Well, it finally happened.
After a handful of two-team missions over the years (most to set up spinoffs), all three squads came together in a three-hour crossover on NCIS Season 20 Episode 10, NCIS: Hawai’i Season 2 Episode 10, and NCIS: Los Angeles Season 14 Episode 10.
So, let’s tackle the big question right off the bat: Was it worth the wait?
Let’s sidestep that question with a bigger pondering: What could this crossover have been when the two veteran shows and NCIS: New Orleans were at their peak? Wouldn’t that have been something?
That’s a moot point, however. This crossover couldn’t have happened when Mark Harmon was still riding herd at the mothership. All the other agents would have had to defer to the legend that was Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Instead, we got the alpha males (and one alpha female) all attempting to make themselves heard. It was a good thing that Parker and Tennant had titles so they could overrule and call the shots at various points of the investigation.
The whole motivation to bring together all the lead agents was a little weak. One forensic scientist was able to browbeat agents (sadly none from New Orleans) into arriving early in Washington, D.C., to help organize a retirement party for a largely beloved FLETC instructor. Really?
Ah, well. Something had to kick off this whole thing. So the secret that “The Cockroach” died to keep was as good a reason as any.
And the fact that the crossover unspooled into being about a disavowed secret program that was being resurrected like Frankenstein by rogue agents seemed so perfectly Hetty. So more than just her vocal cameo, Hetty’s spirit imbued the evening.
But, as much as Hetty’s fans would have loved to have her there in person, she had to remain an international woman of mystery, for no other reason than there’s still more than half a season to go on her series, and she has to stay missing. She also is too big a presence for this kind of group outing.
Still, with no Gibbs, there had to be some Hetty, even if it was only a scrambled voice message. Unfortunately, it was another reminder of what NCIS: Los Angeles has been missing in its recent seasons.
The crossover was cleverly set up, with each episode showcasing one team with a handful of visiting agents thrown in.
The crossover didn’t ignore supporting cast members, but they did get smaller slices of screen time to accommodate the overarching concept. But they remained an essential part of the ongoing investigation.
The first hour answered the question, “Who was Dale Harding, and why did he mean so much to all of these agents (except Torres)?”
The answer wasn’t what anyone expected. Like every other character of a certain age in this franchise, Harding had a secret, in his case, one that he died to keep.
The reason behind Harding’s death initially seemed pretty cut and dried. The wanted criminal Simon Williams was after files that Harding possessed and then erased. Only Harding hadn’t entirely, leading to a hunt for them. Then a young man who claimed to be Williams stole, then burned those files before dying.
Already the narrative was getting more involved. And to move the story to Hawaii, Tennant, Palmer, and separately Sam got abducted by the obligatory rogue gunmen.
To complicate things, not one but two women claiming to be the same CIA agent popped up at two different places. It figures that morally ambiguous CIA agents, the franchise’s pet peeve, would be behind all the drama before and yet to come.
Also, the man who was the face of Simon Williams was actually a retired assassin running a garden center. At least he knew where all the bodies were buried and was willing to share what he knew while he still could.
After the showdown at Haven, an old photo revealed that Admiral Kilbride was the only remaining original Simon Williams assassin, the perfect excuse to rush to Los Angeles.
Everyone was surprised that Kilbride was missing. Why? Like Hetty, Kilbride can sense danger coming and knows how to lay low. It was shocking that they didn’t check the bars that stock his scotch brand.
Part of this crossover fun was watching the different teams’ leadership styles. Parker knows who he is and exercises appropriate authority. Tennant is the personification of top-down leadership. Sam and Callen, who have grown accustomed to absent leadership, grated on other squads by just doing things their way.
And the two biggest badasses were, of course, Sam and, surprisingly, Tennant. No, Palmer doesn’t get an honorable mention.
Also enjoyable was the various combinations of agents who hadn’t worked together before. First among those had to be the sensitive Deeks and the macho Torres. That was especially true during the scene in which Nina Barnes kept hiting on Nick while a flabbergasted Deeks tried to question her. That was comedic gold.
So, this crossover was as successful an experiment as it could be under the circumstances. But unlike the Chicago trilogy, it’s likely to be a once-in-a-generation happening.
For the best of Hetty, watch NCIS: Los Angeles online.
Which segment did you like best?
Who was your favorite pairing?
Do you expect to see such a crossover again?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.