The last truncated season ended with Chief Petty Officer Thomas Argento, a SEAL, being arrested for war crimes by Sam and Callen on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 11 Episode 22.
So what should have been the finale of last season ended up being NCIS: Los Angeles Season 12 Episode 2.
Was there any doubt about what the outcome would be in the fictionalized version of the trial of Eddie Gallagher? The prosecutor even mentioned Gallagher in case the storyline was being too subtle for some viewers.
This proved that some shows (I’m talking about you, SVU) do ripped-from-the-headlines better than others.
Tracie Thoms, who has become one of TV’s most reliable character actors, was impressive as the prosecutor Castro, cool under fire even as her case was falling apart.
On the flip side, Heather Mazur as the opposition counsel had little to do but act snide and look dazzling in a red Nancy Reagan pantsuit, no mean trick.
This was a highly watched and pressurized trial, in case you missed the point hammered home from everyone from the judge down to Roundtree (yes, he’s officially the lowest on the NCIS food chain, the reason for his presence remaining unclear). Sam, and to a lesser degree Roundtree, were there to provide moral support for Sam.
Just in case anybody might side with Argento, Juan Reidinger portrayed the CPO as one arrogant SOB who felt incredibly entitled to do whatever he wanted while in country.
The only surprise was that, in the end, Argento would have been merely a beneficiary of this conspiracy and not an active participant.
This one was personal for Sam, as he saw Argento as besmirching everything for which a SEAL stood.
That’s why Sam was particularly offended when the prosecution’s case started to fall apart and it appeared that Argento might get away with his atrocities in Afghanistan.
You could tell Sam was shook when those he considered his brothers in arms betrayed the cause.
Even though you knew he couldn’t, didn’t you just want Sam to smack the smug off Argento’s face when they were alone in a room during the trial recess?
Sam, and to a lesser degree Roundtree, were there to provide moral support for Sam, with Callen as usual getting the investigative ball rolling.
Of the three witnesses, only Cole was acting in character. That should have been a clue not to trust him, that he was only using Roundtree to find Moffett.
Fortunately, Moffett was terrible at hiding, holing up at his ex-girlfriend’s house. If Cole knew about Moffett’s gym and his ex, why exactly did he need NCIS in order to check out two places?
Moffett felt guilty and spilled everything he knew, which helped bring the scheme into better focus.
At the same time, about two-thirds of the way through the episode, a perfect suspect appeared out of the blue, SEAL legend Parker Cole (so Sam isn’t the only SEAL legend in the NCIS universe?).
Of course, Callen picked right up on this new player, somewhat out of place in this scene.
But before that came the interplay between Fatima and Nell (not that I mind his absence, but where is Eric?).
Nell and Fatima work well together, although, as Nell pointed out, they don’t finish each other’s sentence such as Nell and Eric do.
Also, it appeared that Nell, who isn’t even officially back to work at OSP, will be filling Hetty’s chair (literally) for the time being. We didn’t even get a Hetty cameo this time out.
It did seem early on out of character for two such calm and collected women to be so stressed about the trial.
Having such a bad-ass such as Fatima failing badly at meditation just provoked a “huh?” rather than the comic relief it was intended to be.
Still, they came through when it counted, unearthing Argento’s odd collection of visitors, a series of messengers, while he was in prison.
That’s when Martin, the obtuse courier-service employee, came to play a crucial role.
Some of the best scenes on NCIS: Los Angeles are when Kensi and Deeks interrogate some of the city’s “characters.”
Some of the worse are Deeks being Deeks, but that’s an argument for another review.
This time out, they had to interview Martin, who, quick on the uptake as he was, discovered Deeks had the same first name as him.
But as dense as Martin was, he knew things. Kensi and Deeks just had to pull those out of him.
First came a description of the mastermind. Next came the fact that Martin had him on video “but no photos.”
As frightening as it was, Martin was the key witness that brought down this conspiracy to free Argento.
What was never discussed was why Parker Cole felt this need to free Argento. I guess some military men think there’s no such thing as war crimes. The Geneva Convention says otherwise.
And would it have killed them to have an actual verdict? That’s the whole point of legal drama.
Anyway, that’s one loose thread from last season tied up now.
We even got funny exchanges between Kensi and Deeks and Sam and Callen at the end of a tense episode.
To revisit the Argento storyline, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Were you glad to see Argento get his?
Which pairings shown the most for you?
Was the case itself a little thin?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.