Kensi and Deeks are moving in together. Jack is back in town. Worst timing ever? Actually, no. The Monday, Jan. 25 episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 714, “Come Back,” handles Kensi and Deeks’ relationship, as well as Jack’s past with Kensi exceptionally well. Everyone’s mature. And as it should, the case plays second fiddle to everything else.
First things first: “NCIS: LA” is doing everything right with Kensi and Deeks’ relationship this season, from their first “I love yous” on screen being so casual and natural to Deeks telling Kensi the truth about Boyle to this entire episode. There’s no petty jealousy from either Deeks or Jack. There’s not even the whisper of Kensi feeling torn. Instead, there’s maturity, there’s advice offered and there are long overdue talks. Kensi and Deeks, for all that they had problems talking about what was between them in the past, using metaphors and “thing,” are a stable couple. That’s the best part of the episode. For a show on which action and explosions are such an integral part, it handles the character stuff very well here.
On the other hand, there’s Hetty unnecessarily being cryptic about the person she’s sending Kensi and Deeks to protect. Time’s wasting, she claims, when Kensi asks, yet there’s time for her to say that and that the NCIS agent already on protection duty is very tired. It would have taken less time for her to say “Jack.” Yes, Hetty always knows more than the team. She’s always a few chapters, if not a book ahead. But in this case? There was no reason not to tell them, and that’s something Sam and Callen pick up on as well. It’s just Hetty being Hetty in a situation that simply doesn’t call for it. Kensi and Deeks are being sent to protect him. Part of protection detail is being prepared, and in order to be prepared, knowing who the person they’re protecting is is pretty key.
As for the case, as stated above, it fades into the background at times, especially during Jack’s conversations with Kensi and Deeks. He was on his way to see Hetty when he was shot at after the man he was supposed to meet, Sy Riggs, for whom he was a guide in Afghanistan, didn’t show. Sy works out of the LA field office for ICE, and he was recently sent to Afghanistan to catalogue antiquity sites. However, he was keeping a second list, of places and contacts, to sell to the highest bidder.
Sam and Callen track down the man who shot at Jack, and though they have to shoot him, a text on his phone provides a clue, from someone named “geb.” Jack tells them that Riggs texted a Salib (an antiquities dealer in LA) on the phone nearly every day, and it can’t be coincidental that both names have Egyptian ties. So Salib is “geb,” and the team sets Sam up as a buyer. However, the meet doesn’t go down as planned. Riggs calls Sam, and Salib gets on the phone and tells Sam to stop what he’s doing (or else) before the two drive off. They then find Riggs’ body, showing signs of torture before he was killed, and the notebook with the list destroyed.
They realize that the call Jack said was his family wasn’t; Salib told him it was his life or his family’s, so he gave him his location. Kensi does a fine job holding her own the best she can, considering it’s only her with a gun protecting herself and Jack, and the team shows up in time to come in shooting to take out the remaining shooters. As for Jack’s family, Hetty puts him on the phone with them; she would never have asked him there without considering the risks involved and had them protected from the moment he left.
But was the risk of the mission too great? Riggs’ list of people did contain high value targets they’ve been trying to locate, but it could’ve cost them, and considering Hetty’s behavior, it’s nice to see her acknowledge that. Yet, it couldn’t be as costly as Jack had worried it would be because Hetty had had his family protected, a fact that she hadn’t told him, based on his real fear for their safety. There’s also no reason why she couldn’t have told him that as well, except for the fact that they needed to have Jack give up his location to Salib so that Kensi would have to protect him and herself in a situation where backup wasn’t in the immediate vicinity.
The relationships are what stand out in “Come Back”: Kensi and Deeks, Kensi and Jack, Jack and Deeks and even Jack and Granger. Granger’s relationship with Jack was complicated by what happened in Afghanistan, and even without Hetty saying that, it shows in their first face-to-face interaction after she sends Granger to debrief him. Because of that, they stick almost strictly to business, and even when their conversation veers towards the personal, Jack makes it clear how he feels: he’s doing this for his country, not Granger’s.
Jack’s return comes just as Kensi and Deeks have announced they’re moving in together, something that Kensi couldn’t be happier about, as is clear when she tells the team. (She doesn’t get quite the reactions she was expecting; Sam just says “great,” Callen thought they were already living together and Eric asks if they’re getting a puppy for the big occasion that isn’t the big occasion.)
Jack’s return allows for he and Kensi to talk about – to each other, and in Kensi’s case, to Deeks – the end of their relationship. She felt pretty helpless, she admits to her partner. She didn’t know how to be there for Jack. But with him back, it gives her the opportunity to talk to him if she has something to say, he points out and even gives her just the chance to do that, leaving with Granger so she can stay behind and talk to her ex. She apologizes for not calling after their rescue, but he didn’t call either. He admits that after they broke up, he almost came home to try and get her back, but he realized it would be running from who he is. That doesn’t mean he didn’t love her. It’s closure, probably in the best possibly way two people can get closure after all this time and after what they’ve been through and after they’ve both moved on. He has a family back in Afghanistan, and she’s moving in with Deeks, and they’re both genuinely happy for each other.
But moving in together is a big step for Kensi and Deeks, and as addressed in this episode, neither is quite over what happened in Afghanistan a couple seasons ago. Kensi may not be having as many nightmares as before, as she tells Jack, but that does mean she’s still having them. And Deeks admits to Jack that he’d torture someone again if it meant saving someone he loves, but he also woke up yelling at the top of his lungs last month. Now, that will be in front of Kensi. These are two flawed people, and all they can really do is listen to what Jack tells them: for Deeks, to not push her away like he did, and for Kensi, that he is a good guy. Things like that, those conversations Jack shared with Kensi and Deeks, are how “Come Back” easily eliminated any and all concerns about what his return would mean for their relationship.
And there’s no question that Kensi and Deeks are still in a very good place relationship-wise by the end of the episode. (Deeks even offers their couch up for him to stay the night, which is really just awkward, so it’s a good thing he has a plane to catch.) There’s no question that they’re still moving in together; it’s just a matter of what’s on their schedule for the night, and for Kensi, they can always make time for noodles – after they get her stuff. (And thankfully, there’s no Hetty to interrupt them kissing in the boatshed this time. Also, after this, there’s no “his (my)” and “her (your)” house.)
“NCIS: Los Angeles” season 7 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 14 “Come Back”?