The story is centered around the personal and professional lives of an elite squad comprising of Special Agents Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) and G. Callen (Chris O’Donnell), Agent Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah), rookie agent Dominic Vail (Adam Jamal Craig), Operational Psychologist Nate Getz (Peter Cambor), and Technical Operator Eric Beale (Barrett Foa). This team is led by the enigmatic Operations Manager Henrietta “Hetty” Lange (Linda Hunt). With over 296 episodes so far, there have been many incredible episodes along the way. Here are 10 of the series’ stand-out episodes to watch.
10. “Hot Water” (Season 8 Episode 13)
Hot water is one of the final appearances of NCIS Assistant Director Owen Granger (Miguel Ferrer) which surely adds to it being a staple among fans of NCIS: Los Angeles. This episode is the first part of a three-episode-arc that explores the plot around a mole that has once again compromised the NCIS team. The arrests of Callen, Sam, Granger, and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), and Hetty’s resignation add another layer of drama and intrigue to an episode already littered with twists and turns. One recurring theme on NCIS: LA is its long-running mole hunt storyline. However, what makes “Hot Water” special is that literally, everyone is under fire and all your favorite agents are getting picked up for crimes they didn’t commit. It’s pure chaos; the uncertainty and the drama it creates make for quite interesting viewing.
9. “Till Death Do Us Part” (Season 10 Episode 17)
When NCIS: Los Angeles is mentioned, what comes to mind is action, undercover operations, and investigative intrigue. So the fact that this episode is dedicated almost entirely to romance makes it such an enjoyable watch. After more than four seasons as a couple and a two-year engagement, Kensi Blye and Marti Deeks are finally getting married! In typical NCIS fashion, their wedding serves up some twists when an old acquaintance, Anatoli Kirkin
(Ravil Isyanov), pays Deeks a surprise visit on his wedding day in the company of a bunch of Russian mobsters. The highlight of the episode is watching the team run around to keep Deeks from knowing what was going on outside at the reception. Humor, love, and friendship make this one of NCIS: Los Angeles’s most memorable episodes.
8. “Mother” (Season 11 Episode 10)
One of the regular themes of NCIS: Los Angeles has been the ease with which past decisions creep back to hurt an agent. For the most part, the enigmatic Hetty Lange looked immune until this episode when Akhos Laos (Carl Beukes), a former black-ops agent recruited and trained by Hetty Lange, returns to seek revenge. Co-written by Eric Christian Olsen (Deeks), this episode explores the life of the ruthless cold-blooded killer that Athos is. Sent away by his family to a Botswana tribe after he was feared to be an evil child, Akhos was rescued and trained by Hetty. After staging his own death to get away from the State Department, Athos has only one mission – vengeance. A crusade to inflict pain on everyone who recruited him into this dark profession. You would struggle to find another episode filled with as much violence as this one. Faced-paced and compelling, this is definitely one of the most enjoyable episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles.
7. “The One That Got Away” (Season 10 Episode 21)
It is always fun to watch any episode of a police procedural trying to locate convicts on the run. When Anna Kolcheck (Bar Paly) escapes from prison with her cellmate, Callen and the NCIS team are brought in to assist with the manhunt. Anna is Callen’s ex-girlfriend which further adds to this exciting plotline. It was Callen’s testimony in Season 9 Episode 22 that helped to convict Anna and put an end to an already shaky relationship. Tracking Anna turns out to be an uphill task. To everyone’s surprise, she turns up in Russia and is intent on tracking down Callen’s dad. This turn of events creates a whole new backstory for subsequent episodes.
6. “Spoils of War” (Season 5, Episode 19)
Some of the greatest episodes of NCIS: LA are borne out of the story of the loyalty that exists between this crime-fighting team. It’s great to watch them fight crime, but there’s something endearing about these characters when they risk their lives to fight for one another. When the queen-mother Hetty suspects Kensi is in grave danger, she sends in the calvary. Callen, Sam, and Deeks touch down in Afghanistan with $1 million in cash to rescue their buddy from the hands of suspected Taliban insurgents.
5. “Home Is Where The Heart Is” (Season 8 Episode 6)
If your definition of a great NCIS: LA episode is one with less action and more focus on the human elements at play, then you will love this episode. There is something quietly sad and captivating about this episode. Members of the NCIS: LA team are forced to come to terms with certain realities that are tough pills to swallow. While other members of the team are dealing with family affairs, Deeks and Kensi are coping with hospital drama. Deeks is struggling with the general sense of helplessness that comes with finding out that Kensi has an incomplete spinal cord injury that is threatening to incapacitate her. Nell is acclimating to Anna as a new partner and that isn’t what you would call an easy task.
4. “False Flag” (Season 10 Episode 24)
Action, adventure, drama, and intrigue: “False Flag” had it all. When the last scene of an episode involves the detonation of a bomb in the middle East to spark WWIII, then you know it has been a roller coaster. Almost all the agents are in grave danger and everything seems to be moving at breakneck speed. Callen and Sam collaborate with Navy Captain Harmon “Harm” Rabb Jr. (David James Elliott) to fish out a group of ISIS sympathizers aboard the USS Allegiance. It was also great to see the return of JAG’s Harm and Mac.
3. “Citadel” (Season 7 Episode 2)
Every time a show of this magnitude introduces a recurring character, it adds another layer of intrigue and excitement to the show. The introduction of Talia does this particularly well. For the first time in a while, NCIS LA comes up with a Densi-centric episode. The thrust of this episode is centered around a firm, the Citadel Behavioral Research Center, that is building a network of covert spies within numerous federal organizations. When a member of the team realizes that they have been infiltrated by Citadel, they all roll up their sleeves and get to the odious task of bringing this secret organization down. Thoroughly enjoyable and laden with action as expected, there is also a splash of Kensi and Deeks relationship drama to spice things up.
2. “Familia” (Season 2 Episode 24)
Directed by James Whitmore Jr, “Familia” is the last episode of season 2 and leaves viewers with more questions than answers. Hetty’s sudden resignation leaves the rest of the team baffled. Sam, Callen, and the team are finding it difficult to adjust to the new boss. To complicate matters further, they soon learn that operation Comescu is about a Romanian Comescu crime family that wants Callen dead at all costs. With various moving parts and a sense of mystery, “Familia” ends with a cliffhanger that leaves you desperate for more.
1. “Unleashed” (Season 8 Episode 24)
The death of Sam’s wife, Michelle (Aunjanue L. Ellis) at the hands of Tahir Khaledm (Anslem Richardson) unlocks a different level of stealthy rage in Sam which literally powers this whole episode. The camaraderie and show of loyalty when Sam goes rogue from the NCIS team to track down Tahir reinforces what these agents have become in their line of work – a family. LL Cool J puts in a stellar performance in his hunt for Tahir, his focus and cold-blooded demeanor are chilling to watch. After the intense drama of the previous episode, director John Peter Kousakis bounces back with a feel-good story to draw the curtain on a roller-coaster season.