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NCIS: Los Angeles - Angels & Daemons - Review: "Characters Shine"

The NCIS team investigates the murder of a venture capitalist in “Angels & Daemons.” The victim was also a tech entrepreneur who developed a daemon, a computer program that collects data from unsuspecting app users, including high-profile government officials. It turns out Pakistani intelligence got their hands on the daemon, and the NCIS team must stop them from using it as a weapon. In the process the team infiltrates the tech startup world, with Kensi and Deeks investigating, and Sam and Callen going undercover as investors. Ultimately they identify the danger and prevent an international incident.

The best parts of this episode were the great character scenes. The banter and pacing were classic “NCIS: Los Angeles.” Sam and Callen were hilarious together as they bickered about the topic that became a “thing:” Callen checking out Joelle’s new guy. Kensi and Deeks had some cute scenes. And it was nice to see more Eric and Nell. Overall this episode had some fun moments – I especially liked Callen’s undercover persona – and that helped balance out a few boring moments. Once again, I thought elements of the plot were a little high-tech and confusing. But the character scenes shined through to make this a fun episode.

Sam and Callen

One thing I appreciated in this episode was the dialogue based around Joelle. These scenes were both amusing and revealing. We assumed after the holiday episode that Callen was going to break up with Joelle, and it turns out he did. But it was nice learning how he’s been doing since the breakup, giving us a peek inside his head and heart. It took a prying friend to get all this out of him but Callen eventually let us know how he was really doing and what he really wants in life.

When Callen shows up at work early, leaving his carpool partner, Sam, in a lurch, Sam begins asking questions. Callen evades them, and soon the topic becomes “a thing.” As they bicker back and forth, I love how Kensi points out they sound like an old married couple. They definitely do. But that’s a good thing – Sam knows his partner well enough to know something is going on. When Kensi grabs the file Callen is reading, they find out what it is. It turns out Callen is checking out the man now dating Joelle. I loved how Deeks immediately had Callen’s back, agreeing that it’s only been a month since they broke up and this was way too early for her to be seeing someone new. But Callen plays it cool. He claims he was just looking out for Joelle and the team. However Sam isn’t about to let the topic drop that easily. The subject is definitely “a thing” now.

I loved how that theme unfolded throughout the episode, reappearing numerous times and bleeding into their interactions with each other. When Callen derided his partner for having to listen to Sam’s books on tape in the car, it was clear they were extra irritated. (Even Granger picked up on their dynamic, prompting Kensi to point out they were having “a thing.”) Later as they watch the suspect talk to his lawyer in the boat shed, they have a conversation about privacy. Sam points out Callen is still thinking about Joelle, and Callen makes fun of the fact that Sam is reading his mind. I loved this dialogue as Callen asked Sam if he could tell what color he was thinking about. Callen was deflecting attention, but it also proved how close these two are. Sam wanted to know what was going on in his friend’s life but Callen didn’t want to share too much. Sam was also trying to hold his friend accountable. He told Callen he wanted to make sure he wasn’t crossing the line. But Callen again knows how to deflect, telling Sam he’s invading his privacy. Sam has the last word, however, when he guesses the color Callen had been thinking of – blue. This made me laugh out loud. I love their interactions together. They mimic real life. Sometimes certain topics are hard to talk about, even with our friends – especially when you’re a private person like Callen. But Sam knows just how to broach the subject – with the perfect mix of joking and serious tones.

Later Sam pushes the subject again, teasing Callen by asking if he is going to find something else to return to Joelle. He makes it clear he just wants his friend to move on. But I liked this scene because it showed Callen’s true heart. He reveals that he knows Joelle was not right for him, but that doesn’t mean it was easy to move on. At some point he wants the things Joelle wanted – a life with someone and possibly even a family. I was a little confused by Sam’s response to Callen. He listened with amusement as if Callen was just telling him what he wanted to hear. But it didn’t seem like Callen was just appeasing him. He seemed sincere to me. (I’m curious to know what you thought on this subject.) Did Callen really buy Joelle a ring? I’m not sure. But I believe most of what he said to Sam was true. He had wanted things to work with Joelle and was sad they didn’t. In the end he admits he has regrets but knows he did the right thing. His regrets are more about the life he wants to have rather than thinking he screwed up by letting Joelle go. He knows he was right to break things off, but he still wants that special relationship one day. (And it was sweet how Sam told Callen he could still find the right girl and be that right man for someone else down the road.) In a way it was nice to know how hard the breakup was on Callen because we got a true look at his thoughts and desires.

Another thing I loved in the episode was Callen and Sam undercover. I think my favorite scene was when Callen first showed up at the tech startup Flibbit, posing as an excited investor. I loved watching him with his phone in hand, riding a hoverboard around the office, barking commands to people he’d never met. He looked like an excitable big kid with money and power. This is so opposite of how Callen really is that it was fantastic to watch. Chris O’Donnell did a great job. And how funny was it to watch Callen ride the slide in the office later with a close-up on his face?

I also enjoyed Callen tackling their murder suspect, Mark Powell, at the bus stop after asking him for spare change. And Sam was fantastic in the episode, too, especially with Jessica – the head of the company, who was leery about these new unknown investors. Sam has a way of reading people and knowing what they need to hear. I loved how he pulled her aside and talked her into believing them, telling her he understood where she was coming from and how hard she must have worked to get where she was. His speech was sweet and cute. But he was also his tough self as he fought off the Mossad agent on the roof. I loved Sam’s attitude as he questions why this man is in the United States. At first he is tough with him but in the end he shows him respect after the man helps NCIS catch the Pakistani agents. I loved how Sam talked to him in Hebrew.

Kensi and Deeks

Kensi and Deeks didn’t have a lot of long scenes together but I really enjoyed the ones they did have. First we see them at the boat dock where the victim died. Kensi tells Deeks what she’s learned: The man was meeting with people at Silicon Beach – an area in L.A. similar to Silicon Valley. But Deeks thinks she said ‘Silicone’ Beach – like the silicone used in fake breasts – so he, of course, gets excited, expressing his desire to do some covert surveillance there. I enjoyed how Kensi just took him with a grain of salt, suggesting maybe she would tell his girlfriend what he said. As they head to Silicon Beach, Deeks still insists it would be more fun if the word had an ‘e’ on the end of it.

Next we see them individually checking out the tech startups the investor was looking into when he died. Kensi astutely notices the security guard, who seems to have a military background. Meanwhile Deeks is interviewing a kid who’s starting an on-demand butler service for pets. Deeks clearly thinks the kid is crazy but soon he’s mentioning all the kid’s ideas to Kensi. These ideas are getting him thinking. After all, he’s an “idea man,” as he tells Kensi. But he can’t seem to come up with a brilliant startup idea of his own.

These two play off each other so well. Kensi knows just how to answer his crazy jokes and comments. But I also liked that she didn’t spurn his ideas. And I liked how Deeks appreciates her skills. After the lawyer got shot in front of them, Deeks seemed both impressed and turned on by her math skills as she worked to find out where the shot came from. “I love it when you talk math,” he tells her. These two joke around a lot, but they also truly value one another for who they are.

Eric and Nell

I loved seeing more of Eric and Nell in this episode. They each had cute character moments on their own and together. First Eric is his typical cute, goofy self as he hears the team teasing Callen and attempts to join in on the banter. But surprise, surprise – his joke falls flat. It was the usual Eric humor – goofy and ill-timed, which makes it funny. (I love how the rest of the team always looks at each other like he’s crazy while he just boasts a big, proud smile.)

Next we see Nell out in the field with Kensi and Deeks. But she is getting sick, something that apparently happens to her on regular-sized boats. Her dialogue with Deeks was really funny as he harasses her, considering she does work for a naval service. “Thanks, Captain Obvious,” she tells him. This was a great line, and I loved the rest of their banter together. It was nice seeing Nell included for once.

Another scene I enjoyed was watching Eric try to pitch his own skills to get an undercover role at the tech company. He wanted to see that company so badly. I loved how he told Callen, "Put me in, Coach!" But unfortunately he didn’t get his wish because they weren’t hiring coders. The way he protested the decision – “But Hetty, they have a slide!” – was fantastic. He was like a disappointed little boy complaining to his mother.

He and Nell were also cute together when she revealed the cover story she’d created for Sam and Callen – inventors of an energy drink popular in Eastern Europe. Eric seemed to be in awe of Nell. I love how much he respects her.

Other Thoughts

- I loved how Callen compared the suspect’s messy car to Kensi’s desk.

- It was amusing that Callen pointed out the venture capitalist he’d heard in Sam’s car was full of himself – and then Callen imitated that same persona undercover later. (He probably based his undercover identity on what he knew.)

- I thought it was obvious the suspect’s lawyer was in on the plot as soon as he left the boatshed. His exit was just too weird.

- At first I was taken aback when Deeks shot a third employee at the tech company during their standoff. But upon second viewing I realized the man had a gun in his hand. They’d mentioned earlier there could be more Pakistani agents at the company, so this was a quick and smart reaction to a tense and unknown situation.

- It was kind of nice that you believed the suspect, Powell, had been telling the truth until the end. As Kensi pointed out, he told just the right amount of truth to hide the lies.

- I loved how Sam got mad when Callen suggested they didn’t have anything else they needed to talk about. Sam was offended his friend didn’t want to just hang out and chat with him about nothing.

- I am so excited for next week’s episode! With Kensi and Deeks moving in together, and Kensi’s ex-fiancé Jack returning to the show, there will be lots to talk about next week! (Unfortunately, though, I am also covering the Sundance Film Festival, so my review will be a little delayed.)

What did you think of "Angels & Daemons?" What did you enjoy most from the episode? Do you think Callen bought Joelle a ring and was planning to propose, or was he just appeasing Sam on what he thought Sam wanted to hear? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author - Tonya Papanikolas
Tonya Papanikolas is an online, print and broadcast 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 loves covering NCIS: Los Angeles for SpoilerTV. (She's a big fan of Kensi and Deeks!) She also writes SpoilerTV articles on other great shows.

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