The series’ penultimate episode did its job, but not much more.
NCIS: Los Angeles Season 14 Episode 20 was a placeholder, in between Callen gaining needed revelations about his DRONA Project past on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 14 Episode 19 and the series conclusion.
A placeholder before the Callen-Anna wedding. That’s appropriate, right?
To remember that NCIS: Los Angeles is a procedural, there had to be one last case with a name guest star, in this case, mixed-martial arts star Randy Couture.
Couture has been making a name as an action actor over the past two decades (and let’s not forget Dancing With the Stars). But this was his first visit to the NCIS universe.
Hey, how about this as a spin-off? NCIS: Chokehold, starring Couture and Bill Goldberg. Fill out the cast with a diverse handful of lesser-known actors and bring in Hulk Hogan as the squad’s wily leader.
If the writers’ strike lingers, the producers could go heavier on the action scenes, a vital part of any NCIS show.
Anyhoo, this outing didn’t showcase Couture using the trademark NCIS wisecrack-filled dialogue much. So the jury’s still out on that front. But, no surprise, he did kick ass when given the opportunity.
Couture got to play that TV trope, the agent who has been undercover for too long and may have turned to the dark side.
It also was enjoyable to see CSI alumnus Liz Vassey in another new role this season, following her portrayal of psychology professor Dr. Craft in the final season of A Million Little Things.
Vassey’s Kerry Adams gave Kilbride someone to bond with, a rare creature who understood riding herd on stubborn but effective agents who insisted on doing things in their own way.
It’s a shame that perception didn’t hold up.
Adams was concerned about her undercover asset, Newsome, who had been out of touch for far too long. She wanted the OSP to be the team that investigated the investigator.
From the first introduction, Newsome appeared too straight-edged to be crooked, regardless of how Adams painted him as being on the edge of turning.
The hole Fatima found in his financials proved to be as weak as it seemed.
Fortunately, Nina Barnes made one last appearance.
Nina jousted with Callen (even though she didn’t hear him call her pastry truck a “roach coach”) and cozied up to Sam. She also came through with the tidbit that the gunrunners were receiving solid intel, which spotlighted any law-enforcement types involved with the case.
Since only one other law-enforcement officer had been introduced, Fatima, without any legal authorization, sneaked a peak at Adams’ financials and figured out she was dirty.
This left Sam and Callen racing to cut off Adams and the anonymous gunrunners’ leader. They brought a handgun to a semi-automatic gunfight, with Sam’s Challenger destroyed and their backup stranded high above Malibu, serving as overwatch for Newsome.
This left Sam and Callen in mortal peril as the first half of the series finale ended.
But seriously, they need to wrap this case up by the first commercial break next episode because there’s so much personal ground to cover in the conclusion.
Callen and Anna tying the knot is the biggest storyline that needs to be tied up.
Now that Grisha has made peace somewhat with his past, he still proved to be pretty useless when it comes to wedding planning, murmuring that things will come together before running off to chase bad guys.
Luckily, Anna still had Arkady at her beck and call to help her with wedding problems. Let’s hope Arkady isn’t performing the ceremony after he offered his negative views on marriage. He did manage to line up a DJ that they couldn’t afford for the reception, so that’s something.
The one guest that everyone wants to see, who didn’t come up in this episode, is Hetty. There isn’t time to rescue her, so let’s hope she miraculously appears at the ceremony, as she did for Kensi and Deeks’ wedding. Having Eric and Nell attend is likely too much to ask for.
The direction of Sam’s storyline was intimated in Richard’s wandering to the park and then calling Sam at work.
Richard was slipping, and Sam was right to be concerned about their future.
It was great Sam got through to his father, and Richard agreed to participate in the drug trial Sam had been promoting.
What wasn’t at all clear was what this change would mean for Sam and Richard. Will Sam accept Kilbride’s offer to be the assistant operations director? Or does that offer hold now that Callen is through with DRONA?
Trouble ahead was hinted at for Kensi. First, she got food poisoning thanks to Deeks’ ancient leftovers. Then something seemed to be bothering her while she was serving as overwatch. Is there a medical emergency looming in her immediate future?
Rountree’s civil suit appears to be coming to a head. What will he do with his award and how will that affect his future remains up in the air.
That leaves Fatima and Kilbride with no apparent resolutions. But their stories need to be resolved as well.
So there’s plenty to accomplish in a short time before the greatest hits special that’s planned after the conclusion.
To revisit your favorite episodes, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
How did you like the character of Newsome?
Did you see the twist coming about Adams?
What storyline do you feel needs to be concluded most?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.