NCIS: Los Angeles 12×16 “Signs of Change” is more or less a filler episode, but an interesting, emotional one, because it focuses not just on the team, but on the relationships they’ve built with each other, and the ones they might still build, going forward. It’s also bordering on uncomfortable with the military propaganda, something a show like this one is always guilty of, but typically does a better job of downplaying so I’m not cringing every 0.2 seconds.
It tries to make up for it with the little nod at the end by Kilbride about the fact that we – as in the military – “don’t get everything right,” but I’m not sure it quite manages to, considering not just, you know, the 99 times out of 100 thing, which, HA, but also the fact that Sienna is still just a guest star. Paying lip service to change isn’t the same as enacting change.
NCIS: Los Angeles is just a show, of course. It can’t fix centuries of problems. But it could do something good by bringing Sienna back. The moments we got with her and Kensi, and even with her, Kensi and Fatima, were fantastic, and I’d love to see what Racquel McPeek Rodriguez – a Deaf actress and activist – could do with this role if given a chance to grow. This show has taken great strides when it comes to diversity, but I find that, the more they give me, the more I want. The more I believe it can be done.
As good as Sienna is, though, the backbone of the episode is with three particular storylines – Nell’s attempts to, finally, figure out What Would Nell Do, Kensi and Deek’s communicating through heir issues, as they always do, and Callen being there for Sam, just as he promised he would back when Michelle was killed.
Let’s start with Nell, because as much as I enjoyed the resolution of this storyline, I feel like we’ve been harping on the same thing for three quarters of the season, at least. How many more times does Nell need to learn the lesson that Hetty chose her for a reason? How many more people have to point out that she should start making her own decisions instead of trying to replicate Hetty’s? Because this isn’t just getting old, it’s been old for a while. And though this episode seems to settle the matter for good, we know Hetty is coming back for the finale, so I’m not quite sure this storyline is as put to rest as I wish it were.
Sam and Callen’s storyline is much better, and it tugged at my heartstrings at every moment, because it reminded me that this show, this team, this partnership, is about more than being there for each other when there’s actual physical danger, it’s about being there emotionally for each other. Callen has come a long way, has opened up to people, has found love, but we can’t deny one of the most important relationships in his life is the one he has with Sam, and I’m glad to see the show giving their bond some love. Because Callen isn’t just Sam’s friend, isn’t just his partner …he’s family. And family means, well, Sam isn’t alone.
Then there’s Densi, again, like always, but somehow, even better than always, because it’s a continued thing. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, the reason these two work, the reason they’ve always worked, is that the show made a decision, in season 6, to allow them to become the rarity in TV, a couple that actually communicates. Sure, they don’t always see eye to eye. And yes, sometimes, they get on each other’s nerves. But, as Deeks pointed out this episode, they have indeed been together forever, and that means that, more often than not, they know what the other needs.
Sometimes that’s space. Sometimes that’s a push. Other times it’s just …a hug and a stand-still. Because being together, loving each other, doesn’t mean all problems are fixed. The pregnancy storyline, even without them actually being pregnant, has been something the show has been discussing for ages. And it shouldn’t easy. They both work high risk, high stress jobs, and neither of them really want to give them up. Compromises will have to be made if – hopefully when – they manage to have a baby. But they don’t have to figure it all out right away.
The way this episode deals with what is, essentially, two different people dealing with the same complicated situation in different ways, is not just emotional, and true to life, it’s also a very good example of something TV never does, which is show that love, commitment, and a strong bond doesn’t mean there are no issues. Kensi and Deeks have been together for over 6 seasons, and they are not living happily ever after. All problems didn’t just vanish the moment they kissed and made the decision to be together.
And that’s not just only good, that’s life. Complicated, messy, rewarding and infinitely better than any fairy-tale. They are still happy. They are still in love. And, even if they have bad moments, they still face those, together. If you ask me, that’s even better than an imagined perfect ending. And it’s the thing we should all be looking for. Not someone to live happily ever after with, but someone to live life with, good moments, bad moments and regular moments included.
Things I think I think:
- That scene at the beginning of the episode is the DEFINITION of ass-kicking.
- “Be cool, Deeks”? Question, WHEN has Deeks ever been cool?
- I’m on Deeks’ side on the need to figure it out now. Especially as this has always, always been a concern of his.
- I DIDN’T NEED TO CRY, SAM. Neither did Nell!
- How many times was the word country uttered in the Deeks/Kensi + Sienna convo?
- When Kensi asked Deeks if he trusted her I was like oh boy, what’s she gonna do now? Cause, I mean, that answer is obvious, so…
- The way I cackled when Deeks brought up FLETC training.
- AND made a reference to their relationship.
- I always more or less like Kilbride. Sometimes I forget why. Then he reminds me.
- Also, Deeks as the common sense guy is weird.
- Callen and Sam talking about gifts ALSO made me emotional.
- The scene with Fatima, Kensi and Sienna made my heart grow three sizes.
- COUPLE GOALS INDEED, Nell.
- While we’re at this, I love Densi, I do, but we could do with some continuity with Callen’s relationship. I hate that Anna just shows up every few episodes when there’s trouble and we never get to see any communication, or any actual quiet, soft moments. Callen and Anna deserve that.
- Like, I get it, Densi is the relationship this show has chosen to invest in. And there might be logistics issues involved in this. But what this show does with Densi proves they DO know how to do it. So why not try it with two couples?
- It’s not like Eric and Nell is a thing anymore! Or is it? Who knows? Not me! Or the show.
- Sam’s all like, casual, only got shot. Dear God.
- Callen taking care of him, though. This episode is giving me way too many feelings about these relationships.
- The Michelle mentions, too. I was not ready.
- If Hetty were here indeed.
- “Don’t leave me hanging, Kens.”/ “I never do.”
- A NELL MOVE.
- “Uncle Callen should be there too.”
- Densi is all I need in this lonely and barren TV landscape.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of NCIS: Los Angeles 12×16 “Signs of Change”? Share with us in the comments below!
NCIS: Los Angeles airs Sundays on CBS.