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NCIS: Los Angeles - Episode 5.20 - "Windfall" Review - Character Musical Chairs

“NCIS: Los Angeles” agent Kensi Blye returns home in “Windfall” but isn’t allowed to resume her field duties just yet. As Hetty takes time to assess Kensi’s state of mind after her capture and torture in Afghanistan, the field office leader decides to mix up the partners, both in Ops and the field. While Deeks and Kensi may have been upset at the decision, the rotating mix of characters created a fun set of dynamics and a lot of great banter.

The episode’s plot centered around Adrian Davis, a former Marine who was being hunted by Al Qaeda after embezzling over $6 billion from Iraqi restoration funds. But the anticipation of the episode was built around Kensi’s return.

For all the buildup, no startling or crucial revelations occurred and the episode didn’t get us much further to knowing how stable Kensi really is yet. But nonetheless, it was fun to have her back.

The first scene at the field office began with a hilarious shot of Deeks seeming to play with wooden animal toys. When Sam asks him what he is doing, Deeks replies he is straightening Kensi’s desk.

Kensi arrives shortly after and Deeks has the specific coffee she likes waiting for her (ahhhhh!), but she has already bought her own. It quickly becomes clear she doesn’t want anyone making a fuss over her. She keeps insisting in a much-too-happy voice that she is really good – either because she just doesn’t want all the attention or because she really isn’t doing fine. We don’t know yet. But everyone else goes along with it (in a scene that possibly showcases the most uses of the word ‘good’ in rapid-fire succession). The best part is when Deeks affirms, “You look good.” Kensi grows uncomfortable and as Deeks realizes his comment may be taken wrong (or right), he stammers, “I mean… You seem good by the way that you look.” So funny! Of course when Eric shows up and tells Kensi the same thing, no one minds.

As everyone heads to Ops, Kensi’s large forced smile and pause in the doorway reveal some nervousness. While Eric gives her a warm welcome, Nell only briefly and awkwardly acknowledges her. I know this was intentional to show Nell was uncomfortable knowing her yet-to-be announced assignment would hurt Kensi, but it still seemed strange to me that after all Kensi had been through, Nell wouldn’t be any warmer.

Once they split up duties for the case, Hetty reveals that Nell will be partnered with Deeks in the field – and Kensi will stay back with Eric in Ops. Kensi and Deeks both clearly dislike the situation but Deeks is caught in the middle and there’s not much he can do. So he heads out with Nell.

After paying a visit to Davis’ old partner, Gabriel Stanfill, Deeks and Nell catch up with Sam and Callen who were in a shootout at Davis’ house. Talking to each other, they realize Stanfill may be storing some of the embezzled money in his wine distribution warehouse. That means an undercover job for Sam. Deeks explains to Nell, “Sam went undercover for an entire year as a somnambulist – you know, one of those wine guys.”

Sam corrects him, “Sommelier, Deeks. Somnambulist is a sleepwalker – kind of like what you do on the job.”

Deeks laughs like a funny Frenchman and says, “I know you say these things out of love.”

Sam, already out the door, yells back, “Hah” as his no.

In an episode filled with great dialogue, this was one of my favorites. I have really been loving the recent interaction between Deeks and Sam. I love how Sam jokingly harasses Deeks all the time. It’s hilarious! Deeks always sets himself up so perfectly.

Sam and Callen pay a visit to the wine warehouse but it’s too large to look for the cash. Meanwhile, Nell demonstrates her street cred by talking with a confidential informant named Little Dip. For me, Nell isn’t quite as tough as she wants to be. Her voice is quiet and these scenes don’t always have as much impact as I’d like. But it’s still nice to see her in a different light. Throughout their scenes together Nell is constantly earning Deeks’ respect. She definitely has some skills in the field and surprises Deeks a lot. In this scene she is the one to reel in Little Dip, after Deeks lectures her that talking to confidential informants is all about control and respect. (That will come back to bite him later.) This was also a funny scene as the short little tough-talking informant gives Deeks hair advice, telling him his hair was too flat and maybe he should consider curlers. Deeks replies, pointing to his hair, “This is styled by Pillow so I don’t really put a lot of work into it.”

As Nell and Deeks work their leads, Kensi is bored stiff back in Ops. She wants to help but doesn’t know what to do. Knowing her tech skills can’t contribute much, Eric suggests she massage the knot in his shoulder. When she doesn’t respond too kindly to that, Eric says, “I’m just kidding. Of course I’d never ask you to do anything like that.” But he trails into a whisper as he adds, “Even though it would be helping.”

“Oh, really?” Kensi replies. “So Nell would be massaging you right now?”

“No,” Eric responds, “because she’d be busy actually doing something.”

These two are getting on each other’s nerves. Irritated, Kensi asks what Nell would be doing and Eric spouts off some high-tech mumbo-jumbo. To that, Kensi gives in and asks, “Which shoulder?” Later Eric tells Hetty that though Kensi is bored and restless, she seems emotionally solid.

As the team continues to investigate the case, they find Stanfill, the wine distribution owner, dead in his home and over $300,000 in a safe in his laundry room. That discovery prompts a great Deeks one-liner: “Well, it gives a whole new meaning to money laundering!”

The rest of the embezzled money must be somewhere else. A private wine stash in the warehouse leads them to a new house where they find a man named Brian Foster, an injured veteran who is confined to a bed. He says he receives a box of money every month but claims he doesn’t know who sends it. However, a pair of tennis shoes on the floor reveals Davis is there. Going after him, Deeks slides down a dirt hill and tackles the man just as Sam pops up right in front of them and asks Deeks what in the world he is doing. Out of breath, he says, “Huh? Uh… you know… catching bad guys.”

When the team interrogates Davis, he says he and Stanfill took the money from Iraq to help Foster. He claims he only stole a few hundred thousand dollars more than what he was arrested with; that turns out to be a lie. Davis actually stole $42 million more and the NCIS team decides to use him – and a stash of fake money – to lure Al Qaeda to the warehouse. In the process they shoot two Al Qaeda members and Nell captures the third, offering Deeks’ own advice back to him that you have to stay in control because it’s all about respect. The rest of the embezzled money turns out to be hidden in the huge wine bottle in front of the business.

When Nell returns to Ops, she sincerely tells Kensi she wants to be an agent but she never wanted it like this. It is her way of apologizing. She obviously doesn’t want to hurt Kensi and Kensi understands.

Kensi and Deeks are still both eager for Kensi to be out in the field and they each individually approach Hetty about it. Deeks tells Hetty, “I want my partner back. I need her back and it’s been five months and she’s right upstairs.” Hetty tells him it will happen when Kensi’s mind is sound enough to make decisions that affect national security. Deeks, still insecure about the intention behind keeping them apart, asks, “Honestly, is there more to this than what Kenzie went through in Afghanistan?”

“I don’t know, Mr. Deeks, is there?” Hetty retorts without answering anything. Deeks is left speechless and frustrated.

But when Kensi approaches Hetty she gets a different response. Kensi asks if Hetty would consider giving her “time served.” Hetty responds that keeping her out of the field was not meant as a punishment. She says she’s not sure if Kensi is ready to get back to work but realizes that keeping her away may not provide revelations, either. She says she won’t know if Kensi is ready until she’s actually out there. Kensi smiles as she realizes Hetty is approving her for action.

The show ends with a very satisfying scene between Kensi and Deeks, my favorite scene of the episode. Deeks mentions they haven’t had a lot of chance to chat since she’s been back. Kensi mischievously replies that is going to change. A surprised Deeks is very happy to learn Kensi is back on the job. “That’s good news,” he tells her. And then he switches into typical, lovable Deeks mode. “I was getting a little worried because I’m pretty sure Nell was falling in love with me.”

Once characters get romantically involved or begin to have feelings for one another, sometimes they don’t act the same as they always have; sometimes the writers inexplicably change their interaction. But I’m so glad they haven’t done that in this case. Deeks is still the Deeks that viewers fell in love with and Kensi is still her tough, playful self. In fact, she acts in typical Kensi fashion by waiting a moment and then suddenly punching Deeks in the chest.

Deeks, acting extremely hurt and injured, stands up and responds, “And there she is.”

It’s a comment that mirrors exactly what viewers may have been thinking. There indeed was the Kensi we know and love. Even if she may be struggling with the emotional repercussions of what happened to her, underneath she is still the same person. And it was nice to see that at the end of the episode.

“Here I am,” Kensi affirms, offering a sincere smile this time. “It’s good to be back.”

“It’s good to have you back,” Deeks replies.

Spoken just like an “NCIS: Los Angeles” fan.

Here are some other great quotes from the episode:

Deeks reveals he talked to Kensi on the phone:
Callen: “How did she sound?”
Deeks: “You know, irritated and annoyed.”
Sam: “What do you expect? She was talking to you.”

Callen: “How do you think Kensi and Eric are going to do together?”
Sam: “They get along.”
Callen: “Uh huh. Like an armadillo in Texas gets along with a truck on the freeway?”

Deeks tells Sam & Callen that Nell saw through Stanfill’s lies:
Deeks: “That’s when the little pixie had her little Spidey senses and they got all tingly.”

Callen teases Sam about clowns:
Callen: “Oh, that’s right, you don’t like clowns, do you?”
Sam: “That’s not the point I was trying to make. And for the record, no, I do not like clowns, which is something you already know.”
Callen: “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, Sam. A lot of people are afraid of clowns. It’s kind of a childhood trauma thing.”
Sam: “I am not afraid of clowns. What I am afraid of is you coming off as one when we talk to Stanfill.”

Kensi tells Eric she understands the job can get boring because she’s been on many stakeouts:
Kensi: “And you are so much less irritating than spending time with Deeks in a car.”
(Eric: “Thanks… I think.”)

Nell asks Kensi how it’s going in Ops:
Kensi: “It’s my reward for being beaten and chained in a cave with my ex-fiancé.”

Granger and Hetty exchange words:
Granger: “You’ve always been a pretty good human lie detector.”
Hetty: “Thanks to my time spent with you, Owen.”

What did you think of "Windfall?" How much do you think Kensi is struggling with what happened in Afghanistan? Tell us your favorite scenes and quotes in the comments below.

About the Author - Tonya Papanikolas
Tonya Papanikolas is a freelance journalist who loves covering entertainment and television. She spent more than 10 years as a broadcast news journalist and now does everything from hosting to writing. She is excited to cover NCIS: Los Angeles for SpoilerTV. (She loves Kensi and Deeks!) She also writes SpoilerTV articles on other great shows.

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