9 Unique ‘NCIS: LA’ Episodes That Stand out From the Rest

For the most part, NCIS: Los Angeles episodes are exactly what you would expect from a procedural (with plenty of explosions, of course).

The team — Sam (LL Cool J), Callen (Chris O’Donnell), Kensi (Daniela Ruah), and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), with their technical analysts Eric (Barrett Foa) and Nell (Renée Felice Smith) — hunts down bad guys and sometimes travels overseas to get the job done. One of their own could end up in trouble — and has many a time —and everyone doesn’t always make it home.
But over the 11 seasons of the CBS drama, there have been a few episodes that stand out from the rest, whether due to a storyline, a couple scenes, or even just because of the way things turned out behind the scenes. Scroll down as we take a look at the episodes that have unique angles in one way or another.

“Human Traffic” (Season 2, Episode 1)

For the most part, this episode doesn’t stand out too much. Deeks was still a newbie when it came to being the team’s LAPD liaison back then, but when he went missing on an undercover op involving a human trafficker, Hetty (Linda Hunt) enlisted the team to join the case.

What stands out about this episode is the opening. Back when Callen knew little about his past (and still only knew his first initial), he dreamed of quite the chase scene — filled with parkour — through the streets, up stairs, and onto a roof. It’s one of the best cold opens of the series to this day. (Watch it here.)

“The Watchers” (Season 3, Episode 12)

Back before Granger (Miguel Ferrer) was a beloved (and very much missed) part of the team, they met their assistant director under quite unique circumstances. While in the middle of working a case — at the start of the episode! rare for a procedural! — the team was called to the boat shed, where they found their boss ostensibly in danger. But the unknown man who was seemingly a threat to Hetty was, as they learned after taking him down, their boss’ boss. Granger was simply testing the team, and they would eventually all come around to being a family.

“Touch of Death” (Season 3, Episode 21)

While NCIS: LA is part of the shared universe of CBS dramas, it doesn’t participate in crossovers all that often, especially not multi-episode ones. (There have been a few NCIS characters who have made a trip out to L.A. over the years.) But back in Season 3, fans were treated to a two-episode event across Hawaii Five-0 and Los Angeles as the teams worked together to prevent a deadly virus from being released.

“Kill House” (Season 4, Episode 14)

Part training exercise, mostly undercover assignment, the team posed as an elite tactical force in a “kill house” simulation. (This was all to track down the leak that prevented a unit from capturing a cartel kingpin.) Those leading the exercise were, of course, the bad guys, and the exercise became real when Nell was kidnapped.

This was back before going out into the field and carrying a gun was the norm for the technical analyst, but Nell still managed to help save herself. Throughout the episode, we saw the members of the team learn that they still had a ways to go when it came to working as a unit, but when it counted, they pulled through.

“Red: Parts One and Two” (Season 4, Episodes 18 and 19)

NCIS: Los Angeles tried to launch another spinoff (unsuccessfully) in 2013. These two episodes introduced the mobile unit, agents who lived and worked together while traveling to different locations to solve cases. It would have starred Kim Raver (Grey’s Anatomy), John Corbett (Sex and the City), and Scott Grimes (ER). (Grimes has since returned to LA for a guest spot as Dave Flynn.)

It was a bit obvious that it was setting up a potential spinoff — for example, questions were introduced about Raver and Corbett’s characters’ past and potential future — and since nothing ever came of it, it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the series.

“Traitor” (Season 6, Episode 9)

Also known as the episode where “the call is coming from inside the house,” this episode uncovered one of the team’s mole problems in the seasons-long arc. (Long story short, there’s a reason why they don’t trust the CIA: they were spying on the team, and one of them had a personal vendetta against Kensi that almost ended with him killing her.)

But “Traitor” also saw the team mostly confined to OSP and even showed parts of the office we’re not using to seeing outside of Ops, their desks, and the burn room

“Getaway” (Season 8, Episode 18)

While Eric and Nell no longer spend all their time in Ops, the technical side of the team is rarely involved in the undercover operations — especially not together. But in Season 8, the couple’s expertise was needed for the case, and they were the ones undercover at a couples’ retreat.

“The Monster” (Season 9, Episode 17)

Usually, cases are wrapped up mostly neatly in a nice bow. But not only was this one of the most gruesome cases yet — the serial killers pieced together their victims’ body parts — the team didn’t get a win. Instead, the agents realized too late that they’d spoken to the killers and let them go — and they were still at large when the episode was over.