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NCIS: LA - Warrior of Peace - Review: "A No-Win Situation"

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A lot going on in this episode, so let’s dive right in.

We open on a happy family: Callen’s dad is playing with Jake, his grandson. Callen is chatting with his half-sister Alex about his COMPLETELY INVISIBLE GIRLFRIEND Anna. I swear, we see Deke’s dog Monty more than we see Callen’s live-in girlfriend.

Callen looks happy. This is rare, so I’m pretty happy.

Alex rushes around, a busy mom ready to run her kid to school, but the domestic scene is shattered when agents from the state department show up on the driver with a warrant to arrest Callen’s dad. Callen is very intent on that not happening, but his dad volunteers to go with them, wanting to avoid a scene. Our favorite NCIS agent is not happy about that and instantly goes into crisis mode.

Oh, y’all. This is gonna be a good episode.

At the office, Deeks is freaking out about having gray hair, and now that I think about it, I bet that’s one of the only things that could really truly bring down Deeks’ typically chipper attitude. Kensi laughs and points out that it’s a dog hair as Monty slept on his pillow.

Now it’s Callen’s turn to interrupt a family’s happy morning as he rushes in, barking into a phone, calling in every favor he’s owed to get his dad free. The team files into Ops as Sam catches them up:

Ann and Jeremy Tyler are photographers traveling through Iran who were captured - Iran says they’re CIA spies, but they’re totally innocent. Iran has offered an exchange: Callen’s dad for the couple’s safe release.

Callen says Iran is just a pawn in this whole thing, the real instigator behind this deal is Russia, who’s had it out for his dad for ages. Russia is holding a shipment of weapons on its way to Iran to get them to make this play.

The team kicks it into high gear, spitballing ideas, then Mosley struts in, waiting on praise because she made a few calls. Great. THAT’S LITERALLY YOUR JOB.

Mosley says the trade has been approved for two days from now, and no one can stop it, including Hetty, and a friendly reminder that anything they do to affect this deal will be considered treason.

Isn’t the team flirting with treason pretty much every episode at this point?

Callen runs off and everyone start pacing - it’s very clear here how much the team values Hetty and believes she’ll help them and simultaneously completely distrusts Mosley’s abilities. Eric comes down to reluctantly announce that they have a case - stolen weapons from Pendleton. No one’s excited about that, but there you go.

Callen first stops off to corner a State Department agent and ask why this is happening. Callen looks just as great as he is acting in this scene - which is to say, very good. After hitting a road block with official channels, he heads off to see his sis Alex, who if you concentrate really hard, you can tell is pregnant in this scene. (Shout out to the costumers - I honestly never would’ve noticed except I follow the actress on social media and she’s been very hilarious about her pregnancy.) Alex really cuts Callen to the bone, saying that she cannot let Jake lose another grandparent. She tells him, “You get this done. Whatever it takes, whatever you need to do, you do it.”

Way to hit Callen where it hurts. He just got a happy family, and now he’s being told it’s his responsibility to keep it from falling apart.

Meanwhile, Sam, Deeks, and Kensi go to the Boat Shed - WAIT A MINUTE. Y’ALL. Okay, the enter the boat shed and you can see the outside world as they walk through the front door. And the “outside world” is the absolute FAKEST BACKDROP I’VE EVER SEEN. It’s 9:22 into the episode. Pause it. Screenshot it. Share it. Enjoy. It’s really something to behold.

Anyway, Hetty is waiting for them, and the entire stolen weapons case was a lie she made up to get them out of the office so they can work on Callen’s case behind Mosley’s back. They have no plan, but Hetty’s got her nicest tea set pulled out and $10k in a suitcase, so they’ll figure something out.

This charade may not last long though, since Hidoko quickly discovers Eric and Nell are missing from Ops. Wait, there are other computer nerds working in there? Weird.

The Wonder Twins are driving around the handy food truck/surveillance van, calling into the Boat Shed to help brainstorm what to do next. All parties agree, it’s a no-win scenario. Callen jumps into the van (surprise!) and makes a suggestion: they have to figure out a way that both sides walk away with something they want. So it’s time to find an alternative that Russia will like instead of his dad.

Who’s the lucky winner? Our old friend, Anatoli Kirkin. Sure, he’s been in hiding for two years, but Eric and Nell have a computer and access to the internet, so give ‘em like three minutes.

At this point - and I hate to say this - Deeks steps up to be the voice of reason. And the moral compass. If they find Kirkin, they’re essentially handing him over to be tortured and killed. He doesn’t like that, but Callen’s okay with it because it’s what they’d do to his dad. Kensi reluctantly agrees - Callen’s dad is family, and they do what they have to for family. Deeks understands, but I bet this won’t be the last time he says something about this.

Back at HQ, Hetty has stopped by Mosley’s glass office to visit Mosley and her push-up bra. And her gold tape dispenser and scissors, which I have never noticed before but just make so much sense.

They discuss the fact that Mosley is currently being investigated by SecNav because she broke protocol to help with Hetty’s rescue - nice reminder that Mosley isn’t always terrible. Which brings Mosley to the fact that she is fully away of everyone running around behind her back.

Hetty wants to know why Mosley hasn’t shut them down yet. “I’m waiting for the right moment so that when they shut down, they stay down,” Mosley says. Um…. Okay then. “Maybe you’re more dangerous than I anticipated,” Hetty responds.

Back in the food truck, Eric and Nell have tracked down Kirkin’s long-time doctor who makes house calls. They pull up his GPS records (can they do that?) and discover he’s been visiting a nearby address a lot recently. At this point Hidoko hops in the van, wanting to join the secret party.

Meanwhile, Sam and Callen pull up to a barbershop owned by a part of the Russian mob in hopes that they can direct them to Kirkin. They walk into this barbershop and this play is VERY CLEARLY a mob cover. There’s literally a few pictures of Putin on a cork board. I cannot imagine randomly walking into this barbershop as a regular dude wanting a haircut. After a crack from the head guy in charge about how they can’t do anything for Sam - due to complete lack of any hair - Callen feeds him a story about needing to find Kirkin.

As the Russian drinks a glass of straight vodka - just to really reinforce the whole “I’m in the Russian mob” thing - Callen flashes the $10k. That seems to do the trick, as he’s quickly invited to a back room where our friendly neighborhood barber has a young man tied up. They’ve been torturing him for Kirkin’s location.

Russian mobsters start to slowly fill up the barbershop, making Sam, still waiting in the front room, get a little antsy. The food truck monitoring the situation from the parking lot sends Hidoko in to clear things up. She walks in, casually asks if they do fades, and IT’S FIGHT TIME. As evidenced by a song just IMMEDIATELY starting, and everyone starts throwing punches. About ten seconds later, the music stops as suddenly as it started, and the fight is over. In all the hubbub, the prisoner got away.

Unrelated: On the white board in the back of the food truck/surveillance van, someone has written “No powdered sugar donuts in the roach coach.” Do with that what you will.

Deeks and Kensi head to the address Kirkin’s doctor has been visiting a lot, and it’s unbelievably gaudy and ornate. An extra from Zoolander answers the door, all blue eyes and long blonde hair, and it turns out he’s Kirkin’s fiance.

It is at this point that Kirkin himself drives up and instantly hits on Deeks. His 29-year old Fabio fiancé isn’t too happy about that. Everyone seems to think it’s funny because the fiancé is a knockoff Deeks and Kirkin has a long history of crushing on Deeks, but… I don’t see the resemblance.

Back at the barbershop, Callen works with Nell and Eric to ID the prisoner as Jesse Smith. They pull up traffic cameras and see he’s heading towards the house where Kensi and Deeks are, so Callen rushes off to meet with them. Sam and Hidoko stay behind to face the music as LAPD start to swarm the barbershop. Mosley pulls up in her unbelievably fancy car and they brace themselves.

As Kirkin is having a conversation with Kensi and Deeks in his house, Callen just strolls on in - no knock, no nothing, just breezes in - to handcuff Kirkin. Deeks makes his unhappiness known again. “If we’re arresting him, that’s one thing, but that’s not what we’re doing.” Callen is dead set on his plan and starts to walk off with Kirkin. I have to say… Deeks has a point.

Callen is leading Kirkin away when Jesse pulls up - surprise! - to confess his love to Kirkin. Good grief this guy is popular. Before we can get too deep into this soap opera, an SUV full of gun-wielding mobsters from the barbershop pull up and open fire on the Versace mansion knockoff. Everyone takes cover except Kirkin, who’s busy kissing everyone and running away.

Everyone is back at the office, where Mosley confronts Sam… about the weapons stolen from Pendleton. So she’s playing along! And she cleaned up the LAPD mess at the barbershop!

Through a flashback, we learn that during their conversation, Hetty had said something to Mosley about her family and how she likely empathizes with Callen’s situation. Interesting.

The assistant director visit Hidoko cleaning her weapons, as she does every episode - even though she rarely actually fires her gun - and reminds her that they’re supposed to be on the same side. “Next time, you come and talk to me. But don’t ever go behind my back again,” she says.

Well, what was she supposed to do, Mosley. It’s not like you’re particularly open about supporting the team.

Callen is finally meeting with his dad, and the state department has brought him into the boat shed. He loops the surveillance feed into the interrogation and pulls up that handy escape plank on the floor, ready to help his dad run. But his dad won’t go because he doesn’t want to make Callen a traitor.

“I love that you’d sacrifice yourself for me,” he says. “But I chose this life long ago. If I can save another family, then this is the right trade.”

That’s heartbreaking but true, and what Callen knows is the right thing. But exactly what he doesn’t want to hear.

We randomly cut to Kensi and Deeks walking with Monty, once again talking about gray hair, when they run into Krikin. Who is just a playboy about town now, apparently.

Hope you enjoyed that two minutes of levity, because it’s time for the exchange. We see Callen and Alex with their dad at the Iran/Turkey border, saying goodbye. Alex looks like she is 100% done with Callen and will never forgive him for this. WHY ARE THEY DRESSED UP FOR THIS. I was unaware that prisoner exchanges required the same level of formality as Sunday church.

Callen and his dad have their last moment together, and Callen starts tearing up. This is really sad, y’all. His dad tries to cheer him up, saying that he escaped once before, maybe he could do it again. He thinks he’d go by the fake name Igor - in Russian, it means warrior of peace.

Callen’s barely holding it together, so his dad says he needs to hold the family together - stay close with Alex and Jake once he’s gone. The men shake hands and smile through tears before it’s time to part. As Callen’s dad walks off, the two captured photographers are released and run happily across the border into the arms of - WAIT, THEY BROUGHT THEIR YOUNG CHILDREN TO WATCH MOMMY AND DADDY IN A PRISONER EXCHANGE? Sure, that sounds safe.

Everyone smiles seeing the happy family, knowing they did the right thing even if it hurts.

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