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NCIS: LA - Goodbye, Vietnam - Review: "It's About Bloody Time"

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Welcome back, NCIS:LA fans! A lot has happened since I’ve last written one of these: American Idol returned, everyone’s March Madness bracket has been busted, and Shia LaBeouf announced that he’s going to play his own father in a movie. (I’m not making that up.)

What a time to be alive.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

We open with a vaguely threatening guy wearing sunglasses coming to meet Dang, who is keeping Hetty in a caged pit in the ground. Sunglass Guy takes off his sunglasses to reveal he’s missing an eye, which reminds Hetty that they’ve met before.

It’s clear Evil Sunglasses is buying Hetty from Dang, who proves how DISGUSTING he is by offering to dress Hetty up to fulfill any of Sunglasses’ fantasies. Ew. Just… Ew. Hope he gets what’s coming to him by the end of this episode.

The team arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and go directly to the one bar we’ve seen over and over in connection to this case - I guess there’s a total of one bar in Vietnam. They’re playing it on the DL since they’ve been followed from the airport by local cops and as Deeks says, “This is essentially an authoritarian police state, so if we could keep this on the low low, well, that’d be great.”

Callen gives a quick reminder to the team and the audience that they’re doing this off the books anyway, so if this goes sideways, NCIS will have to disown them and they’ll be at the whim of the Vietnam government. Sounds good.

Sam and Callen show the bartender Hetty’s picture - you know, two Americans flashing around a picture of a missing person is the definition of low-key - as well pictures of Hetty’s former associates. Kensi and Deeks do the same with their waitress, who recognizes the older men’s pictures. She gives Kensi the number, which she immediately gets Eric to track.

At the office, Nell is a little nervous that the whole team is gone and Eric is trying to console her. They’re scrambling to get more evidence - literally get anything that can help the team on the ground - so Nell starts going through evidence boxes related to old cases of Hetty’s.

Seeing that Nell is a bit overwhelmed, Mosley apparently calls in reinforcements because Nell’s INSUFFERABLE older sister Sydney shows up to help! I enjoy how they decided to show that they’re related by giving Sydney bangs. Going through the evidence boxes, the pair realize there’s some mail missing - Hetty must have a PO box somewhere.

Nell goes to share this with Mosley who makes a whole deal of clearing her throat and declaring “ENTER” when she knocks - good grief she’s the absolute worst - and Nell asks for a warrant to search the PO box. Mosley agrees to it and then points Nell to the door with a very polite and professional, “This is when you leave.”

Meanwhile, Eric has tracked down the phone number the waitress provided and found that it made some calls from a nearby hotel - the team wants to check it out but need to shake their tail, so Sam says, “I think we need the angry girlfriend.”

Kensi immediately jumps up from her seat and storms out, yelling at Deeks in… I think she’s yelling in Portuguese? It could be Spanish, but honestly she’s talking so fast I can’t make anything out - and Deeks is trailing behind her, playing the groveling boyfriend. I honestly wish I knew what the two of them were saying because I bet it’s hilarious. The tails watch the show, allowing Sam and Callen to slip out unseen.

The team reunites at the hotel, where everyone talks up their lock-picking skills, only to be unable to pick the lock. Sam finally breaks up the fight with, “You know what, let me pick the lock,” and kicks the door down. They need to give Sam more one-liners. I would like to see Sam and Mac from Agents of SHIELD go on a mission together - they’re both the strong and silent type until they just break out that amazing one-liner while taking care of business. Anyway, back to NCIS:LA. The hotel room is cleaned out except for a note that says “Go Home Kids.” Okay, then!

At office, the sisters are going through the mail they collected from the PO Box and trying not to bite each other’s heads off. Hidoko goes to report an update to Ms. “Enter” Mosley herself, who surprises me by saying she wants to bring Hetty home any way they can. Well, then act like it instead of just saying it.

Sydney and Nell find mail addressed to Margaret, one of Hetty’s aliases, and decide to go find the sender. But before they do, Sydney needs to take her brilliant younger sister down a notch by calling herself Nancy Drew and calling Nell “Togo,” as in Nancy Drew’s dog. When Nell tries to objet to this, Sydney cuts in, “Togo doesn’t talk, remember.” Oouuuuch.

Hidoko does a little research and they bring the sender of the mystery mail into the boat shed for an interview (which sounds like the title of a Nancy Drew book right there - "Nancy Drew and the Letter in the Boat Shed"). They show the woman a picture of Hetty, who reveals an old friendship with their missing director going back many years. When asked if she knows where Hetty could be in Vietnam, she remarks that Maggie (aka Hetty) is a Buddhist, which both Nell and Hidoko instantly roll with and it’s pretty funny, and says that Maggie tries to stay with monks at their monastery whenever she’s in the country. Interesting! Now we’re getting somewhere….

Eric and Nell send the team to visit the monks at the monastery where we started this season and it’s still absolutely beautiful. They show her picture to a monk who said she visited a few months ago with an older man. As they’re processing this, Rio Syamsundin shows up - I don’t know him but they all seem to know him, and we all collectively dislike him. (What episode was he in? Let me know in the comments so I can make sure not to watch it.)

He is apparently a former CIA agent who screwed them over in the past, and he introduces them to Hetty’s older colleagues who are all there already. It’s time for a team-up! “The Golden Girls go to Saigon,” quips Deeks, and none of the older guys are laughing at all.

The teams compare notes and catch each other up: Hetty is being held by Dang, who used Keane to lure her in, and is now trying to sell her to the highest bidder. Chegwidden and Langston whip out some maps to plan their Hetty rescue, mentioning that they brought a ton of spending money, have access to a chopper, and have a truckload of weapons. Oh, and they have enough attitude that they can snark right back at Deeks’ snark. Deeks is right, this is going to be fun.

Back in the B-storyline, Sydney is grilling Eric on his intentions with Nell, and she’s being annoying so he says she hates being called Togo and tells her she’s a bully. For some reason that’s all it takes for her to realize that she’s not a good person and runs off. Seriously, she does like a 180 from bully to heartbroken in about five seconds. Good grief.

I guess it’s just self-examination day at the office, where Mosley is second-guessing all of her decisions to help the team.

Meanwhile, said team is in the jungle in full camo gear, arguing about anything and everything. Kensi whistles to shut them up, and when Chegwidden is ticked, Deeks says, “I’m just impressed you three can still hear that.” Well done, writers.

For some reason, Hetty is back in the interrogation room with Dang, who tells her that Keane’s dead and his body is still being feasted upon by the tiger. Hetty takes a big gulp of the drink Dang offers her as he warns that what comes next is going to be worse.

Then comes the most amazing part of the episode - Nell storms into Mosley’s office, ignoring the “ENTER” proclamation, and explains to her that there’s literally nothing left for her to lose, and the only way her career can survive this is if she goes all-in. Then Nell pulls all of her brilliance and persuasiveness into one final moment and essentially convinces Mosley to make sure their team on the ground gets everything, and she means everything, it needs.

Y’all, Nell is the new Hetty. If Hetty ever retires/leaves the show for real/whatever, Nell is 100% the natural choice to replace her. Age be damned. Also, we found out Nell is in the Griffin Book, which Google tells me is an encyclopedia of gambling offenders. Interesting.

Let’s revisit the team really quickly, where they’re wandering through the raining jungle. There’s a lot of infighting and they’re totally lost.

At the office, Sydney is making a full apology to everyone for offending them with her behavior. Eric and Nell apologize for being blunt. This storyline would be more interesting if it weren’t sandwiched in the middle of a different, very high-stakes, much more interesting, storyline.

Mosley literally struts in to present exactly what Nell demanded - satellite images of the area the team has gotten lost in. Eric passes it along and as we all prepare for the rescue mission, Mosley returns to her office, where she dramatically contemplates her decision while drinking a… glass of ice cold water.

Rescue time, everybody. Let’s save Hetty!

Cut to Dang, who is having his own mini party on the porch, getting drunk and dancing while smoking around a fire pit. Sounds about right. We get a great real-time look into the mission, both from the views of the team as they sneak up on Dang, and from the rest of the team watching from cams back at the office. The team take out the guards, takes out Dang, and daaaaaang Callen looks good in camo.

They finally find… Keane! Yay, he’s not dead! His first reaction to seeing his old buddies is, “You guys got older.”

In another room, Evil Sunglasses is watching his men whip Hetty - WAIT A MINUTE HE HAS CREEEEEPY LONG FINGERNAILS. That’s easily the creepiest part about him. He holds a knife to Hetty’s throat and right as he’s about to… Well, we’ll never know, because looks who’s here! Callen and Sam! “It’s about bloody time!” Hetty says, and I couldn’t agree more.

They lock Dang up and leave Hetty to watch him while they put Keane on the helicopter. Callen silently offers Hetty a gun and she shakes it off. She turns to stare Dang down and says, “I said this would end with a bullet in your head, I lied,” she laughs. and then… OH MY GOSH SHE LETS THE TIGER LOOSE ON HIM!

Whoa. Dang, Hetty. Well, dang may be the wrong word now.

We wrap up with pictures of familial love: Sydney and Nell make up and exchange hugs, and on the chopper, Hetty invites Keane to come home with them. Then she falls asleep on Callen’s shoulder, Deeks falls asleep on Kensi’s shoulder, and everyone is one big happy family that’s back together again. Yay!

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