“NCIS: Los Angeles” delivers the best, most intense and most memorable episode of season 7 with “The Seventh Child.” The Monday, March 21 hour is all about kids, from the case involving children wearing suicide vests to Kensi and Deeks talking about their future, and the series handles both aspects quite well.
There is, quite frankly, nothing to complain about with this “NCIS: LA” episode (except maybe that there aren’t more like it?). There’s no misplaced banter. There are no bits that go on too long. There’s no unnecessary drama. Of course the standout performances of the hour go to Chris O’Donnell and Gavin Lewis, as they take the scenes in the water tank and the final one in the boatshed to the next level. As important as who’s behind the operation and taking them down is, what’s more important is saving the kids that have been brainwashed into wearing the suicide vests, even when faced with what present as insurmountable obstacles. Sam and Callen both handle those situations as they need to. And as dark as the episode gets, hope remains at the heart of it – hope that these boys can be saved, that they can meet their families, and hope that Kensi and Deeks can have kids themselves one day, despite their jobs and the shaky start they get off to with that all important discussion.
As “The Seventh Child” begins, a kid finds he cannot get the suicide vest he’s padlocked into off, and he and his brother run. In their attempt to escape the men responsible, however, one brother is hit by a car, setting off his bomb, and the other ends up retreating to a water tank on the roof of a hotel. FBI Special Agent Lisa Rand calls in NCIS because they worked a case with ATF involving the same type of explosive, and while Sam and Callen focus on the bomb site and the other boy, Kensi and Deeks locate the boys’ possible father: David Zahavi, an Israeli diplomat. The only problem? His son is Tomar, and he’s with him in Israel. He looks like the other boys.
What follows is finding the trail that leads to a fertility clinic in India and the likelihood that the other boys’ existences were kept from David and his wife, Rachel. The doctor at the clinic is under investigation for impregnating very young women with more embryos than is ethical or safe to carry to full term. He could then be selling the other kids on the black market or raising them to be human bombs in the United States.
That’s the case with Nadir, the other boy that Sam and Callen find hiding in a water tank on the roof of a hotel. Callen climbs down into the tank with him in hopes of being the less intimidating of the two, but when he tells him that he can have experts down there to take the bomb off, Nadir refuses, instead threatening to lift his thumb off his phone, the dead man’s switch. Due to the silicone covering the bomb, submerging it in water doesn’t mean it’s not viable. But for Nadir, he thinks that it’s his way of joining his brother in heaven because he’s all he had. He thinks his parents abandoned him, and that means that Callen’s attempt to show he understands how he feels – he never met his mother, only just learned his first name – fall on deaf ears. And telling him that his parents didn’t abandon him, that they just didn’t know about him, isn’t enough. He wants proof, and not words from tests. All they can do is have him talk to David and Rachel, but it’s not until they bring in Tomar and he sees that he has another brother that he agrees to let them take the vest off.
But it’s not as simple as Nadir letting the bomb squad enter the tank. There’s a receiver on his arm sending a wireless signal to the phone to monitor his pulse. If it’s removed or something happens to him to slow or stop his pulse, the bomb will go off. While the bomb squad works to figure out a way to remove the vest, Callen stays by Nadir’s side the entire time, and as mentioned above, those scenes in the water tank are absolutely brilliant. The techs are able to replicate Nadir’s fingerprint and his pulse, but in order to do the latter, they need Callen to calm him down, and he does, by getting the boy to talk about what he liked to do back in India. He drew, and so Callen tells him to draw a crocodile, which leads to a moment of Callen realizing just how he (and the kids like him) grew up because Nadir doesn’t know what a dinosaur is, something that’s hard to imagine for kids. Once the vest is off, Nadir hugs him.
Meanwhile, Sam joins the others in going to the house where Nadir was being held, thanks to the boy remembering a stadium nearby and Eric comparing cell phone records from the area to the site of Nadir’s brother’s death. The men inside surrender immediately, leading to Kensi remarking on their cowardly behavior, on how easy it is for them to strap a bomb to child but they’re not willing to die themselves. However, the problem comes when Sam and Deeks find four more kids upstairs in suicide vests, from the same fertility clinic. Kensi and the FBI clear the area, while Deeks only goes as far as the hall when Sam tells him to leave. It’s up to Sam to get through to these kids – but specifically the one who seems more willing to die for his cause than the others. Sam grabs him as he tells them all that they have families, and it’s not as dark an end as it could have been.
There’s still the matter of Nadir meeting his family, and he admits to Callen that he’s worried that they won’t want him when they meet him. They’re his parents, the agent assures him. They’ll want him. And Callen is right, as Rachel asks if they can hug him once the introductions are made. Before Callen can leave, however, Nadir stops him and tells him he was right when he told him there are people who would come into his life and he’d know he’s safe with them – and Callen is one of them. In fact, he asks him if he ever found out his first name and makes sure to thank “Grisha.” It’s an emotional moment for everyone, including Callen.
Meanwhile, as Kensi and Deeks debate getting a bigger place, one that’s theirs, he spots a Mommy and Me magazine in her bag, which opens up the floor for talking about having kids. She just saw it and decided to buy it, she says, but he doesn’t seem quite as ready for that kind of commitment. As the case progresses, so does the conversation. Having kids means an end to amazing things, he points out, not sure if he’d make a good stay-at-home dad. But he’s not saying that he doesn’t want to have kids at all, because, on the other hand, having them also means amazing things – and they’d be the most important things in the world. Somehow, they’ve found themselves “very much there” and having that conversation – and progressing to talking about where Kensi would have their kid (she’s for home birth, he’s not) and just barely touching upon circumcision before Granger shuts them down.
As already stated many a time before, the writers have excelled at presenting Kensi and Deeks’ relationship as mature, stable and settled – and without the use of metaphors, which were so much a part of their conversations in the past about their “thing.” (Remember when they were just a “thing”?) Well, they’ve moved well past that, and “NCIS: LA” is better for it. As they’re leaving work, Kensi remarks on the crazy day, wondering if it was too crazy for two people to have a baby. Deeks doesn’t know, but he does have a question for her: “Was it too crazy for two people to get married?” That stops Kensi in her tracks. No, it’s not. So is she saying yes? Well, not in the hallway at work without a ring on her finger. So she wants him down on one knee, on the beach at sunset with a ring? She tells him that maybe then he’d have a chance, but he’s taking that as a yes, and the look on her face pretty much confirms it is. If they’re not officially engaged, the only thing they’re waiting for is Deeks to take Kensi to that beach at sunset with a ring in his hand.
“NCIS: Los Angeles” season 7 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 19 “The Seventh Child”?