And they lived happily ever after. That’s the idea at the heart of the NCIS: Los Angeles Season 13 finale, written by Kyle Harimoto and directed by John P. Kousakis. Written as a potential series finale when the showrunners didn’t yet know if we’d see a Season 14, the episode spent lots of time exploring the personal lives of the characters we love so much, and leaving them in the best possible place. It was a true celebration of the family this group of characters has become. And happily for us, it’s not the end- we’ll get to pick up where we left off in the fall!
A Growing Family
Deeks and Kensi’s pursuit of parenthood finally resulted in a new family member. We got to see Deeks fresh off his flight from Guatemala, looking happy and relaxed with Kensi even before they heard from Mrs. King. Can we assume he found what he was looking for to bolster Rosa’s case? Being “a resource family” sounds so temporary. Surely the showrunners would never send Rosa away, right?
It would have been nice to hear about his trip, but the scene was enjoyable thanks to the duo’s bubbly mood, made all the bubblier by the news that Rosa would be with them that night. It’s wonderful to see them not freaking out, approaching parenthood so thoughtfully, and embracing the sudden change in their status. I also enjoyed the banter about Callen and his feelings. Touché indeed.
Deeks was so happy through the entire episode it was like he could barely contain himself. He couldn’t stop trying to banter with Kilbride, despite the Admiral’s clear lack of interest. (He does know that banter is one of this show’s core elements, right?) I loved Kensi’s reaction when Deeks apologized with a reference to “acid reflex.” Her whispered correction to “reflux” communicated her feigned dismay perfectly. It seemed odd that they didn’t discuss logistics of the foster situation when they had the chance, but clearly Kilbride was in the know somehow.
Also enjoyable was guest actress Lesley Boone, who played gun runner-cake lady Nine Barnes. Now that’s a hyphenate I never expected to see. I appreciated her combination of competence and sassiness (“I don’t do guns in my cake store”), and enjoyed the fact that Deeks and Kensi were so bursting with excitement that they couldn’t help but spill their personal information to her. “You got kids?” was a question that Kensi has to have received many times in the past, and likely many times said question caused her pain. Here it was just the opposite, and it provided yet another moment for us to bask in their joy. Nina’s mention of being a foster child focused us on one of the show’s long-running themes and highlighted the fact that Rosa’s plight was shared by not just Nina, but the show’s main character, Callen. Only clearly, Rosa is finding much more luck with her foster parents than poor Callen ever did.
And then they picked Rosa up! While the scene was indeed a happy one, it pained me to see Deeks hold himself back and not go in for a hug. (And what’s up with Rosa calling him “Mr. Deeks”? Surely they’re on a first-name basis by now.) I get it though. Deeks doesn’t want to pressure Rosa and I will try to follow the advice Kensi once gave and “respect the pace.”
When they arrived at the beach, I was slightly horrified at the thought that they’d let Rosa wander off. Sixteen or not, that whole idea just felt wrong. The phone also had me wondering about Rosa’s extended family in Guatemala. If she really did have so many family members to keep in touch with, would she even have needed to come to the U.S.? At any rate, the fact that Kilbride and the team went to so much trouble to surprise the new family just made the whole sequence all the sweeter. The reveal brought tears to my eyes watching Deeks and Kensi realize what was happening.
A Family Reconstituted
We also watched Sam and his dad continue to find their way together in their new normal. What a huge transition for both of them. The scene outside the Mexican restaurant was well written, with Raymond (Richard Gant) doing his best to bring out his son’s sense of humor. I like that their personalities are so different, and it could be good for Sam to try to see the world from a different perspective. His father’s advice that, “Don’t ever have a Miss Sarah Darcy, son. Regret is real. Michelle would want you to be happy,” made good sense. I wonder if Katherine had been a Sarah Darcy and maybe Sam pulled back from that relationship because Michelle’s memory was too strong? And just as we thought the two men were having a good outing, Raymond had a moment of serious confusion, mistaking a stranger for his late wife, and we were reminded of exactly why he’s living with Sam, and what Sam is facing moving forward. Hopefully the two will enjoy the time they do have together. The scene at the beach showed that they intend to do just that.
Making Family Official
At the episode’s start, we saw Callen and Anna talking about being “normal” together, only to be interrupted by Arkady. I was confused by Arkady’s sudden conciliatory mood, but it wasn’t unwelcome.
At the episode’s end, we got the culmination of Callanna with a big proposal. Callen’s clear-eyed understanding that he’s “broken” felt true to character, and I liked the simplicity of the actual proposal against a beautiful sunset. (But that music will always be Densi’s.) I was relieved to see Arkady took it well. He actually looked very emotional. Arkady wasn’t the only one. This might be the most excited Kensi has ever been, and Sam was also suitably enthusiastic. His lovely toast summed things up nicely: “May you dodge all the bullets and have a super successful life and a beautiful family.”
A Found Family
Television shows, especially those set in a workplace – comedies and dramas alike – frequently employ a theme of the “found family,” where the characters bond together and become a family unit that provides love and support to characters who might otherwise not have strong family ties. NCIS:LA is exactly that, and the theme has never been on such vivid and wonderful display as it was in the lengthy sequence at the beach that ended the episode. It felt like it was lifted straight out of fan fiction: how many team barbecues have you read about?
There were so many hugs – two full rounds of them – that it felt like they were finally unleashing all the hugs they’d held back for thirteen years. Everybody hugged everybody and it felt like a downpour after a drought. It felt so good I just want to watch both sequences over and over. What came through loud and clear was how genuinely happy these people were for Densi and Callanna. The strong bonds, the love… the family… was beautiful to watch.
This found family has suffered losses over the years, and it would be remiss to talk about them as a family without mentioning Dom, Renko and Granger, and even those alive but absent like Nate, Beale, Nell, and of course, Hetty. Thinking about how much Callen has grown over the years, to the point where he’s in a sustained relationship, ready for commitment, is satisfying. Watching the family that started with one foster child (and has introduced us to a slew of them) bring a new foster child into their midst is a beautiful way to bring the whole show full circle. (“That’s our – and now your – family, Rosa.”) This would have been an amazing series finale, and I can only imagine how they’ll eventually top it ten or twenty years from now when the show finally comes to an end.
- We even got a nice boom to start things off, with the case that nobody paid much attention to.
- Deeks’ reference to Dante’s Inferno couldn’t help but call to mind all the references to it in “Mother.”
- References to even more hugging were to be found when Densi was summoned to Kilbride’s office. Deeks said, “Maybe he just wants a hug,” and Kensi replied, “Let me give you a hug” as they walked out of Ops. Adorable.
- Fondant! You know Deeks wanted to take the whole cake decorating class.
- OK, I can buy that Rountree loves Disney musicals because he raised his sister, but Kilbride? We need an explanation.
- Mr. Carl made another welcome appearance as Switch’s “life coach.” Mr. Carl is always welcome.
- Kilbride in his Hawaiian shirt was awesome, as was seeing the old guys chatting about the Cold War. I only wished they’d been able to include Roberta.
Happily for us, we get to move on to conjecture and wish lists for Season 14. I will try to be gracious about letting the Callen fans enjoy the build-up to a wedding, but I’m crossing my fingers that the two will keep things simple so we don’t have another year of wedding preparation conversations.
More importantly, what does the future hold for Deeks? He now has everything he ever wanted and I can’t wait to see him navigate fatherhood. Fingers crossed that the writers handle his journey with sensitivity and an understanding of how his childhood experiences color his feelings about being a dad. I can’t wait to see him prove to himself that he’s better than his father, for we all know that he’ll be an absolutely amazing dad.
Thanks so much for tuning in each week to read our reviews. We appreciate everyone’s continued support. Be sure to come back later this week for new editions of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal. I can’t wait to hear how excited they both are to have Rosa at home with them. And be on the lookout for some fan fics over the summer. Have a great summer and we’ll see you in the fall!