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NCIS: LA - Liabilities - Review: "Sounds Like a Family to Me"

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Hi, readers. Say it with me now: Yaaay Hetty’s back! The “previously on” montage flashes back to a lot of old cases, so this looks like an interesting episode.

We open on Callen and Sam (in military uniforms, thank you CBS,) cautiously approaching a cabin. Callen picks the lock and they breach, guns drawn, to find a cellphone-triggered bomb. They jump out and the place immediately blows. The agents walk it off. Great way to open an episode!

At the office, we see that the Hetty we all know and love is officially back, not a hair out of place and dressed in a stylish suit. She goes to visit Hidoko cleaning her gun in the weapons locker and the pair formally meet - it’s funny to realize these two haven’t actually interacted ever before. I bet they’ll get along. Hetty does her little small talk dance that’s really leading to some major revelation and we learn that at some point Hidoko lost her husband, whom Hetty calls a true hero.

I was right, these two get along just fine - you can tell they instantly like and respect each other. Hetty wants to know why Hidoko hasn’t made friends in LA, and instantly volunteers herself as a friend. You can almost see Hidoko thinking how this is a welcome change from Mosley.

Also… Apparently Hetty’s employment status is currently up in the air. Interesting.

In Ops, the team is discussing the Sam and Callen’s mission, which is related to that case earlier this season about the dead girl in the swimming pool. The partners’ little raid that morning was in relation to that case, and in the rubble of the now-exploded cabin, they found Lynn Stiger’s body.

Oh, look! It’s time to revisit our old pal Keith Stiger, husband of the deceased. Nell and Eric find he has some real estate downtown, and send Deeks and Kensi off to investigate with a warning to be careful. As they arrive on the scene, Sam and Callen meet up with them.

I don’t know if it’s the angles or the lighting or what, but for some reason this scene does not do any of them justice - they all look very tired. Maybe that’s on purpose, since they all just got back from rescuing Hetty?

Anyway, wary of another boobytrap, Sam throws a camera into the building before anyone enters. He throws this thing from quite a distance away through a very small window with absolute accuracy. No offense, but I call bull. I watch a lot - and I mean a lot - of baseball and my share of football, so I know what really great athletes can do when they’re operating at their best, and I’m sorry, but no. There’s no way he was that accurate from that angle and distance. No way.

Moving on. The camera doesn’t show them any bombs, so the team enters and clears the warehouse. Sam spots ammonium nitrate - a key bomb ingredient - on the ground, and a bunch of empty pallets. So this guy’s planning a significant bombing, but they don’t know the target.

They call Nell and Eric, who give them two possible locations that Stiger may have recently been. The team splits up to investigate.

Cut to Hetty, who’s working in her office and very bothered by the tapping of Mosley’s stilettos pacing around directly above her office. So Hetty goes to visit Mosley’s glass castle and makes a show of propping open her door and not knocking. She not-so-subtly points out the absurd power move the entire office situation is, and tells her to stop it with the pacing.

Which is a good point - what level position do you have to have to be able to demand a construction project in the middle of the office just for you?

Anyway, Mosley tries to brief Hetty on the case out of professional courtesy, but Hetty’s not here for that. She wants to know what Mosley thinks of the team, and Mosley thinks they’re very loyal to Hetty. And along those lines, she’d like to remind Hetty that she’s her boss.

“You have to know, I mean no disrespect,” Mosley says. “Yes, you do… Just a little,” Hetty remarks. Well done, I’ve missed her.

Meanwhile, Sam and Callen have visited location of interest #1, which is a security office that may have relevant footage of the warehouse. They tell the security guard - who is definitely wearing a shirt several sizes too small to emphasize how out of shape he is - that they sure would like that security footage so they can find how the bombs left the warehouse. The security guard, who really just would like to talk about his keto diet - which sure is trendy right now, isn’t it - isn’t particularly competent. Either in maintaining a diet or keeping security footage safe, since the relevant recordings have been stolen. So that’s a dead end.

At the boat shed, some rando extra has called in Stiger’s business partners, a very worried man and woman who haven’t heard from him in several days. When Kensi and Deeks tell them that Stiger’s wife was murdered, the business partners really go on and on about how much it was obvious that Stiger loved her. I feel like these people are way too suspicious - they’re saying all the right things to make him seem innocent.

They also reveal that Stiger’s parents died young, so he was raised by another couple, the Harrells.

Callen and Sam have gone back to Ops with Nell and Eric, and they are all comparing notes about how to build bombs. Also, they’ve mentioned like 14 times now that these bomb materials will build the same type of bomb used at Oklahoma City.

In the middle of this conversation, Nell discovers that the Harrells are somehow connected to the North Korean spy from a while back, Jennifer Kim. The team makes the assumption that if Stiger was raised by North Korean spies, then he’s probably a North Korean spy. So they head off to visit Kim at her safe house set up by Granger.

Not done showing off their brilliance, Nell and Eric used a little bit of science and math to determine just how much bomb supplies Stiger has - and the answer is enough to level several high-rise buildings.

Callen and Sam go to visit Kim at her off-the-grid cabin, and she is so not loving the rural life. She really hates it. It’s kind of funny. When they show her Stiger’s picture, she gives them the basic lowdown of what it would mean to be an activated spy: he’s going to be reaching out to his network of resources. She’ll help them identify these resources in exchange for some New York-style pizza. Okay, fair enough.

Kensi and Deeks pull up in a beautiful clean car to where the bomb-filled truck is supposed to be. As they walk down the street discussing the case, Deeks says that he is Team Jennifer Kim because Granger was, and that’s good enough for him. This is a very, very long walk and a very long scripted conversation. I wonder how many takes that required to get it right.

I guess Callen and Sam pulled Kim out of her safe house because now she’s walking into a gas station, where she goes directly to the back and into a SECRET ROOM in the back. Cool! There’s two guys hanging out back there, playing video games - I guess this is the North Korean spy network. Kim literally just intimidates one of the guys into giving her information about Stiger, but he doesn’t really share much before Callen and Sam run in to cover her.

Now that he’s in cuffs, the guy starts talking. Stiger is doing his own thing - he’s not operating under North Korean orders - and has flown in a rogue special forces guy to help with whatever he’s planning.

Back at Ops, Nell and Eric have finally figured out - with yet another reference to Oklahoma City - what’s going on and are sharing with the team. They’ve discovered that Stiger is driving around in tunnels under major buildings with all these bombs. At which point, Mosley PROUDLY declares that he must be planning to detonate bombs under the buildings.

Wow. You figured that out all by yourself, did you?

They send the four field agents into the tunnels, where they systematically take the bad guys down one by one. They finally reach Keith Stiger and… let’s turn up the dramatic music, because it’s time for a firefight! Stiger peels off on a motorcycle and Deeks does his go-to move of dropping his automatic rifle and pulling out his handgun, because he means business. and pulling the pistol. But it doesn’t matter how cool Deeks looks, because Stiger has now driven deeper into the tunnel. And they have yet to see any bombs, which means they’re set up wherever Stiger is driving.

Mosley and every one at the office is busy trying to figure out his target - he could blow water mains, he could blow up several high rises, but Mosley figures it out: they’re directly under LAPD headquarters. Nell tries to call the team, but they’re so underground now that they’ve lost comms - both with the office and with each other.

Hetty walks in wanting to know the situation, and Mosley updates her with the most disdainful look I’ve ever seen. Hetty says the team can be trusted, because she hand-picked every one of them. Mosley is not impressed.

In the tunnels - which are VERY extensive, and frankly, a significant safety risk, considering they’re the size of giant parking garages, easily accessible, and running under the entirety of Los Angeles - the team has figured out that they’re without comms.

They split into partners and go their separate ways, searching for the explosives. Kensi and Deeks find a group of men surrounded by bombs, which makes taking them down rather challenging. They take three out VERY CAREFULLY and Deeks ends up getting into a knife fight with the fourth, which is usually Kensi’s territory. After he gets the guy to stab himself, he admits that he does not like knives, at all.

On the other side of the tunnels, Callen and Sam have found a similar set up of bad guys and bombs. Before they can take anyone down, they’re spotted. Stiger sets a timer for the chain reaction to start - all the bombs are connected and wrapped around support pillars. Callen tackles him off his bike and holds him at gun point while Sam runs around, cutting the detonators off all the wires.

Callen tries for about 30 seconds to arrest Stiger, but as usual that falls apart pretty quickly once Stiger tries something dumb, so he winds up dead.

And wouldn’t you know it, Sam manages to disable all the bombs just in time, and the day has been saved! Not wanting to let it go to his head, Callen congratulates Sam for those being the first bombs he’s correctly disarmed in quite a while. Everyone laughs except Sam, who actually looks pretty shaken up by the whole thing. Huh.

The case wrapped up, Mosley is leaving the office for the day. Hetty makes sure to congratulate her for a job a well done - “Your team performed today,” she points out.

Mosley uses this as her chance to clarify why she was sent to their little branch of the NCIS world to begin with. “It’s not personal. It’s not an attack on your accomplishments here in Los Angeles. You do know that these teams are never designed to permanently work together. Team members become too familiar, walls go down, relationships develop.” She explains.

“Sounds like a family to me,” Hetty says.

The woman smile at each other, both knowing they’ll never agree with the other, and exchange goodnights.

Also saying goodnight are Sam and Callen, who are returning Jennifer Kim to her safe house. There’s a weird coloring to this scene like it’s supposed to be sunset but they’re filming it in full sunlight and just added a filter.

Sam wants to know why Granger went through all the trouble to set Kim up like this… So she casually explains it was because Granger was her dad.


Callen and Sam seem a little shocked by all of this, and follow her as she explains his whereabouts while the team thought he was missing - hanging out with her at the safe house. She takes them to a beautiful huge oak tree where he walked one morning when he was weak and off his meds. He died leaning up against the tree, looking out at the valley. So she buried him there, and you can still see a small mound of dirt.

That was a nice goodbye - I honestly thought we had heard the last of Granger’s story, but this gave some surprise closure.

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