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NCIS: Los Angeles - Parallel Resistors - Review: "Complicated Case, Gratifying Moments"

In “Parallel Resistors,” NCIS steps in to help after a grad student is electrically shocked during a college quiz tournament. The student worked on a Navy contract, developing an electromagnetic weapon, so it seems the “accident” was intentional. In the end NCIS determines two other grad students worked together to steal the victim’s classified research. Meanwhile, the victim’s young daughter, a math whiz, takes a liking to Sam and Callen. And Kensi works hard in physical therapy, where she meets another patient who both aggravates her and pushes her.

From a case-of-the-week perspective, this was my least favorite episode of the season. The case was confusing. I couldn’t figure out what was going on half the time. And the episode placed too much emphasis on the case. But I enjoyed the character aspects. From the little girl, to Callen and Sam’s interactions, to Kensi acting more like herself, the episode featured some nice moments.

Sam and Callen

Sam and Callen are so different yet they have such respect for each other. When Callen and Deeks realize Sam’s 12-year-old daughter is applying to a military academy, neither of them approve. They believe she is too young and should stay home with a supportive family. Sam, on the other hand, understands the discipline learned in a military academy. As a father, it may be hard for him to see her go. But Sam says it’s not about him – it’s what his daughter wants. I like that these two partners can talk about something so personal together, especially when their opinions differ. Callen has no qualms giving his opinion, and Sam doesn’t let that opinion affect what he thinks. They’re okay exchanging ideas even when they disagree. That is the mark of a good friendship.

Sam and Callen have another 12-year-old to deal with – Nadia, the daughter of the man who was shocked. (Incidentally, I happened to interview this little actress, Shree Crooks, at the Sundance Film Festival last year for the premiere of the film “Captain Fantastic.” She was a doll. And I thought she did a great job in the episode this week!) I always love when Sam and Callen become role models; the title suits them well. I loved how they recognized Nadia’s aptitude and encouraged her, telling her to think outside the box. And she responded. When the little girl was kidnapped, she was smart enough to lead them right to her. It was gratifying to hear that she might want to be a special agent when she grows up. Sam and Callen clearly had a huge impact on her. And she adorably showed her thanks by giving these two tough men a big hug.

In fact, as she hugged Callen I thought what a good father he would be. And apparently Sam had a similar thought. He tells Callen that his friend is seriously lacking those kinds of special moments in his life. Laughing, Callen responds that having kids would require the right woman. Maybe he hasn’t found her yet and it’s not the right time yet but I do think those moments would ultimately enrich his life. With all the experiences he’s been through, Callen would know exactly what he would not want a child to miss. Because of that, I think he would shower them with love.

I also enjoyed Sam and Callen’s little banter over ice cream. Sam comments that Nadia’s mother was a good mom because she didn’t allow her child to eat ice cream. Noting that refined sugar causes childhood obesity and diabetes, he says it was a good decision. But Callen adds a little refined sugar can also lead to happiness. He believes in moderation. Once again, these two do not agree. But that is half the fun as they throw out their opinions and try to prove they are each right.

Kensi and Deeks

I loved Kensi’s progression in this episode. She is still struggling in physical therapy, despite the fact her hard work is paying off and she is moving forward. But it isn’t enough for her. I thought the writers were brilliant to add a new character into the mix. This character, Sullivan, is a veteran who lost his leg and is also doing therapy. He ends up being just what Kensi needs. He first hits on Kensi but she is annoyed with his overt approach and obnoxious comments. She then takes the opportunity to verbally hit him right back, no holds barred. She mentions him having no leg. And that prompts him to comment on her weak little two-pound dumbbell. These two begin competing with one another. The conversation forces Kensi to pick up heavier weights. They start trying to one-up each other.

Next we see Kensi arm-wrestling the man. They fall into an annoyed, teasing rapport, but they continue engaging each other. When Kensi mentions her fiancé, Sullivan harasses her that it must be another woman. Then he proceeds to guess her “type” and he nails Deeks to a T – “fit, thin, more cute than manly, a cross between beach boy surfer and terrier.” Just at that moment Deeks walks in and Sullivan looks extremely pleased with himself. Not only does Kensi lose the arm wrestle, she knows he nailed his analysis. So she can’t say anything as Sullivan asks Deeks if he’s a surfer. Sullivan was the winner here, even getting the last word, taunting Kensi as Deeks wheels her out of the room by saying, “Have a good one, Special K.” The nickname was almost a term of endearment, but it was taunting, showing he had the upper hand. This guy is getting to Kensi. And that’s a good thing.

Sometimes we need people outside our usual crowd to force things into perspective for us. And that’s exactly what Sullivan did for Kensi. He spurred her on, pushing her back to her old self. She needed someone to compete with and against, making her feel more “normal,” more like herself. Kensi is a competitive person and she hasn’t been able to harness that energy to reach her goals in therapy. But competition with this obnoxious new guy gave her something to focus her energy into and feel good about, even if it was harassing someone. The great thing about it was, it was someone who could harass her right back. Kensi doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her. She wants to be treated normally, and that’s what Sullivan did. He didn’t pull any punches, re-creating a “normal” dynamic for her that reinforced who she is, a fighter. That self-confidence then gave her more hope for the future.

By the time Kensi had a chat with Deeks, she had a welcome new perspective. She begins by apologizing to Deeks for being so difficult. Deeks knows full well she has been difficult, but he tells her she doesn’t need to apologize – she has a lot on her plate. While Kensi agrees, she tells him she’s been taking it out on him and shouldn’t. Deeks understands what she is going through and doesn’t blame her for being angry. But Kensi knows the truth. It was gratifying to see her realize on her own how she was acting.

Then she asks to see her engagement ring again. I loved this moment. Instead of ignoring Deeks’ proposal, Kensi acknowledges the significance of what happened between them. While she may not be ready yet to accept his proposal, she also gives it the weight it deserves and shows she is excited about the ring. Deeks was cute in his response, pretending he had traded it for a Segway. In reality,
he is still carrying it with him. And Kensi’s response to seeing the ring and taking the time to look at it is heartfelt and sweet. “Stunning!” she gushes about Deeks’ choice. But then she tells him to put it away. However, this time she isn’t in feel-sorry-for-me mode. She says she just needs something to look forward to, so she will see it again when she is ready to leave the hospital. It is her end goal – the thing she will work hard to obtain. Deeks sees the value in that. But when Kensi makes him promise not to let her see the ring again, he quickly gives in when she asks to see it just one more time. And at that, she chastises him, and he responds by telling her she is crazy. We even get a “touché” out of the conversation. By the end of the scene, these two really felt like themselves again. Their future is looking extremely hopeful.

Nell, Eric and Granger

When Granger wants Deeks to go undercover with the engineering grad students, Nell and Eric both realize that is a mistake. And they each offer to go. They were hilarious as they played “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to see which one would win the honor. But Granger had no patience for that and tapped Nell for the job.

Nell seems to fit right in with these grad students. And since we know how much she loves drones, it must’ve been especially exciting to see the school’s drones – right up until they crash. As for the rest of her job, I have to say I had no idea what she and Deeks were doing half the time on their operation. But at least they seem to work well with one another. Nell took advantage of Deeks creating a distraction to get what she needed. And he rolled with it when she claimed he was her boyfriend.

Eric was cute, meanwhile, with his bell, saying every time a bell rings, a special agent gets his wings. I loved how Sam, Callen and Deeks all looked at him like he was insane! As for Granger, I noticed his slurring words even more this week. It actually made me wonder if actor Miguel Ferrer is okay. There have been internet rumors about his health but they are all just rumors and speculation. I sincerely hope and pray Ferrer is just a great actor putting detail into his character’s story arc.

Other Thoughts

- It was cute that Sam and Callen wanted to bring Kensi takeout. They continue to look out for their colleague.

- I enjoyed the scene with Deeks chasing the Pakistani girl on Vespas/motor bikes. This was a nice little chase scene.

- I wasn’t fully sure what the student affairs kid was doing with the classified material. Was the implication that he was going to sell it to Chinese intelligence to impress his father? Also, I really had no idea who the guys at the nightclub were that Sam and Callen were chasing. Chinese intelligence guys buying the info? It was never explained.

What did you think of "Parallel Resistors?" Were you confused by the case-of-the-week? How did you feel about Kensi's scenes with Sullivan? Or her apology to Deeks? Did you enjoy seeing Sam and Callen with the little girl? 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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