CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles resumes Season 5 tonight at 9/8c with the first of two February sweeps outings — the second of which unleashes the typically fearsome Danny Trejo. But does Machete not kill this go-round?
First up, the NCIS team this week trails the murder of two military contractors, while in subplotland Sam sets Callen up on a blind date. But amid and beyond that, there’s other drama to be had, as Kensi’s top-secret op has explosive repercussions for Deeks and the team at large, while Trejo’s aforementioned visit sheds light on no fewer than three characters’ pasts. TVLine recently invited show boss Shane Brennan to talk up what’s to come.
TVLINE | First off, how did the timing of Daniela Ruah having her baby [on Dec. 30] work out? Had you already filmed everything you needed to get her off the canvas for however long you might need her off?
It worked out perfectly. We planned ahead — we were working on eight episodes at the same time! — and she is in every episode. Taking Kensi and Deeks to that moment that everyone’s been waiting for was the key to it. And then, before they had a chance to explain themselves or to discuss what happened, we split them apart and sent her off to Afghanistan….
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TVLINE | But they’ve been keeping in touch….
They’re keeping in touch, yes — and Hetty is doing things to keep them in touch…. The story that we’ve come up with in Afghanistan will impact both Kensi and Deeks in a totally unexpected way. It impacts on the rest of the team, as well. We’ve been slowly revealing what her mission is, and when it comes time to complete it, something major happens. Something that shocks everyone and puts Kensi in an enormous amount of jeopardy. And then we have to deal with the consequences of that, at the same time she and Deeks are dealing with the reality of that night they spent together – and I’m not saying anything happened, though it certainly looks that way.
TVLINE | They will have been faced with the worst possible consequence – “If we’re together, what happens when one of us gets sent into the line of fire? And do we want to keep doing that or not?”
We’re going to certainly play with their emotional stability. One of the interesting themes for Deeks and for Kensi to deal with, at the beginning of this season, was the trauma that Deeks went through after being tortured [in the Season 4 finale], how he was going to cope with that. What we do with Kensi when she comes back is put her through that same emotional trauma that Deeks went through. I’m not saying she gets tortured, but….
TVLINE | “Can two people who have each endured great trauma connect?”
Yes, how do they connect? They have a common understanding of something, but at the same time it’s… messy. And I can tell you, when Kensi comes back, finally — back to L.A. and back to the team — it doesn’t work out the way she thinks its going to work out.
TVLINE | I also understand you’ll be flashing back to Sam and Callen’s first days together, in the Feb. 25 episode.
It’s not a flashback, but more of a “flash story back”…? I don’t think that’s a word. [Laughs] We don’t flash back and see them in that situation, but we discover how they first met. It involved a character called Tuhon, played by Danny Trejo, and an unresolved case. Here we are, six years later, and Tuhon’s back in circulation, back on their radar, and we discover a whole lot more about that character than they ever knew when they first went after him. What we learn is that he has a very close connection to Hetty. So you’ve got Danny Trejo… and Linda Hunt. [Chuckles] And their scenes are fantastic. Danny loves this kind of stuff, because he gets a little… I wouldn’t say “typecast,” but people have an expectation. So it’s great to be able to turn that expectation on its head.
TVLINE | Might this tough, scary, tattooed guy have a soft spot for Hetty?
[Smiles] I think he could well have a soft spot for Hetty…. Hetty has a soft spot for everyone, but she can also just cut ’em off if she needs to. It’s a great episode with some amazing action sequences in it, and yet at the same time you’re taking this tough, scary guy and showing the other side of him. And for Sam and Callen, it’s much as a surprise for them to see what he’s really like.