Give the powers that be on NCIS: Los Angeles credit. They know how to set up a cliffhanger.
The world ended up on the brink of World War III on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 10 Episode 24.
It's hard to generate much more suspense than that.
Most everyone in the regular cast and a handful of the guest stars were in various kinds of peril: Sam, Callen, Kensi, Deeks, Harm, Sabatino, a SEAL Sam volunteered for a special mission, Nell's unseen mother and, well, the entire company of the USS Allegiance.
Hetty, Nell, Eric and Mac were safe, best I could tell.
The best part of all was that, despite the trumpeted return of JAG's Harm and Mac, the two-part season finale belonged to the actual cast of NCIS: Los Angeles.
If that was a backdoor pilot, it was the most understated I've ever seen.
More on the concept of a JAG reboot later.
It was a twisty, turny storyline, with both Russians and ISIS thought to be the foe.
The Russians were "victims" by default, as the Chechen Muslims its intelligence service had seeded throughout the U.S. military turned on them and enlisted with ISIS instead.
It's so hard to find a traitor you can trust.
But it took a good long while for all that to get figured out.
Sam and Callen had the unenviable task of locating two Chechen agents among the thousands of sailors on the Allegiance.
Fortunately, they had help back in Ops.
First was Eric, who was sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and distracted, since Nell was off in San Francisco tending to her deteriorating mother and he'd had no time to check in with her.
Fortunately for him, Hetty popped up (electronically) to give him an update. Even better, she found him some help in Ops.
That help came from Jasmine Garcia, who helped out Sam and Callen on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 Episode 3.
Jasmine was fun. She immediately set off Eric's territorial tendencies when she largely took over, but as she explained, there was too much at stake for her to be pussyfooting around him.
She's stationed at that NCIS farm team in San Diego, as are Fatima and Dechamps, and others I can't recall through the years.
Hey, maybe that would be a worthwhile backdoor pilot: NCIS Newbies. Pick one of the many Hetty substitutes to run it (whoever's pilot failed to launch).
I'd watch it.
Anyway, Jasmine's special program uncovered the next sleeper agent, Davis who gave Sam and Callen someone to interrogate.
It took a while before that lead paid off, until after another sleeper agent was killed in his sleep.
Then Davis blurted the other big twist -- that he had signed a deal with a CIA agent, then told the late NCIS Agent Lee about it.
Of course, the CIA agent Davis reached with an agreement with was fictitious, and instead was our old friend Sabatino. Don't you love it when intelligence agencies are tripping over each other because of secrecy?
The Allegiance was one front in this storyline, with Sam and Callen stuck spinning their wheels, waiting on information.
More enjoyable was that never-before-seen pairing of Mac and Hetty.
Apparently they were old friends. Hetty truly does know everybody, doesn't she?
They did an admirable job of working around Yashnikov's immunity.
Unfortunately, Hetty's reputation and subtle intimidation only worked so much. He admittted, yes, the Russians had an operation but it got away from them. Where it's going now, who knows?
If he could have kept it in his pants, they would have had nothing to exploit.
As it was, one compromising photo and Mac had all she needed to force Yashnikov's cooperation. Blackmail is so much easier in this age of social media.
We did finally get the answer of what happened to Harm and Mac. He went back to see, she went to the State Department and their marriage fell apart.
And wasn't their video reunion some awkward?
So the investigation became a game of internet whack-a-mole, with Olivia confirming contact and Harm tracking a terminal aboard the carrier.
Too bad they didn't even begin to know how many sleeper agents were on board the Allegiance. At least three too many, as that's the number that took over the damage-control center at the end.
I'm a little fuzzy at what exactly that center is used for, but anything that has the word "control" in the title you don't want in the hands of terrorists.
Finally, Kensi and Deeks got redirected to determine what the hell Sabatino was up to. His mission of "preventing World War III" was a little of the vague side.
Apparently, he had important intelligence to keep Israel and Saudi Arabia from retaliating after missiles rained down on them from Iran.
That's good, since those two countries aren't known for their restraint. They have all those American weapons to try out.
Unfortunately, Sabatino's base of operations wasn't the top-secret location it needed to be, and before long, the small American contingent was under siege.
I fear for that senior SEAL who Sam had volunteered to help Kensi and Deeks. He isn't long from an heroic death.
So let's see what questions need addressing:
- Who killed Agent Lee?
- Can Sam, Callen and Harm regain control of the Allegiance?
- Can the CIA base be saved?
- Will Nell's mother live?
I have some non-narrative questions as well.
Are Eric and Nell gone? With the introduction of Fatima and the reintroduction of Jasmine, I really have to wonder.
Granted, Alyssa Diaz (Jasmine) is a regular on The Rookie. But a role of a long-running series nearing its end has to trump a role on a series unlikely to become long running. The concept of The Rookie argues against that happening.
What would a JAG reboot look like? Mac in charge, Harm her number two and some fresh young faces filling out the cast. The last time we saw Bud on NCIS, he didn't qualify any longer.
But most of those answers are going to have to wait until September.
To re-savor Season 10, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
What did you think of Harm and Mac together again?
Would you watch a JAG reboot?
What changes do you expect for NCIS: Los Angeles?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.