This spinoff is shaping up well.
The foundation for NCIS: Hole in the Wall was slowly forming on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 10 Episode 9.
First, there's Callen, living above the bar, who would serve as the bouncer. He has already been making himself at home in the neighborhood, which is a pleasant change of pace for Callen.
And now Roberta as their bartender? Genius.
Not that it wasn't amusing watching Deeks and Kensi realizing how little they knew about running a business, and how they both were far too picky when it came to choosing employees.
All told, this is a positive development. It's been a while since there's been a successful NCIS spinoff. I'm not counting the stillborn NCIS: Red, from which Kim Raver, John Corbett, and Scott Grimes were freed to go on to better things.
Also, it's been a while since a winning sitcom was set in a bar. You'd have to go back to Cheers and the criminally short-lived Frank's Place. Sorry, I forgot It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Still, there's always room for another one around.
Let's just hope Densi's bar happens quicker than their wedding has.
Then there was the subplot about Eric and Nell living together. Or, as I like to call it, Meerkat Manor.
I'm shocked there's turmoil in paradise already.
Even before they've found a place to live, arrested adolescent Eric has been buying toys with which to fill it, without consulting Nell. Quelle surprise!
I understand that if it's an episode where Kensi and Deeks, are simpatico, the relationship drama has to come from somewhere, even if it is about piddly shit.
Eric's used to just listening to his inner child. That's why he keeps getting caught playing video games on expensive government technology. So it's going to take a while for Eric to adjust to sharing his living space. And Nell's just the person to bring him around.
This was also the first episode in too long that there was no continuing uncertainty. No mention of Hetty or Mosley, just Ochoa giving them an assignment then mostly staying the hell out of the way. He's come to appreciate the local way things get done, I think.
I've got two words for Ochoa: weekly rates.
The case was properly convoluted enough that it defied solving, at least for a half-hour.
So the naval officer and the Pakistani general were college roomies sometime back way before the millennium. Then the general, who hasn't stayed in touch, suddenly needed a place to stay because, like, his reservation fell through. That wasn't at all suspicious.
Then shockingly there was a robbery, just as the two couples had sat down to a nice meal.
Then everyone's a suspect: the general, the general's country, rogue elements, even the officer's wife's Instagram model daughter. After that, politics and diplomacy mucked up the investigation.
Fortunately, it was a simple smash-and-grab by the girl's boyfriend and some thugs, who had no idea what they had, leading to the equally buffoonish fence. It's a good thing that that was the lesser part of the case needing solving.
Did anyone not guess that the doe-eyed diplomat was the Taliban mole? Why else even make her presence felt?
Was Abidi a traitor for his willingness to reveal the Taliban encampments to which his government was turning a blind eye? No. He was doing the right thing for the murdered daughter.
It was a good thing the team was able to find a way to gain asylum for Abidi and his wife so that they could start over away from painful memories.
It was a great episode for Kensi and Deeks starting with the bartender interviews. I loved the Deeks-as-photographer scene, which showed them both feeling old. Then there was their grilling of Lucas, who rolled so easily, and the collecting of the stolen merchandise.
There was also the early scene with Sam and Callen, giving each other grief while strolling and sipping their coffee, a reminder of their strong bond of friendship.
Is this what we can expect for a while, strong team interaction while solving mostly self-contained cases? I'm good with that, even though it does feel a bit like treading water. Long, drawn-out story arcs aren't essential.
I want Hetty back, but Linda Hunt's availability is being played close to the vest. Ochoa will do in the meantime, with recurring characters worked in where it seems organic.
To catch up on this season as the holiday hiatus nears, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Which pairing did you enjoy the most? How soon did you solve the case? What're your desires for the next third of the season?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.