Is there a change in the air in sunny SoCal?
Probably not, in the long run. Still it was enjoyable to see people in new roles in NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 Episode 3.
First off, there's Kensi in the hospital, comatose from her injuries suffered on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8, Episode 2. Poor Deeks and Julia, Kensi's mother, share bedside vigil for a good portion of the episode.
Kensi's condition is hanging over everyone in the unit.
Callen: Like Deeks said, was it worth it?
Sam: Yes. We all know the risks. This is the path we've chosen.
Fortunately, despite some fans' fears that Daniela Ruah wants out of the show, Kensi's status is both temporary and situational. Ruah and stuntman husband David Paul Olsen (brother to Deeks, Eric Christian Olsen) welcomed daughter Sierra on Sept. 4 and she is now on maternity leave. She shot scenes ahead of time for nine episodes so Kensi can still be present despite Ruah's absence.
Producers did something similar for Ruah in 2013, when son River was born. Kensi got shipped off to Afghanistan, where Ruah could wear bulky clothing to hide her pregnancy, which Kensi's usual outfit of tight tops and jeans wouldn't accommodate.
Still, the hospital setting does allow Deeks and Julia to bond over their thoughts about Kensi, and also moves Deeks to attempt to propel their relationship forward, granted without Kensi's knowledge.
The up side of Kensi's absence is more Special Agent Nell. Although she's no longer sure if that's what she wants.
Nell: I just think of our guys as indestructible. I think about how cool it is to be a special agent, and then something like this happens, and suddenly you realize how quickly it can come to an end.
Eric: Kinda makes you want to stay in Ops, huh?
Nell: Kinda, yeah.
Still, despite her reservations, Nell is more than up to the task. First she takes down Jasmine, the episode's primary suspect.
It's a close one. Gotta go to the judges. And by unanimous decision, it's give-em-hell Nell.Deeks
Later on, she goes undercover as an actress, then takes down a sleazy talent scout.
Nell: I identified myself, I showed him my badge, he chose to ignore me.
Callen: A little piece of advice for you: Never ignore the Nellverine.
Yeah, even after Kensi is back full time, I'd love for producers to find more excuses to put Nell in the field. Callen pegged her right; she's small but ferocious.
Then there's Call of Duty-loving Eric, who wants to be a Special Agent so badly, despite showing no previous aptitude for it. Granger finds him practicing his shooting.
Eric: I know deep down you believe in me, sir.
Granger: You'll be the first one I call when the zombie apocalypse hits.
Well, someone has to stay in Ops. Maybe he can get a little geeky intern who will look up to him as Nell once did.
Finally, across the country, there's Hetty, who has declared herself the mole in the unit. She spends the episode toying with overmatched Undersecretary of Defense Corbin Duggan, who is determined to prosecute her.
In fact, if it were up to me, your trial would look like something straight out of Salem, the only difference being those poor women were innocent.Duggan [to Hetty]
She quickly has him angered to the point that he's not thinking straight, which is right where Hetty wants him.
Get her [Hetty] some damn tea. Make it strong And get her some Scotch too. I want her awake and I want her talking.Duggan
She even gets Duggan's assistant, who is amazed at the life Hetty has lived, drunk on Scotch. "You know Sir Richard Harris? He's my favorite Dumbledore." Before long, she's spilling her boss' cosplay fetish (he dresses up as Deadpool).
In the end, Hetty leaves her signed resignation with the Secretary of Defense (an old pal), to take effect in 90 days if she hasn't uncovered the mole. Since Hetty is the best character on the show, I don't see her going anywhere, so maybe they'll finally wrap that storyline, which seems like it's been going on for years.
Back to the actual case. Jasmine, a translator in Afghanistan, learned of a human trafficking ring, in which would-be actresses are kidnapped and shipped overseas as sex slaves for terrorists. With a lack of police interest, she's been trying to solve the case on her own.
This led to her abducting the man who was a cousin to the actual procurer. Yeah, that seems like a roundabout path to me, especially since Nell was able to walk into the man's office to audition. So he couldn't have been that hard to locate.
Anyway, the talent agent gives them a location where the women are being held, and after delivering a note that says "Knock, knock" through the mail slot, they crash through the door, take down two gunmen and rescue the hostages.
That's where things are left. The California end of the pipeline is shut down, but no call is made to an international police organization for follow-up. I guess only the Washington office has a connection to Interpol.
So, to summarize, Hetty's back, Kensi's out for a while and Nell is back in the field where she belongs.
Will marriage ruin Densi? Do you like Nell as a field agent? Are you sick of the whole mole storyline? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.