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NCIS: LA - This is What We Do - Review: "I'm Trying" (200th Episode)

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On a deserted road in the middle of the night in the desert, a tractor trailer is pulled over by cops. The cops discover six illegal immigrants in the back of the truck and as the cops start ushering them out onto the road, someone opens fire on the entire scene, hitting everyone.

Dang, that was violent, and a little too real.

The 200th episode hits the ground running.

We're now in Vietnam, where it's pouring and Hetty's escape attempt has just been foiled. It's very disconcerting to see Hetty without her signature glasses. She's brought to see her captor - whom IMDb tells me is named "Vietnamese Man/Dang." Dang? Okay. Dang.

She's brought to see her captor, Dang, who is nonplussed by her attempt. It's clear that she hasn't been fed so he says it's time to change that... And pulls out something gross looking. Like a tapeworm or something? Ew. I don't know what it is, but I know that Hetty really shouldn't eat it.

Back in L.A., Deeks and Kensi are at an Applebees style restaurant with one of those 400-page breakfast menus. Deeks contemplates ordering the "Oreo cookie-crusted french toast with whipped cream and berries," and THAT SOUNDS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

I hope one of those YouTube cooking channels that makes recipes referenced in pop culture will take this one on. There's someone out there who made the Fries Quatro Queso Dos Fritos referenced in Psych and I maintain it's the greatest recipe on the internet.

Anyway, the couple is waiting on Deeks' mom and, surprise! She brought her trainer! The one that Deeks walked in on a few episodes ago! Deeks is super, super not cool with it!

Deeks' mom wants to know if they've set a date, and it's a little odd that neither of them have an answer. I suppose they have very busy lives with their very intense jobs, but I figured they'd have at least set a date.

Kensi lobs the question to her fiance, who responds with February 29.

Everyone at the table finds this unacceptable since February 29 won't appear on our calendars again until the year 2020. I thought it was kind of a clever way to get out of the question, to be honest.

Then there's some amazing back and forth about how Deeks' mom is proud of her son and almost daughter-in-law for being secret agents, after all, Kensi caught Osama Bin Laden!

Deeks alternates between humoring his mother and being mortified by her, and I think I can safely say this is the type of family dynamic I'd be comfortable marrying into. Good choice, Kensi.

Waaaaaiittt, I may have to immediately take that back since Mrs. Deeks leans over and whispers to Kensi that she doesn't have to be married to have kids. Ha!! Kensi is frozen on the spot, more blindsided by that statement than she's every been by any terrorist threatening her life, so Deeks sees the opportunity to get the heck outta Dodge and says they have to leave.

He drops a $100 on the table to cover breakfast (ummm as someone who is currently planning their first trip to L.A., I certainly hope this was just a son being kind to his mother and not an accurate reflection of what Oreo cookie-crusted french toast with whipped cream and berries breakfasts actually cost,) and rushes Kensi off, claiming they have a case.

Back in Ops the entire team is gathered, minus Sam who has called in sick. Everyone seems to understand the rarity of this and Callen suddenly remembers that yesterday would have been Sam and Michelle's wedding anniversary.

Fortunately for Deeks, it turns out there is a case, so technically he wasn't lying to his mom. Maybe Deeks is psychic now. (BTW, I've recently been rewatching Psych - getting ready for that Christmas movie, y'all! - and I have been struck with how similar Deeks is to Shawn Spencer. Similar mannerisms, similar unwillingness to take anything seriously unless absolutely necessary, similar love story with a kick-butt woman, similar affinity for big hair... They even stand the same, both tucking their thumbs into their front pockets and spreading their fingers out. Watch some NCIS: LA back-to-back with some Psych and let me know your thoughts... Also, I am suddenly struck with the realization that Santa Barbara and L.A. aren't that far apart, so there just has to be some crossover fan fiction on the internet somewhere where Deeks and Kensi join forces with Shawn, Gus, and Juliet. Make it happen, internet!)

Ahem, sorry about that. It's hard to focus during holiday breaks, y'all. So Eric and Nell are briefing the team on the case: several border patrol agents and illegal immigrants were gunned overnight. This case calls for NCIS because it all went down on the eastern border of Camp Pendleton, worrying the powers that be that armed hostiles are planning an infiltration.

When the team gets their marching orders and splits up, Callen heads off to Sam's boat to check on his partner... Who is hungover. Very, very hungover.

Just imagine if you will how much alcohol must be required to get a man that size blackout drunk. That's an expensive hangover.

Callen lightly revels in his friend's annoying and pain just long enough before dragging him out of bed for the case. Also, he hands him a bucket and punches him in the stomach, forcing Sam to vomit a lot.

... I don't believe that's actually going to help his hangover, Callen, the alcohol's already been in his system for hours. That would've helped last night when he was still drinking. You just kicked the guy when he's already down, man!

Now we're at the crime scene, where Deeks and Kensi are inspecting the "brutal" scene, as Deeks calls it. He's not wrong. They learn the driver was shot and there's only one lead to follow up on this - a vehicle was stolen from the scene and driven north.

Kensi is wearing this same black and white checkered button up that I think she wears every 5 or 6 episodes. Maybe all of her other outfits repeat just as often, but I specifically remember this shirt since I like it so much. Has anyone else noticed she wears this top all the time?

I kind of like that - it's much more realistic for TV characters to repeat clothes than to have a brand new outfit every day. This isn't Gossip Girl and they're shopping on a government salary.

Sorry, back to the story. I told y'all it's hard to focus.

Kensi finds a young boy hiding on the side of the road near the scene and brings him back to the boat shed. She speaks to him in both Spanish and English, trying to get him to answer some basic identification questions, but he doesn't show any reaction at all until Deeks strolls in with a burger and fries.

I feel ya, kid.

Out in the viewing area of the boat shed, Sam and Callen are watching the interview attempts. Well, Callen is. Sam is still hungover and Sam.

"I miss her, G," he admits. "It hurts everyday and it doesn’t get any better.” Callen says he knows, but one day it will get easier. I'm glad they put this scene in here - I feel like we've seen Sam be angry, and we've seen him pretending he's find and trying hard to move on, but we really haven't seen him be sad and talking about Michelle. And it makes sense that he and Callen would have several conversations with this.

Mosley shows up, interrupting the moment, and alerts everyone that they've contact official channels to take the kid, but for now he's under their jurisdiction since he's the key witness. And then she goes in to talk to him.

Oh, goodie. This should go well.

She strolls into the interview room and sponsored product placements her way into showing him a video game on that touchscreen tablet with attachable keypad that they keep making Felicity on Arrow use.

Apparently the way to a boy’s heart is through computer games as the kid soon shares that his name is Enrique and his mom was shot by people who didn’t speak a language he recognized. So Pendleton may not have been the target after all and this may be something much bigger than they originally thought.

Everyone watching - including the viewers at home and the team watching in the other room - are surprised Mosley is good with kids.

Back at Ops, Eric has found the abandoned car and sends Callen and a still hungover Sam off to check it out. Hidoko, who has yet to appear without a Bluetooth headset in her ear, Nell, and Eric are all messing with the footage they’ve found when Hidoko says she’s called someone in from the Department of Homeland Security Field Intelligence Group.

(Actually, what she says is the “DHS Field Intelligence Group,” but my high school initials were DHS so I have I hard time taking anything seriously - particularly if it has “intelligence” in the title - as it relates to high school. So I’m gonna call it by its full name.)

So the Field Intelligence person shows up at she looks like an alternate timeline version of Nell… and surprise, it’s Nell’s sister! Her name is Sydney, she calls Nell “peanut,” and I already can’t stand her.

Callen and a sleeping Sam pull up to the abandoned car and Callen just will not let go with the hangover teasing, slamming the car doors, etc. This is a very realistic portrayal of a sibling relationship.

As he goes to open the door of the abandoned car, Sam realizes the car is wired to explode, but it’s too late! The pair run away as the car explodes behind them and I can’t be certain in this day and age of DVR, but I’m fairly certain that’s almost an exact recreation of a scene in the opening credits.

200th episode inside jokes, y’all!

As fire trucks and Deeks and Kensi arrive on the scene to check on Sam and Callen, the partners are comparing notes as to how many times they’ve saved each others lives. They conclude that they’re even now, but none of this really factors into the fact that their only evidence for the case has just blown up and everyone’s back to square one.

Nell and Eric are still doing their thing at Ops, except Nell is hating life to a degree that we usually see since her big sis is hanging out. Eric must be an only child - do we actually know if he is or not? - because he seems to not get it at all how much a sibling can make even the most passive person want to go on a bloody murder spree.

Nell hates that Sydney calls her peanut, Eric’s upset he never knew that Nell was short for Penelope. (Cute!) Nell thinks Sydney is bossy, Eric thinks she’s good at her job. Nell thinks Sydney’s going to take over everything as she always does, Eric laughs and thinks that’s nonsense.

… He’s totally an only child.

Finally, Eric realizes that Nell is genuinely upset about this and comforts her. He and Nell are a team here and no big sister is going to mess with that. Wonder Twins power activated!

Y’ALL. I figured out who Sydney reminds me of. Ann/Egg from Arrested Development. That’s basically her whole essence.

Anyway, the team is trying to figure out what’s going on. Ann/Egg/Sydney informs everyone that a lot of special interest aliens have tried crossing the boarders lately and that Texas rangers have stopped several men connected to multiple terrorists. I will give Sydney this: this actress is doing a fantastic job with the pronunciation of all these names.

I spent longer than I’m willing to admit being very confused, wondering what the Texas Rangers baseball team had anything to do with this.

The team realizes that all these people aren’t random, they’re all connected to a new terrorist group termed “HTS,” which is linked to Ahmed Han Asakeem. Everyone instantly reacts to that and turns to stare at Kensi. This is the guy responsible for Kensi’s injury and comma back in early season 8. (Well, the person responsible for that would really be the actress’ husband since it was all an elaborate maternity leave, but you get me)

Kensi is shaken, having never expected to see him again. Deeks and the rest of team check on her. Deeks cheers them up by talking about the Jones siblings and jokes around that there could be more and my mind instantly goes to a Keonig-style scenario from Agents of SHIELD.

Sam, seeming to finally be crawling out of that hangover hole, thinks step one should be to figure out how all these people are connected to Asakeem. Are they here to rescue him? Kill him? Work with him? Eat Oreo cookie-crusted french toast with whipped cream and berries with him?

They must’ve figured out step two pretty fast, as the next thing we see is Asakeem being yanked out of the back of a cop car and loaded by masked men into a van. Before you can assume it’s a rescue mission, Deeks and Callen pull off their masks to say hey.

They take Asakeem to the boat shed where Callen asks him why all these guys he knows are trying to enter the country. Asakeem says they’re simply fleeing their home country. While he’s at it, he double-downs on the whole “I’m a good guy now” thing by maintaining that he always did the right thing, fighting against same people the U.S. is fighting against. He claims he doesn’t know what’s going on as he’s been in custody for over a year.

He seems cooperative, but Callan and Sam are just not buying it. Kensi, watching with Deeks on the monitor, is definitely not buying it and wants a face-to-face with Asakeem.

Deeks speaks for all of us: “Well, that’s probably not a great idea.”

Callen relents - it’s nice to see reminders of his connection to Kensi, going back to before Deeks every showed up - and reminds her that she can talk to the guy. No touching. Kensi’s all nodding and plowing full-steam ahead before Sam interjects again. “We’re serious, no contact.”

I love how they all know that Kensi wants to, and very easily could, kill him.

She sweeps into the room with a calm, cool, and collected, “Remember me?” Asakeem knows what’s up and instantly goes into apology mode. Kensi ignores that and reminds him again how everyone almost died and she was paralyzed.

“For that I am truly sorry,” Asakeem says. “I hope you accept my deepest apologizes and I pray for your forgiveness.”

He’s really trying hard with this whole love and forgiveness thing… He seems sincere but I honestly am still undecided if it’s real or an act. Kensi’s super not buying it.

Back at Ops, Eric is ready to brief Nell… But finds in the control room Sydney alone. No Nell. He wants to wait for his fellow Wonder Twin, but Sydney says Nell’s probably not there because she doesn’t want to be around her, so Eric should get on with it.

Also, she calls Eric “chicken legs,” and I wonder if there’s a drinking game someone, somewhere out there plays for the number of times that Eric wearing shorts is referenced.

Also also, didnt’ Mosley got on Deeks for his haircut and unprofessional appearance in like week one, but didn’t say anything about Eric’s shorts? I need a reminder on that. Because out of the two, I think the shorts are significantly worse, professional appearance-wise.

Anyway, Chicken Legs and Sydney work together to find a person of interest for the case and Nell walks in to see them getting along. Penelope’s not impressed.

Sam and Callen are figuring out next steps and basically tell Mosley their plan: They want to use Asakeem to get all these new bad guys entering the country… And they need a white Rolls Royce and a million in cash to do it. And Mosley, after some complaining, GOES for it!

What’s happening with Mosley? She’s been significantly better this episode, trusting her agents more and not nearly as annoying. Has CBS been reading my reviews? If they are, ahem: PLEASE DON’T FORGET ABOUT THAT BOX KENSI HAS BEEN TAUNTING DEEKS WITH FOR SEASONS. WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THAT?

Thank you for your time.

Apparently it’s pretty easy for NCIS to acquire a white Rolls Royce fairly immediately, as the next scene is Sam, decked out in diamond earrings and a gold chain, exiting the car carrying a briefcase.

He texts the person of interest Eric found to meet him in front of the restaurant, making sure to include a picture of himself with Asakeem. (Note to readers: It’s only a selfie if you’re the only person in the picture. Then it’s a picture of yourself. A selfie. If it’s you with someone else or a group of people, then it’s not a selfie. Then it’s just a picture.)

A guy who may remember him from a previous case shows up at the restaurant and Hidoko - who had been watching from afar with Callen - runs in to intercept the guy. She (sans Bluetooth!) runs into the guy and spills her drink all over him.

The guy goes out front to meet Sam. The agent’s basic pitch is that he needs help getting Asakeem out of the country and he’s willing to pay heavily. “I saw to it that our warrior brother was rescued, but he’s not safe here,” he explains. The guy remains steadfast that he doesn’t know what Sam is talking about, but Sam insists the guy think it over before the offer expires in 12 hours.

While all of this is going on, there’s a mini comedic ballet going on in the bathroom - the guy Hidoko spilled her drink all over had absolutely no problem removing that stain, which is easily the most unrealistic thing I’ve ever seen on this show. Hidoko needs to keep him busy for longer, so she takes a page from Kensi’s book and just chokes the dude out. Way to go, Hidoko! I’d like a Hidoko-focused episode. I want to know more about her.

She and Callen stick the dude in the truck and take him to the boat shed, which seems an awful lot like kidnapping to me. They convince the guy to be their inside guy as this deal goes down.

And wouldn’t you know, Sam’s contact calls him and says he wants to help get Asakeem home / really just wants that money. The team scrambles to get in position for the exchange.

Sam’s Rolls Royce pulls up in a beachfront parking lot that looks a lot like Miami. Kensi and her trusty sniper rifle are set up beneath a nearby tarp, but most importantly, Deeks and Callen are hanging out in a lifeguard track and I’m suddenly very interested to see where this is going to go.

Sam’s contact comes out and the pair have a bit of back and forth about going to see "Hamilton," and then Mosley gets out of the car to join the conversation and I can’t tell if she’s playing along or going rogue and messing up.

They call Asakeem out of the car and Sam presents the dude with money… And, uh oh, Kensi’s got him in her sites. But before she can pull the trigger, a different sniper fires and everyone scatters.

Everyone is just firing at everyone else now, and Deeks and Callen pull out automatics which is kind of surprising. I’m just disappointed we didn’t get to have more fun with them pretending to be lifeguards.
Kensi takes out the other sniper and the truck pulls away with all the bad guys, but Hidoko and Nell pull in font of them and pull guns on them. “Federal agents, drop your weapons, thank you very much!” Nell yells.

Sydney, watching the scene with Eric in Ops, is surprised. Eric explains that Nell is awesome, but no offense, it would have been more awesome if she hadn’t said “thank you very much.”

People are still fleeing the scene and another car hits the lifeguard truck right after Deeks and Callen jump out and it flips over the top and explodes and there’s fire everywhere and this is obviously the 200th episode special budget going into all these effects.

Also, you could clearly see the wires used during that stunt.

All the madness over, the team has a quick pow wow to make sure they’re all fine. Mosley mostly just wants to make sure the Rolls and her million dollars are fine.

Kensi sees Asakeem start to walk down the beach, so she yells at him and draws her weapon. Oh. So she still hasn’t quite made her peace with him yet. Deeks runs after her, but she’s too busy yelling literally the least threatening thing I’ve ever heard her say, “I will shoot you in the ass.” I hope Asakeem laughed at that, because I sure did.

Turns out he’s just praying on the beach and Kensi sees that she was overreacting, but she’s still not quite okay with any of this. Deeks puts his hand on her shoulder and tells her to let it go.

“I’m trying,” she says, still staring at Asakeem, still upset.

At Ops, Sydney is leaving. She congratulations Nell on being so impressive, but before the big sister can make it out the door, Nell stops her to ask the thing that’s been bugging her for years. Why was she so hard on her as a kid?

“The world isn’t safe for girls… Women,” Sydney explains. “I wanted you to be tougher than me, stronger than me.”

Well, based on what we’ve seen, she succeeded. Nell is much stronger than you would’ve though back when we first met her.

Sydney apologizes for maybe not going about it the right way, and Nell looks like she understands her older sister a little better. They definitely won’t be having giggly BFF slumber parties anytime soon, but at least they each appreciate the other a little more.

At the boat shed, Mosley is using the kid - oh, I forgot he was still around - as an excuse to check in on Sam. “If you ever need to take some time off, just let me know.”

CBS must be reading my reviews. Mosley is definitely better this episode than she’s been all season. Do y’all agree?

She says the kid is going to live with an aunt - after Mosley thoroughly interviews her - and then says something rather insightful about kids that prompts Sam to ask her if she has any.

And… She does. Oh, wow. Didn’t expect that. She has a son named Derek, she explains almost… regretfully? She sounds sad? Or confused? Something’s not okay in that relationship, is the point. He’s around 8 or 10.
When Sam digs a little deeper, you can see the moment in her eyes when she decides to reveal a little more about herself. He’s with his father, but not in D.C. “Where does he live?” Sam asks.

“I don’t know, Sam.”

Well that’s heartbreaking… Okay, I may be coming a little bit around on Mosley. Just a little. I need more info to make my decision on whether I ultimately like her. Either way, I honestly don’t see her sticking around once they get Hetty back. (When is that going to happen, by the way? Good grief, it’s been ages!)

Sam doesn’t react to this confession, simply saying goodnight.

Cut to… I'm not sure. A home. Someone is looking through a room by flashlight. Okay, got it… It’s Callen searching Hetty’s house, but he’s interrupted by A.J. Chegwidden, Hetty’s old friend from Vietnam days. Chegwidden’s doing the same thing Callen’s doing, and they’re both clueless as to her whereabouts.

They compare notes and are on the exact same page - they believe her “retirement” was a way for her to officially protect NCIS from whatever she’s doing, and she’s selling off all her properties to raise capital.

“Why didn’t she just use the gold you have,” Callen asks, and OH MY GOSH IT’S THE FAMOUS GOLD NO ONE CAN SHUT UP ABOUT. Finally!

Chegwidden says he hasn’t been contacted so obviously she didn’t want to get them involved, either. These two have an easy chemistry together - it’d be fun to see them partnered up in a future episode.

“Good to see you again kid,” Chegwidden signs off. “Lock the door and reset the alarm on your way out, would you.”

Now we’re in Vietnam and Hetty is being thrown into a cell with a bag over her head. She and Harris talk about how they both thought she was dead, which prompts Hetty to apologize for leaving him all those years ago.

“You didn’t know,” he forgives. “I probably would’ve done the same.” He seems satisfied with her apology.

This dude definitely has the mannerisms of an old Tim Riggins.

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

He asks if anyone knows she’s there and she says no, but they’ll figure it out. “I trained them. and I left them the tools to do this… It’s only a matter of time.”

Hmm… I’m not sure about this guy. Does anyone else think he’s a plant to get her to talk about something? That maybe they’re running the whole “fake being a prisoner to get a fellow prisoner to talk” trick? Or am I a conspiracy theorist? And what did everyone think of this 200th episode? I enjoyed it, but I kind of expected something monumental to happen. Deeks and Kensi get married or Nell and Eric make it official, or Callen gets answers to a long-held question about his past.

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