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NCIS: Los Angeles Review: The Greatness of Hetty

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It's not often (this may even be the first time) we've given a higher review to NCIS: Los Angeles than NCIS, but any episode in which Hetty goes into the field is a proven winner by default.

The days when some fans - myself included - skeptically wondered if Henrietta Lange would be a credible authority figure for the NCIS Office of Special Projects seem like a lifetime ago.

Linda Hunt commands every scene, from the serious to the banal, and we're seeing the show pivot lately in that she's become a focal point of more episodes, rather than on the periphery.

"Lone Wolf" showcased the Oscar-winner at her best, as expected.

Hetty Lange Image

The scene were the agents realized Hetty's connection to the case via the photo was classic. She's an international woman of mystery. Is there anything about her that would surprise you anymore?

To solve the brutal murder of a Navy officer, it was up to the diminutive shot-caller to pay a visit to an unpredictable former colleague who the officer, now a peace worker, was currently working for.

In typical NCIS: Los Angeles fashion, the man's motives were ulterior and their scope international. The victim was led to believe she was helping rebuild war-torn Afghanistan, but that was a ruse.

Few things are sadder than operations like this disguised under the veil of philanthropy, but they are rampant these days, and it was an interesting type of case for the show to center on Tuesday.

After his lies unraveled, Hetty confronted her old friend and found herself very much in harm's way, but the team came to their leader's rescue once again, exposing the fraud for who he is to boot.

The ending was unusual to say the least. Hetty decided to repay Basser, with whom she has a complicated past (what about Hetty is not complicated) and who saved her life once, with a favor.

That "favor" is the chance to take his own life and subsequently avoid prison. Both Hetty and Basser did what they had to do and it made sense, but it was hard not to find all that a little unsettling.

Most of us would not be in such a situation, so it's impossible to even process it. Then again, most of us aren't shot at approximately 20 times per week either. These agents live in their own world.

Like Gibbs on NCIS, there's a parental aspect to the relationship between Hetty and the younger agents. She protects them, chides them and most of all, tries to help them realize their potential.

The entire cast does a terrific job of conveying these complex nuances on a weekly basis, shifting effortlessly between emotionally heavy material and the witty one-liners the show is known for.

All of this makes for a balance that keeps the show entertaining in the midst of whatever serious crime is occurring, and in spite of some disturbing plot twists. I can't recall a single bad episode.

The dynamic duos were in full effect as always, with Sam and Callen acting more like a married couple by the week, Deeks and Kensi flirting as only they can, and Eric and Nell pulling the strings.

NCIS: Los Angeles has hit its stride in Season 3 and we can only hope the pattern continues as we head into November. A few closing thoughts and observations before turning it over to you ...

  • As an avid birdwatcher I loved Eric's new red-throated loon call. Who knew Mr. Beal was a card-carrying Audubon Society member? I'd pay to see him take Nell birdwatching.
  • Deeks standing up Kensi at the airport, then hiding under the tapestry on the couch just to see her reaction, then offering to dry clean it after Hetty called him out? Hilarious.
  • Between Callen's wetsuit and Kensi stripping down in front of Deeks (not the only guy to have that reaction, I guarantee), there was gratuitous eye candy for all.
  • The fade-to-black quotes are always great, but this one? Wow.
  • Catch the brief reference to Kensi's Hawaii Five-O stint?
  • “You have longer legs.” - Funny and true!
  • “Bacon is my friend.” - Amen, Callen.

What did you think of last night's NCIS: Los Angeles? Discuss below!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.1 / 5.0 (242 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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I love the relationship between Hetty and Callen - I too hope they are related, she is his aunt. Hope they keep that going - more episodes exploring that and also hope he finds his father. I would like to see Callen meet someone - this time hopefully a bit younger than him instead of older than him, - his other female interests seemed too old for him. Should be someone in mid 30's.

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To "klimville", Deeks doesn't need to clean up, he is who he is, that hair and that style is a part of his character, if you take that away, you away a part of who he is, it'd be like if Eric suddenly started dressing in suits or Sam decides to have hair. It wouldn't work. And for the record, Deeks is still with the LAPD, he is not NCIS as he even announces himself in this episode that he is DETECTIVE Marty Deeks, LAPD while Kensi was NCIS. To "Greenfield Lady", I do think in recent episodes, NCIS LA has been able to make headways better than the original NCIS, but that is because NCIS LA has an advantage that it learns from the mistakes of the past. LA would not be where it is if it was not for NCIS being there before it and having gone through the harsh toils. Because of that LA has a leg-up because their writers and show-runners know how to avoid the pit-falls that new shows always fall into. And also, NCIS is a much older show now in its 9th year, the characters there are the ones that we know very well, it is harder to take in more personal stories whereas the LA crew is still new and fresh and many things to discover. It is not a matter of writing, but more of a matter of new vs. old. As for this episode, I love it as usual, and so happy to see Criminal Minds' little actor Cade Owens appearing on here! He's so cute and brilliant in the scene with Sam! :)

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@dianemc Couldn't agree more! I love Deeks' look, anything else than that just-came-from-the-beach surfer look would be very weird... and definitely not as hot ;)

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Great episode - loved Deeks attempt at an English Accent....how he got away with it I will never know! Plus, I like the shaggy deeks!

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Gotta get this said first. I Love Deeks hair. He is perfect just the way he is. A preppy looking Deeks would be weird with his quirky personality. Kimville, I think he is still the LAPD liason assigned to NCIS. When all the agents resigned to go after Hetty,he said he would resign too if he could. I love reading everyone else's comments and takes on this show and I am happy to see that the reviews are growing. I also want to know more about Sam and I think it is strange that after Callen has learned something about his past he doesn't mention it again. Oh well, the writers obviously know what they are doing since I don't even answer my phone on Tuesday nights when NCIS:LA (& NCIS) is on.

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Would love to see Hetty and Gibbs together with the entire ensamble doing a really scary show. Man what a hoot that would be. And someone, please give Ducky someone to love. Sooooo sad that his lady love was a serial killer!

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I enjoyed this ep very much. Intriguing, tightly constructed plot, and some excellent banter amongst the team. I think these characters have excellent chemistry, and are fun to watch, IMO, more and more each week. Loved seeing Hetty in the field, and although the result of her visit was somewhat disturbing, it served as a stark reminder of how things were back in her heyday. She knew that she had to do his this "favor"... Loved seeing Sam's magic act with the son!

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What was the name of the scotch jetty and fallen share at end episode??

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Big fan of the show. I like it much more than the "vanilla" NCIS that is the lead in. Maybe because it is newer and the cast is younger, but I think the show is just heads above NCIS. The subplots that deal with the character's past are interesting and you feel that you are getting to know them and what makes them "tick". The story line about G was very good. Expect there is more to come about him. Need to get to know Hanna more. Hetty is the best and epsiodes without her are not quite the same. And, yes Deeks needs a haircut in the worst way.

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love that she is doing more love all the cast.

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