"NCIS: Los Angeles" season 5 premiered Tuesday, Sept. 24, with a major cliffhanger to resolve in "Ascension," and it delivered.
Did Michelle survive? In the "NCIS: LA" season 4 finale, Michelle was left hanging out a window, Kensi fighting off Sidorov's Barbies to try to get to her. Well, Michelle didn't need her help making it up because she pulled herself up and ended up saving Kensi. Blonde Barbie took off, with Kensi following, and after the blonde got herself into a crash, it was off to the hospital in an ambulance. Or so she thought. Kensi refused to stop interrogating her with agents' lives on the line, and Owen was the helpful EMT telling the blonde she was paralyzed when she couldn't feel it when he stuck her foot, or rather, the air around her foot. Blonde Barbie sang like a canary, giving up the location of the auto body shop where Sam and Deeks were.
How were Sam and Deeks? Unfortunately, the team had to put their trust in Janvier once again, as his next meeting with Sidorov and Vaziri was the only time they had to get to Sam and Deeks. However, Kensi and Owen weren't there to rescue them, not yet. Instead, they only had minutes until Sidorov returned to the shop, but it was Michelle who was waiting outside to inform him that she pulled off one of his Barbie's heads. Her cover still intact, she had to demand answers from Sam about who he was, and he claimed to be an FBI agent. She shot both him and Deeks in the chest before leaving with Sidorov to "make some money." Once they were gone, Kensi and Owen could move in with the EMTs, but the only thing on Sam's mind: Did Deeks give up Michelle? No.
It was brutal Once at the hospital, however, Deeks wouldn't let the doctor near his mouth, and could you blame him? After the dental torture he just went through, would you want to see all those tools laid out on a tray and have someone looking at your teeth? Kensi tried to help, but Owen pulled her away to continue working, and when they joined Callen, she told him Deeks wouldn't even look at her. It was time for another meet of the three evil men, and once they heard the location of the bombs, they'd move in on them. However, all they mentioned was a ship, so they were stuck following them once again. While Owen followed Vaziri and Kensi followed Sidorov and Michelle, Callen chased Janvier through the mall, only to end up pulling an innocent maintenance worker off his cart and finding the piece of flesh Janvier cut out of himself to remove the Overwatch spray.
One long-time coming conversation After last May's finale, one of the conversations we most wanted to see was one between Sam and Deeks with the former admitting the latter was a good cop and that he underestimated him. "Ascension" gave us what we wanted and more, as Sam paid Deeks a visit in his hospital room. "I owe you for the rest of my life for what you did for me," he told the LAPD detective, who looked like a lost little boy who was in desperate need of a hug. But Deeks wasn't sure about being a cop anymore. "That'll be a huge mistake," Sam told him. "You're a great cop. You're going to make a great agent." "I never thought I'd hear that coming from you," Deeks said. "That was my mistake," Sam admitted. "I won't make it again." Yes, there's the unresolved Deeks/Kensi stuff and their conversation, but we don't think there was anything Deeks needed to hear more than what Sam told him in that hospital room.
And, action! Meanwhile, Sidorov was ready to celebrate his day's work in a hotel room with Michelle and wine, but after a distraction kiss, she snuck away to the bathroom with his phone for Eric to hack. However, just because Sam and Deeks didn't give her up didn't mean she was safe. He knew she had his phone, and by the time Sam (did you really think he was just going to sit back, relax, and heal in a hospital room after being electrocuted when his wife was with Sidorov?) and Kensi got to the room, they were gone. After Eric got hits for multiple planes being chartered from different airports under Sidorov's companies, Sam realized they never left the hotel. They were on the roof, but they weren't going anywhere. Sidorov thought he was going to get away, playing to Sam's weakness of Michelle, but when Andros turned to the door, Deeks was there to shoot him. (Apparently CBS borrowed a cream from the same shop the CW turns to for the guys on "Supernatural" to take care of their injuries to help get Sam and Deeks out of the hospital with enough energy to be bruised and battered but still able to work.) Sidorov was distracted, and there was something very satisfying about Sam putting a couple of bullets in him.
It's all about revenge. Owen had tracked Vaziri to an apartment in Hollywood, the same apartment an exotic dancer with convictions for fraud, theft, and prostitution flying under Janvier's daughter's name, went to, but when Callen and Owen got inside, the woman and Vaziri's men were dead. As for Vaziri, he was tied to the bed, his hands cut off. "It's all about revenge" with Janvier, Callen realized. Vaziri cut off one of Janvier's hands, so he took both of his. A helpful guy on the street called out to them that Janvier was just down the street, and as he drove towards Callen, the agent shot him. But when he came up alongside the car once he stopped, Janvier told him, "Finish it. We both want it." We had to wait a few minutes (and a "Four Months Later") to find out what happened to him, but as we saw, Janvier was locked up. "Eight feet wide. Eleven feet long. Twenty-three hour a day lockdown. Triple life sentence. Priceless." Callen greeted him as he waited in his cell. "Two hour plane ride just to see me step into a cell? Not much going on at home, I guess," Janvier remarked before spouting off about "The Count of Monte Cristo": "It's the story of a man who spent 21 years in prison only to escape and exact his revenge." And as Callen left, he called after him, "The game is not over." With Janvier alive, he was right. The game won't be over until he's dead.
What got him through the pain The other conversation we were hoping to see in the premiere after the finale was some sort of resolution after Deeks finally kissed Kensi. After he was captured and tortured, and really even before it because of who these characters are, we had a feeling this wasn't something that would be resolved with a quick conversation in one episode. But "Ascension" managed to find a way to address what's between Deeks and Kensi without mentioning the kiss and without actually resolving anything. This scene and the scene in the hospital with Sam have to be some of the best work we've seen from Eric Christian Olsen on "NCIS: LA" thus far, just like we suspected would happen after "Descent." She found him packing up a box of his things, and while she tried to be understanding, this wasn't a situation anyone could really understand. "I really hope that you never do," he stopped her when she told him she knew what he was going through. "But if you want to talk about it, or not talk at all, I'm here for you," she told him. What he needed was to get away from everything. "And everyone?" She asked, turning away when he didn't confirm or deny it. But he had one more thing to say: "I just want you to know that the place I went to in my head to stop the pain was you. And I just kept thinking about your smile and your laugh, everything. It’s the only thing that got me through, for whatever it's worth." It was all building up to something. And then... Sam and Callen walked in, interrupting with jokes—wind-up teeth from Sam and fake teeth in Callen's mouth. "Laughing's good," Sam told the cop, and the four were off to get drinks, Deeks leaving that box of belongings behind.
Remember when Kensi accused Deeks of having poor communication skills and he kissed her? Sure, that was one way to communicate how he felt, but for anyone who wanted the words from him, if Kensi really wanted words and not just the action of the kiss, that scene more than made up for it. Going into the premiere, we knew that there was going to be an honest conversation for the partners, and there really is no way other way to describe that conversation but honest. Deeks could have let her walk away, just like he could have let her walk away in the finale, but both times, he stopped her, the first time with the kiss and this time with words. After this, Kensi can't really complain about his communication skills.
"NCIS: Los Angeles" season 5 airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of the premiere "Ascension"?