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'NCIS: Los Angeles' 'Iron Curtain Rising' review: Consequences

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"NCIS: Los Angeles" season 5 continued Tuesday, Dec. 10, with episode 11, "Iron Curtain Rising," and while Sam, Callen, and Deeks hunted down a war criminal in LA, Kensi got her new assignment overseas from Granger.

One of the best parts about this "NCIS: LA" episode was the way it dealt with the consequences of one's actions. For Zevlos, it was facing what he had done when he was a Communist leader in Romania. For Kensi and Deeks, in a way, at least the way Deeks saw it (but we're convinced Kensi would have been sent on this mission even if "The Frozen Lake" hadn't happened), it was facing the consequences of their "thing." For the team, as Hetty told Sam and Callen at the end, it was facing a day off without pay, as she put it, for disobeying her orders.

This team has a tendency to disobey orders and do what they need to in order to solve a case, and at the end of the day, it seems like all that happens is they all go out for a beer, celebrate being alive, and one of them offers to pay. Not this time. Instead of ending the episode (or at least Sam and Callen's part of it) with the agents successfully evading Hetty and the HettyBot (which really wasn't fair; as they pointed out, Hetty was already in three places at once) or their conversation ending with "oh, imagine that, Banks and Zevlos were both arrested," it didn't matter that there were extraordinary circumstances.

As the episode began, it seemed like a family just sitting down for a nice meal together, but because this is "NCIS: LA," you knew something was going to happen. The man took note of a woman noting him and excused himself to the bathroom, and when the FBI team swept the restaurant, he was gone. That man was Anton Zevlos, a war criminal who had helped mastermind Romania's human trafficking ring by using his position to create false adoption papers for children and babies. Those kids were used as organ donors, and he disappeared after the regime fell. Romania wanted to bring charges against their war criminals, and the government wanted Zevlos. His wife refused to believe that her husband had successfully lied to her all those years, but there was no arguing with the hidden room filled with weapons and the truth about his identity.

Zevlos had a connection with Millionaire Charter, owned by someone who was in the KGB, and when Deeks scoped out the place – while Sam and Callen chased down Zevlos' SUV only to find his lawyer, Carla, had given it to a couple of kids – he saw a CIA Agent pull up. While they looked into Banks, they brought Carla in for questioning, and while she was good as she turned the charm on for Deeks, she was also stupid. She had been sleeping with Zevlos and believed him when he said he was just an arms dealer. The team briefly found him when he went to the bank to try to get money, but after a shootout, he escaped. He did have a grenade, so that was a bit unfair. That was when SecNav ordered them to stand down and stop pursuing Zevlos. But the team wasn't going to let it go, not with what he was doing to kids, and so they set Banks up at Millionaire Charter once they found a flight scheduled for two to Costa Rica.

While Zevlos wasn't going anywhere near an airport after what happened at the bank, Banks didn't know that, and he even invited Nell along to take the empty seat on the flight. He quickly changed his story when Nell brought up her sick mother, but once on board, Sam, Callen, and Deeks got him with the threat of leaving him to crash while they escaped with their parachutes. Banks sang like a canary, offering money, intel, whatever it took, and they handed him over to the agency. But there was still the matter of Zevlos and his stupid lawyer/mistress. They easily tracked her down; she had cashed out her bank account and chartered a boat for their escape. She had only wanted to see him one last time, she explained after they arrested them both after Zevlos even threatened to shoot her in his attempt to get away. But he was going back to face a Romanian war crimes tribunal.

Meanwhile, Kensi arrived at a base in Afghanistan and was completely lost since no one knew why she was there. Then Granger showed up and unfortunately we didn't get much more than what we already knew from the promo. Kensi was there to kill White Ghost, suspected to be an American working with the Taliban because the insurgents were employing advanced combat tactics. It's hard not to speculate where this is going. Will White Ghost turn out to be Jack, Kensi's ex-fiancé who left her on Christmas? You do have to wonder why she had to be the one brought in to kill him. Yes, Kensi has the training, but there are other snipers in NCIS. There has to be a reason why it had to be her.

We were also introduced to two new characters – Rachel Harris and Booker – and neither seemed particularly happy to have Kensi around, something she noted. Unfortunately, Granger wasn't really one to offer any comforting words and just told her to focus on the mission instead of worrying about being liked. But like we said, nothing really new from what we already found out in the preview for the episode. While we understand that this is a storyline that's going to be stretched out over multiple episodes, it would have been nice to get something more.

Finally, Deeks did seem a bit lost at times without his partner around – he had to find his place on the team again, especially as Sam and Callen headed out to speak to Zevlos' wife – and while we normally very much enjoy conversations between Deeks and Hetty, that wasn't true in this episode. Instead, Deeks was pretty much ready to say whatever he needed to to get his partner back, taking responsibility for whatever Hetty thought happened, even offering to return to LAPD, and all Hetty gave him was she had everything she needed when it was over.

As the episode ended, both Deeks and Kensi were looking at the same photo (and Kensi had the photo of Deeks on the camel from "Recruit" on her phone), both zoomed in on the two of them. "Goodnight, Deeks," she said as she turned off her light. It looks like that's the best it's going to get for their "thing" until her mission is over.

"NCIS: Los Angeles" season 5 airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 11 "Iron Curtain Rising"?

© Meredith Jacobs 2013

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