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NCIS: Los Angeles Review S09E06

Sometimes episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles can be both sheer entertainment and also greatly frustrating, and Can I Get A Witness is one such example.  There is banter galore among many of the characters, some more emotional moments and yet there are elements of the narrative that when considered, challenge previous actions.  And as NCISLA is a fast paced crime procedural, these aspects are easily swept away during the course of such a fun episode. 

There is no navy related crime of the week and no Mosley to question this. Instead the episode revolved around Deeks and the team working with LAPD Lieutenant Bates to solve a crime and in the process, proving Bates' innocent when accused of being a crooked cop.  Three children secretly witness and film Bates running from a secluded safe house, returning fire on uniformed LAPD officers and killing one. This signals the return of Internal Affairs investigator Whiting who’s making good on last season’s blackmail threat against Deeks, ordering him to investigate Bates who’s suspected of running a consortium of dirty cops.

The characterisation of Deeks is fascinating in his opening scene.  He is in the boatshed’s first floor interrogation room and pacing back and forth.  He is restless, emotional and thinking on his feet in direct contrast to Whiting who remains seated and notably immobile, both in posture and nature.  Despite the wisecracks Deeks is clearly pissed, slamming the door on his exit. It is from this scene that narrative and visual confusion commences.  Whiting plays the clip of Bates, and Deeks asks who’s with him.  There is no one with him when the children film the events during the pre-credits scene and still no one has miraculously appeared in Whiting’s clip.  A verbal explanations follows; they are talking about Bates’ witness who was stashed in the LAPD safe house.  It is later confirmed the 'witness' was taken hostage by Bates before reverting back to his status as witness - Simon Atwater, a bioengineer with Dexmont Agricultural. 

More confusion reigns when the scene cuts from the bull pen to Bates jumping in to Deeks’ truck and pulling a gun pulled on him.  Strangely Deeks advises Bates that Whiting is going to help.  Not sure where that idea came from as Whiting had earlier told Deeks she thought Bates was running the [dirty cop] racket. This continues when Deeks and Bates turn up at the boatshed with witness/hostage Simon Atwater. Why go there when Whiting was last seen there?  And when they exit the interrogation room, Callen and Sam have been observing for a while. How did they know to meet them there?  The closing scene features Deeks, Whiting and Bates chatting as though they are long standing colleagues.  There is no suggestion that Whiting ever had any desire to arrest Bates as a bent cop which contradicts the opening scene and last season where Whiting outlined to Deeks that she was after Bates. 

More of Hetty’s story is revealed this week. It is still not clear why she has resigned or disappeared, although this is the ‘Hetty’ way.  There is no explanation as to why she is in Vietnam or who has told her about Harris Keane.  It is revealed there were copious amounts of gold bars in the helicopter when it crashed belonging to an unsanctioned mission involving Hetty, Granger, Chegwidden, Langston, Bridges and Keane.  This begins to link in back to last season’s episodes and with the mention of gold comes the traitorous actions of Hetty’s Vietnamese contact.  It is very predictable that when Hetty visits Keane in prison at the end of the episode, that she herself will also be imprisoned. On the plus side the scene is set for the return of Chegwidden and for the team to track her down and save her.  Hetty’s capture is just as predictable knowing that Nell will use her knife skills to beat an assailant, after receiving training from Kensi earlier.   

Although the episode is centred around Deeks, Callen has an interesting role despite his authority being usurped twice, when Kensi insists on going to the parking lot and when Sam orders Callen to scramble down the grass verge to cuff the bad guy after they force his car off the road. Callen resolutely brings the field agents together during this episode. He likens himself to Kensi (both rebels, not designed to grow old), fights for Deeks by facing up to Whiting and is almost embroiled in a battle with Bates as to where Deeks sits (LAPD or NCIS) when investigating the case.  Finally as expected, he is the lynch pin in helping Sam overcome his grief, realising his purpose and responsibility is to Sam - and getting him to a whisky bar!  Sam as usual is solid, pulling back on the jokes when he mentions his purpose in  life is now to his children.

Despite the huge frustrations with this episode, it is the fun character moments and some excellent touches which help redeem Can I Get A Witness.  Deeks constantly refers to Bates’ now missing mustache, harking back to the Internal Affairs episode of season seven.  Whiting comments to Sam and Callen that she needs “to see you two like a hole in the neck”.  There is Kensi’s disgust with people who leave voice mails rather than texting, which is reflected in Deeks’ own voicemail greeting when Kensi leaves him a message “Why don't you just text me, like a normal human being?”  Hetty refers to the sound of a one handed clap before slapping her would be captor.  The scenes between Deeks and Bates are fantastic.  The two play so well off each other with countless one liners that they deserve so much more screen time than they were given.  Bates is even grouchy than Granger was which is a feat in itself. 

It was also great to see how Deeks, who is often seen as the joker or runt of the team, is actually a desirable asset on all sides. Bates reminds Callen and Sam that he can pull Deeks back to LAP whenever he likes and later suggests Deeks returns to LAPD to help uphold the law in the face of ongoing corruption.  Whiting cannot promise she won’t call on Deeks again (by using blackmail).  And as mentioned earlier, Callen in particular is keen on supporting their liaison officer, along with the rest of the team.  Most importantly, Deeks finally verbalises why he has not become an NCIS agent.  There is no longer the fumbled reciting of the NCIS mission statement. Instead there is a heartfelt and instinctive reaction to Bates’ question.  Deeks has the best of both world, representing LAPDs finest and working with a team he respects the hell out of.  Seems like Deeks is destined to remain their LAPD liaison.

And finally on a side note - for those who don't fast forward during the show's opening credit sequence (updated this season) - is there is any relevance that Hetty (Linda Hunt) is now the last cast member shown and the montage ends with the lift doors closing on her.  Is this a subtle way of suggesting this is her last season?

Did you enjoy this episode?  Did the narrative run smoothly for you?  Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.