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'NCIS: Los Angeles' react: DiNozzo heads to California

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Neil Jacobs/CBS

[This post contains details from the NCIS: Los Angeles episode that aired Oct. 19.]

The Los Angeles branch of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has been humming along just fine for seven seasons now. But this, of course, was before one Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo paid them a visit. What kind of havoc will he wreak in California?

Mostly the verbal kind, as it turns out. In this week’s crossover episode, DiNozzo turns up in L.A. when Rio Syamsundin, a suspect he was supposed to collect, escapes custody. The best parts of the episode are DiNozzo’s reactions to the California crew and theirs to him. However, we also have to wade through buckets of exposition during the “getting to know you” phase.

DiNozzo’s introduction to the L.A. team is a literal roll call as each character’s name and title are spelled out. DiNozzo, whose natty suit screams East Coast cool, doesn’t know what to make of them, particularly because they’re dressed in typical office wear (Granger), workout gear (Sam and Blye), full Renaissance garb (Nell), contempo casuals (Eric), purple polyester (Hetty), and Uma Thurman’s yellow tracksuit from Kill Bill (Deeks).

“So this is the secret lair of the West Coast Avengers,” DiNozzo muses. “I always wondered.”

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DiNozzo certainly doesn’t know what to make of Hetty — but then, does anybody? She wishes him a more successful visit to L.A. after, you know, the whole Jenny Shepard thing. Her steely gaze unnerves DiNozzo — maybe because she’s Just. So. Little.

Speaking of stoic authority figures, DiNozzo would strongly prefer that Gibbs back in D.C. doesn’t discover that their suspect is in the wind. Blye even helps him duck a call by faking a “technical difficulties” recording. Impressive initiative, lady!

In fact, DiNozzo and Blye get along like gangbusters. They dish about clothing designers, which clearly makes Deeks crazy, and he and DiNozzo go toe-to-toe over hippie hair, who can speak French, who carries a man purse, and who’s cooking meth in his trailer. They also have a sad/sweet conversation about shipping — as in, DiNozzo’s been there with a coworker, and it doesn’t work. Tiva! Sniff!

NEXT: Hetty delivers a message from Gibbs [pagebreak]

In the episode’s first half, if almost felt like the NCIS: LA writers didn’t trust their regular audience to focus with DiNozzo’s blindingly white teeth on the scene, nor did they trust the curious NCIS audience to keep up with the California shenanigans. How’d Rio get off the plane undetected? What’s he doing tooling around L.A. in a convertible? Why does he have a bunch of pills and moisturizers? The agents muse, at great length, about every development before realizing that, like Michael Long before him, Rio’s getting plastic surgery to change his face and identity. (What, you don’t know Michael Long? Well, how about Michael Knight?) When they find a KITT T-shirt in Rio’s possessions, they’re vindicated.

Then things really take off when they track down Rio, played by Bobby Lee, who borrows heavily (but amusingly) from the Ken Jeong school of acting. Sam manhandles him, and he yells, “I’m small, bro! You’re big!” (This despite the fact that Sam was offended when DiNozzo assumed he’d want to be the bad cop during an interrogation.)

Rio slips away from Sam and Callen, then from DiNozzo and Blye, only to be cornered by Deeks, which causes Rio to shout for help: “I’m being attacked by a homeless man! Does everybody in American own a gun or something?” Ha ha…ouch. (Speaking of ouch, we’re all pretending the Eric/Nell furry conversation never happened, right? Good.)

Finally, bad guy captured and peace restored, the team assembles back at the West Coast headquarters, where Hetty tells a nervous DiNozzo that Gibbs called, and she’s to deliver a message. She asks him to bend down and, of course, smacks him on the back of the head. “That’s from Gibbs. Now get out of my town.”

What say you, NCIS: LA-ers? Was this, as Sam reassures DiNozzo, “Just another day in L.A., baby”?  It would’ve been nice to see Sam and G. interact a bit more with DiNozzo, though he and Deeks more than made up for that.

DiDeeks (DeeksNozzo?) forever!

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