There is some definite forward narrative momentum in this episode, beyond the unlikeliness of Eric Beale, NCIS Field Agent.
NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 Episode 9 featured more Densi developments, some Callen family drama and the return of NCIS's most unlikely field agent.
Callen and his father had an uncomfortable reunion, as Garrison was discovered protecting the comatose Katerina from gunmen at a hospital.
Garrison promised Callen answers the next time they met, and he got them, even if he didn't like them much. Garrison stayed away from Callen and her sister in the hope of keeping them away from his dangerous business. Callen didn't buy that.
I don't forgive you, and I don't know that I ever will.Callen [to Garrison]
Callen also finds out he has a half-sister, Alex, from Garrison's affair with Katerina while he was serving as her CIA handler. It will be interesting to see how lone-wolf Callen deals with having actual family members instead of just being fun uncle Callen to Sam's kids on major holidays.
Kensi is actually making progress in her rehab, going from barely taking steps in a walker on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 Episode 8 to walking away from her lunch with Callen and Hanna.
Kensi [to Callen and Hanna]: I miss this, you guys, I really miss this.
Hanna: You'll be back in no time. Just keep at it.
Some of that progress has to be credited to her interactions with her rehab frenemy Sullivan, with whom she got into a food fight. Their bickering, with his Special K nickname for her, seems to have lit a fire under her, even if, as their rehab therapist notes, they act like a couple of 6-year-olds. I still chalk his being there up to coincidence rather than some Machiavellian play by Hetty, but whatever; it's working.
But much of the credit has to go to ever-patient Deeks. He's undoubtedly frustrated, but not around Kensi. It was oh so sweet to see her wrap her bad hand (as she called it, her claw) around Deeks' hand.
Even Eric put in a positive vote for Kensi.
Eric: Kensi will be back in the field. I'm sure of it.
Deeks: Thanks, man.
Eric: No, Deeks. I'm serious. Do you know how I know Kensi will be back in the field? Because I'm in the field. If you'd have said I'd be out here, interrogating people, throwing grenades, carrying a gun, if you'd have said that three years ago, I'd have said impossible. But you guys helped me, supported me, and that's what you're doing for Kensi. So yeah, she'll be back.
How long until she's back. Definitely after the holidays, since she's theoretically only two months in to a six-month rehab. But then TV does have its ways for flash-forwarding, so who's to say?
Eric got himself back into the field in a particularly Eric way.
Nell: Because he's the one who took Fedor down, he claims to have a unique insight into what makes him tick.
Hanna: He threw a flash-bang at the guy. He didn't do a psych profile.
Nell: Oh, but he did. And it's 17 pages long. I think by Page 5, Granger just wanted him to get out of here.
There's no doubt that, unlike Nell, Eric is too socially awkward to allowed out in the general population, whether he's using a radiation meter in a crowded cafe or trying to intimidate a Russian spy with a grenade full of jelly beans. Unless they need someone to go undercover at Comic-Con or a renaissance fair, I question if he'd be the first choice.
Still, this was his most successful outing to date, although that's a fairly low bar.
Callen: Where's Eric? Did he get hurt?
Deeks: He's inside interviewing witnesses. He did great, actually. He might have kinda, sorta saved my life, maybe.
Hanna: Don't worry, Deeks. We won't tell anyone.
A welcome return was devious Arkady, who came back to help Callen and Hanna navigate the murky world of Russian spies. As he notes, his intel isn't what it once was, but Arkady still comes through, if only by irritating NCIS agents working with him.
I'm beginning to think that Granger isn't long for this show. He's always been gravelly voiced, but he's gone over to mumbling and barely intelligible. I'm wondering if Granger's recent health problems may reflect some medical issue of Miguel Ferrer as has been rumored on line. He'd be a definite loss, but he's getting written out regularly this season anyway.
Based on the previews, it looks like NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 Episode 10 promises some movement on the mole-hunt front, just in time for an extended holiday break. Then maybe Kensi can be magically healed in a holiday miracle.
To catch up on these dangling storylines, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Eric and/or Nell, in the field, in Ops, or some combination of the two? Did you enjoy seeing Arkady or Garrison again? How will Callen handle having a sibling? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.