Just what NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 needed.
It was an all-star caper on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 Episode 21.
I say all-star because it brought Hetty's Vietnam War-era band back together.
Most importantly, this meant a return of A.J. Chegwidden, of JAG, fame, last seen in NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 Episode 15. He was winningly accompanied by another retired admiral, Sterling Bridges, and watching the two of them bicker was like watching future Sam and Callen.
Especially when Sam and Callen repeatedly tried to sideline them. They didn't listen any more than Sam and Callen would have.
Hetty had called them because they all shared a secret that stretched back to the Vietnam War.
Also sharing that secret was Charles Langston, another member of their team, who, for some reason, abducted a corrupt VA administrator and then shot up a pawn shop.
It was fun listening to the older officers reminisce, arguing over who was which member of the Rolling Stones. The old black-and-white photo Hetty discovers at Langston's house was a hoot, with younger Hetty barely seeing over the steering wheel of the Jeep.
Also unveiling any of Hetty's back story is always a plus.
Even the ghost of Granger was present, both in the memories of that group and of Callen and Sam as well. They neatly tied up Granger's departure from the show, with AJ expecting him to be dead before he ever resurfaces.
I'm guessing that Langston kidnapped Robert Bryant to shine the light on his misdeeds, embezzling funds while not providing much-needed services to veterans.
And I know Langston wasn't totally in his right mind when he hocked gold bars to raise the money to get veterans services at the VA. That's not the way it works, and he would know that.
The whole storyline was given short shrift, although it did introduce an interesting new character, FBI Agent Zoe Morris. First, she barred Sam and Callen from Bryant's house; then she slapped the cuffs on Bryant after he was recovered by Deeks and Kensi.
I'm betting Zoe will pop up again, probably next season.
The whole storyline did feel forced, although it made a necessary point about how hard it is for veterans to get the treatment 'they need.
Also, it allowed Kensi and Deeks to circle back to her time at the same VA hospital. It gave them a chance to talk about their time there and the impact it had on both of them.
For once, they were the serious part of the team instead of the comic relief. That was especially true at the pawn shop when Kensi turned sad because Granger wouldn't be available to walk her down the aisle in place of her father.
Also, finally, Eric was given a real quandary with which to deal, instead of just being the unit fop. Shooting guns in a video game is fun. Shooting them in real life has consequences and he has to deal with it. That must be one of the reasons he's seeing Nate.
Now on to the main case. Langston accidentally tipped off the pawn-shop owner about the existence of the gold he was pawning. So the owner's henchmen trashed his house and found his journal telling about the existence of this gold which has been stashed for 40 years.
Sure, the gold was off book. But couldn't this smart group of people have found a way to charitably dispose of it without attracting attention? I would think so, although I understand gold isn't the most liquid of currency.
But instead, it's ripped off by some Eastern European gang (or whatever is left after the shootout). And now every gang wants it.
That should make for an action-packed second half of this storyline on April 30, with the regular squad plus Hetty's old pals seeking to recover the gold.
And, once again, make AJ a regular, although I was sorry to see his beard disappear.
To catch up before season's end, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
How are you enjoying the extended visit by Hetty's friends? Is this storyline leading anywhere specific, or is it just a good caper? Was this the final mention of Granger? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.