The only episode in a month stood up pretty well.
Fortunately, the action veered away from the stereotypical on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 10 Episode 15.
My main complaint with this episode was that Fatima was totally wasted.
Fatima got introduced as a good-guy Muslim on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 10 Episode 14.
She was brought in as a very authoritative source on various jihadist terrorist cells for the OSP.
This episode, in her limited screen time, she served to rubber stamp various theories that team members had. Like I said, underutilized, after such a promising start.
Her one memorable scene was her confrontation with the hospitalized terrorist, even though motormouth Deeks conducted his true torture.
It could be as simple as it seemed -- she's young and inexperienced and was just overwhelmed by the continuous developments in the case.
In a touching scene, Nell explained that it's never as simple as she makes it look, that she struggles with it every day.
Fatima made a point of how much she enjoyed working with the team, so I have to wonder if we have seen the last of her. Lesser characters have recurred, such as that annoying, young, blonde FBI agent whose name I have put out of my head.
Another reason that Fatima was little needed is that the case took a sharp turn partway through, away from her strong suit of Islamic terrorists. She wasn't nearly as well-versed on South African mercenaries.
Things weren't adding up throughout the first half of the episode.
Extremists stole crates of assault weapons, then used explosives at a matinee at a movie theater.
That's no way to rack up a body count. Yeah, seven deaths were terrible, but it could have been so much worse.
Then there was the "terrorist" in a suicide vest who looked just as scared as those trapped inside with him. He didn't seem much like a zealot seeking his 72 virgins in heaven.
The attempted bombing at the airport made so much more sense, terroristically speaking. Still, the fake baggage handlers failed badly at blending in.
We got to see another example of Sam's bomb-driving skills.
I know he's got a good track record at defusing bombs, but drive first, defuse second should be his standard procedure. I don't blame him for wanting a break from bombs.
And once again Kensi took down a fleeing thug with sheer ferocity, while Deeks trailed behind. One of these days, she's going to bounce off a big guy.
That was when Sam started pondering developments thus far, which didn't make sense.
Fatima affirmed that jihadists wouldn't work with South African mercenaries.
So maybe, just maybe, the terrorist angle was all, as the title suggested, a smokescreen.
It was all a very cunning plan to break a South African gunrunner free and having the lead FBI agent on the payroll certainly helped.
I guess we all should have been suspicious when Ross yanked away the mercenary because the FBI has better interrogators.
Obviously, he's never been stuck in a room with Deeks.
Fortunately, with Nell and Eric's oversight and some high-speed tracking, the team was able to foil the escape while gunning everyone down. That was convenient.
Having the squad attend the candlelight vigil rather than going drinking at Deeks' bar was an effective change of pace.
I suppose, since the season is two-thirds of the way through, this was a good time to answer the underlying question of whether the OSP should survive despite its freelancing ways.
Under Secretary of the Navy Felice Waterson, yet another Navy brass with attitude came west on a fact-finding tour, and Ochoa offered up the highest praise for the team, saying to leave them alone.
Let's hope that's the end of that.
We got to find out more about Ochoa, who took on the assignment in the midst of a family crisis.
At least Waterson let him go home to deal with his addicted daughter.
I didn't get a warm feeling about Hetty's return when Ochoa said the team could continue to function with her, even though her coming back would be best for the team. That certainly displayed no sense of urgency.
I fear that Mosley will have to return at some point, so her situation can get resolved.
Let's hope the powers that be continue with the no-news-is-good-news approach.
To get your fix while the Oscars are being televised, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Were you surprised by the twist in the case?
Would you like to have seen more of Fatima?
What must get covered over the final third of the season?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.