NCIS Los Angeles Review: “Expiration Date”

Photo credit: cbs.com

Photo credit: cbs.com

Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season six episode “Expiration Date.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.

A few hours before this episode aired, my mother asked me if they were killing off LL Cool J’s character, Sam. Because I had actually missed all the previews for this episode, I had no clue what she was talking about. As it turns out, Callen’s bluff about Sam dying of his gunshot wound was in the preview. My mother hadn’t seen any of the episodes this season, but I assured her that LL Cool J wouldn’t be dying. “If they kill off a main character like that, it’ll be in the season finale,” I told her.

And I was right, of course. Sam didn’t die. They may have tried to fool the audience during the last sequence in the hospital but he was never in real danger. He’s got something called “Main Character Armor” which protects him (much more effectively than the kevlar vest he probably should have been wearing). Because of that, this plot point wasn’t very effective in “Expiration Date.” Surprisingly it was the Deeks, Kensi, and guest star Thapa storyline that made the episode worth watching.

Despite what the previews made it look like, the episode didn’t do much to raise the stakes after Sam got shot. After Callen pretends Sam’s dead to make Ella talk, Eric reveals in a scene not long after that Sam is still alive, although for how much longer still remains in question. But the tension has already been ruined. The audience should know by now that one of the main characters of the series isn’t going to die offscreen on an operating table. That’s just not how shows like this work. And because the tension is gone, so is the interest in this storyline. Sure, we see a bit of how Callen isn’t handling the situation very well but since we already know Sam is gonna be okay, we know that Callen’s anger isn’t going to be something that sticks around. It’s a missed moment for character development. Without the mystery of Sam’s fate, it doesn’t really go anywhere.

On the other hand, we finally get some relationship drama from Deeks and Kensi, and surprisingly, it was not all that bad. The two of them have their first “real argument” which comes as no surprise since they’re apparently spending basically every day and night together. This is a bit of a cliched problem, but it’s also a real one that people have sometimes so I liked the exploration of the topic.

And it was nice to see Thapa the Gurkha back too (even though I had forgotten about his first appearance until the recap at the beginning of the episode). He’s kind of a flat character who really only exists to give (rather good) relationship advice to Deeks, but I think the writers made an attempt to flesh out his character some here. He’s an interesting guy with an interesting past. And just as I was starting to hope that maybe he’d be a character that would make more appearances, they killed him off. (He doesn’t get to wear Sam’s Main Character Armor. Sorry Thapa.) This is typical for NCISLA, but I thought his death resonated a bit more than other guest star characters because of the time devoted in the episode to his character and his friendship with Deeks.

In the end, Deeks and Kensi understand that they need to spend time apart to keep their relationship working. It’s tempting to move fast, but in the long run, it’s better if they slow down a bit. I don’t feel like I often see relationships handled this way on TV which is why I liked the end of the episode so much. You can tell that Deeks and Kensi truly care for each other (and have for a very long time) and I definitely don’t want to see them mess that up by rushing things. In my last review, I mentioned that the audience doesn’t get to see a lot of the characters’ lives outside of work, but I think this episode did a good job of showing Deeks and Kensi’s relationship without having to show us much more than just that waking up in bed scene. I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship will continue to progress this season.

So even though the preview for this episode clearly put the focus on Sam getting hurt, the real drama of the episode was with the other half of the cast. Which just goes to show that you can never judge an episode by its preview.

Confidential Notes from the Boat Shed

  • Oh there was an actual investigation in this episode too involving some lady named Ella who defected from India or something. I don’t know. We were thrown right into the plot and just got exposition afterwards. Either way, it wasn’t that interesting. I still don’t quite know why the Evil Gurkhas were attacking Thapa.
  • Can we take a moment to acknowledge how well-coordinated those Evil Gurkhas were in the hospital when they all drew their swords? Because that was kinda hilariously cool. Instead of being terrorists, they probably should have just formed a boy band.
  • There has been a serious lack of Eric and Nell lately. I still don’t know why the writers are neglecting them.
  • I kind of enjoyed the moment Deeks broke into the hospital hallway with an ax entirely too much.
  • Seriously though, why do they not wear kevlar all the time?? Especially on routine ops when they have time to put it on beforehand
  • Seems that there won’t be a new episode next week either? I’m not sure. But I’ll be back with another review whenever the next episode airs.

So what did you think? Were you fooled or did you know Sam wasn’t in any real danger? Do you like how Deeks and Kensi’s relationship is going? Are you gonna miss Thapa? Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments!

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