Not everyone is cut out to be in law enforcement. In fact, there’s a firm that’s dedicated to figuring just that out, but Citadel no longer has Pass and Fail as its only outcomes for that test, as the Monday, Sept. 28 episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 702, “Citadel,” shows. Plus, Deeks does a somewhat horrible job of covering up the real reason his phone’s been ringing and he’s been staying at his place the past two nights.
In a way, this “NCIS: LA” episode seems to be lacking on all fronts, with the highlight being the reveal that the “HL” in the test used by Citadel stands for its inventor, none other than Henrietta Lange, as the woman herself has a great pleasure in revealing to the firm’s CEO before having her arrested. The potential for a larger storyline is introduced with the reveal that Citadel has placed hundreds of “potentials” who can be forced to do the firm’s bidding into different agencies (including NCIS!), though, by the end of the episode, it doesn’t seem like something that is going to be addressed moving forward. (Dr. Rathburn had SecNav on her list of people she wanted her assistant to call when she returned to the office; that really should be addressed.) Dr. Rathburn brings up Deeks’ test scores and a matter of revenge, but she’s cut off before anything really juicy/possibly revealing as to the internal affairs investigation can be said. Then there’s the matter of Deeks’ mother, and since her casting had been announced this summer and it was known she was appearing in this episode, it’s obvious what’s going on with the calls from the “plumber” from the very beginning.
The good news is Sam and Callen’s bromantic banter is firing on all fronts, as they decide who’s going to pass/who’s going to fail Citadel’s test by having Sam guess the number Callen’s thinking of, a thread that carries through to the end of the episode, as Callen admits that he hadn’t yet settled on a number just yet, though Sam’s guess was one of the possibilities. It’s also entertaining to see them just sit back and watch Kensi and Deeks’ banter about their relationship so casually like it’s no big deal, especially after the more serious conversations they had with the two last season.
As for the not so great of the episode, the set-up for the case with Citadel is pretty cool. The execution of it, on the other hand, is not. In order to infiltrate the firm, Sam and Callen go undercover as potential CIA operatives, hence the banter about passing/failing the test, and during Callen’s, his answers becoming “father” for everything can’t just be a coincidence/the persona he put on for the job after the reveal that his father’s alive in the season 6 finale. Callen does fail, as he’s expected to, landing him in the third results category – potential – and putting him in contact with Jon Bennett, a Wall Street marketing guy who was hired because he cares more about money than ethics. He’s the one who pitches the opportunity available to those whose results show they’re willing to take risks and cut side deals. Citadel approves them and then one day can come calling for a favor (like getting a list of DEA cartel informants) while threatening loved ones. So it’s no surprise he’s also the guy who’s willing to sell out his boss (the CEO of Citadel) in order to cut himself a deal. During the sting, he does get shot, but he’s wearing a vest at the time, and thanks to Sam’s advice of “more being, less doing,” Kensi’s able to steady herself and take out Citadel’s sniper before anything can go truly wrong on the op.
After Talia discovers that her partner of 15 years has betrayed the agency and transferred the list of the DEO’s informants onto a thumb drive, only for him to then be killed in front of her in an interrogation room, she turns to the NCIS team for help because she doesn’t know who else to trust. On the one hand, it’s a smart move; if she can’t trust her partner of 15 years, who else can she trust in her agency? On the other hand, as it’s revealed during the investigation that there are hundreds of agents inside multiple government agencies, including possibly NCIS, that could be in the same boat as Mark, it’s a very risky one. These are people she’s only worked with a couple of times; if it turns out she can’t trust her partner, why should she be able to trust them?
But the point of this is to get Talia working with the team again, and of course, she’s partnered up with Deeks and Kensi, and nothing has changed there. She still has fun making both Deeks and Kensi squirm, though this time no punches are exchanged (but Kensi has no problem threatening to shoot her when she’s on Overwatch). The kiss, however, at the end, is taking it a bit too far. The flirting is one thing (and let’s not mention Kensi’s reaction to Deeks going undercover with Talia), but a kiss is another thing, especially at a crime scene. It’s called being professional. If Talia comes back again, it’s probably best to eliminate that part altogether; focus on the fact that she’s a good agent, which they have shown each time she’s shown up. Everything else is unnecessary.
Finally, it’s not until the final scene that Deeks reveals why he’s been staying at his place and his phone’s been ringing: his mother’s visiting. Kensi meets his mother, admits she doesn’t want to learn how to cook and wins her over. And that’s it. It’s a nice moment, but it feels like there should have been more to the introduction of Deeks’ mother than there is. There are so many unanswered questions about his past, about his relationship with his mother even. (Why wasn’t she his next of kin in “Personal”? Is it just because she doesn’t live in the area or is there another reason? Is it just a plot hole?)
“NCIS: Los Angeles” season 7 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 2 “Citadel”?