“Things are too good,” Deeks says. Hetty has “a feeling of disquiet, that something is coming.” Sam tells Callen his ID photo is angry “because you didn’t know your first name.” Okay, so only the first two statements from the Monday, April 25 episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 7×23, “Where There’s Smoke…” have anything to do with that feeling that this is the calm before the storm, but that last one may be one of the best lines of the series, if only because Callen went from having a letter for a first name to a name that can barely fit on his badge. Plus, Sam and Callen play firefighter in an episode where they could have really used the house from “Chicago Fire” as their backup.
Maybe the mole storyline is finally coming to an end on “NCIS: LA.” Maybe. Hopefully. It has been going on long enough, with the team too in the dark and if Hetty’s worried? Uh-oh. At this point, the payoff of this arc better be good because expectations are very, very high. That’s what happens when something is stretched out as long as this is.
Unfortunately, there’s no movement whatsoever, other than Hetty and Granger’s acknowledgement that the mole has been ahead of them too long and the damage may have already been done – and they really, really shouldn’t be talking about it where anyone can walk in. “Maybe I blame myself,” Hetty admits, but in this case, can she? Yes, she has kept information from the team time and time again and it hasn’t always worked out for the best – or has at least worked out in such a way that if they had known, it would have been better – and she can blame herself in those situations, but here? Not necessarily. Instead, it seems that all they can do is sit back and wait for what’s to come, for the inevitable fallout, for “something neither of [them] has anticipated” to happen.
As for the case of the week, only on “NCIS: Los Angeles” could an investigation involving arson, espionage and murder be considered the calm before the storm. But it is easy enough, even with Sam and Callen using their limited experience to go undercover as firefighters, with the inevitable takedown, in some ways, lacking the edge-of-your-seat tension that would be expected with the threat of the release of a list containing over 21,000 names of possible terrorists who may only be guilty of sharing a name with another suspect. At no point does it feel like they won’t come out on top. (The nature of the case leads to some A+ banter from Sam and Callen and Eric, Nell and Granger.)
It all begins when a firefighter dies inside a DoD SCIF during a fire, and they discover that two hard drives were stolen. The suspect was wearing a firefighter’s jacket, and so with the house that responded to the fire full of suspects, Sam and Callen go in undercover. Some things are predictable – the only person with access to the SCIF who’s missing is found missing the appendage necessary to get in (consider Deeks’ query of all thumbs being accounted for of the team leader), the firefighter responsible wearing the outdated jacket was rejected and the arson investigator who wants them to work faster and finds them as they figure out where the fire originated is the guilty party.
It’s refreshing, in a way, to see Sam and Callen out of their element. They’re not perfect when it comes to being firefighters, but they do know how to take control in a desperate situation and get the job done. That means rescuing the injured and taking down the guilty. Getting the rejected firefighter to give up the arson investigator’s location with an easy “hey, your brother is on this list of known and suspected terrorists he’s going to release” is predictable as well, and considering it’s an investigation involving fires, of course Sam and Callen use one to lure the investigator into their trap and gain control of the situation so they can stop him.
Elsewhere, Deeks is any fan of any TV show ever, worried that “things are too good” – with his and Kensi’s relationship, work, his mother, Monty – and the other “universe-balancing, reality-checking, soul-crushing shoe” is going to drop. (A shoe does drop then, courtesy of Eric, and for his attempt at a joke, he loses his shoe.) Then, when his mother doesn’t answer his calls (four in 10 minutes), he’s worried that something could have happened to her and even wants Eric to ping her cell. Kensi does what any good girlfriend would do and tries to calm him down, even offering to withhold sex, but as he points out, she can’t force the shoe to drop. (But hey, it does mean cute, flirty Kensi and Deeks banter as he insists she can’t resist him.)
When Deeks finds out that his mother has a new boyfriend, however, he thinks that could be the other shoe because, as he reminds Kensi, his mother doesn’t have the best taste in men. And again, Kensi does what a good girlfriend does and points out that just because his father was an awful man doesn’t mean that this new boyfriend is too. All they can do is go and enjoy the meal he’s going to cook for them and if need be, she’ll be right there with him to take him down together.
“NCIS: Los Angeles” season 7 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 23 “Where There’s Smoke…”?