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NCIS: Los Angeles - Praesidium - Review: "Evasion, Protection & Consolation"

The Latin word “praesidium” means protection, and that’s what this episode was all about – protecting Hetty. The director of NCIS protected her, her team protected her and she protected herself. But the initial political threat against her wasn’t as dire as we thought. Her appearance before the intelligence committee was a front. The man leading the committee was purposely pushed onto her trail by NCIS Director Leon Vance. He did it as a way to ensure Hetty left Los Angeles. That way he could get her away from the real danger – someone trying to kill her.

And someone is trying to kill her. At the beginning of the episode masked men break into Hetty’s home and shoot her security guard. So the team is called in to an early morning emergency meeting. As they receive the call, Kensi and Deeks are sleeping together on the couch. Surrounded by lots of junk food from the night before, they are still in their clothes with Kensi sleeping on the top half of the couch and Deeks on the bottom, his pillow resting on her butt. The scene showed their comfort level together and the progression of their relationship. These two are obviously spending quite a bit of time together outside of work, hanging out late. But to me it didn’t look like they had been romantic. Their clothes from yesterday, the couch instead of a bed, the food and their casual but comfortable positions with each other were all signs to me that they just fell asleep hanging out. And as they wake up and have to kick into gear, Deeks says to Kensi, “You’re obviously not a morning person.” That was another hint to me that they don’t typically see each other in the morning – this is not a daily occurrence. But obviously these two are getting quite comfortable with each other. (Incidentally, Granger also looks very comfortable with the young blonde naked woman who’s in his bed when he’s called in to work. Who knew Granger was such a playboy?)

For Densi fans, the episode was filled with great moments. As they go to check out a boat that Hetty owns, Kensi and Deeks have a funny conversation about moving in together. Deeks suggests they would be good roomies and maybe they should try saving some money and getting a cooler place together. And he is absolutely serious. But of course Kensi shoots him down. As he lists off all the characteristics that would make him a good housemate, she says she would rather live with Monty than Deeks. That doesn’t deter Deeks, though. He says they come as a package deal, to which Kensi replies, “Oh, so I get a dog and a mutt? No thank you!” What a fun scene. Again, it didn’t seem romantic but it was still satisfying. It was enjoyable to see how logical it was in Deeks’ mind that financially and logistically they would be better off moving in together. This proves again that they must be spending a lot of time together. And I love anything that points to these two getting closer! While it seems to me they’re spending time together as friends, close friendships (with the types of feelings they have) can always lead to something else.

Meanwhile, as Hetty’s committee hearing continues in Washington, she is grilled about negotiating with terrorists and funding of the Afghanistan operation. Hetty says part of the money was hers but the rest was the U. S. government’s. Before she can say much more, though, she collapses and is rushed out on a stretcher.

When her team hears what happened, they are very worried about her, though Callen claims there is no way she fainted because she “has a resting heart rate of 50 when she’s being shot at.” I loved that! Meanwhile, they can’t avoid the forensic auditing team from the Justice Department any longer, though they try to avoid their questions at every opportunity. Eric’s attempt at evasion was my favorite. As soon as the man says Eric is not going anywhere until he tells him everything, you knew that Eric would indeed spill everything – everything unrelated. Sure enough, he details a horrific computer game he lost that still affects him to this day. He even hugs the man who clearly doesn’t know how to handle the situation.

Then there is the main female auditor who shows up while Sam is on a stakeout. I have to say, I found this pretty unrealistic. I understand she has a job to do and needs to get it done, but I highly doubt she'd interfere with a dangerous investigation to get what she needs. Nonetheless, Sam taking her along for the chase was amusing. I love how Sam had no problem answering her questions in the middle of the chase. He’s a pretty good multitasker! His attempts to get her off his back worked, too.
But she is not so intimidated by Callen and arrests him when he tries to leave. Too bad Callen knows how to swim out the boatshed trap door. After he escapes, he finds Sam and comments, “I usually like a woman that wants to put me in handcuffs.” And I found myself thinking that really did not sound like Callen! So it was fitting when Sam told him he sounded like Deeks. In fact, I’ve noticed that the writers seem to be making Callen funnier this season. They’re giving a lot more jokes to the serious, level-headed agent. He still seems like Callen, just a more sarcastic, teasing, lighter version of himself that I’m enjoying.

Deeks and Kensi, meanwhile, try to put off the auditors but it is finally Kensi’s turn. She is the only one who can’t avoid the serious questions. Kensi is asked about her ex-fiancĂ©, if he was the “White Ghost” who helped the Taliban and if she was chasing misinformation the whole time. With each question, Kensi gets more and more annoyed. By the time the woman questions why Kensi was kidnapped, Kensi is livid. What an insensitive, ridiculous question. I understand that the woman wants to know if leaving the base alone was necessary, especially since it cost the government $3 million to save her (during which her captors received $1 million, which equated to negotiating with terrorists). But Kensi had been a victim and this woman was making it seem like it was all her fault. So I totally understood Kensi’s frustration and anger. That’s why it was especially satisfying to see Kensi ask the woman a question of her own: “Do you have any idea what I went through in captivity?” It was her way of putting the lady in her place for callously bringing up fresh wounds.

And she can’t hide that hurt and vulnerability from Deeks. Once Deeks shoos away their uninvited guests, he instantly asks Kensi if she is okay. I love that he immediately shows concern and wants to know what happened. Though Kensi puts on a tough act pretending everything is fine, she is clearly shaken up. He wants to talk about what’s bothering her but she doesn’t. She is on the verge of tears and makes a joke to cover her feelings. But Deeks inherently knows something is wrong. Trying to cheer her up, he forces her to give him a “low five.” But when she turns around, he sees her tears and immediately grabs her and pulls her into his arms.

Daniela Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen were both fantastic in this scene, making it the best of the episode. Kensi’s eyes were brimming with tears as she hugged Deeks, showing just how much she’d been through and how hard it was to deal with. You can’t help but feel for her. She just wants to forget the horrible things that happened but it’s not that easy and Deeks knows it. He tells her she can’t forget – she has to make peace with it but that takes time. As the tears fall, she lets him calm her.

For all of his goofy 12-year-old boy ways, Deeks is actually very adept at knowing when it’s the right time to joke and when it’s time to be serious. When his partner is truly struggling, he just wants to pull her close and comfort her. And as much as she wants to be tough – and is – she needed that comfort, and there was no shame in it. These two continue to lean on each other in tough times. Deeks clearly wants to be the shoulder she can cry on. These kinds of interactions are so great because it changes them, in a way. Instead of only being a funny pair who likes to taunt each other and joke around, they are also true friends who care about each other deeply. They want to support each other and be there for each other. And when they get the opportunity to show that deeper bond, it’s fun to watch.

I also thought it was appropriate that after reassuring Kensi she is tough (tougher than him, in fact), Deeks slowly slips back into joking mode. Again, his sense of what is suitable for the situation is spot on. There was a time for vulnerability and now it’s time to make her laugh and smile. She observes, “And just like that, the moment is way gone.” But she walks away with a smile on her face, showing Deeks did his job. And Deeks responds by telling her it’s okay because he has more moments to come. I, for one, am excited for more of these moments. I have been enjoying Deeks and Kensi so far this season. Last season I thought their relationship moved too slowly when a wrench was suddenly thrown in between them. It felt manipulative. But this season they seem to be moving at a natural, easy pace. I look forward to more as they continue moving forward.

Back in Washington DC, Hetty suddenly wakes up in the ambulance. Apparently she has planned her entire escape and even gets a gun from the “paramedic” before the ambulance drops her off. But she doesn’t go far before she’s stopped by two cars and some secret agent men. In a fun NCIS crossover moment, they take her to a dinosaur museum to meet NCIS Director Leon Vance. Apparently they have a pretty good relationship as he alludes to her teaching him what he knows. He also tells her about why the intelligence committee is on her case and what his real worries are. He believes they have a leak in their operation – a mole. Now they have to track down the source as she waits in DC.

In L.A., the operation continues as Hetty’s Mini-Me gets to play Hetty for real – Nell is the decoy to lure the killers to Hetty’s home. Her disguise was great and the ploy works. Soon the house is under fire. When Nell calls her mentor for help, I loved Hetty’s response: “You’re in my house? Oh, bugger!” Sam and Callen are there, too, but by the time they get to Nell, she is on the ground next to a dead man. Apparently Nell can hold her own. She also rescues them by leading them to a secret passageway in Hetty’s home, though it’s a tight fit for Sam. Nonetheless, they emerge safe. (I can’t imagine Hetty is going to be too pleased when she sees her home riddled with bullet holes. Then again, she has enough houses that she should be just fine.)

In the end, Eric learns who is behind the shooting at Hetty’s home: Mattias, a former German spy who tried to kill Hetty back in season two. After Sam shot him in the arm, the team essentially blackmailed him to leave Hetty alone. And he did – until now. But it looks like he’s back and they’re fighting a formidable foe. And they’re just getting started.

What did you think of "Praesidium?" What's your interpretation of the Kensi and Deeks scenes? How scared are you for Hetty? Please join the discussion by commenting 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 anchor/reporter 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.