NCIS: Los Angeles closed out Season 4 with the cruelest of cliff-hangers, leaving fans to wonder all summer whether Michelle (Aunjanue Ellis), who was last seen dangling out of a window, would survive; and whether Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) would crack under the pressure of being gruesomely tortured. Oh, and then there are the tiny matters of Deeks and Kensi (Daniela Ruah) locking lips before everything went to hell, and of Callen (Chris O'Donnell) being betrayed by The Chameleon (Christopher Lambert), which set off the aforementioned chain of events.
"The [Season 4] finale and the premiere episode for Season 5, the impact of that particular story will have the greatest consequence of any story we've told," executive producer Shane Brennan tells TVGuide.com. "For a number of characters involved in that, there's nowhere to hide. If you think about the trauma that nearly all of them went through in the process of the finale, these things are not easily swept under the rug. We're not going to pay lip service to them and then move on. ... Particularly Kensi and Deeks, their relationship has been altered by the kiss, and then it's been altered by the trauma that Deeks is going through when we left him."
Fall TV Preview: Where we left off with returning shows
TVGuide.com turned to Brennan, as well as Olsen and Ruah, to get scoop on the Season 5 premiere (Tuesday, 9/8c, CBS). Here are six teasers from the season opener:
1. There won't be any break in the action. "It's a continuous season premiere from the finale," Brennan says. "We play the story out in that first episode. ... Everything that we set up in the finale is addressed. I won't say everything is resolved, but everything is addressed." For Kensi, it raises the stakes of needing to rescue Deeks and Sam (LL Cool J) before it's too late. "Now it's not just her partner she's saving," Ruah notes. "It's this guy that she might have a future with."
2. Deeks' troubles may have only just begun. As if the stomach-churning scene of Deeks getting his teeth drilled wasn't enough — "I'm sure everyone who had a dental appointment over the summer decided to cancel the appointment," Brennan jokes — don't look for the show to ease up as the season progresses. "If you think that that was the big moment in this story arc, it wasn't. There's something bigger to come," Brennan says. "The opening episode is very, very traumatic for both Sam and for Deeks. ... Post-traumatic stress is something that happens after the event, sometimes a long time after the event. Deeks is going to have issues well into this season, and he's going to turn to the people he loves and cares about for help."
The biggest cast shakeups: NCIS and more
3. Don't expect a happy ending for Deeks and Kensi. At least not right away. "It's going to take a little while for Deeks and Kensi to talk this whole thing out. ... This season will focus a lot on the Deeks/Kensi relationship," Brennan notes. Viewers who are hoping for a quick resolution to the pair's trajectory aren't alone, however. "I think the audience deserves something. I don't think it would work if you just bury it, let it go and never talk about it," Ruah says. "They're humans. At some point, something has to be said." But it's not just Deeks who's holding back this time. "More than any of them, Kensi is probably in the most emotionally difficult position," Brennan says. "If this had been a normal day and she'd gone back home and gone to bed, she probably would have lay awake and thought about it all, but she hasn't got that luxury. The mission comes first, so she's focused on that. But... as we get to the conclusion of the opening episode, she will need to refocus on ... 'What just happened between Deeks and I, and what does that mean for the future? Does that jeopardize our partnership? Do I ignore this? Do I embrace this? What am I going to do?'"
4. Will Sam have a newfound respect for Deeks going forward? It's no secret that Sam and Deeks aren't exactly a buddy-cop pair. But will Deeks' risking his own life to save Sam and his wife finally earn him Sam's respect? "They're the two most contrasting characters on the page," Olsen says. "There's a really f---ing great scene in the season premiere between the two of them about that very thing." But viewers shouldn't assume anything about their relationship until it plays out, Brennan cautions. "Was Deeks strong enough to resist the torture? Did Deeks give something away? Is Michelle going to pull through this?" he teases. "The audience will have to sit through that and then make their assessment of what Sam thinks of Deeks. The story is only half-told."
Emmy fashion battles: This year vs. last year
5. Brace for a showdown between Callen and The Chameleon. Callen feels a level of responsibility for Deeks' and Sam's predicament, since it was his decision to work with the Chameleon that compromised Sam and Michelle in the first place. "He needs to right this," Brennan says. "He needs to make sure that the Chameleon does not get away with what he did." But their story line won't be wrapped up neatly. "At some point, these two men will find themselves in a room and only one will come out alive," Brennan promises. "I'm not saying that it happens in the opening episode, but it will happen."
6. Is the team damaged beyond repair? As previously reported, Brennan has said that someone will be leaving the team by the end of the season. Whether the departure is a direct result of the events in the Season 4 finale remains to be seen, but it will take a significant toll on Hetty (Linda Hunt). "This will be the toughest season for Hetty," Brennan says. "She sends people out into danger, running towards the bullets in effect, and she's done that all of her career. ... The way this impacts her people, these events, and the personal effect it has on them, puts her in a very difficult position as the leader of the team. In fact, she is going to have some very difficult decisions to make this season — including a decision about the future of one of her agents."
NCIS: LA kicks off Season 5 Tuesday at 9/8c on CBS. Do you think Deeks and Sam will survive their ordeal? And which team member do you think will be leaving?
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)
Additional reporting by Adam Bryant