This Tuesday at 9/8c, CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles marks 100 episodes with a kidnapping case that involves someone very close to Agent Callen — he just doesn’t know it yet. Show boss Shane Brennan gave TVLine a preview of the “very powerful” and moving Callen-centric hour and the bombshell it threatens to drop.
TVLINE | When did you know exactly what you wanted to do with Episode 100?
If you go back to the beginning of Season 2, the very first episode, there’s a moment in there that I set up and we in fact we deliver in the hundredth episode. What was really interesting in looking at the hundredth episode, because it’s obviously Callen-centric, was the amount of his backstory that we covered in those other 75 episodes. It’s very rewarding as a writer to have the opportunity to fill out someone’s story like this, as it just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and it’s really, really fulfilling for the actors to be able to take all of that backstory and focus it in on this one episode. Everyone who’s seen it, the first thing they say — every time and without exception — is, “This is Chris O’Donnell’s best work.” He is fantastic in this episode. It’s very powerful and you will be affected by the ending. You really will.
TVLINE | When the script for an episode like this starts circulating to the cast, does Chris ever, like, pick up the phone or get a message to you saying, “Shane, this is dynamite”?
It does happen. Chris is just an absolute professional. He comes prepared every day, he’s someone who walks in and knows his material. But beyond being word-perfect, he is right inside the character and the moment, and understands where it comes from. In a particular episode, he might reference something that happened 25 episodes ago, he’s just masterful at it. And so, yeah, when he saw this script he said, “Wow” – and it was the wow of, “I can’t wait to get into this because it’s big, it’s tough, I’m going to have to work really hard as an actor. This is challenging, and I love that challenge.” And he absolutely delivered.
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TVLINE | And in this episode you’re not just dangling any new piece of the Callen puzzle in front of us. You’re introducing someone who could possibly be his father?
There is a line in the episode where a particular man says, “I am your father.” So, yeah, it was a really interesting episode to write. The production crew just totally nailed it, and there are some great action sequences in it. If you watch the first minute of the show [embedded below], you will have to watch the rest. After the credits, we go back eight hours and you’ll see the day unfold, taking us back up to that point. The first minute of the show is very shocking — two of our people, we don’t know if they’re dead or alive.
TVLINE | The Comescu clan rears its head again, like a bad penny. Who does this latest wrinkle agitate more, Callen or possibly Hetty?
It certainly agitates both of them — Hetty for the reason that she doesn’t want Callen to know what’s going on. And when Callen then sort of breaks protocol a little, Hetty is very concerned about that. It’s one thing to go to Romania and poke the hornet’s nest. It’s another thing to have the hornet’s nest drop into your lap in L.A.
TVLINE | You told me at the start of this season that you were going to be doing something that a show like this doesn’t necessarily do a lot, with Kensi and Deeks — and sure enough, these past few weeks caught me off guard. You really are doing some interesting character work with those two.
Well, they’re such interesting characters — the dynamic between them is really powerful and there’s amazing chemistry. There’s a fan base out there who love these kinds of relationships within series like this, and it’s always challenging to make it fresh and different.
TVLINE | But like I told Eric Christian Olsen over the summer, this is an instance where the female almost wanted it more than the male, that it was Deeks with his walls up.
It was a conscious decision on our part to do two things. One was to not to go down that path that you just described, and to be different. The other thing we wanted to do is to move the relationship, from time to time, and surprise the audience by how quickly things suddenly moved along. We’ve done that with that spontaneous kiss at the end of last season, and then putting Deeks in all of that jeopardy. The relationship now can’t go back to normal because things have changed, and we play that out through the first 10 episodes of the season in a fairly big way. Then there’s quite a shocking moment in Episode 10 that throws everything awry, and then for the next eight or so episodes it’s Kensi and Deeks and their relationship is in some serious trouble, and then there’s very much a big, big, big shock around Episode 18 for both of them, one that shakes their relationship again. This is definitely the season of Kensi and Deeks.
TVLINE | Do you care to rule out that either of the big shocks are dictated by Daniela Ruah’s real-life pregnancy?
I will definitely, and utterly, and totally rule that out. The pregnancy does not play into their storyline at all.
TVLINE | I was gonna say — I took health class, and it would take some magic.
Yeah. Let’s put that thought, rumor, suggestion to rest. Kensi is not carrying Deeks’ baby. She’s not carrying anyone’s baby on the screen.
TVLINE | Oh, good for saying that — because otherwise people would read between the lines.
Yeah, they might think it’s Callen’s!