This outing was a return to more solid ground.
After viewers railed against NCIS: Los Angles Season 13 Episode 2, which tackled Asian hate crime, NCIS: Los Angeles Season 13 Episode 3 went back to a safer topic, chasing after a nasty German arms dealer whose gang wiped out a group of ATF agents.
Sure, Sam took the name of MAGA in vain, which will set off maybe an overly sensitive third of the viewership, but surely no one can come out against illegal arms dealing, even if the guns were intended for right-wing militias hunting illegals.
They even threw in an intelligent abused woman taking revenge on her abuser, accomplishing something that law enforcement still has a hard time doing.
There were even a couple of developments in ongoing storylines thrown in (thankfully not the Kensi-Deeks family one) for good measure.
This was a referendum by the team on Admiral Kilbride, who appears to be sticking around.
I say, if we can’t have Hetty for whatever reason, why not Kilbride?
Many would argue for Retired Admiral Chegwidden, who was a lot of fun in his guest-starring roles as a member of Hetty’s Vietnam War-era clandestine CIA team. But he seemed to enjoy the freedom of working unofficially and wasn’t anxious to jump back inside the military bureaucracy.
But Kilbride is light years ahead of Ochoa and Rogers, two of the other temporary supervisors meant to keep the OSP on the straight and narrow. Yeah, right. As if.
Kilbride has been around enough to appreciate how the team operates, more than occasionally off the books. He seems more concerned with results than methodology.
Which was why it seemed odd that he went so conservative, strategically speaking, I mean. it’s evident he’s conservative in many other ways.
It’s simple to understand his trying to slow Callen’s angel-of-vengeance roll. A hot head often doesn’t develop the most effective of approaches.
But for Sam and Kilbride, the most military of the squad, to clash was unusual. Although he doesn’t like it, Sam usually understands that institutional barriers and outside influences need to be finessed.
In this case, a retired general was closely affiliated with right-wing militias and was about to run for office. And yes, Kilbride pussyfooted around him and didn’t let Sam play hardball as he was so capable of doing.
Kilbride not acting like Kilbride and yielding to political pressure made Sam suspicious, so he had Roundtree check out Kilbride’s connection to General Collins.
But Kilbride’s having brushed up against Collins professionally and being fishing buddies didn’t seem like enough to make Kilbride obstruct justice, which should have been clear to everyone on the team.
But this is another example of “He’s not Hetty” blindness. He’s not Hetty. No one is. She is unique. And if TPTB could develop a way for more Hetty screentime, many viewers would be happier, and the “it’s not like the good old days” talk might decrease (“Remember when they first used this idea?”).
And, as that late scene shows, we need to get over that, at least for the time being, as Kilbride was put in charge (didn’t it feel like he already was in charge?).
Hopefully, as he led his “friend” Collins away in cuffs, the squad members will learn to trust his leadership decisions more. He’s not Hetty, but he wasn’t born yesterday either.
While Callen was futilely kicking down doors in search of the arms dealer Meyer, Kensi, with an assist from Fatima, were following a more productive avenue of investigation as they went undercover seeking intel from Meyer’s rehabbing girlfriend, Mia.
Kensi/Megan bonded with Mia, who was brilliant but more of a victim than anyone had anticipated, as Meyer had abused her.
Megan won over Mia, rescuing Mia from mean addict Fatima before offering to kill Meyer for her.
Kensi felt sympathetic for Mia, yet another wise woman who just fell for the wrong guy and then couldn’t escape.
Only, in the end, it felt good when she did. She handled Meyer herself, maybe thanks to Megan believing in her, then escaping to build a new life.
And Kensi let her go because Megan accomplished more than the OSP had, ending Meyer’s reign.
Deeks got relegated to “surveillance guy” this episode (I guess because he can no longer be shipped back to LAPD for more training). Shockingly, he and Kensi worked the case separately, and we’re all the better for that.
He and Roundtree each quietly handled their limited roles, linking Collins to Meyer and militia leader Walker. That enabled the team and ATF to bust the final pickup of the weapons. However, they were late to Kilbride’s party.
We did get some movement (using the term ever so loosely) on Kessler, Kensi’s stalker, one of the most slow-moving storylines in series history. I glazed over, but I think he murdered his stupid girlfriend, and Kensi and Deeks now know where he’s hiding out.
Those should be a full season. So at this rate, the showdown with Kessler should happen around NCIS: Los Angeles Season 13 Episode 18. Unless Hetty just scoops him up on the way back from Syria.
To check out Kilbride’s previous appearances, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Shouldn’t the team have determined that Kilbride had a plan?
Can you handle him as a full-time leader?
How did you enjoy Kensi without Deeks (stifling the baby talk)?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.