NCIS: Los Angeles 4×09 The Gold Standard Summary:
“The NCIS: Los Angeles team investigates a heist executed by gunmen wearing costumes that could directly impact the US economy. Meanwhile, Kensi isn’t thrilled when Grainger insists that she join him on the case.”
NCIS: Los Angeles opens with a benign scene, a street market with costumed characters interacting with families as people buy items from street vendors. Suddenly an RV enters the scene and comes to a screeching halt in front of an armored truck. A tour bus blocks the vehicle from the rear. Men with guns in black ski masks emerge from the vehicles and a clown and pirate join the heist. The clown jumps up and places a bomb on the windshield of the armored truck; one guard gets out and is immediately shot with an automatic weapon. The guard in the back radios in before the back is opened and he gets off a shot at the clown before he is shot in the head. The driver is shot when he gets out of the truck too. A black van backs up to the open truck and wooden boxes are quickly slid from the armored truck to the van just before the truck explodes. The scene got my heart racing and set the tone for a wild episode. By comparison, the rest of the episode is almost too tame.
At the NCIS: Los Angeles headquarters Callen comes in to find Sam doing the after action reports. Kensi is late because Deeks didn’t show up to pick her up this morning. While they are working out their differences, Grainger comes in and tells Kensi that Deeks has been called in to testify on another case. He offers to accompany Kensi on any missions in Deeks’ absence. Her response of “Oh no, no” is priceless; but then she calls him a grizzled veteran and follows that with a comment on his “extensive years of service.” Once Kensi realizes that she can’t stop sticking her foot in her mouth, she decides it would be her honor to ride along with him.
Eric whistles Reveille and the team heads up to Ops, except for Grainger. He says he’s already been briefed and Kensi realizes with an uncomfortable smile, that she’ll be riding with him sooner than she thought.
Eric and Nell show the team footage of the heist taped from traffic cams and smart phones at the scene. The cargo was 100 good delivery gold bars going from the Federal Reserve to the People’s Bank of China. It equates to $70 million USD. Hetty comes in and tells the team that we were buying time; the gold was an interest payment on a trillion dollar plus loan that we owe to China.
At the crime scene, Callen and Sam walk through the details of the heist and find a streak of blood. Following the trail leads them to a body in a dumpster and we learn something new about Sam. “I hate clowns!” Callen quips that they’re not nearly as funny when they’re dead.
Back in Ops, Nell IDs the clown and Eric has tracked down his known associates. One of the guards survived getting shot and Kensi is on her way to the hospital to question him. When asked, Callen tells Eric and Nell that Sam is dealing with something. “Coulorophobia” Eric comments. Nell wasn’t sure that fear of clowns was even a real thing; she asks if Eric has any phobias she should know about. It turns out that they both find ventriloquists dummies “creepy.” As Eric tells the story of his recurring “Ops” nightmare, Hetty enters silently. She says story time will have to wait; our country is on the verge of a “China Syndrome” meltdown. The comment of “that was weird” isn’t lost on Hetty, who appears in the doorway to ask if they need to be separated.
Callen and Sam find that Clive Mayfield’s apartment is empty. Not surprised, since he just stole $70 million dollars. The two of them discuss what they would do with that kind of money. An empty tank reveals Clive probably had a big snake; Sam pulls his gun. He has another phobia.
Kensi meets the guard, but he can’t even remember firing his gun; his wife and kids are outside, but he doesn’t recognize them. Kensi leaves her card for him to contact her if he remembers something. Right now he can’t remember who he is. Grainger isn’t so sure that he isn’t involved and has Kensi put a guard on him.
Nell gets a hit on the clown costume and Callen says to pass it to Kensi. The Costume shop owner takes them for a couple trying to spice up their love life. They ask for answers as to who bought the costumes; he claims no credit card records and tries to sell them his surveillance tapes first for $40, then for $20 bucks. He finally relents under Grainger’s threat of closing his shop because of a meth lab in the basement. Even though he doesn’t have a meth lab or a basement, Grainger assures him that the red tape would cost him.
The next lead takes the NCIS Los Angeles team to a house where they find three dead bodies lying face down on the floor, their hands tied behind their backs. They’ve been executed, the whole team except Duncan Walsh. They have to find Walsh and the driver; but the driver was dressed in a gorilla suit.
The money trail leads to dinners, jewelry and lingerie, and his phone records turn up the name of a possible girlfriend, Gloria Bryan. From midnight to 3: am, Kensi says is a booty call; she can’t get her foot out of her mouth as she tries to explain that to Callen. Kensi evades Grainger on this one. Gloria acts as if she’s going to get an address for Kensi but the girl tries to run out the back way. Kensi catches her and shows her photos of his dead friends; she says he’s either the killer or the next victim.
In the meantime Hetty lodges a threat against Owen Grainger with regards to Deeks; he may not be NCIS but he is a part of her team. If anything happens to him, Hetty says she will take it most personally. On Gloria’s tip, the team finds the black van and the gold bars falling out the back; along with the body of Duncan Walsh.
Hetty tells the NCIS: Los Angeles Team that Grainger called to congratulate them on a job well done, but Callen thinks it was too easy. He and Sam cut into one of the gold bars and find that it is gold plated tungsten. Number 74 on the elements table; it used to be called Wolfrum aka Eric’s favorite element. Tungsten and gold are similar in weight. Callen says that they could turn millions into billions before they got caught.
Hetty is concerned that it might get out that America’s gold reserves have been compromised. Callen and Hetty discuss the fiscal challenge and what could happen if this gets out. They have to find out who did this and why; Callen is now classifying it as a terrorist attack. Eric and Nell try to match tungsten with “Smelting” equipment; smelting makes Eric laugh.
Grainger confronts Kensi about leads; she wonders how her review is going. Grainger says that’s below his pay grade but then hints that she was being evaluated. He says he’s an ambitious man; he won’t be deputy director forever. The team speculates on what tungsten is used for. Eric finally gets a lead on a smelting furnace. Carlyle industries didn’t exist before a month ago and had a half ton shipment of tungsten delivered.
Kensi confronts a man at Carlyle Industries; she says she is with the IPA. She says they’re overdue for an OSHA inspection. Kensi says that this is her appointment; he makes the mistake of calling her “Honey” and trying to escort her out. Nell sends a signal to ring all of the phone lines which gives Kensi the distraction she needs to knock the guy out with her bag. “Sorry about that, Honey.” She says as she takes a zip tie from her bag and we see the gold plated tungsten bar inside. Kensi ties his hands behind his back.
Kensi, Sam and Callen move stealthily through the facility, removing obstacles as they go. They find the smelting room and split up, flanking the room. Kensi creates a disturbance, by releasing the band on a stack of pipe that clatters to the floor. The three men are taken out one at a time as they seek the source of the sound. Sam moves in on the third that disarms him and tries to hit him with a ladle of molten metal. Sam dodges, but the man goes for Sam’s weapon and is shot by both Kensi and Callen.
The two men that remain are taken to the boat house. Callen and Sam describe the punishment awaiting the one who deserves it most; they leave them pitted against each other for the trip to China. Nell and Eric ID the man behind the Gorilla mask and as it turns out he had ties to Iran; countless bombings on Israel and Iraq. The show ties up with Eric and Nell, leaving at the same time but evading the question of whether they are leaving together. Hetty ties up the loose ends by saying the men in the boathouse are singing and that no one is to speak of this case ever again.
I have to confess that the episode lacked believability for me. It’s not that the crime is completely impossible; it’s just that transports such as these are top secret. The NCIS Los Angeles team never answered the question as to how the thieves knew about the shipment or the route the armored truck would take. I felt that was a loose end that dangles over the comedic banter in the episode. I love NCIS Los Angeles, but this episode was quite a stretch.
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