Seven years ago, NCIS: Los Angeles lived in the shadow of it's predecessor. It was the show that aired after TV's Number One Drama, the one with more gunfights and explosions, the one with LL Cool J and Edna Mode's live-action doppelganger. The undercover NCIS.
But the cast and crew of NCIS: LA have truly defied expectations, especially in the last few years. As Season 8 jump-starts its production, the series really stands apart from the majority of the CBS lineup as one of the most intriguing, amusing, and sometimes even emotionally frustrating programs on television.
The seventh season delivered more character development than ever before, and viewers are ready for more in Season 8. Even without the traditional cliffhanger at the end of the season finale, fans eagerly anticipate the return of their favorite team of legends.
Here's a look at the various storylines we would like to see developed in Season 8.
Kensi and Deeks's Engagement
Since the original NCIS lost Ziva, (and now, DiNozzo, too) Densi (a.k.a. Deeks and Kensi) have been the most talked-about couple on network television. The partners shared an impromptu kiss in the Season 4 finale, faced an intense separation in Season 5, and tiptoed around each other's feelings through the first half of Season 6 before finally deciding to jump "all in."
While we barely got an "I love you" by the end of Season 6, Season 7 was a huge deal for the couple, as their relationship has finally begun reaching new heights. They've since met each other's parents, bought a house together, and even hinted at marriage and the possibility of having children. They've also stood (and thankfully passed) the ultimate tests of love and trust, as Deeks's honor was brought into question and Kensi's ex returned to the picture.
Fortunately, the Densi proposal can be pre-checked on your Season 8 wishlist, as newly promoted showrunner and executive producer R. Scott Gemill, a longtime writer on the show, has confirmed that there will be a proper proposal this season, as the subject of marriage was previously mentioned. "The fans have waited long enough," he said, "that we just wanted it to be worth the wait."
Evolution for Callen
The L.A. team lead was introduced to us simply as G. Callen in backdoor pilot on NCIS. We soon learned that this was the only name he ever knew, and one of the few staples from his mysterious past that he actually carried with him.
The seventh season brought some long-awaited closure to the character. Sent into the woods of Russia on a hunt for ally/occasional-adversary Arkady, Callen was finally united with his father, KGB Major Nikita Reznikov. He also finally learned what the famous G stands for - Grisha. Grisha Alexandrovich Nikolaev.
Now that our need for closure has been fulfilled, we can join Callen's best friend and partner Sam Hanna in encouraging the agent to move on with his life. Yes, the mysteries of Callen's past will always be intriguing, and we'd like to learn more. But for the sake of the character's happiness, let's get him a hobby or a girlfriend or SOMETHING significant. He's played the lone-wolf, rolling-stone card for too long, and it's time for some personal development. Hopefully, we'll be seeing more of Arkday's riot of a daughter, Anna, this season. She certainly made an impression on him.
With all the excitement revolving around Densi, NCIS: LA's other big couple didn't get too much screen-presence this season. Tech operator Eric Beale and analyst Nell Jones have always been known for their unique partnership. Their sometimes-subtle (then again, usually not) flirting is apparent not just to audiences, but to other characters as well.
The Neric-ship doesn't have to compete with the Densi-ship, but it does deserve some development. These characters are probably more emotionally-synced than any other pair on the show. When he's happy, she's happy. When she's hurt, he's hurt. Like Densi, these characters have shared at least one kiss (maybe more?) and also met members of each other's families and social circles.
But, when all is said and done, these characters have been in the same situation with each other for the last six years since Smith joined the series. It's time for one of these characters to make a move. If neither one does, then one or both of them should enter another relationship (though we hope that's not the case) because leaving these characters in this eternal friend-zone would be a crime of writing.
Whack the Mole
Beloved operations manager Henrietta "Hetty" Lange and Assistant Director Owen Granger have known since late Season 5 that there was a mole lying within their office. This story caught the most attention in the Season 6 episode Traitor, in which Granger was poisoned by the mole, eventually revealed to be generic employee and stranger-to-the-viewers, Carl the IT Guy.
Despite the satisfying capture of Carl the traitor, we never did learn who he was actually working for. The issue of the mole and the plan to weasel him out has been mentioned somewhat infrequently throughout the remainder of Season 6 and Season 7. So, what do the writers have planned for this story arch?
Whatever it is, we hope to find some closure this coming season. A plot device this significant with such little coverage should not have been dragged on for this long, and we're hoping it ends soon. That being said, we shall retain our faith in the ever-talented writing staff of this series to deliver a satisfying ending to the arch.
For the longest time, Owen Granger was somewhat of a man of mystery. Originally introduced as a soft antagonist for the team, Granger has learned to play nice with the LA team, slowly becoming a member of their surrogate family.
Towards the end of Season 7, a huge Granger-secret was revealed to both the team and the viewers - the man has a daughter! Jennifer Kim was brought to the United States, where she was reunited with and interrogated by her father regarding the whereabouts of a North Korean spy operating in the US.
Initially at odds, the father and daughter find they have one sad characteristic in common - a lack of friends. Granger expresses his regret of missing out on fatherhood, but hopes that he and Kim can develop a relationship as friends. Jennifer seems to be an intriguing character, and will hopefully be used as a catalyst to draw more stories out of Granger's vault.
Major Character Decisions
This team of special agents have been through a lot over the years, and this season was very significant. As teased by Eric Christian Olsen (Deeks) at San Diego Comic Con earlier this month, some of these characters are reaching a point in their lives and careers where they are forced to wonder if it is time to move on to something bigger or better.
This subject was a touchy one around the time of the Season 7 finale, in which Sam's son was taken hostage by a terrorist with a vengeance for the former Navy SEAL. This is not the first time an operation has put a member of Sam's family at risk, as his wife, Michelle, had become a target in the Season 4-5 story arch. Will Sam follow her footsteps and drop the badge to protect his family? Is it necessary?
We're expecting similar decisions to be considered by Kensi and Deeks as they reach aforementioned milestones in their relationship. Are their lives too hectic to consider raising a child? And are they each willing to prioritize their relationship over their careers?