pining over a long lost love (and then covering it up keeping them in emotional limbo) is as unforgiveable as what Hetty did with Afghanistan.

        “Regressing Kensi to a mini-Sam” is tragically right on point. Where everybody thought she was finally growing during 10×13, showing her vulnerability after David’s death, she has been steadily regressing after the wedding.

        The question of whether or not this is a healthy work environment for Deeks has been raised often over the years, and now the question of whether or not this is a healthy relationship for him has been added as well. The relationship has not been equal for awhile now. You cannot bring a child into that.

        I think by Season 12, their personal lives have been interfering (we all know DR’s husband is constantly on set as a stunt double and we see pics of Sarah and Winter in front of an AirStreamer). If that alone interferes to this type of down-spiral, as the showrunner, I would put a stop to that.

        Alas, I am not one of TPTB…

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    • Before I answer your Q let’s just start with anything I say is just my opinion, so bear that in mind because I know I’m gonna take a lot of heat after posting this and it doesn’t mean that any other opinion isn’t valid so I just needed to clarify that out first.

      I believe the sudden change of her heart has been seen in her wedding when she expressed her desire to look like her friend (which was unbelievable at least for me) then she felt disappointed/ afraid that she was not pregnant in “Yellow Jack”, and since then and she started her new possessions of having the baby.

      I said it before so sorry if I sound repetitive but Kensi’s desire to be a Mam always felt unnatural and to me, it has not felt organic, and the way she is handling it like she was on a mission that needs to be done as it’s not coming from her feelings of motherhood.

      As she was comparing her delayed pregnancy to her friends and how many times she visited Drs or had new treatments she even started the IVF treatment at the worst possible time in the world, to be thinking of having a baby with to name a few (financial problems, sociopath going after me, a husband without a job, buying a new house, life post-pandemic, etc) it’s for me pure selfish and childish behavior.

      She also was reckless when she started the treatment and was insisting on going out to the field despite her sickness and ignoring her speech to her husband in the bathroom that it’s their opportunity to be parents and have a family.

      Also, she is always taking the shots in this relationship no matter what.
      she started talking about having a child when it was convenient for her without taking any consideration of Deeks position and she put the plug on it when she felt it’s too much. When he suggested adoption first she was dismissive of the idea, but suddenly the idea became appealing to her Like she was the one who came with it in the first place and her husband was treating her like was a saint for thinking about other people welfare.
      Not to mention she was the one who started the ” all in” despite he tried million times to move forward their relation, then the proposal again she was the one who asked him despite he tried 4 times before even when they decided to move together she was the one who asked him despite he initiated the thought early on in S06 but she was rudely dismissive of the idea.

      She was the one who wanted to buy the house but she was not interested in painting the rooms as it reminds her of her failure and refused to discuss logistics when he asked her last year.

      So now I realized how selfish on her part. It had all been about what she wanted, what she thought. She’d never given him a chance, never thought about what he might have wanted. So she decided to make all the decisions for

      While Deeks here takes on fatherhood was natural and his transition through the years was smooth and in character, Even when thinking about his behavior in “the 7th child” was OOC but maybe be he wanted to move forward with their relation to be natural and not out of course, as he was afraid to repeat the ordeal of his childhood (as Roberta said before she was pregnant before her marriage and he his reply to her was look at the outcome) so maybe he thought it was the reason why his father hated him and he wanted to avoid that with Kensi so maybe that’s why he thought that Kensi was now ready to start a family and thought he needs to propose first then have a baby. (Too Much Thinking)

      But to be honest, he was always great with children and he was part of “the big brother program” he began asking her about starting a family and he wanted a girl and she wanted a boy so she was aware of his desire and it did not come out of the sudden he wanted to leave his job to start a family and he brought this multiple times now and every time she was so arrogant and self-absorbed to give him an answer.

      He felt disappointed that they will not be able to have a baby and started to look for another alternative (adoption, treatments) to make his dream come true but he was always respectful and thoughtful of her desire and never push the issue, hell sometimes I felt he was about to suggest they gave up. Not that he didn’t want a child; he didn’t want Kensi to go through the unhappiness of it all.

      Even his fear was natural he was afraid that he will not be a good father as he doesn’t have a good reference in that area (he was raised by the wolves) his fear of failing his child and his wife, while Kensi’s only fear was she will not be a mam and never expressed her worries how she’s gonna raise them.

      So now to think about his compliance with the idea of being a father and working in the field is in the character as he always adapts with what life threw at him, he knows he can’t change her mind and we know damn well he will not leave her out in the field without him backing her up and the only way to see him quit NCIS is when she decides that, so now all he has to do is to make peace with it and coexist with the reality and the decision that had been made for him unless she changed her mind and chose to quit her job or find a safer alternative. Her stance is still the same and hasn’t changed but I hope we could see some change in her manners.

      WOW, Looks like I didn’t put so much thought about this LOLs
      sorry for the prolong

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      • You are not catching any heat from me on that one, Jessie, because you summed up a lot of points I (and others) have been making just perfectly.

        Remember the episode in which Deeks saw a Mommy and Me magazine sticking out of Kensi’s bag and she replied “I saw it and just wanted to buy it”? I always found that very strange. A Mommy and Me magazine is for a specifically targeted audience, you don’t just see it and feel like buying it for no reason. Especially mission-mind-targeted Kensi.

        The conversations about having a child were always when they were walking or running around or during a stake-out and never during a serious sit-down at home (I blame this on the writers and showrunner). The only serious one was the break-up scene I described in 9/23-9/24 where Deeks finally says that these are important things to talk about before getting married. And as usually, Kensi turned it around and stated “you are saying that if I don’t leave my job, you are leaving me”, completely ignoring the point he was so desperately trying to make by once again refocusing on what she wanted.

        Calling trying to get pregnant for three months a long time also made no sense; for starters Deeks was away at FLETC for at least 6 weeks of that. You go through a very long process before a doctor approves you for IVF. Both my employers went through IVF to have their daughter after years of not getting pregnant and miscarriages. It’s not something you jump into after a minute of trying.

        Like I just posted in my Reply to Robbie C: “……..and now the question of whether or not this is a healthy relationship for him has been added as well. The relationship has not been equal for awhile now. You cannot bring a child into that”.

        If they ever do have a child where either both of them or one of them stays in this job, it will be born with a job and that is to keep his or her mother happy at all cost and no child should carry that burden. Deeks has been carrying that for years now. To the point where he has completely given up and appears to have lost parts of` himself so as long as to keep her happy, and enabling this more and more.

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        • Not sure I can add anything to your comments Jessie and M (and everybody else) but here goes. The question of Kensi changing her mind about staying in the job with a child. I think saying you are going to do something, or not do something is easy. When it comes to the crunch and acting on it, that’s a different matter.

          Kensi joined NCIS to find out the truth about her father’s death. Having done that, I think she is now addicted to her job. She is defined by it, can’t give it up, and doesn’t see it as a problem. Which is why Kensi choosing Deeks over the job is such a big thing. Something I’d love to see, but think I never will.

          Deeks joined law enforcement to put things right, stop injustice. He is fearful of losing Kensi all the time. Kensi is only concerned about losing Deeks when it looks likely to happen, be it to the Grim Reaper or another woman. Kensi is all about Kensi, she has to be the best, the fastest the strongest. She routinely puts Deeks between a rock and a hard place, and she doesn’t even know she’s doing it.

          I could have just said I agree with you, but that would be too easy.

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          • She was still willing to leave the job when having children in 9/23 – 9/24. Something shifted between seasons 10 and 12. I think it was the writers creating bad drama for the sake of fake drama, bungled it, and tried to walk it back, which then backfired.

            As far as Kensi not knowing doing what she is doing regarding Deeks, I think that not only does she knows she is doing it, she is counting on it by now. The only one who can stop it is Deeks, but she has got him in a place where he is so terrified of losing it he is too afraid, even willing to lose who is really is at heart in the process.

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            • I tend to agree with your point regarding Kensi and how she views/uses Deeks. It’s been that way for some time…going back to before the marriage.

              One reason Deeks is so good at undercover work is he’s so good at burying his own personality to play the role. To pull a phrase from The Unit (and it’s not an exact quote): “There is no cover and the truth: the cover IS the truth.” Deeks lives that, which is why he’s so good at it (and why Granger picked him to infiltrate the club back in the day). But that comes with a cost…he does it out of reflex now. The parking garage scene before Mexico is so powerful because we see Deeks “breaking cover” and being who he really is. We see that during most of the Mexico thing, actually, and in many ways it’s Deeks at his strongest (although there are other contenders: Afghanistan, the torture episodes, even Deeks being ambushed and shot).

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              • It really makes you wonder who, out of the two of them. has the most CPTSD (Continued Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) because – as you say, it comes at a cost. Deeks has always been there to get Kensi’s out of hers, but who has really been there for him?

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              • I remember a scene from The Big Bang Theory in which Amy tells Sheldon “I don’t want to disappear in this relationship to where it all becomes about you”. It seems Densi has been headed that way since the wedding episode, and gone full blown since last season with Deeks more and more acquiescing.

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              • The Unit, what is that then?

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                • The Unit was TV show about a Delta Force team: Special Forces Operational Detachment–Delta (1st SFOD-D).

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                • I couldn’t say it anymore better myself so I have to agree with you all.
                  Maybe his submissive behavior is coming from his low self-esteem and that he believes he doesn’t deserve to be happy or even wroth it find someone to love as he has abandonment issues coming from his abused childhood.
                  Remember when he questioned himself why would she marry him and thought he might trick her into loving him even when he is happy he always waiting for the other shoe to drop and it is heartbreaking to find that the scared and emotionally damaged little boy still exists.
                  Also, She asked him to be patient with her and that’s what he did and still doing. He would laugh and joke about her words or actions, letting them roll off his back, just like he did with all the other negative things in his life.

                  As you said M most of their conversations were at work but to be honest the pre break up talk on the garage had the worst timing to talk about their future and make a decision about their relation considering the prier events what was Kensi intention when she followed him in the first place if not supporting him in his ordeal.
                  she sometimes is too caught up in her own pity, and she doesn’t recognize whose she hurts in the process. She also can make everything is around her without considering his opinion or feelings.
                  About Leaving the job I don’t know what else to discuss or talk about once you have children you need to be quite the job and they had a live example for it (Sam&Michelle) for Deeks he is open to quitting on the spot as for Kensi she is manipulating him and cannot believe that she is that selfish and careless to take the decision of leaving she should have prioritized her family first not the job before thinking having or adopting a baby.

                  So when push comes to shove will she risk her career to save him and stand up for him or will she follow the orders and choose the mission over him once again plus she always ignore his emotions and risk putting his life in danger.

                  So does this mean he means so little to her or she is so stubborn that it took something drastic (a near-death experience) to make her realize what he meant to her and she understands his value and the important role he plays in her life?

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                  • I thought about that too. What was her endgame following him into that garage? I think it was to get him to calm down and then go in to apologize to Mosley. She was trying to do that when they were talking to each other in the bull pit and Mosley showed up with the guards to escort him out. She was not there to take his side and go home with him, which was – rightfully so – his expectation.

                    There was a point during that discussion when Deeks’ face fell and his shoulders slumped down when he realized she was not willing to choose a life with him over her job. After everybody who has abused, left, rejected and abandoned him, the one person he thought would always and unconditionally be on his side was not.

                    I think that is what hit him again when they were talking to Lily in the boatshed (and during the scene with IG Ali). He was confronted with a reality he had been pushing down for a very long time; and now there is no way out of this. He enabled her to the point of no return. So where does that leave him, where does that leave them, where does that leave starting a family?

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                    • I think that’s exactly what she was doing. She wanted him to go kiss some Mosley backside and go back to being steady Deeks. It should have been clear to her after he saw Mosley mistreating a prisoner that Deeks would NEVER apologize to her for anything. A line they’d been tiptoeing along had been crossed.

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                    • But that’s it he already apologized to Molsely before being escorted out , but she didn’t hear him because she was full of herself & blinded by rage and hatred.

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                    • It was more of a “I’m sorry you are such a b*tch apology”, I think. And Mosley had indeed already made up her mind. She had been looking for an excuse to get him out and she jumped on it once she realized no other team member stood with him. Kensi wanted him to grovel and he was never going to that after he saw what she had done to the prisoner.

                      But wouldn’t it have been something if TPTB had given Deeks’ scene with IG Ali to Kensi instead, and finally creating the 180 she needed to make in this relationship and their future? What an opportunity missed……

                      Like

  14. I recently learned how to make gif sets, and I’ve been having some fun with making a few sets for my NCIS franchise centric side blogs, like a gif set of the NCIS LA Season 9 opening credits, and 1 of the NCIS Season 1 opening credits.

    I’ve also been making some Hetty gif sets from Season 1 episodes, they’re pretty good, considering I’ve only been doing this for a few days! 🙂 And it also feels nice to think of this show in a nice way that doesn’t always involve me writing a fluffy fanfic piece. 🙂

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  15. Thank Karen, I enjoyed the episode, the ending was a surprise, should kilbride have kept that info that he shot laura, I’m not understanding with how much guilt the team felt, that he wouldn’t say something…he is a little to sarcastic for me…and why is Deeks always the one put down, he is the strongest, caring, have everyone backs NCIS agent on the team..( not even sure what investigator means) I never cared for roundtree and Fatima, I don’t even think they earned the spot in the opening segment yet, yet they get more scenes ( it seems) then the main characters..I really, really wish we could see kensi and Deeks act like a married couple..earlier episodes they were all over each other, a hug, kiss, banter..missing all of that..whenever they were on a talk show eric and Dani were asked about if it was awkward, being family and being lovers on the show, they said they want to stay true to their fans, and they were actors like there spouses are..oh well they fell apart on that..

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    • Exactly, see my comments all those subjects!

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    • (Just making a bit of small talk here):

      Maybe it’s just me downloading Season 1 episodes of this show to make screencaps of Hetty scenes making me feel nostalgic, but, this team really did work better when Hetty was fully at the helm. It felt right, it felt full, and it didn’t feel wrong, unlike what we’ve seen in small bits since Season 9, and then in full bits since Season 10. Long story short, Hetty is the glue that held this team together and is this show’s secret weapon of sorts.

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  16. I accidentally put my most recent comment in a reply (oops!), so here’s a better one:

    Thinking about Season 1 again. As ‘trying to get the groove right’ that it was (as most first Seasons are), it did a lot of things right.

    Like all the scenes between Hetty and her team in between missions, I wish they didn’t stop doing those scenes. (there was even a scene at the end of Search and Destroy where she’s walking into work! Very rare Hetty scene!)

    Like having the whole team (including Hetty) in OPS.

    As amazing as most of the future Seasons would end up being, Season 1 was the stepping stone for those Seasons.

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  17. Here is another question to ponder about: Was the autopsy report falsified or simply buried too? The bullet would have identified Kilbride as the shooter. All the agents have Sigs and he has a very identifiable 1911. As a Navy veteran (who left the scene) he surely would have known that.

    Or were we made to believe that all the bodies somehow disappeared and the entire crime scene mysteriously cleaned up?

    Details……

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    • My take on that matter It’s a cover-up operation orchestrated under the direction of SecNav herself, so I believe that something, like falsifying an autopsy report (like they do with witnesses protection) and fabricating evidence or conning the best team in their shenanigans to save face water, is something is so simple for them to do, but It really makes you think about who you can trust.

      The team was dragging themselves up the stairs defeated thinking they had blown their assignment. Kilbride can’t let them go on believing that or it will eat away at their confidence or it will backfire on him like when Hetty locked up her team in S08 to get to the mole or like Callen & Mosley in S09. Either way, it never ends up well.

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    • Caliber alone would give it away. The SIGs are most likely 9mm (maybe .40 S&W, but not likely), while Kilbride uses a .45 ACP.

      But the motto of the show (at least in the last few seasons) seems to be – “Details? We don’t need no stinkin’ details.”

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  18. Remember when I said that my wish for the Christmas episode was for Hetty and Callen to talk?

    Well, I probably won’t need that because I don’t even know if we’re even getting the episode this year because of screwed up CBS’s schedule for next month looks like!!

    (Just when you thought this Season couldn’t get any more screwed up then it looks.) (Probably doesn’t even matter anyways, no one seems to care anyways, because if they did, we’d have a ton of Hetty updates and a real resolution to the whole baby or adoption junk)

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  19. Some time ago, I sent a question to TV Line asking if any of the NCIS’s were having Christmas episodes this year, and I got my answer today:

    Neither LA or OG NCIS are having Christmas episodes this year.

    I’m sorry. I’m as disappointed, and a bit unsurprised as everyone else is.

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    • I always enjoyed there Christmas episodes , Disappointing 🥺

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed. We all deserved 1 that had all the feels and ended with Callen and Hetty talking. (that last bit was most likely not going to happen, but then again, I doubt any of us expected Hetty to get Deeks into FLETC at the end of last year’s episode.)

        The nice part: this gives me the opportunity to write the episode the way I wanted it to be.

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        • Yes it is disappointing there will be no Christmas episode this year, but they have been weaning us off them. Putting up a few decorations doesn’t make a proper Christmas episode, well not for me. I think the last really Christmassy episode was ‘Joyride’ Season 10. Nice speech by Deeks at the end, I think most of us have our own ideas of the ideal NCIS:LA Christmas episode. Mine will be finished around Easter, lol.

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  20. Well, if there wasn’t another reason to not look forward to Sunday (other then the episode looks totally boring), here’s Reason number 2:

    1 of the sneak peaks is more annoying adoption talk. ‘Inserts eyeroll emoji’

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  21. I really don’t see any way that tomorrow’s episode is anything BUT boring. Like, more adoption talk that’ll probably never go anywhere, again. The only thing that even looks interesting is a pic of a potentially serious looking Sam/Callen talk, but I’m willing to bet that won’t even be interesting. (yeah, my stupid fantasy in my head has Callen saying that he’s fed up with Killjoy and that he’s going off to Syria to bring Hetty home, smirk.).

    And, I’m a bit paranoid about the episode, because Can I get a Witness was episode 6 of Season 9. (yeah, I’m still a bit paranoid about this Season trying to repeat that Season.). I highly doubt there’ll be any kind of Hetty update, but you never know.

    (Makings small talk on this Saturday morn.)

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