NCIS Los Angeles Season 1 Episode 1: Identity

Episode 1×01

NCIS Los AngelesFour months after being shot, Special Agent Callen returns back to the NCIS Los Angeles Office of Special Projects to solve a kidnapping case.

ORIGINAL U.S. AIR DATE – September 22, 2009
WRITTEN BY – Shane Brennan
DIRECTED BY – James Whitmore Jr.
STARRING – Chris O’Donnell (NCIS Special Agent G. Callen), Peter Cambor Operational (Psychologist Nate Getz), Daniela Ruah (Agent Kensi Blye), Adam Jamal Craig (Agent Dominic Vail), Barrett Foa (Eric Beal), Linda Hunt (Henrietta “Hetty” Lange), LL Cool J (Agent Sam Hanna)
GUEST STARRING – Rocky Carroll (Director Leon Vance), Daniel Edward Mora (Emilio), Ariel Gade (Emma Perez), Alex Fernandez (Luis Perez), Mathew St. Patrick (Bobby Nixon), Clare Carey (Helen McGuire), Eddie J. Fernandez (Suburban Diver)

As I mentioned in the last article, the first five minutes of NCIS: Los Angeles’ premiere is packed full of action and plot intros. We’re introduced to our first case involving a Navy Intelligence Officer who appears to have been killed from the crossfire of a shootout between the police and suspects after a high-speed chase.

We’re also introduced to the tie-in on what happened to Chris O’Donnell’s character “Agent G. Callen” after the ambush in the public plaza (which took place during the crossover Pilot episode “Legend.” On NCIS). Callen greets his partner “Agent Sam Hanna” (LL Cool J’s character). He wants to know if Callen is sure he’s ready to comeback yet, as they make their way to their base of operations.

NCIS LA 1x01aThey arrive at their division’s new base, an old condemned commercial building that the department has upgraded significantly on the inside. This is likely done to protect the department and maintain it’s security and anonymity after what happened to Callen during NCIS. The place is bustling with Agent activity. The rest of the cast here debuts here as well, with nearly all of the members of the Unit returning from their appearance in the NCIS “Legend” episode.

The Team has a briefing with “NCIS Director Leon Vance”, where Leon informs Callen not to worry that his case is still active, and they’ll catch the guy who ambushed him. The team is told that the men who were shot were Mexican, and they’re worried because in less than twelve hours, there will be a military operation on both sides of the US-Mexico border against the drug cartels, and the dead Naval Intelligence Officer (McGuire), had a lot of information about this operation. They need to make sure their intel has not been compromised.

NCIS LA 1x01bThe team goes over footage from the shootout and are able to determine from various angles and closeups, that the Naval Officer wasn’t killed by the crossfire, but rather the 2nd gunmen shot him execution style as a last ditch maneuver before dying. This tells the Team that whatever they were involved with, they wanted to protect the secret getting out at all costs.

Callen and Sam visit McGuire’s home and hear a message being deleted as they walk in. Callen calls Eric to trace McGuire’s phone logs. Kensi looks up background information on McGuire and sees that he graduated in the top 1% of the Naval Academy, reinforcing his Naval Intelligence background. While exploring McGuire’s house, they find a photo of McGuire with his niece and a lot of birthday cards. They see that the house isn’t ransacked, and determine that he wasn’t taken against his will, and wonder if McGuire was working with his abductors (IE: a traitor). They also find McGuire’s encrypted laptop.

NCIS LA 1x01cThey leave his apartment after not gaining much ground, and Callen decides to speak with the complex’s gardener, thinking he may have seen something or knew McGuire. The gardener tells him that McGuire was a nice guy and that he saw him just this morning with some guys entering an SUV. He says that they looked like friends of McGuire’s, and they had been over at his place every day this week. While Sam is waiting for Callen to finish the conversation, he notices that they are being watched. He begins chasing the car, but it gets away. Sam does notice though that the car did not have any plates.

After more research, they discover that the only living relative he has left is a sister and her daughter, Emma, who live nearby. Eric digs up more info on a friend of McGuire’s – a special forces officer. This is the same guy who’s been calling McGuire’s phone repeatedly, deleting his messages, and was the one watching Sam and Callen at McGuire’s house. Callen and Sam pay a visit to Bobby J.Jenlow, and have a brief discussion with Bobby but they get nowhere. Sam believes that Bobby’s putting a team together to get back at the cartel, and rescue McGuie’s niece Emma.

Kensi and Nate go to speak to Helen McGuire, who says she’s noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Nate says that Helen seems on edge and he believes that everything she’s been telling him has been a lie. Hetty gives Callen his new gear after he updates his hand and retinal scans and tells him he needs to update his wardrobe. Though he grew up in an orphanage, she says that he needs to dress more appropriately now. Callen asks her why she never calls him “G,” what most people call him. She says it’s a letter and not a name. She asks him what it stands for and he says that he never knew.

NCIS LA 1x01dThe team has assembled together to try and crack the case. Kensi thinks that McGuire betrayed his country for the love of his niece, and figures out the cartel is holding McGuire’s niece hostage. She goes back to Helen’s house in order to get more information from her.

While she’s there, Emma’s dad (Luis Perez) calls from London and says that he’s on the first flight out to see them. He had no idea what was going on until that morning when Helen called to let him know. Kensi reassures him that they are NCIS and will do whatever they can in their power to bring Emma home safely. Sam and Callen go up to try and rescue Emma as well. After a shoot out by the cartel house entrance, they find Bobby’s team dead inside, and Bobby himself is badly wounded. They also discover that the cartel has already moved Emma. They check the GPS on the cartel car and see that the only repeat trip it had taken was to a house in Malibu, which is owned by a drug lord.

NCIS LA 1x01eSam and Callen drive up to the Malibu house and debate how to get inside. The team decides to give Manny, the drug lord, what he wants – satellite access. The men go in under the cover of a lawyer and his client. They say they were referred to him by McGuire and asked about Emma. Manny says he knows nothing. Callen says he can offer him full satellite coverage of the Mexican border and just as they were about to strike a deal, Emma comes running downstairs and runs into the arms of her father. Both Callen and Sam look on in disbelief at this twist and sudden change of events.

The team alerts Callen that Emma’s father knows they are NCIS and that the mission has been compromised. He sends her off to the pool and brings out his gun. As Emma’s father points a gun to Cullen’s head, his phone rings. He tells Emma’s father that the caller is McGuire and that he’s not really dead and at that point tries to take his gun (which was a a hoax to by Callen enough time to distract and disarm Manny). The men are shot and Callen gets Helen on the phone to speak with Emma.

Back at the office, the Team is heading home after a successfully solved case, and Hetty hands Callen a large of backlogged paperwork from when he was out, and nags him about catching up. While she’s about to leave later that night, she sees that Callen falls asleep on the area lounge.

MY TAKE: Overall I think this was a good first episode to the new series. They started off with far more flair and action than the previous NCIS did in it’s premiere. There are two significant differences between the two NCIS series though. The first being that NCIS: LA doesn’t have most of the Team on the frontlines like NCIS, instead Callen and Sam do most of the undercover work. This may change as the show progresses throughout the Season. Also, there’s no clear team-leader here yet, like Gibbs role in NCIS. The NCIS: LA team functions more like Teams from shows like Bones, Fringe, Castle, The Mentalist, etc. Again, this may change as the show progresses, but so far it offers a nice fresh platform for the NCIS franchise. I also really enjoy the chemistry between LL Cool J’s Sam, and Chris O’Donnell’s Callen. They smoothly interact with each other, and the rest of the Team, and offer the same banter that the original NCIS team has (but in a more tolerable manner, which is good).


~ by paradisereason on September 25, 2009.

5 Responses to “NCIS Los Angeles Season 1 Episode 1: Identity”

  1. […] Guide for Season 1 Episode 1 is now up, along with my personal take on the episode. You can read it here for the NCIS: Los Angeles Episode “Identity”. Possibly related posts: (automatically […]

  2. I must say I like how you do a full recap on the show and then give your POV. It allows for the reader to gain their own insights without being forced to see it through the eyes of the reviewer. I still have the episode on my DVR so I am hoping to watch it tomorrow. Good post. Keep it up.

  3. Thanks (on both counts)! 😀

    Yeah I separated out the Episode Guide form my the Premiere post because I didn’t want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to see it. Yeah that was what I was aiming for, I like it when my readers think and read for themselves, drawing their own conclusions…that’s why I kept my POV at the end.

    I’ll try to be as diligent as I can, and get each Episode Guide up as fast as I can (pretty much the same format as this). Glad you liked it, and I look forward to more of your great comments and visits too!!!

  4. I was really disappointed. And I didn’t want to be disappointed. I felt it was formula good guy/bad guy TV. It wasn’t enough to hold my interest. I’m not sure I’m going to continue to watch. Maybe I needed to be a big NCIS fan first – I was only an occasional fan of the original series.

  5. Yeah, the first episode left you feeling you needed more to get into it. But, give it a couple more Episodes, the 2nd was actually much more better (see my Episode Guide for that). It was actually better (a lot of people thought is was better than the 1st Episode)…mainly because the characters interact more, and show more emotion and comedy that the original NCIS had.

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