NCIS: Los Angeles 14×05 “Flesh & Blood” is a return to what makes this show work — not just because some characters are back, but because those characters are interacting in the ways we’ve come to depend on. And though, yes, the episode makes Eric Christian Olsen’s Deeks the emotional center of an hour that, at times, leaves you feeling like some things don’t truly have a solution, it also allows Callen his own character development — in a way that makes sense.
I’ve said this before, but the procedurals that work are never trying to reinvent the genre. It’s not about shocking audiences, and it’s rarely even about the cases, though in episodes like this one, the case can indeed help push characters forward. No, procedurals that work focus on creating good characters, and then allow those characters the space to become more. People are never what a show can portray in 40-minute intervals, and the benefit of 14 seasons is, well …that these people can and will grow.
Take Callen, for example…
He’s a man used to playing things close to the vest. He’s had to. But just as things have changed for everyone on this team, they have changed for Callen. He’s got Anna now and he’s got a family of choice. He doesn’t have to keep secrets from them, and he especially doesn’t have to keep secrets from the woman he’s about to marry.
Thankfully, he also has the one thing he’s always had in his life, a best friend, a partner. Someone who will call him out on his bullshit, and someone he will call out on his bullshit right back. And someone Callen respects enough to listen to. There’s a place for everyone on the team in the new family dynamics Callen is building for himself, but it’s good to see NCIS: Los Angeles 14×05 “Flesh & Blood” lean once more on the one dynamic that has always been at the center of who G. Callen is, and that is his friendship with Sam Hannah.
Because yes, we all need that friend that can see right through us. And though Callen hasn’t had much more than Sam for so long, now that he does …well, now is when he needs that friendship in a very different way than he has before. Not to keep him from going under, but to help him move forward. And that’s a pretty fun journey too.
The past informs the future
Deeks has a hard episode of facing his past and the decisions he made, but NCIS: Los Angeles 14×05 “Flesh & Blood” is less about him and more about his mom, about the ways his own story informs the person he is and the parent he can be with Rosa. And though, at times, Deek’s storyline does nothing but make us angry at the missed chances to actually help victims, and the hoops they have to jump through to be believed, in the end, there is a silver lining — Roberta. Because Deek’s mom might have gone through a lot, and she might not even know how she got to where she is right now or what to do with her life, but she is at least free to be who she is, even if that person embarrasses her kid more often than not.
Families are … complicated. But that’s okay, they don’t need to be simple. Parenthood, family, and relationship dynamics, in general, aren’t easy or straightforward, for us or for fictional people on TV. We’d rather the fictional people reflect that because when they do, it gives us hope. That we can figure it out. That we can also do the hard thing, and come out on the other side all the better for it. And that family is a thing we can be born with, yes, but also a thing we can build.
And when we do …well, they’ll love us for who we are, tease us for what we’re not, support us when we need and call us out on our BS when they think we need to.
Things I think I think:
- Everybody does like Tom Hanks.
- Are we getting both Callen and Anna domestic scenes AND Kensi and Deeks domestic scenes in the same episode? This hour is already better than the last two!
- Man, Rosa turning Deeks’ joke on him was perfect. More of this, please.
- It is universally accepted that your kids do not need to know about your sex life. This goes for every parent, ever. On TV and in real life.
- Truly appreciate that the show is not just dropping what happened to Roundtree, or how it affects him.
- “I’m an orphan, can’t help you”? I SCREAMED.
- It was funny, okay. It was.
- So are the jokes about everyone being late.
- I’ve missed Callen and Sam just …calling each other out on their BS.
- Good to see Deeks going on instinct, too. And how that instinct ties to …well, just the episode his mom is back, too.
- The way he said ÿeah, they do that” actually, literally hurt.
- Then Deeks’ mom and Kensi? Man, this episode came for my heart.
- I’m glad they’re not just making parenthood into an easy, glamorous thing, either. Even if Rosa is a teenager.
- It’s actually kinda hilarious to see where Deeks gets the jokes at weird moments thing from.
- He …doesn’t want to get married without Hetty.
- Yes, we need to hear the entire dang story.
- “The only thing I want you to promise is that you’ll keep being honest with me.”