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NCIS: Los Angeles - Revenge Deferred - Review: "Sam's Emotional Struggle"

Sam Hanna faces Jada Khaled once again in “Revenge Deferred.” The episode begins with Sam and Callen flying into Africa, where Sam learns someone has taken extensive surveillance footage of his family. It turns out that person is Tahir Khaled, Jada’s warlord brother. Sam and Callen capture and interrogate him to find out who leaked the photos. Unfortunately, it seems there is another mole within NCIS. In the meantime, Sam learns Jada Khaled has escaped her brother’s hold and found love again. But Tahir also escapes, freed by a violent African rebel.

I always enjoy episodes that employ past characters. And it’s fun to have a previous story continue forward. So it was nice to once again see Jada, a woman who holds an emotional place in Sam’s heart. Sam feels responsible for Jada since he made the woman fall in love with him to get her out of Sudan, testifying against her brother. When she chose to return to Africa because she was so lonely in the U.S., Sam felt like his choices would have deadly repercussions. So it was interesting to learn what happened to Jada. Seeing she was happy and safe was emotional for Sam.

Overall I enjoyed this episode but didn’t love it. I was a little bummed that we went straight into this new plot without any mention of what happened in Russia. And I was surprised to see Jada forgive Sam so easily after all her earlier anger. Nonetheless, I loved Sam’s restrained-yet-emotional response. Watching him hold back his feelings was powerful. It was also nice to see more of the team in Los Angeles. But like last week, their moments weren’t especially exciting. We still didn’t see a ton of great character development. I’m missing their fun banter and can’t wait for the whole team to be in L.A. together again.

Sam and Callen

My favorite part of this episode was Sam’s emotional struggle. He struggled with seeing someone was spying on his family and likely intended them harm, he struggled with interrogating Tahir, and he especially struggled with seeing Jada and learning what was going on in her life. Those were interesting scenes.

When Jada explains she has fallen in love and is happy once again, I expected Sam would be relieved. He felt an obligation to Jada and had grappled with his role in her unhappiness. So hearing she was doing well and would be taken care of should have been a huge relief to him. And I believe it was. But he had other emotions as well, including guilt. When Jada told him that this time her love was real, she didn’t say it with spite or blame. It was a simple fact. But to Sam, it pointed to an ugly truth. Sam had tricked her into falling in love with him, something he always felt bad about. And even though she was now telling him she was happy, he still struggled with his actions and the effects they‘d had.

I think he was struggling with being able to accept that she was finally going to be okay. Because of his guilt, this was harder to accept. But I loved how he expressed his emotion. He fought it, trying to restrain himself. LL Cool J did a fantastic job, displaying a subtle, quiet struggle. Sam is a tough, strong man, and he didn’t want to admit the impact Jada had on him. He never has. So he worked desperately to hold back his emotions. That response was powerful to watch. It emphasized how hard this was on Sam. He seemed to feel overwhelmed in realizing this was the end. No longer would he have to worry about Jada’s safety. No longer would he have to wrestle with his guilt. Jada would be okay. The guilt he’d harbored for so long was granted a kind of permission to be freed from its trap. And that was emotional.

But I believe Sam wants the best for Jada. He’s always had a special attachment to her, even a love for her. And he wants her to be happy. So it was sweet that Jada’s fiancĂ© put out his hand for Sam, a sign of respect. And it was sweet that Jada offered him her compassion and forgiveness. Granted, it also felt a little weird. It surprised me that everyone was making peace so easily. The last time we saw Jada, she was mad with Sam and didn’t respect him. And now here she was, in a completely different place, kissing him on the cheek. It almost felt too easy. I wish they’d explained her turnaround a little better. I figure it goes like this: After all Sam put Jada through, she eventually realized Sam was trying to protect her. She experienced who her brother really was, and that made her see all the good things Sam had done, along with the hurt from the bad. That freed her to move on with her life.

That’s my explanation. But regardless of how it happened, it did provide a really nice moment for Sam. Jada forgave him. I suspect he felt like he didn’t deserve it at first, another reason he got so emotional. But in the end her forgiveness gave him permission to forgive himself. It was a true forgiveness, one that prompted her to generously offer her protection for Sam and his family if he ever needed it. That was a sign of her healing. Now it’s Sam’s turn. That might be harder after Sam learned Tahir had escaped custody, putting Jada in danger once again. But at least she still has her fiancĂ© fighting for her safety. She is no longer Sam’s obligation.

This episode also demonstrated again the great bond between Sam and Callen. When Sam tells Callen he doesn’t have to go after Jada with him, it mirrored what Callen told Sam when they were going to rescue Arkady. Callen’s response also reflected Sam’s: “It’s like you always say: It’s what we do.” These two are constantly there for each other, offering unconditional help. They are not going to let one another down or leave their partner to face danger alone. They would do anything for one another, even risking their lives.

Amidst those huge sacrifices, I also love their understated support of one another. When Callen sees Sam struggling over Jada, he simply asks him, “You good?” These two don’t need a lot of words, and they both understand when the other person needs a little space. But they want to make sure their partner knows they’re there if they’re needed.

Callen also supported Sam when he talked to Hetty. He didn’t disobey Hetty’s orders, but he defended his partner’s motives and desires, knowing Sam wouldn’t want to leave without finding Jada. And I thought it was interesting that Callen didn’t stop Sam at all – or say a word – when Sam started choking Tahir. Callen trusted that Sam wouldn’t go too far. And then he gave him permission to do what he needed to do to obtain the information to keep his family safe.

Speaking of Tahir, he really grated on Sam’s nerves. He knew just how to push his buttons. The history between these two would have made things tense enough, but on top of that we saw added tensions. Tahir had paid someone to stalk Sam’s family, clearly intending to hurt them. And Sam is extremely protective of his family. (So protective that there was going to be no discussion with Hetty over letting him stay in Africa. Sam was going to do everything he could to end this situation and keep his family safe.) Tahir also played on Sam’s love for Jada, which Sam doesn’t like to admit. And then Tahir constantly taunted Sam to torture and kill him. All this put Sam on edge. But like Sam pointed out, he’s a trained Navy seal. As much as he wanted to crack Tahir’s neck, he knows how to stay in control.

Kensi and Deeks

Kensi and Deeks get the job of talking to Alex Elmslie, an agent for the Global Criminal Tribunal who has helped NCIS in the past. Elmslie gives them the name of a former Sudanese child soldier, Salim, who is in Los Angeles raising money for the capture of a violent Sudanese rebel leader, Karume. When Kensi and Deeks have to arrest Salim in order to get the young man to help them, I loved how Kensi voiced her concerns about their method. She questioned whether it was right to arrest a boy whose father and brother had been killed in Africa. In the end it was the only way to help Sam, but it was nice to see Kensi’s compassion shine through. And the decision paid off: In a twist, Salim and the organization he worked for were actually helping fund Karume. (Though Salim had been threatened.)

As Kensi and Deeks go through Elmslie’s house, they have a short conversation about Elmslie’s life. (Elmslie lives in a small house trying to win back his family after he worked too much and had a drinking problem.) Here Deeks mentions no one takes jobs like theirs because of the white picket fence. But Kensi points out, “At least you and I have someone to go home to.” Her point was effective. They may not be conventional people who just want a traditional family life. But having someone special in their lives means everything. They are lucky to have one another, and they know it.

Later when they get in a shootout at the art studio, the topic comes up again. In the middle of firing, Deeks tells Kensi he changed his mind and wants the white picket fence because people with white picket fences never get shot. Kensi’s response was great: “That wouldn’t be any fun.” Both of them do this job because they love it. They feed off the danger and adventure. Having each other gives them a wonderful stability. But with their personalities, they also still need that adrenaline rush. They have the best of both worlds for them.

Hetty and Granger

I loved the dynamics between Hetty and Granger in this episode. At first I questioned why Hetty would be withholding Jada’s whereabouts from Sam. It seemed mean. But then I realized she was just trying to protect Sam, knowing he would go after Jada and it would likely be a very dangerous rescue attempt. Hetty didn’t want to lose Sam.

But Granger was the one who did the right thing. He understood Sam’s obligation to Jada. It was interesting how he identified with Sam, saying obligation can be a powerful emotion. He seemed to be speaking from personal experience. I suspect this was a nod to his obligation with Jennifer Kim, the Korean spy who could very well be his daughter. Regardless, I like that Granger was the one to support Sam and what he needed. And I loved how he did that: anonymously sending the picture of Jada to the U. S. embassy so Sam would get it. He bypassed Hetty’s commands in order to help Sam, knowing it wouldn’t be a popular choice. And sure enough, when Hetty found out, she was furious Granger lied to her. But Granger’s response was so fitting: “We’ve been lying to each other for a long time, Henrietta.” That is so true! Hetty lies to everyone all the time. She does it in situations where she thinks it’s best for them. And Granger did the same thing. You can’t blame him for that.

Other Thoughts

- It was interesting to learn NCIS indeed had another mole. This makes sense with other things that have happened this season. I’m interested to see who the mole could be. I hope it’s not as simple and straightforward (and boring) as the last mole reveal.

- Deeks was funny as he asked Kensi if she’d brought popcorn just before they interviewed Salim.

- Elmslie was beat up pretty good! I felt bad for him when I saw his swollen eye and bloody face. NCIS
came to the rescue again. But helping them always gets him in trouble!

- It was cute that Callen’s immediate response to learning Tahir was freed was making sure Sam’s family was kept in protective custody.

What did you think of "Revenge Deferred?" How did you feel Jada's news affected Sam? Do you have any theories about the mole? Leave 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.