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'NCIS: Los Angeles' 'Three Hearts' review: The end of the beginning?

'NCIS: Los Angeles' season 5 episode 21 "Three Hearts"
'NCIS: Los Angeles' season 5 episode 21 "Three Hearts"
Cliff Lipson/CBS, used with permission

With the Tuesday, April 15 episode of "NCIS: Los Angeles," 521, "Three Hearts," on CBS, a new character is introduced that we'd love to see back, if only because it would be a shame not to see what else Daniel Henney could do with this role. Plus, Kensi and Deeks are really left with no choice but to talk about their personal relationship, due to the nature of the case.

"Everybody's got three hearts. The first heart, that's the one you show to strangers. The second heart, only your family gets to see that, your family and the person put on this earth to walk by your side, your soulmate. But that third heart is the thing. Never let anyone see it. There's too much truth inside, too much risk."

First of all, let's get the case out of the way. Knowing that Angelo's an undercover agent means that the staged abduction to bring him in isn't a surprise, though it is always entertaining to see how this team pulls off things like that. Attempted car jacking mid-extraction? No problem, it's "kinda fun," as Callen describes it. Like usual, the little things make it work, and it's up to the team to figure out if the agency has lost Angelo because of his 19-month deep cover with a smuggler in possession of a one-ton container of something. At first, Hetty and Granger are the ones in the boatshed with him, but then Hetty has a better idea: Kensi and Deeks.

In one word, Angelo is fun. Sure, while part of us wants him to be good so he can come back, there's just something about him that makes it obvious that he can't be trusted. Henney plays this role superbly, and his scenes with everyone, but especially with Hetty, are pure gold. Enough cannot be said about the writing either; Dave Kalstein and Kyle Harimoto came up with some of the best lines of the season in his scenes, and he delivered those lines exactly as he needed to, toeing that line of good and bad, of too deep and the NCIS agent, of seeing too much and saying too much.

Is it just a bit too easy that Angelo claims to have turned Olivia? Yes. As soon as he gives Hetty the safe word, his fate is sealed, and after the team easily takes down Brunson, Olivia and their men, Angelo learns a lesson he should have already known by her reputation alone: Don't get on Hetty's bad side. He may be free to go, but he might as well have a long set of chains binding him to Hetty's side wherever he goes. His third heart belongs to a traitor, and his true name has been wiped from public record. All he has left is Paul Angelo, and when Hetty calls him to collect on her debt, he better do what she tells him. Please let her call on him to collect; Henney has to come back at least once.

You know what's great about TV shows? Continuity and little threads that help tie two episodes that may be separated by, oh, 10 others. Much like "The Frozen Lake" was what Kensi wanted most in the world, "Three Hearts" comes into play as Kensi and Deeks are sent in to question Angelo (see quote above). After Kensi returns to work to some classic banter with Deeks, and they're about to maybe make plans for that night, they're interrupted by the case, but they can't escape the personal side of their relationship, not with Angelo in the room with them.

Angelo comments to Deeks that Kensi saw his third heart, warns him it won't end well. He mentions that she looks at him when he fidgets with his hair and he gets stronger just by hearing her voice, something that reminds us of Deeks telling Kensi how he got through the torture at the end of the season premiere. He warns them to "tread lightly" with each other. He does get to Deeks, at least, as after, Kensi tries to assure him that what happened between Angelo and Olivia has nothing to do with them, but he can't help but see himself in Angelo's position. "I would never let that happen to you," she tells him, but there's one problem. "You would be the reason it happened in the first place," he explains.

But where does this leave "Densi's" personal relationship? With the case over, it's time to talk about their "thing," and he admits he doesn't know what to do with it. She asks what his third heart tells him, and he gives her her knife back before adding, "Contrary to hundreds of year of scientific evidence, I believe that raccoons do mate for life." With that, she takes down that box that has been sitting up on that shelf all this time, but it couldn't be that easy, could it? She slits it open with the knife and leaves him to it, but inside is another box. "Touché," he gives her before leaving that box on his desk.

As always, Hetty is watching, this time with Granger by her side. "The beginning of the end?" He asks. "End of the beginning," she replies. If this is, in fact, the end of the beginning, where do Kensi and Deeks go from here?

As much as "Spoils of War" had been this big episode that the season had been building up to, the moment that Kensi would be reunited with her team, so was this episode, ever since that conversation near the end of "The Frozen Lake" that had to be put on hold. Sure, nothing is really resolved in this episode, but would you really want (or do you really expect to see) Kensi and Deeks sitting down and talking about their relationship any further than they do in their final conversation? Especially after this case? It seems like a setup for what's to come to end the season and to begin the next, and for now, as long as more torture isn't in either of their futures, let's consider this a win for moving this storyline along.

"NCIS: Los Angeles" season 5 airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 21 "Three Hearts"? What do you think of where Kensi and Deeks are by the end? What do you think is in the box? And do you want to see more of Paul Angelo?

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