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NCIS: Los Angeles Review: Callen vs. Gaddafi

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The international angle of last night's NCIS: Los Angeles was both topical and compelling, but "Deadline" was most notable for its long-awaited, surprisingly substantive reveals on the Callen front.

Perhaps Hetty felt she could no longer be cryptic about it. I half expected the show to pull back, in Lost fashion, and leave us dangling after she divulged G.'s mother's name to end last week.

Instead, this week's episode did the opposite, picking up right where Hetty left off. Callen now knows his CIA origins, why his mother was killed, and why he personally was marked for death.

What he doesn't know - and Hetty apparently doesn't either - is who the father is.

Sam and Callen in Action

Callen's grandfather was tasked with hunting down war criminals in Romania, and the Comescu family certainly qualified. It was this that resulted in his mom's death when she tried to return to the country.

It's incredible how long Hetty has been deeply enmeshed in international espionage and law enforcement. Her admission that she was moments away from potentially saving Callen's mother was stunning.

This also solidifies her place as his mother figure, which we've observed for two-plus seasons now. Hetty-Gibbs comparisons don't come along too often, but she's as close to family as this agent has.

The question now is how will Callen respond? Will he finally be at peace?

Forget about it. The show managed to give fans a ton of new details while at the same time opening the door to another mystery in the identity of his father. Funny how that happens in the NCIS world.

Chris O'Donnell was called upon for some pretty serious acting in this installment - those kind of life details aren't dropped on your lap every day - but was convincing. Linda Hunt, as always, was stellar.

The episode opened similarly to how NCIS did an hour earlier, with a reporter on the scene followed by a death on camera. I enjoy little tie-ins like that, though the shows are markedly different overall.

In LA's case, a reporter was slain just as she was about to do a story on a Libyan freedom fighter named "El-Libi.” Libya, as we know, is under siege from insurgents attempting to oust Muammar Gaddafi.

Deeks and Kensi in Action

El-Libi broadcasts from the U.S., and is clearly a target of a Libyan government desperately clinging to power. A U.S. citizen, he started "radio free Libya" after Gaddafi shut down the Internet in Libya.

Despite appearances, he did not send his message to the rebels from Libya or anywhere near North Africa. He was broadcasting from a Middle Eastern market deep in the heart of the City of Angels.

A Gaddafi loyalist, the market operator and El-Libi's father learned about this and informed Libyan secret police, betraying his son. Only this happened some time ago ... and El-Libi is not who he seems.

Rather than merely eliminating him, Gaddafi's men impersonate El-Libi to lead the rebels fighters into a trap and slaughter them. Fortunately, Callen and the team were able to thwart this just in time.

Another strong episode overall, well tied in with current global events and featuring some fun character moments on top of Callen's backstory. Not a lot more you can ask for from NCIS: Los Angeles.

A few closing thoughts and observations before turning it over to you ...

  • It's great to have the traditional partnerships back and Hunter gone, although you know she's bound to resurface at any time. The only question is when and under what circumstances.
  • Callen's sister was mentioned once again. Hmm ...
  • Is Deeks actually getting some or is he all talk?
  • Sorry Sam. Team Monty all the way.

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

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (238 Votes)

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

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This episode was repeated last night (13 March 2012) and having read the later posts about Hunter being Callen's sister, let's not be so quick to dismiss this. At the end of the ep, Callen is viewing a photo of his mother--who was a very pretty brunette bearing a resemblance to Hunter. And let's not forget Hunter infiltrated the Comescu family and killed its leader--seems like something a dutiful member of the "Callen" family would do (even if it was a government-endorsed mission).

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Anybody know the singer or song that was played at the end of episode 4?

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This show is getting worse and worse. The previous seasons were pretty slow moving for me, but the addition of Deeks kept it on my DVR list. This new season, however, is so bad I've taken it off my DVR queue. The continuing saga of Callen's identity is completely overdone it's not even remotely interesting anymore. Do the writers really think they can stretch out this storyline for yet another season? 'Cause frankly it's extremely painful to watch. Plus, why do they bother calling this show NCIS when they hardly do anything Navy related (and when they do, there seems to be six degrees of separation between them)? The original NCIS show is more true to form and a hundred times better! L.A. is nothing like it. If this show was about a counter terrorism organization (CIA maybe-if they could ever dress like federal agents), it would be one thing. But NCIS is not only a misnomer but a gross insult to the original show, to say nothing of the real life agency. So, good bye NCIS LA. And good riddance!

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I think hunter is callens long lost sister hetty trusts her & believes in her like she does callen

Addeekted

Based on the information in the season one finale, "Callen, G" I don't believe Hunter is his sister. Callen asked Hetty at the end of the Deadline episode how he and his sister made it back into America after his mother was killed and Hetty told him that she didn't know. She eventually did find them because according to the season one finale, Nate found a notebook with the addresses of all foster homes and orphanages they both lived in. She stopped tracking 11 year old Amy after the orphanage drowning accident so she was aware that Hannah Lawson did switch beds that night and take Amy's name.

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Good point about no sister in the flashbacks. I hadn't thought about that. Hetty said that she hadn't gotten there in time to save Clara but I had the impression that she did get there right after and was able to do something to help Callen. She also said the mission to get Clara out of the country was scrubbed at the last minute. I wonder were that is going to lead?

Addeekted

I hope that Hunter is not Callen's sister as I cannot stand the character at all. Glad to see her gone from the show at this point. I agree that she will probably turn up again later but hopefully much later. I was so very glad to see Hetty back, Eric whistling to call the team to Ops again, and the teams back to normal. As far as Callen's first name, I'm not going to be quick to assume that his mother named him George after his grandfather. I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those shows where we don't really find out what his name is until the series ends. Or Shane Brennan could pull a Young Riders stunt and leave us guessing forever. My biggest new question from this episode is why the Comescus left Callen alive on the beach a after killing his mother? It doesn't fit in with the bloodthirsty picture that was painted in the character of Alexa Comescu. Come to think of it, why have there been no flashbacks of his sister on the beach with him and his mother? Where was she? Especially since his father's identity is in question now. Come on Deeks and Kensi! These two are one of the highlights of the show for me. I think Deeks is just "talking" rather than getting. He was way too interested in the adult content in Kensi's journal.

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The Deeks and Kensi banter is enough already. Why can't they get their act together? Did anyone notice the loaded conversation with the camera guy? "Heat"! Come on Densi!

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GREAT SHOW ABOUT CALLEN AMAZING WITH LINDA HUNT DON'T LET GO OF HER SHE'S THE GLUE THAT HOLDS THE CAST TOGETHER--------------------------

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Thanks, David, I was petty sure the original El-Libi was killed and his friend took his place. After I read the episode overview I couldn't figure out how I got so sideways with the story line. Good plot and love the addition of Monty. Very happy to be getting Callen's family history but thought it would have been logical for one of his first questions to have been what his given name was.I also would like to know what Hetty meant when she said she couldn't help G.s' sister but was determined to save him. I still think Hunter could be the sister and I'm not sure even that will endear her to me. Oh well, let the week fly by! I really need to invest in a DVR.