Several team members found themselves making hard choices amid hunting an infamous arsonist.
And it was questionable if those involved in that arson case truly deserved all the blame on NCIS: Los Angeles Season 14 Episode 8.
Finally, stop me if you’ve heard this before, Callen went off doing his own thing again, this time surprisingly with Kilbride’s tacit blessing.
First was the arson at the defense contractor, which made little sense from the get-go.
To begin with, why would a socially conscious arsonist who had been a fugitive for three years reappear only to set a splashy fire in a building under renovation, then use his well-known signature on it?
Also, rather than set the fires in the early-morning hours as On Alert had always done, the arsonist set the fire right after work was done for the day. This choice resulted in the foreman surprising the arsonist and getting killed for his troubles.
On Alert had always been a spree arsonist, so the squad had to assume there would be more fires, although where wasn’t at all evident.
With Callen off on yet another special assignment and Kensi gone for a second consecutive episode, this time chaperoning a field trip, it was an opportunity to shake things up again.
This rearrangement included a much-needed chance for Rountree to come to the fore, although not necessarily in a good way.
First, he was seen in his ongoing role as Sam’s protege, having been suckered into competing in a triathlon with Sam for undisclosed reasons.
This decision led to much good-natured ribbing built on his naivety by Callen, Sam, and even Fatima. Fatima must love having someone to lord it over.
Then, naturally, the On Alert task force leader was Summer Morehurst, quickly revealed as Rountree’s ex following a messy breakup.
Perhaps out of ignorance, Kilbride threw the two of them together, pairing Sam with Deeks, sure to cause uncomfortable pairings all around. As Callen learned, Kilbride had his reasons and zero desire to explain his actions.
Generally seeming a somewhat sensitive man, Rountree evidently bungled the end of his relationship with Summer, ghosting her because of all that he had going on in his life at the time. She rightfully didn’t appreciate that, even years later.
Possibly because Devin had the common sense to lead with an apology, they worked pretty well together, discovering that Perez was still in touch with his closest relatives and almost apprehending him.
At the same time, Sam and Deeks discovered how much the arsonist’s behavior veered from Perez’s previous M.O., including working with an accomplice.
Then, miraculously, Kilbride managed to run Ops well enough to track down the arsonist’s possible accomplice and Perez’s hideout.
That was quite the twist when the captured Perez claimed that Navarro, his former environmental-terrorist running mate, was the arsonist using Perez’s formula and that Navarro had co-opted Perez’s gullible daughter Crystal as his accomplice.
Their targets were a group of companies that had supported an environment-bashing Senator, who they stalked on their final mission before being arrested. It was sad watching Perez and Crystal being taken away because they chose to protect the planet through violent means.
Poor Deeks has been learning the actual weight of being a parent. The choices he had to make in this episode drove home that point.
Out of the blue, Kilbride offered Deeks the opportunity to attend an NCIS conference. Thinking it was being held in Branson, Deeks demurred until Kilbride pointed out that this year’s edition was planned for a surfing mecca in Costa Rica.
This opportunity led Deeks to ponder every parent’s secret fantasy — a chance to take a break from parenting, if only for a short while. Being Deeks, this meant a lot of out-loud mulling to anyone that would listen.
Since he was partnered with Sam, this meant that Sam took the brunt of this contemplation. Sam, the newly anointed protector of his father Raymond, flat out told Deeks that there’s no time off for caretakers.
At first, Deeks couldn’t bring up the topic with Kensi, busy escorting many teens on a trip to Washington, D.C. She gave her approval when he finally did.
In the end, Deeks did the right thing, refusing to lay any additional burden on Kensi. His loss would prove to be Rountree’s gain. Devin could use a trip out of the country to figure out his maybe on-again relationship with Summer.
Kilbride’s gift to Callen of the Pembrook file was the biggest surprise. Pembrook was bound to come up again sooner rather than later, and Kilbride expedited the process by calling in some favors to help Callen.
Callen was kidding himself when he told Kilbride that his off-the-books investigation of his past did not affect his job as an OSP agent. Even when he’s there, Callen isn’t fully there anymore.
For years, Callen has sought to solve the mystery of who G Callen is. For him to claim otherwise is disingenuous.
Kilbride was correct that often Hetty did the wrong thing for the right reason. The Callen of today is living proof of that.
To follow Callen’s past, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
How soon did you suspect that Perez wasn’t the current arsonist?
How badly did Rountree handle his relationship with Summer?
Is being a parent forcing Deeks to make more mature decisions?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.