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NCIS: LA - Can I Get a Witness - Review: "My Honor is One Thing I Can Control"

Good afternoon. I write this while listening to Taylor Swift’s new album on repeat, so if I seem like I’m rooting for the characters to get into a fistfight out of the clear blue, or suddenly want them to kiss, you’ll know which half of the album my shuffle has landed on.

We open on a group of children walking around a foggy wooded area. The fact that they’re looking for their dad’s drone is the only reason I know that this isn’t just another episode of Stranger Things. One of the kids says she’s getting a “very bad spirit vibe,” which only a kid raised in L.A. would say. Another kid makes fun of her for being suddenly spiritual and giving up meat just because Demi Lovato did it, and this is one of the funnier opening scenes they’ve had. Can I request a show that just follows these kids around as they lovingly roast one another?

But all fun things must come to an end as they hear gun shots and jump down, hiding. One kid - a really, really smart one, because I honestly don’t know many adults who would’ve thought to do this - holds up the drone so the camera in it can record what they’re seeing, which is a shoot out in front of a house with Deeks’ boss.

Oh, this is going to be a fun episode.

We’re now at the office, where Nell and Kensi are sparring with a fake knife and spurring one another on by listing their pet peeves. These two don’t get enough scenes together - Nell always fills in when Kensi’s out, I could use a few episodes of the two of them teaming up, preferably undercover. I just think that would be fun. Has that happened before? I can’t remember.

Anyway, back to pet peeves. Nell’s biggest pet peeve, predictably, is people who use the same passwords for all their online accounts. Which, sure, she has a point. But also, not all of us are as smart as Nell and maybe we only have enough brain space for one password.

(Note: This is a joke, I do not use the same password for everything, please don’t hack me. You’ll find nothing juicy except for half-finished Agents of SHIELD fan fiction.)

Meanwhile, Deeks has been dragged into a meeting with Detective Whiting in Internal Affairs. I would say that he is taking this meeting just about as seriously as I take people who say they use fidget spinners for ADD.

Whiting isn’t messing around though, and shows Deeks the video the drone kids took that morning and shares that Deeks’ boss Bates killed a cop that morning, so now he and Deeks “have something in common.”

Daaaaang, lady.

“Wow, too soon,” Deeks says, agreeing with me. But he doesn’t believe we’re seeing the whole story in that video, because “Bates is one of the good ones.” Their relationship confuses me, but this is a nice reminder that as much as Bates and Deeks have a love/hate relationship, at the core they respect each other.

Whiting wants to investigate him because there’s a bunch of LAPD cops who are dirty, and Deeks says good luck and tries to walk out of there. But not so fast, because Whiting wants him to get Bates to trust him and then throw him under the bus. And if Deeks doesn’t get involved, Whiting will “make sure everyone knows” Deeks killed his ex-partner.

Deeks slams the door on the conversation as he storms out, and I want to, too.

At the office, Callen is pitching a bro’s night out to Sam, which starts their debate of the episode. Callen thinks we’re not supposed to live forever, we should enjoy the time we have, and Sam thinks we’re supposed to do everything we can to live as healthy and long as possible. I kind of lean towards Callen’s side of the argument, with reservations. Sam says that they both have to find their purpose in life, and his is to stay strong for his kids.

Elsewhere, Deeks, a guy who could practically be the poster boy for Callen’s side of this debate, is picking up Bates on the side of the road. Deeks is driving a red truck, is this his normal off-duty personal car? I can’t remember seeing it before, but I am very into it. I kind of expected him to drive a VW van, honestly.

Bates jump in, all in a rush, yelling at Deeks to drive! Deeks smiles, “You kiss your Uber driver with that mouth?”

I told y’all this was going to be a fun episode.

The cops exchange comments about how what happened this morning looks bad on tape, but before they can get any more in-depth, a cop with flashing lights pull up behind them. So Bates pulls a gun on Deeks and makes him keep driving. You know, normal friend behavior.

The cop pulls in front of them, so Deeks floors it, knocking the bumper off the cop car. This whole thing was definitely a plan, but maybe hitting the car wasn’t so planned… They speed away.

The girls have joined the rest of the team in the bullpen area, still debating their purposes in life. Kensi says she’s going to stick around as long as possible, she’s got plans. She and Nell are going to tour every ballpark when they’re old and grey.

Someone interjects that she doesn’t even like baseball, and this is a little heartbreaking, because I viewed Kensi as the absolute perfect woman up until this moment. How can you not like baseball?

She redeems herself a little in my eyes by saying that their plan is to tour every ballpark so they can eat hot dogs at every ballpark. But since she knows that will kill her, she’s waiting till she’s 90. Deeks will be long gone by then, she explains.

Harsh but fair.

In the middle of all of this, Eric gets an alert and stares worryingly at his iPad. LAPD put out a BOLO on Deeks’ truck and the team huddles up to watch the video clip of him picking up Bates. They put together the shooting, the video footage of the truck, and Deeks’ meeting with Whiting and figure out what’s going on.

Eric tracks Deeks’ phone to a garage, so Kensi and Nell head off to see how they can help. Sam and Callen go to see Whiting.

Whiting, who seems to have even more disdain for Sam and Callen than she has for Deeks, says that they’ve been investigating Bates for a while - there’s rumors he’s running a racket within LAPD. The believe he took a hostage from this morning’s incident, a bioengineer named Simon Atwater.

Sam and Callen agree to help Whiting with the investigation if she keeps them in the loop as to what’s going on with Deeks.

At the parking garage, the girls (working together! Yay, I got my wish!) find Deeks’ abandoned truck.

But the man in question isn’t there, as he’s currently walking through a warehouse at gunpoint with Bates, who reveals that he’s hiding the hostage Simon. “Sometimes you gotta do a bad thing to make people listen,” Bates explains. Is he talking about whipping Gale in Hunger Games? I’m sorry, it doesn’t matter how many times Bates appears in this show, he will always be the peacekeeper who hurt Liam Hemsworth to me.

Deeks and Bates bring Simon, who is all nerves and stuttering, into the boat shed for interrogation. Simon is just a nerd who wanted to help people using science, and Bates is just a meaner Deeks, saying “I’ve had kidney stones that have passed easier than spending time with you.” At one point he tries to hurry up the interrogation, saying, “I need to get home soon so I can reconsider all my life choices.”

Simon launches into a science tanget - at one point mentioning that he bioengineers plants to die after one season so that his company has repeat customers, which is about 100 shades of wrong, but unfortunately that has no bearing in this case. What does is the fact that he accidentally created a highly destructive plant virus.

Which doesn’t sound bad at first, but when he explains that it could be dropped over crops to utterly wipe them out, the severity is clear.

Simon explains that he turned his findings in to his manager Wallace, who apparently chose to keep the virus and sell it to the highest bidder instead of destroying it.

Deeks and Bates leave the room to discuss the situation with Callen and Sam, who were watching in the other room. They decide the top priority is to find Wallace before he sells.

Well, duh. Also… Is "Simon" the go-to name for nerds on TV now?

Before we can debate that, we suddenly cut to Tay Ninh, Vietnam where Hetty is meeting with the man who’s been her informer. Either it’s great green screen work or they’re actually in Vietnam, because the scenery is beautiful.

Hetty and her contact exchange pleasantries and discuss that the man behind bars - Keane - died in a helicopter crash. She doesn’t know who the prisoner actually is, and she doesn’t know why she’s still in Vietnam.

When the guy gets angry and pulls a gun on Hetty, a monk knocks him over and Hetty slaps him and grins. I like it when Hetty lets herself have a little fun.

Back in L.A., the team meets back up in the office to discuss details they’ve found on Wallace. He’s the founder and CEO of Dexmont Agricultural, a company that is bankrupt and facing multiple lawsuits. Thus, Wallace has a motive for selling the virus.

Callen and Sam go to Dexmont, fully strapped with bulletproof vests, flashing their badges and loudly yelling. They’re basically throwing a parade to announce their presence. They’re intercepted by Dexmont’s VP of Communication, who has this amazing exchange with Callen after he says they have reason to believe they’re harboring a criminal:

VP: “On the record, I can assure you we would never hire a criminal in this office… Off the record, is it Karen in HR?”
Callen: “Who’s Karen?”
VP: “Someone who can’t seem to keep her hands off of others’ resources."

I want this lady around all the time.

While the partners are in the office, they watch Wallace leave the office on the other side of the street, where Nell and Kensi are waiting. Oooh, I get it. So they made a big stink on purpose to scare him out, got it. Smart!

Now we’re in an undisclosed location in Vietnam, where Hetty is visiting Keane again. Hetty tests his knowledge of the past he claimed to share with her and he lists the names of everyone who had been involved in Operation Sunshine. The list includes the name Owen Granger - I didn’t expect that!

Then he says that he always wondered what happened to the $900,000 in gold they were traveling with. Which must’ve been the final fact that convinced Hetty that this guy really is Keane, as she starts to share information herself. She says she hid it so they could come back for it.

“You came back for the gold but not for me,” Keane assumes.

Hetty says when they came back the the chopper was stripped and the bodies were gone, they had no reason to believe he was alive. “The jungle is like a self-cleaning oven,” she says. What a beautiful, awful metaphor.

Fine, Keane accepts that. But wasn’t that gold in part to pay for captured operatives?

“If you really are Keane, nobody knew you were alive,” Hetty says again. Keane confirms her worst fears about what happened to him in the jungle when he takes off his shirt and shows her a back covered in scars. He and Oliver Queen could be buddies.

Back in L.A., Deeks and Bates are walking through Wallace’s place, preparing to play the dirty cops Wallace has arranged to meet with. They discuss kind of cop that turns dirty. Bates insists no matter the pay, he’d never turn. “I can’t control everything Deeks, but my honor, that’s one thing I can control.”

Wallace shows up in a hurry, saying they have to do this exchange quickly because federal agents showed up at his office. Deeks asks for details on the exchange but before Wallace can share, gunfire shatters the windows and pelts through the house.

Kensi and Nell, who had been monitoring the house, start firing back at the shooters, and Nell intercepts one using the hand-to-hand knife fight tricks Kensi just taught her that morning. Funny how that works out.

Wallace is rescued by someone in a car and they drive off, where Callen and Sam have blocked their only route out by literally parking and standing in the middle of the road. I’ve never played chicken with a car, but I’m pretty sure that’s cheating.

Wallace’s driver swerves and they drive off the road, down a hill, and flip the car.

Sam and Callen take Wallace to the boat shed, where the CEO immediately throws Simon under the bus. “He’s weird as hell and probably a sociopath,” he says, which is of course what a businessman would think of the nerd he hired to do all his work for him.

Wallace eventually confesses that he’s selling the virus to a man named Stephen Lee, a sophomore at Bunker Tech, and man that kid must be waaaaaay more loaded than anyone I knew my sophomore year. The exchange is going down that afternoon on campus.

The team discusses what Eric has been able to dig up on Lee. He’s here on a student visa from South Korea, but he recently received funds from a North Korean bank account. Uh oh…

Everyone heads to the campus where Deeks makes this very excellent observation, “The most fun kids have these days is picking out their Instagram filters.” SO TRUE. So true, Deeks. There are about 400 bazillion think pieces out there about how technology is destroying the social lives of young people and they’re all true. Get off your phones and go out into the real world, people! … Well, I mean, after you finish reading this article and also my blog and also set up an e-mail alert for everything I write. But then, like, right after that, go out into the real world!

Kensi makes fun of Deeks for being a hacky sac guy in college, which is absolutely a Community reference, and I refuse to believe otherwise.

The team has a hard time seeing the exchange in the big crowd, but they have visuals on Lee after the exchange has been made. Callen makes a VERY impressive tackle that would make [insert relevant football player’s name here, I literally only know the name Tom Brady] jealous. Turns out the guy he tackled was not Lee and the canister is gone.

Tackled guy - who could fully sue NCIS - said he was paid $100 to give it to a blonde girl, so they start talking to every blonde until the find the right one, and she says she gave it to “some guy.” Going off that generous description, Sam fully slams a guy into the wall - lawsuit #2 today - and surprise, surprise, it’s Lee. The canister with the crop-destroying virus is secure.

Listen, I know I’m not an NCIS agent or anything, but why wouldn’t they substitute the canister for a fake with a tracking device or something so, oh i don’t know, if they lose it during the exchange, THERE’S NO RISK OF NORTH KOREA GETTING THE WEAPONIZED CROP KILLER.

The case solved, Sam and Callen are continuing their earlier debate on a bridge with a beautiful skyline view. Callen says that while Sam may be adding years to his life, he thinks it is his purpose to make sure he also adds some living to his life. This is a great, deep speech that ultimately just serves as a convincing argument for Sam to grab a drink with him.

Back at the boat shed, Whiting is pacing and Simon says she’s a succulent: “dry, beautiful, don’t need a lot of attention.” Only the last descriptor is correct about succulents. They literally store water in their leaves, and they’re all different shades of green and purple wax.

Whiting and Bates compare notes about how annoying it is to work with Deeks, which is just rude, since a) he’s standing right there, and b) um, he always solves the case, doesn’t he?

Bates reveals that Wallace gave him the name of a dirty cop - a guy inside the Office of Operations that Bates had his eye on. It’s a start. Both for Bates’ investigation and for the arc that will carry throughout the rest of the season.

Bates offers to bring Deeks back to LAPD because he knows he’s a good cop, but Deeks graciously turns it down and the moment of sincerity is broken with another jab. This episode is full of great quips.

Bates has to get going because “Wife number three is just begging for a reason to leave me,” which leaves Whiting and Deeks. They have a little more fun banter before she says she hopes this is the last time she’ll have to pull him in to help expose a dirty cop.

Back in Vietnam, Hetty is still talking to Keane, who is telling the story of how he finally escaped. When he was free, all he could think about was getting revenge on the ones who trapped him, so he did it a hundred times over. Then one day he put his rifle down and walked into a nearby village and never left.

He even started a family but they’re gone now; “God took ‘em away from me as punishment for all the blood I shed.”

So I’m currently watching season 2 of Daredevil and I’m getting serious Punisher vibes from this dude. Side note: I’m a little in love with Frank Castle. That’s normal, right?

Back to the story: After his family died, Keane wanted to leave and start fresh someplace new, so he figured Thailand was the place to go since he didn’t have any official papers. He reached out to someone who could smuggle him into the country, but the guy learned who he was and held him for ransom.

Keane’s captor comes back in and Hetty asks how much he wants for Keane, implying she’ll buy his freedom, but the captor says Keane’s already served his purpose… So now it’s Hetty’s time to be useful. So it looks like it’s Hetty’s turn to be held for ransom.

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