No one is what they seem to be in the Monday, Nov. 16 episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” season 7’s “The Long Goodbye.” Something that isn’t usually addressed on shows like this is what happens to people involved in a case after that case is wrapped. In this case, that topic is tackled with possibly fatal consequences.
It’s an interesting concept. Agents go undercover all the time as part of a case, sometimes making a target fall for them, sometimes just flirting for a few moments with someone to get in a door, and more often than not, those targets are forgotten about the moment that screen goes dark or that threshold is crossed. In “The Long Goodbye,” “NCIS: LA” tackles the aftermath head on and in such a way that it could mean one of the agents going down a dark path if ever confronted with certain people. (In other words, the list of people who wouldn’t want to run into Sam in a dark alley? It’s growing. Withholding painkillers and doling them out one by one is nothing compared to what Sam is capable of. Really, this guy can just talk about going dark and that’s enough.)
As Jada is about to go into witness protection – Wisconsin, it’ll be…fun, the U.S. Marshal, Drew Groller, who has been with her, tries to assure her – her transport van is attacked (by cartel members, presumably hired by her brother), and while she’s not taken, she is missing. With it being likely her brother is involved, finding her is a top priority – as is convincing her that Tahir is not interested in a happy family reunion. To that end, Sam stays behind to interrogate the cartel member left behind after the attack when he was shot in the leg, Kensi and Talia go undercover to get eyes on the next new leader of the cartel and Deeks and Callen keep an eye on Groller, who makes it clear that he cares about Jada enough that he’d probably help her even if it goes against NCIS. Yes, their team saves lives, but do they ever think abut what happens to people after a case is wrapped, the U.S. Marshal asks them.
Groller meets with Wayne Morris, who launders money for criminal organizations, but after that meet, they lose track of Groller (who, to give him credit, is a U.S. Marshal; he can lose people when he wants to). Kensi and Talia’s undercover stint results in eyes on Alex Molina, the former getting a glimpse of a search strategy for Jada on a computer and the two teaming up to take down one his henchmen. When they find out that Wayne has bought a movie ticket online, they’re there to get a look at whatever meeting is about to go down. He hands something off to someone in a hoodie, and when Callen chases the person outside, it’s Jada. He can’t shoot her, so all he can do is watch as she gets in a car with Groller. They do get Wayne in custody at least, and he tells them that Tahir just wants to see his sister again and she wants to see him, which is why Morris gave her a forged passport. The Molina cartel is getting her out of the country on a private jet. At the airstrip, Callen, Kensi, Deeks and Talia try to stop Jada from getting on the plane, finding out, along the way, that the man who introduced himself as Alex Molina to Talia isn’t actually Alex Molina.
Sam has been busy for the episode interrogating Diego Salazar, the one man who didn’t get away after attacking Jada’s transport van. He has been sitting in the boatshed very uncomfortable after being shot, and Sam lets him have one painkiller at a time as a reward for giving him information. Wayne hired them, he admits, because Tahir wanted Jada back before she was in witness protection. Their instructions were to take her alive. When Sam boasts that NCIS and the DEA have eyes on Alex Molina, Diego is certain that Alex will never do time in prison, that that’s not how the world works. The privileged just get a slap on the wrist.
When Diego brings up Sam’s past with Jada – he knows all about his lies and how he “lured” her in – he says he respects it, calling him a “true professional,” a man who accepts a mission and sees it through to the end, a man like Diego himself. Knowing that Tahir plans to kill Jada, Sam is determined to get proof from Diego and warns him that if Jada dies, a part of Sam, of his soul, will die with her, will go dark. He’ll do brutal and unspeakable things to people. All Diego does is offer to give him a warm welcome when he joins the land of the brutal.
It’s when Jada’s at the airstrip and Sam’s phone rings that the truth all comes out. When Jada arrives home, Tahir will welcome her with open arms and throw a feast in her honor that same night. Then, a few hours later, he’ll torture her to death, Diego reveals. How does he know that? Because Tahir told him himself. Diego is really Alex Molina. Here’s where it gets complicated. Callen can’t convince Jada not to board the plane, that her brother will kill her, and so he tries to do so by putting Sam on the phone with her. The only problem is their past. “I was ready to begin a new life with you,” Jada tells Sam. “Remember, it was all lies.” Callen can’t force her to stay, and so Jada does get on the plane to Sudan.
The last thing Sam tells Alex is a warning: by the time he sees him, it will be too late. And though Sam did excellent work on the case and they have the Molina cartel’s future kingpin in custody, as Hetty tells him, only time will tell what will happen to Jada. And perhaps, only time will tell if Sam does, in fact, turn to that dark part of himself.
Meanwhile, Kensi bonds with Talia, and it’s pretty much exactly what they should have done with these two from the beginning instead of Talia’s inappropriate behavior towards Deeks. These two women are top federal agents, yet their behavior towards one another has not reflected the professionalism seen from then in other instances and especially in this episode. Going undercover together allows Kensi to see another side of Talia, the side of her that too hates being treated like a piece of fresh meat just because she’s pretending to be a runway model and wearing a bikini and the side of her that too has an after-work routine involving ice cream and needing time to respect men after jobs like this. As long as this is the Talia that shows up and not the one who kisses Deeks in front of his girlfriend at a crime scene of all places, she can show up whenever she wants.
While Kensi has a new friend and someone to hang out with after work, sadly, the same cannot be said of Deeks, who tries to initiate a guys’ night out with Callen after a bit of banter. (It’s entertaining, but not the same bromance-level entertaining as Sam and Callen’s car banter.) Callen instead says he has to check his schedule when Deeks suggests they get beers, but when, after the case, Talia brings up hanging out, he’s free to make plans. Poor Deeks. (But as everyone can agree, Callen does give a good smolder.) Maybe one day, Deeks will get that guys’ night out for some beers. With everyone else making plans/slyly walking out/dealing with personal drama, it seems that Deeks is just going to have Monty for company for the night. (Assuming Monty is around. Maybe he has plans too, the way that Deeks’ night seems to be going.)
“NCIS: Los Angeles” season 7 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of “The Long Goodbye”?