NCIS: Los Angeles Season 11 Episode 2 Review: DecoyDale McGarrigle at . Updated at .
Things were getting closer to back to normal.
The OSP team largely returned to the spotlight on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 11 Episode 2.
I say largely because, well, a little under half the team was still missing in action.
Still, that beats being the supporting players in an attempted JAG reboot on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 11 Episode 1.
So, progress of a sort.
Hetty was there in spirit only, haunting the place. Hopefully, this will be the exception, not the rule, unlike last season.
Eric was still off in San Francisco "consulting" for an unspecified time, but Nell was back, so that's a win.
Deeks got recalled to LAPD for some mandatory policy updates, which freed Kensi from having to make excuses for him.
Related: NCIS: Los Angeles Season 11 Episode 1 Review: Let Fate Decide
You know, after that early Densi scene, the episode was quiet, despite all the gunfire.
So we got our first partner-switching episode of the season.
There's nothing wrong with those. After a decade, it doesn't hurt to shake up things for an episode or two.
Just don't bring in a know-it-all outsider to take charge. That got old quickly.
Now that Anna is persona non grata, Callen needed a new potential love interest.
That meant that Callen got temporarily reassigned to work with a former lover from his fuzzy past, which becomes more and more documented each season.
By now, you know the type: an exotic bad girl, with a slight accent, who is an action figure.
Yes, initially it seemed that Joelle was the exception to that stereotype, but she did end up fitting most of those criteria.
Eliana Sapir was a Mossad agent who just disappeared from a bar in Rome, leaving Callen to mend his broken heart.
They spent much of their lengthy stakeout time discussing what went wrong with them.
Here's a hint: They both have dangerous jobs which are more important to them than any relationship.
See. One sentence, that didn't take 20 minutes to write. But that would have robbed them of the chance to subtly emote.
I'm betting Sam was content to hang out in that sweatbox of an apartment rather than being stuck in that van with the two of them and their emotional baggage.
Instead, Sam had to track down and interrogate a washed-up Samoan football player who had gotten mixed up with a drug gang in Israel.
Yeah, I could see why Sam would try to figure out Sapolo's sad story which had landed him in Tel Aviv.
Related: Watch NCIS: Los Angeles Online: Season 11 Episode 1
Sam had to do all the heavy lifting while the other two sifted through their past. Without his intel, they had no idea where to raid.
Sam went with the good cop-homemade sandwich approach, bonding with Sapolo, whose dreams of gridiron glory also flamed out with a serious injury.
After a short while, Sam got Sapolo to tell him where Ladd's drug stash house was located, which wasn't where Eliana and Callen were then staked out.
Then he promised to put in a good word for Sapolo, maybe even getting him back to the States.
Frankly, Eliana and Callen's takedown of the drug warehouse was painfully easy. A handful of shots and they were driving away the truck loaded with drugs. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but no.
But does it truly matter if Ladd got busted in the end? It was all about introducing Eliana to viewers and hinting that the spark between them still exists, and she may be back sooner rather than later.
I don't know how a match between Callen and a woman, seemingly even more alpha than him, would work. But it seems we're destined to find out.
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Kensi got a respite during Deeks' forced return to LAPD.
Kensi spoke for many viewers when, after Deeks joked, "Are you afraid I'll come back with a haircut and shave?" she replied, "A girl can dream."
In the meantime, she got to work with a partner that let her get a word in edgewise.
Lance and Sam work well together because Lance is essentially a supersized version of Sam, with very similar backstories. They get each other.
Still, Kensi and Lance quickly synced because they were both professionals who followed the code, "Shoot first, ask questions later."
Granted, this strategy shortly led to a lack of suspects, with all the former bodyguards and their shooter dead.
But, after spitballing together, Kensi and Lance determined that Karen, Dotson's innocent-seeming girlfriend, was the arms dealer, eliminating potential competition.
Again, they made quick work of their targets, although Karen was quite feisty for somebody who required four bodyguards.
It was great to Nell back in Ops. Her mother's condition had improved, but she still faced a gradual recovery, so it won't be surprising to see Nell disappear again for an episode or two.
Related: Get CBS All Access via Amazon Channels for Hit Shows, Exclusive Originals & Live TV!
Barrett Foa is scheduled to miss five of the first six episodes while on a leave of absence to perform in a production of Angels in America.
Eric's storyline is that Hetty has sent him off on a special mission, which is bound to impact the team down the road.
Whether this means Nell handling Ops herself or Fatima or Jasmine assisting, it will be interesting to see. I vote for the latter. Fresh blood never hurts.
Next episode featuring Admiral Kilbride promises to have everyone back together in the same city on the same case, which is welcome in my book.
To catch up on the young season, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Which team did you enjoy most: Eliana and Callen, Sam and Sapolo, or Kensi and Lance?
How should Ops be handled?
Admiral Kilbride returns the next episode. Are you looking forward to that?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.