It's change time for Kensi and Deeks.
The first episode was lighthearted; the second not so much.
The life shifts are coming fast and furious at them.
First came Deeks' position as liaison to NCIS being temporarily suspended.
Then came a bid on a house, followed by talk about fertility treatments.
That's just what they need, the tension of house-hunting followed by the pressures of attempting to become parents.
Add in his unemployment and being bar owners during the pandemic and they have every reason to be tense.
Why not instead tackle one major life moment at a time, rather than a different one each episode? It doesn't take much to push Deeks into a manic episode.
Does anybody truly believe that Deeks' departure from OSP will be permanent?
Word is that Eric Christian Olsen asked that Deeks temporarily be put in the background so that he could spend more time at home with his newborn child.
That's admirable. And the large cast, especially with all the recurring characters collected through the years, definitely allows for such flexibility.
This also allows Kensi to be paired with various short-term partners. She can be a mentor to Fatima or a gal pal with DeChamps. That has to be liberating for her, rather than being with Deeks 24/7.
It's a pity that Nell won't be going back in the field as she needs to run things from Ops.
This Kensi experiment promises to be short-lived, however, now that she's being stalked by a psychopath and his accomplice.
This has to be a first: an executive producer writing in himself as his show's season big bad.
At least Frank Military has been judicious about it, with only a handful of acting credits over a 35-year career in show business.
He was quite believable in the role of the calculating, diabolical Kessler. Does that mean there's not much separating a psycho and a TV executive?
It even felt like the viewer should remember Kessler from his nonexistent earlier appearance on the series.
As if she didn't have enough on her plate (a mopey, unemployed husband, a failing business, and potential homeownership and parenthood), now Kensi was the person attempting to head off a presidential assassination.
Kensi did a great job keeping her cool while negotiating with the creepy, full-of-himself Kessler with precious little intel.
That whole episode had a ripped-from-the-headlines feel with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell-type characters. Maybe we should have picked up sooner that Kessler and Michelle were working together before it was too late.
Now it will be intriguing to see how the Kensi-being-stalked storyline plays out.
Deeks is readily available to play her bodyguard. But that could get awkward quickly since he's basically a civilian at least for now.
Is Kessler going to hang over the rest of the season? Or will his shadow just pop up every few episodes, to remind us Kensi is in peril?
In other character developments, Roundtree is growing on me.
Not that I actually believe the show needs another character. Sure, series must evolve or die, but change for change's sake isn't an especially good idea either.
But he's bringing a different flavor for an NCIS probie. He isn't an insecure nerd such as McGee on the mothership or Sebastian on NCIS: New Orleans. He's self-assured.
He worked well paired with Fatima (who partners well with everybody). It was hilarious to watch their youthful enthusiasm over getting the Range Rover from the motor pool, only to have it ruined late in the episode.
It was great to watch Roundtree trying to keep a straight face as Gen Z Rachelle savaged millennial Fatima. I guess every generation knows better than its predecessor, from time immemorial.
We finally got some Roundtree back story when he and Sam were in the forest hunting Sinclair. They also got to philosophize about what it meant to be black lawmen.
Sadly, as episode counts are likely to shrink this season, that's likely to be it for Roundtree's character development this season. Let's hope not.
Again, Anna popped up out of nowhere and left again in the same manner.
It's so hard to keep track each season if she's persona non grata or not. Since she's working for a homebuilding charity this season, I'm guessing she's OK for now, until she falls into something shady and the team needs to bail her out again.
Although Callen refuses to talk about their relationship despite continual nudging from Sam, it seems like Callen is content with the concept of having an occasional girlfriend. After all, his job is a cruel mistress.
What's the over/under on Anna appearances this season? Three?
After skipping a week, having two at best loosely connected episodes was annoying. It's so much better when it's two parts of the same storyline.
But this was a necessary evil, as the series' annual Christmas episode is next Sunday, before it departs once again in favor of holiday specials and reruns. The upside is that Eric will finally make his return, for however long that lasts.
To review Kensi and Deeks' relationship, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
What did you think of Kessler?
Are Kensi and Deeks tackling too much at once?
Did you enjoy seeing Anna and DeChamps?
watch NCIS: Los Angeles online
watch NCIS: Los Angeles online
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.