This holiday episode focused on relationships within the team.
NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 Episode 11 also focused on the feelings the holidays evoke.
Poor Kensi is still down in the dumps about not yet being back on the team.
Good for Nell trying to cheer Kensi up after she repeatedly failed a required agility test.
Nell: [Joan of Arc] was my first hero. But I have other sources of inspiration these days. Like Hetty ... and you.
Kensi: I don't know about that one. ... You do know she was burnt at the stake, right?
Nell: Nobody's perfect.
Eric tries to cheer her up with a Kevlar-embedded scarf that doubles as a garotte. Only Kensi would appreciate such a gift. But Eric of course wanted to go bigger, to create some kind of "Swiss Army" scarf.
Near the end Kensi's insecurities reveal themselves in a hilarious, imaginary cat fight between Kensi and Anna, with Nell getting caught in the middle.
Anna: I've been keeping your seat warm.
Kensi: Don't get too cozy. I'll be back soon enough.
I reckon Kensi will be back soon, probably on the other side of the winter break, on Jan. 9. That episode also features a visit from Nate.
Once again, Nell finds herself in the position of being the voice of reason. In addition to encouraging Kensi, she also has to reassure insecure Eric,
Nell is selected to participate in the prestigious Women in Technology Mentoring Program. Instead of supporting her, Eric gets all pouty, because the program conflicts with his DIckens Faire. It makes you wonder what she sees in him beyond convenience.
He's all worried about how they don't really know each other, so she attempts to placate him, ultimately with a lame metaphor about how pendulum clocks will eventually run in sync.
People who know each other for 50 years are still learning new things about each other. So I think we're going to be OK, my little sugar plum.Nell [to Eric]
Eric again showed why he doesn't belong in the field. His high-risk stunt did get the two Panamanian thugs to talk, but could have caused real problems had he fumbled that flare.
Also, like it or not, there's another couple brewing. It looks like Anna will soon have a new role, as Callen's girlfriend, as he's invited her over for Christmas dinner (who knew he could cook?).
Earlier in the episode, Hanna was praising Anna to Callen. The two Eastern European expatriates together does make sense on paper.
But with most everyone in that office paired off already, having the damaged Callen as a lone wolf works best, which is probably why his relationships tend to crash and burn.
Also Anna as just the significant other seems like of a waste, as she's proven a capable agent during her fill-in stints.
This week's case wasn't terribly intricate, but did have an interesting twist. The Navy Lt. Commander with her threat-assessment software seems like a logical kidnapping target. But she was just the bait to get her reporter boyfriend's notes about money laundering. The feuding thugs emphasized that this was meant to be a lighter episode. It was appropriate also for the couple to be brought back together just in time for Christmas.
Nice to see Hetty drop that bomb on all those white-collar criminals. "Who says Christmas comes only once a year?" indeed.
The holiday point was hammered home with all the fitting gifts: the Christmas lights for Grinchy Callen, Anna's finding Hamilton tickets for desperate Hanna, the inspirational Joan of Arc figurine for Kensi, the pendulum clock for insecure Eric.
It also appears likely that the mole storyline should be coming to a close in January as well. When Callen mentions there's only 30 days until the deadline, Hetty unleashes her roundabout Don Giovanni anecdote to make her salient point.
Sometimes we make the most out of our time when we have the least.to Callen}
Also, if he's available, let's bring Granger back into the fold soon. If he's not, at least give him a fitting departure. Leaving the character in limbo does the series no good and leaves all the viewers expecting the worst.
To catch up on the first half of the season, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Was this holiday episode well executed? Are you ready for the partners-of-the-week to be over? What else would you like to be dealt with after the break? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.