The OSP team can’t get rid of the Russians this season, can they?
Or maybe it’s an al Qaeda threat, or an internal threat. Or some combination of the three.
The problem was that whatever kind of threat it is, it’s been barely uncovered, with no immediate conclusion in sight.
The good news is that NCIS: Los Angeles appears to be back through the end of its shorter season, which is a pleasant change of pace.
And the series has been renewed for a 13th season, so some closure is a distinct possibility.
So what lessons came out of this episode?
The first had to be that while technology has made our lives simpler, it can also be a scary thing.
The episode started simply enough, with Roundtree getting a rare chance to do something useful by taking out a fleeing al Qaeda asset by jumping out of the food truck, normally the bane of his existence.
Things went downhill from there, thanks to a couple of hard drives the asset was transporting.
Once again, the heavy lifting fell on Nell, the reluctant operations manager for whom temporary has been proving to be a fluid term.
First, she was destined for a weekend of trying to organize paper records from Hetty’s many hidey holes, something that obviously drove the tech-forward Nell crazy.
In addition, she also had to decrypt those aforementioned hard drives. Complicating that task was that tech-savvy Fatima was physically sidelined by her mother’s accident and was Zooming in to work if even a situation called for an appearance by Eric … but no dice.
Here’s a weak spot in the narrative that set everything off on the wrong note. Fatima found a cute boy cranking ’90s tunes in the NCIS gym, enough reason to throw him out with a “Bye, bitch.”
But rather than establishing who he was, she first gave him a beatdown and then arranged a date with him. Huh?
And he ended up being the cause of their problems throughout this case, which a little security protocol could have prevented.
Relatively quickly, Nell pieced together that an al Qaeda leader has been resurrected with a deep fake.
And in case Nell’s explanation of the ramifications of such deep fakes to global security wasn’t clear, Callen’s captive al Qaeda acolyte reinforced that this meant that terrorist leaders would never die.
Well, that didn’t sound good.
It turned out that Cute Gym Guy/Noel had discovered a way to hack the OSP communications grid. You would think that couldn’t happen after the reign of Millionaire Tech Genius Eric, but you would be wrong, apparently.
What followed was 45 minutes of “Who’s Real and Who’s Fake.”
And if the team members seemed confused, imagine what the viewers were feeling, even with all of Nell’s explanatory asides to whichever agent was listening at the time.
Roundtree almost got conned into transferring the data (it was so refreshing to have a young agent who wasn’t tech comfortable) before catching the fake Fatima ordering him around in a lie.
I’d put my money on Nell to outsmart electronic store manager Noel, and sure enough, that was just what happened.
She was able to track the data stream back to Noel and send Sam and Fatima, who had been kept off the gride, through the door to take him down. Nell also sent Callen into a trap with backup in place.
All those moves must have been set up through, I don’t know, cell phones, maybe. Or do they still have cop radios in those cars they keep crashing?
Anyway, some old-fashioned method that wasn’t so easy to hack.
But not all went as planned. It was great to see Sam admit to Fatima that, for once, he wasn’t going to attempt to dismantle that bomb that was activated.
In fact, he actually called the bomb squad to defuse the IED he’d found earlier.
To paraphrase Roger Murtaugh, maybe he is getting too old for that shit.
Still, there was plenty that was left hanging at the episode’s end.
Likely the useless young zealot got blown up in that explosion, and Noel got captured. His Russian girlfriend escaped in the chaos,
Also, the person behind this operation with the NCIS connection has yet to be revealed. If experience is any indicator, it will be the know-it-all copier repairman.
Fortunately, there remained a little time for some personal reflections.
Nell grudgingly seemed to accept she’s going to be in charge for a while. Callen endorsed this idea by encouraging her to find her own way rather than preserving Hetty’s methods. Hetty appeared to second that by sending along a bottle of gin for Nell.
And, of course, we can’t go an episode without the Deeks-Kensi baby quest.
What color for the nursery? Are we ever going to need a nursery? I’ve always liked that color. And so on. And so on.
Could they possibly conceive by the end of the season?
To figure out who’s coming after the OSP now, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Did you learn more than you wanted to about deep fakes?
Will paranoia set in now?
Can Nell pull them together?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.