Nell steps up in her own way in the Monday, Nov. 10 episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles” when it comes to saving the day in “Leipei” and helping the team stop a drone. That’s also how Nell plans to reach her ultimate goal, as the final conversation between her and Hetty reveals, and this show just continues to tease what that future could be.
Somehow, despite the drone attack taking up the majority of this “NCIS: LA” episode, it doesn’t seem like the most important part of it. Instead, we get a very, very small tease about the mole still burrowing his or her way through the agency and a conversation between Nell and Hetty that promises more to come in the future – and that future could be sooner rather than later. As for the investigation itself, it is a pretty standard procedural drama case, filled with the partner banter that makes this show so good – from Sam and Callen, Kensi and Deeks and Eric and Nell – and the expected action sequences and explosions.
A man is on his way out of a hotel room and trying to get his phone back from the woman in the bed when she spots the drone, and he seems to know exactly what it is when he tries to take it down. It explodes, and he falls to his death. The man turns out to be Elias Minas, a member of the Greek terrorist organization, PK, and he was in witness protection, courtesy of Homeland for giving up high-ranking members of the group until they really screwed the pooch and lost him and forgot to put his new name on the no-fly list. Talk about a train wreck. One of the men he gave up just happens to be in town, and the team tracks him down, but he insists he’s innocent because he would have killed him with a knife so he could see his eyes. Who else loves it when a killer uses the whole “I would’ve killed him differently” reasoning?
Chauvenet rears its ugly black market head again, as Eric discovers that someone paid him 50,000 in Bitcoins, and Kensi and Deeks figure out that the drone that killed him was just the proof of concept. Whoever he built the drone for killed him so they wouldn’t have to pay for the 15-foot model. The PK official Minas gave up does also lead them to the apartment Minas had been staying at – he was going to kill him, but didn’t get a chance, so he and his men had done the homework – and that’s when Sam ends up taking down the pilot of the smaller drone. He was a member of a cult that declared war on corporations, and its leader is the pilot of the bigger drone, headed for an oil refinery.
Cue the car chase, which sees Deeks successfully shoot out one of the tires of the cult’s van, but it doesn’t slow them down too much. Sam and Callen do take the van out, but the leader escapes with the controller, and after killing him, Callen has to fly the drone back to the empty construction site to stop a disastrous chain reaction. Fortunately, what Nell says she’s only a “hobbyist” in is radio-controlled aircraft, and she talks him through it, up until she realizes that it’s honed into the controller. Callen throws the controller, and the cult’s van explodes.
As stated above, this episode is filled with banter from every set of partners. There’s Callen getting on Sam’s case about adding to his list of skills, with his latest one being trying to beat his instructor in weak-handed shooting (Sam even manages to find a way to justify a magic class as tactical training) and wondering why it took Sam so long to take down his one suspect while Callen cuffed his two and rounded up the restaurant staff. Then Sam has no problem wondering why Callen couldn’t have landed the drone somewhere that wasn’t right next to them and suggesting that they go in 50/50 on buying a drone of their own. That’s not happening because Callen hates robots. Sorry, Sam, no drone club for you, at least not with your partner. Sam and Callen’s banter is definitely a necessary part of every episode.
Meanwhile, Kensi and Deeks do their dance about Monty and making plans for skateboarding. (That’s something that “NCIS: LA” should follow up on, if only for continuity sake.) Eric is quite eager to brag about Nell’s achievements in the world of radio-controlled aircraft and to welcome her back when she returns to Ops. Did he miss her? Every second, but he’s happy to “loan” her out; didn’t she get the memo about him owning her? Admittedly, that’s kind of weird, but the sentiment is there.
Something that has been sorely lacking is the matter of the mole, but there are two sentences on the topic in “Leipei,” as Granger tells Hetty that there is no sign that anyone on the team is leaking information. They’re no closer to finding the mole. It’s an update that there is no news, but an update all the same. Still, it’s better than nothing, and it’s a reminder that the mole is still out there.
Finally, there’s always something about Hetty and Nell’s conversations, and it’s nice to see Hetty make sure Nell knows that her contributions have not gone unnoticed. Unlike other agents who want to go undercover, Nell has never made an effort to read the résumés of her predecessors, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be an undercover agent. “I don’t know if I can” get there as has been done in the past, Nell admits. “I’m not big or overwhelming athletic. I’m not an amazing sniper. To be honest with you, Hetty, going in undercover scares me. I’m never going to be like the others, and I know that. I can’t do the things that they do in the way that they do them because I have to do them my way. Even if that means never making it.” That’s not a problem whatsoever here, but it’s good to see it – and Nell’s future – addressed. Hetty has always seemed to be grooming her for something, and hopefully this is just the first conversation like this this season.
“NCIS: Los Angeles” season 6 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 7 “Leipei”?