Some cases aren’t open and shut. Sometimes, you win a battle but not the war. That’s true of the Monday, Nov. 23 episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Defectors.” A note at a crime scene leads to a missing girl, which, in turn, puts the team on the trail of a terrorist – and what is planned for that missing girl, among others, and the person helping orchestrate it, is downright disturbing.
Perhaps the main problem with this “NCIS: LA” episode is the fact that promos reveal just a bit too much. Going into the episode, the promo showed Deeks being arrested, and considering the next episode is “Internal Affairs,” about his arrest, the end of “Defectors” is only a surprise if you’ve managed to stay completely un-spoiled, which is hard to do. That being said, ignoring everything that’s out there about what’s to come, the episode itself still isn’t this season’s best. There’s nothing that extraordinary about the case (though it is always notable when things aren’t wrapped up neatly with a bow at the end), the hints that there’s trouble looming for Deeks (and by extension, Kensi, because of their relationship) are still present and the banter is as banter-y as ever. Oh, and poor Joelle seems to be on her way out because Kensi’s right. Callen and commitment aren’t exactly like peanut butter and jelly, at least not right now and not with his father somewhere out there and so many questions still unanswered about who he is.
The team is put on the case when a man is hit by a van, and inside the dead man’s car is a note with the pronunciation of a terrorist’s name. It turns out the man was fired recently for not sleeping with his boss and picked up jobs with Uber and similar companies. One of his passengers left the note behind, and that’s how they discover that a teenage girl is missing after using her father’s account to call for a ride. The terrorist, Luqman Badr Al Din, is a recruiter and plays a key role in promoting ISIS propaganda. They don’t know if he’s in LA, but he seems to be connected to the case somehow.
The missing girl’s parents can’t believe that their daughter would support ISIS, but Nell discovers she was watching ISIS propaganda videos which make her think she’s going to offer herself as an ISIS bride. Plus, it loos like she boarded a flight to Istanbul. It’s a modeling photo that puts them on the right track, as they wonder if the modeling agency could have paid for her plane ticket and gotten her a forged passport. Though the modeling agency seems legit at first glance, they’re still sending someone in, and yes, of course, it’s Kensi. When Kensi sneaks into an office and begins looking through some files, the founder of the agency, Allison, finds her, but Kensi takes her down easily and is taping her wrists when the photographer, Perry, walks in, sees what’s happening and runs. He gets away. Deeks, meanwhile, finds out that the CFO left work to have an affair…in the back of a car…because he’s too cheap to pay for a hotel.
Perry may have gotten away, but they do discover that he has met with a guy who is suspected of forging passports in a park, and that guy goes to the park every day. It’s pretty easy for Sam and Callen to find him and get him to talk. He made two other passports for Perry, so there are two other girls out there in danger. And since Zahra never landed in Istanbul (though Allison’s boyfriend did follow her through security), it’s possible she’s going to be on the same flight as the other girls, whom they’re able to identify thanks to missing persons’ reports.
As for Allison, she’s a horrible, horrible person. There’s really no way else to put it considering she refuses to cooperate and doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with anything she’s done. When Sam and Callen tell her what happens to the girls in the places she’s sending them to, she just says they must have done something to deserve that punishment. She can only guide them to more righteous paths and what happens after that is on them. Wow. There really is no use trying with her, and she probably doesn’t have a lawyer because not even a lawyer could help her.
When they track down Perry’s car, they spot him on the street with the other two missing girls, and as soon as he realizes he’s been made, he takes off, leaving the girls behind. While one of them remains loyal to Perry, trying to get the other to go along with her, Kensi is able to break through that, pointing out that he left them, and that’s something you don’t do to people you care about. Sam and Callen, meanwhile, track down Perry inside a parking garage and, when Allison’s boyfriend comes to his aid, they take down both of them and find Zahra. However, Luqman Badr Al Din is still out there and is still building an army. But that’s a problem for another day.
Elsewhere in the hour, Deeks enlists Callen’s help when it comes to Kensi and her clutter, though it is an issue that Callen has to deal with as well, considering her stuff is very obviously on his side of their desk. And since the way she fixes that is to just push her things back over to her side, yes, she has a problem. But maybe a book titled “Scrubbed House, Scrubbed Soul” isn’t the way to go. It is, after all, as Sam puts it, a lousy gift, no matter who suggested it. The mess is about depression, Callen tells Kensi. The book says to surround herself with things that inspire happiness. That then leads to her bringing up his issues, namely, those commitment ones mentioned above, and she figures out that Deeks put Callen up to it all. Still, moments like this are what the series needs, especially considering what’s coming up and considering the case.
The Internal Affairs investigation into Deeks stretches back to last season, so really, it’s hard not to feel a bit of “it’s about time” when he is arrested at the end of episode (not that anyone wants to see Deeks arrested for murder) and Kensi is left there with his “I love you” and completely confused. It’s been drawn out for so long that now any line that could be about it, like Hetty’s comment to Kensi that they can’t assume to know everyone, not even those they’re closest to, is a bit much. And now, at least instead of just theorizing about what IA is after Deeks for, there’s a name to ponder: Francis Boyle. Deeks had told Kensi about his partner with the old school methods earlier this season, but back then, he was just going over what the investigation could be about. Well, now it’s time for the truth to come out. And it’s definitely about time.
“NCIS: Los Angeles” season 7 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of “Defectors”?