Several lives (and perhaps a bit of love) were left in jeopardy as CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles wrapped its fourth season. Tonight at 9/8c, the drama picks up right where it left off, with Deeks being brutally tortured for intel on Quinn and Sam’s wife dangling from a window ledge. (As previously scooped, Michelle is not easily felled.) Here, showrunner Shane Brennan previews the physical and emotional fallout, his big plans for a milestone hour and hints at a midseason surprise.
TVLINE | As the new season opens, obviously we’re not getting rid of Sam and Deeks. So I guess it’s not a question of will they survive, but how they survive?
That’s correct. It is always hectic to come out of these things and explore what the implications are — not just for them, but for their relationships with others.
TVLINE | Are you going straight into it, or are you going to show us everything fine and dandy and then give us “12 hours earlier…”?
No, we pick it up where we left off, roll straight into it and it’s pretty full-on, for want of a better description. There’s a big surprise in it. When we think that they’re about to be rescued, maybe they’re not. It gets pretty brutal for the guys. And then there are the ramifications of that, which certainly ripple very deeply into the season.
TVLINE | Eric Christian Olsen told me that Deeks has his most honest conversations ever with both Sam and then later with Kensi.
And there is a lot to talk about. The second episode is very, very emotional. And in Episode 4, there’s a scene between Hetty and Granger, where they’re talking about Kensi and Deeks, and basically Hetty says, “Partnerships can be tricky.” So it really cuts deeply into this season, and there are some very, very big surprises and big turns. This is probably the most laid-out season we’ve ever done. We know every turning point of this season and it really is quite powerful.
TVLINE | Is it safe to say that Deeks has shown Sam a thing or two about himself?
There’s a newfound respect between the two of them. This isn’t the first time Sam’s been in this situation, but it certainly is for Deeks. The tensions and friction between those two characters have been part of the series, and to a certain extent they’re laid to rest.
TVLINE | What does Kensi think about what Deeks has gone through? Does it give her a bit of a scare?
It gives her a big scare. And because everything was predicated by the kiss, a very unexpected kiss, there are two things to be discussed or to be handled. The first is: How will Deeks physically and mentally come through this? Once that is kind of resolved, then there is the elephant in the room, the kiss, which is clearly just between Deeks and Kensi. As a consequence of both the kiss and what happened to Deeks in the finale and what happens to him in the opening episode, their relationship goes to a new level. It continues at that pitch right through the season and then takes a most unexpected turn at the back end of the season. It takes a very, very interesting turn. I mean, really interesting. This is a big act for the season, Kensi/Deeks, and we’re moving it pretty rapidly through the season. When I say “moving it,” their relationship goes to a new level, to a place that a lot of these shows don’t go. And obviously, we take another step in Callen’s journey….
TVLINE | I was going to ask: Any new vittles about him coming our way?
Episode 100 focuses pretty squarely on Callen and his past and his journey. And there may be something for the fans who have watched the Callen stuff closely. They know that he has a little tea tin sitting on the mantle in his house, filled with little pieces of his past, pieces of the jigsaw. Well, he adds another very significant piece of the puzzle to that box in Episode 100. It’s incredibly emotional.
TVLINE | Is Episode 100 going to be out of format or anything?
No. We’ve done “Callen, G.” We’ve done “Lange, H.” We’ve done “Blye, K.” This one’s called, “Reznikov, N.” So clearly this is about someone important, to get their name in the title..
TVLINE | Are you going to be shedding any light on Granger’s past? You kind of been teasing it for a bit now.
You’ll see more of Miguel Ferrer this season; he’s not a regular, but he has joined the title sequence. Later in the season, he plays a very pivotal role in the Kensi/Deeks relationship. And in Episode 100, he is put in very, very serious jeopardy. I won’t say anything more about Granger’s role in 100, but it’s pretty intense.
TVLINE | And I reported a couple of weeks ago that Pete Cambor is going to swing by again, as Nate Getz?
Well, when you have a couple of agents who have been tortured, there’s always a little bit of a debrief with the resident psychiatrist or psychologist. So yes, he makes an appearance — and it won’t be his last appearance this season.
TVLINE | Is Deeks one of those headstrong types like, “I don’t need my head looked at. I’m fine.” Or does he admit that he’s shaken up?
I will say this. Eric Christian Olsen is an incredibly talented actor and you really get to see a new side of Deeks because of this trauma that he’s been through. And Eric is phenomenal in those scenes.
TVLINE | Any other returning faces to talk about?
There could be a returning face later this season who will surprise everyone. I haven’t resolved that yet, but there will be some very interesting guests midseason.
TVLINE | What about any of your NCIS: Red characters [from the spin-off CBS passed on]? Chris O’Donnell had great chemistry with Kim Raver. It’s got to be tempting to grab her for an episode and play that a bit.
The interesting thing about the characters in the NCIS world is that they can come back, once they’re established. Certainly some of the folks who were on the Red team may pop up on NCIS: Los Angeles in the future.
TVLINE | Does it feel like you’ve got 100 episodes under your belt already?
This is a great show, and the enthusiasm from the cast is still like it was in Season 1. Everyone is really having a ball. We’ve got so many stories to tell and, given the nature of our show and the way it sometimes reflects or sometimes preempts what’s happening in the world, this is a show that has a lot of legs. It will go for a long time.
TVLINE | Well, with Dancing With the Stars’ results show gone and NCIS: LA now sandwiched between NCIS and Person of Interest, I think you have a real opportunity here to build buzz.
We’re No. 2 in terms of “bums on seats,” as we say in Australia, and I’m very happy with that place.