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'NCIS: Los Angeles' 'War Cries' review: Secrets, lies and encrypted messages

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"NCIS: Los Angeles" season 5 continued Tuesday, Feb. 4, with episode 14, "War Cries," which was just another example of why this may end up being the show's best season yet.

This "NCIS: LA" episode was one of the season's strongest. While we'd prefer to see the entire team on the same continent, Kensi's mission in Afghanistan has become more and more intriguing, to the point that it could have overshadowed the rest of the episode. Instead, the team revisited a storyline we'd been hoping they would sooner rather than later, making for a very solid episode overall. The nature of the case allowed for them to show what Nell can do outside of Ops, and Granger was highlighted in a way that resulted in what was his best episode yet.

Back when "Impact" aired at the beginning of this season, we noted that they still had to catch the major players when the job was done for the day, and it was good to see D7 come back into play, complete with a quick recap for those who may have forgotten that case wasn't closed. It was just "another day at the office" for the LA team, as Sam and Callen ended up getting prostitutes away from their pimp (or "agent," as he called himself), Deeks helped a prostitute keep her job by lying and telling her boss she helped take down a counterfeiting ring, and Deeks revealed a new game: Gun Twister.

Two former D7 guys were found dead, and the team was led to Robert Brown, formerly D7. Unlike his former coworkers, he wasn't working for the new D7, Durendell Securities, but people wanted him dead. When they brought him in, he said bad stuff went down in Afghanistan and wanted protection, which he didn't think they could give him since D7 had the Defense Department in their back pocket and half of the Pentagon on speed dial. However, when Deeks and Granger (he of the facial hair that made him look like a pirate, according to Eric) intercepted a Durendell employee breaking into Brown's house, we got what was maybe the best Granger moment yet as he fired next to the guy's ear and threatened to put the next bullet in his head for answers. It turned out Brown was a psycho who had killed three women in Afghanistan…and they had left Nell to watch him.

As we've seen before, Nell can take care of herself, and she did, stabbing him several times even as he had control of the gun and an arm around her throat, but it was a good thing Sam and Callen arrived when they did. "Not bad for an analyst," Granger commented of one of the strange meerkats he thought could use a window or an exercise wheel earlier in the episode.

Meanwhile, Kensi's arc in Afghanistan just kept getting more and more interesting, meaning we became more and more worried for her, especially with what we saw from Hetty and Granger in "War Cries." While Granger told Deeks Kensi was "doing good" in Afghanistan (and turned down his offer to use is vacation time to back her up), he did wonder why Hetty insisted on sending her and didn't buy it when she said he needed someone he could trust. There seemed to be more to Granger asking Nell and Eric and then Deeks if they had been in communication with her, and his "not really" when Deeks asked if there was anything he ended to know spoke volumes.

As for Kensi's mission, Booker has grown on us as a character, and with Kensi suspecting Sabatino, we can't help but wonder if she should be looking into Booker. The signs did seem to point to Sabatino. What exactly happened when he and the previous sniper were out there? Who were the three men in local attire he met with? Why was he pulled from the Sidorov case? There was something (maybe more like a few somethings) very sketchy about Sabatino.

Finally, since the episode's descriptions revealed that Sam was setting Callen up on a blind date, we got some classic Sam and Callen banter, though the ending wasn't a surprise at all, and it played out exactly like we expected it to: Sam and Michelle "couldn't make it" but their friends stayed anyway for dinner. We did like Callen and Joelle together in that short scene, and while it would be nice for Callen to get a chance at happiness, will it be with her? Will he (and we) even see her again? Only time will tell.

"NCIS: Los Angeles" season 5 airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 14 "War Cries"?

© Meredith Jacobs 2014

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