“NCIS: Los Angeles” has to be the most fun procedural drama on television right now. If you don’t think so, you must not have seen the Monday, Oct. 27 episode, 605, “Black Budget,” which takes Sam and Callen to Mexico to track own the only survivor of a shooting at a Department of Defense office building.
As tends to be the case with “NCIS: LA,” even with a serious case – in this instance, hundreds of covert operations compromised after a group of heavily armed men shoot up the DoD’s West Coast Office of Accounting and Contracting and steal its servers – they still take a moment to laugh and banter. Take for instance, Sam and Callen in the middle of a gunfight discussing who gets the extra bullet and actually talking about how it’s not the right time for even one comment about that. Then there’s Kensi and Deeks in the middle of a crime scene eating chips and talking with food in their mouths when the office manager comes over and tells them about the missing servers and that he should’ve been there during the shooting. See, serious moments but light-hearted banter, and that works on this show like it wouldn’t on any other.
It would be remiss to not comment on Tim Griffin’s portrayal of the leader of the team responsible for the shooting because he does such a good job of playing a guy who seems almost bored by the proceedings in the standoff as he demands Milton and Callen refuses to send him out. This character may see himself as the predator and everyone else as his prey, but if there’s one thing that will always be certain it’s that these agents with always be the predators, even when they seem to be backed into a corner. Let’s face it, even when Sam and Callen seem to be in a somewhat hopeless situation, out of bullets, armed only with a gun to use as a heavy object and a machete to hold a guy hostage, they don’t feel like the prey. The other guys do, because you know that Granger is somewhere very close, waiting for the right moment to strike, which he does.
The team is tasked with finding Milton, the only survivor of the shooting, and that sends Callen and Sam to Mexico, where they must be resourceful after a not so pleasant run-in with a DEA agent working a long-term op. After he and his team strip Sam and Callen of their guns, phones and car and force Sam to have to sit in that tiny clown car, which is just cruel, it’s impossible not to smile when Callen reveals he took the agent’s badge, which he then uses to get to the woman Milton had been with in the brothel – here is where it must be noted how amused Callen is by Sam’s “That’s not the only thing that’s healthy” comment – moments before the shooters show up. Sam and Callen get Carmen to safety, with the help of the clown car strategically parked, the commandeering of a taxi and Sam picking Carmen up and booking it out of there.
It’s when Carmen takes them to see Milton that it gets downright hilarious, as Callen and Sam must deal with Milton not being very cooperative, Carmen and her sister fighting over Callen once they find out he’s not married and her mother wielding a shotgun. But when it comes down to it and the shooters show up to get Milton, even though they’re terrified, these women really step it up, in such a way that it wouldn’t be the worse thing to see Sam and Callen take another trip to Mexico in the future and take them up on their hospitality. They deserve the money they left behind for them.
Thanks to Milton’s duffel bag of cash in the dishwasher, Sam and Callen figure out what the others in Los Angeles realize once they clear the office manager and realize that Milton’s inhaler couldn’t have been hit from where he was hiding in the bathroom during the shooting. He’s working with the shooters, and all signs point to these guys being the Delta unit Duster, guilty of receiving money for operations that never occurred. (Anyone else think as soon as Milton looks at the clock in the beginning that he’s in on it?)
They’re not sending Milton out to the team, so that means improvising with what they have since they’re outgunned. They do have what they need to make Molotov cocktails, and the machete does come in handy, so everyone inside does hold his and her own. When Sam and Callen run out of bullets, however, they have to get even more creative, and fortunately, that’s when Granger arrives with the real Delta unit. The unit had been tracking these men, really an arms dealing team that had been laundering money. And yes, the Delta unit does enjoy saving a “lifeguard,” as they call SEALs. It’s like breathing a sigh of relief when it’s revealed that the Delta unit isn’t guilty of fraud and murder.
“NCIS: Los Angeles” season 6 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of episode 5 “Black Budget”?