Really? A two-parter?
Well, at least NCIS: Los Angeles Season 12 Episode 8 had a case of the week with some meat to it, unlike NCIS: Los Angeles Season 12 Episode 7, which had a lot of character catch-up with a dollop of casework thrown in.
While the storyline felt a bit inflated, carrying over into a second episode, the upside is that it means more Sabatino.
There can never be too much Sabatino, who is one of the series' best recurring characters.
It's great to have someone who doesn't take himself too seriously.
I mean, look at that hairstyle. What kind of undercover work requires a man bun?
Sabatino was brutal with everyone he ran into at OSP, most especially Sam and Callen. The humorous banter flew among the three of them.
It's simple to understand why, as a CIA officer, Sabatino doesn't surface more on the show.
First off, the CIA isn't supposed to be working domestically despite what TV would have you believe.
Second, Sabatino isn't big on legal niceties. His ignoring protocol was why there was a cliffhanger in the first place.
But he'll still be hanging around next episode since law enforcement still seemingly has zero ideas from where the counterfeit money is coming.
Even better, another recurring favorite was referenced in this episode, as Lance Hamilton first got NCIS involved.
Lance wanted an outside agency involved since the DOJ's key witness to a massive counterfeiting operation got murdered, and someone had to have leaked the departmental safehouse's location.
It turned out that wasn't exactly the case, that the witness may have inadvertently caused his own death. But by then, NCIS wasn't going anywhere.
That's because an old nemesis of theirs was the prime suspect in the murder.
Pietra Ray, who debuted on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 9 Episode 10, is best remembered as the woman who kicked Kensi's ass. Even Kensi admitted that.
The reasoning pointing to Pietra as the witness's killer was pretty damn flimsy, as Kensi pointed out.
She murdered him because his cartel was responsible for her father's killing? As Kensi explained, Pietra could have done a lot more damage without ever leaving South America.
Why would a woman with a detailed criminal record fly to the States under her own name if she was planning to commit a crime?
Better yet, didn't the DOJ have a more secretive way to get someone whose help they sought into the country rather than public transportation?
NCIS found Pietra relatively quickly, so it wasn't like she was hiding out like she did when she was busy dropping bodies the first time around.
It was interesting to watch Daniela Ruah as Kensi interrogate Pietra in her native Portuguese. Little wonder no one else could follow along.
Pietra was also forthcoming about what brought her back to Los Angeles, especially after the DOJ case started falling apart in a big way.
Did anyone else enjoy watching Pietra wipe the smarm off of Sabatino's face during her brief escape attempt?
How likely was it that a DOJ asset would fall into a relationship with an asset? Not very, I suspect. That did explain why he was so strident about discouraging outside agencies from looking into the witness's murder.
You would have also thought the name of a prestigious agent such as Lance would have received greater respect from his fellow DOJ employees.
A big question still to be answered is who shot down Garcia and why? That almost seems to indicate there is something shady going on inside the DOJ investigation.
And frankly, someone seemed to have tipped off the cartel thugs inside the warehouse. It's unlikely that Pietra would have made them aware of her presence.
My money is on the DOJ agent Carlson. She appeared determined to keep anyone else from looking into either murder until Kensi mentioned that NCIS had Pietro in protective custody.
She was working with NCIS and knew what they knew. So she certainly was in the position to tip off the cartel.
The opening-scene discussion between Roundtree and Fatima about the relationship between social injustice and the police did feel a little forced. They talked briefly about it; then it was dropped.
It's like every cop show now has to address that issue, regardless of how well or badly it fits into the narrative. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, like this time.
The point seems to be only to keep the issue alive and debated.
Speaking about keeping alive, Deeks was still finding his way at FLETC.
Deeks always appeared to be a fairly fit agent. But we need to add the disclaimer "for someone 20 years older than the other trainees."
As I recalled, Sebastian on NCIS: New Orleans also had trouble finding his groove at FLETC while making the transition from the lab.
So, once again, Kensi had to stop to give a disconsolate Deeks a pep talk in the midst of tracking another dangerous felon.
At least no one else was around to hear that.
Deeks' misadventures at FLETC can't last that long. Hopefully, they're done next episode, before another COVID-aided hiatus ensues.
To track Sabatino's visits, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Did you enjoy seeing Sabatino again?
Was Pietra's return a surprise?
Will both be back next episode?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.