Review: NCISLA “Reign Fall” (S6E10)
With all the attention drawn by promo for “Humbug,” it might have been easy to overlook this week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. Yet writer Joseph C. Wilson and director Christine Moore came through with a solid hour filled with musings about fathers and sons. But seriously, about that promo! OK, sorry, I’ll focus on the job at hand. Let’s start with the plot…
The Story This Week
We open with a man skulking around a house in the dark. In true Joey Wilson fashion, he goes BOOM to kick off the credits. The team learns he was a paparazzo known for tangling with an NBA player, prompting Deeks and Kensi to pay the athlete a visit to check his alibi. It turns out that the victim wasn’t snooping for a scoop, but just checking on his Marine friend’s house while he was away on duty. The team rounds up said Marine Mike Johnson, his CIA fiancée Nicole (Nicole, really?) Borders, and his military school student son Devin, while they search for the killer. Nell ties a clue at the scene to a number of other crimes and, dun, dun, dun, we have a serial killer. The team uses Mike as bait to flush out killer number one, named Richard Mills. While Kensi and Deeks interrogate him, Sam and Callen pressure his mother about the whereabouts of his brother David, who’s squatting at an abandoned high school. They track him down and trick him into confessing the identity of his next victim. The team saves David’s target as well as his son from yet another BOOM before they call it a day and head out for a team dinner.
Fathers and Sons (and Daughters)
The night’s plot is propelled by the actions of two brothers whose murder spree seems to have been prompted by an abusive stepfather. The subject of the line between discipline and abuse carries throughout, as Sam questions the effect the military academy’s strict environment and Mike’s rather stern approach might have on Devin, at the same time no doubt wondering how his own son is faring at a similar institution.
That’s right, we get confirmation that Sam has a second child! A son who attends a military academy like the boys we meet in this episode, and just like Sam himself did. Not only that, but we get more delightful stories about Sam doing anything to make his daughter happy. She sure has him wrapped around her little finger. It was fun watching Callen try to guess which Disney character Sam had dressed up as for her birthday party, and an interesting contrast with the way he’s raising his son, who’s been sent away to a school where there will be no such coddling. We also find out that Sam’s father was also a military man, a colonel in the Marines. And again here, there’s quite the contrast between “Daddy Sam” and “Colonel Hardass.” The episode ends on a sweet note as Sam, affected by the day’s events, calls to check in with his dad. All this backstory was exactly what I would have imagined for Sam, given his strong character, disciplined nature, and of course, military background. It’s nice when the backstory actually doesn’t surprise, but just seems to make perfect sense for a character.
Another revealing aspect of this talk of fathers was Callen’s reaction. When Sam complained about the tough approach his father used on him, Callen countered that it showed that his dad cared. He didn’t even need to say that of course, he would have given anything to have a father who was present at all in his life. The two, with their polar opposite upbringings, seem so different, and yet somehow those differences just complement each other, making them perfect partners.
My only wish would have been similar reactions from or about Deeks or Kensi, given their own relationships with their fathers, both of which overlapped with some aspect of the case. I guess that’s where our 60-minute time limit causes problems. Still, with Sam’s dad the final piece of the puzzle, we can now see how hugely all four major characters have been impacted by the fathers in (or out of) their lives. Fathers, and identity, are the two themes that run most strongly through the entire series, with Callen’s quest for both at the show’s heart. This episode was a nice microcosm of all that. It actually got me wondering about Hetty’s father. I can’t begin to imagine what that relationship would have been like! It also got me thinking about these characters’ mothers, who in their own ways had equally powerful effects on their children. One of them- Deeks’- is still a little mysterious though. Maybe that particular hole will be filled later this season?
A Little Densi, Plus a Friend for Deeks!
This episode really only has one true Densi scene, when they go to Deeks’ best friend (?) Kip’s house to question him about his alibi. Although this scene confused me a bit (Would Densi really have watched him play an entire basketball game without Deeks mentioning his friendship? Wouldn’t Kip have been angrier that Deeks thought he might have murdered someone?), I decided to take my own advice and just go with it, and it was very enjoyable. I loved Kensi mouthing Deeks’ nickname after Kip called him “Marty Mar”- there’s no way that doesn’t come up again in the future. Kip’s white Bronco joke was excellent, as was the winking at Deeks in plain view of Kensi. And clearly Deeks has been talking to him quite a bit about his partner. The whole thing was pretty adorable. And while the scene is almost completely unnecessary to the plot, I appreciated that it was provided primarily to give us Densi fans a few fun moments with the duo. Very thoughtful, Joey Wilson!
One small but interesting scene comes when Deeks and Kensi are interrogating the unstable brother, Richard. Deeks grows frustrated with him rather quickly, when he’d probably be better served to show a little patience and understanding. Then, by the time Sam and Callen return with the mother, Deeks has worked his way up to threatening violence (Tell me where we’re going to find him, or I’m going to beat it out of you!). Now, the team threatens violence all the time with their suspects- Sam very calmly threatens to blow up the guy’s brother in the next scene. But something just felt off about Deeks here. My first take on it was that we’re seeing step two in a Season 6 plan to show Deeks losing his cool when interrogating suspects, a bit of foreshadowing for whatever “mistake” Deeks is going to make to get him sent back to LAPD. But today Joey Wilson tweeted that the tactics were “a show to prompt the mom to give up the other brother.” That actually makes sense, although the editing could probably have been better. But it then makes me wonder how Deeks felt to have to treat the clearly disturbed man so harshly. Can I get a post-ep fan fic please?
Kensi: Do you remember when I said he was pointing at us during the game?
Deeks: And you thought he wanted to hook up?
Kensi: Yeah, with you.
Deeks: Oh… nice.
Classic Deeks Marty Mar
Kip: Now, I’m getting back to the pool… Wanna join?
Deeks: No. No, no. ‘Cause I got better things to do than hang out with, like, half-naked oiled-up supernova-hot models all day long.
Kip: [Looks to Kensi] Mmm hmm. [Whispers] I bet you do. [Winks]
Deeks: Did you just-? She just saw that!
Kip: [Whispers] She’s bad!
Deeks: We gotta go.
- So now it’s not just Nell but Callen referring to Eric by his last name? I guess this is really a thing now.
- Wouldn’t it be hilarious to see Sam in some lederhosen?
- Again, I gotta gripe a little about Super Nell. Couldn’t she have just found out about the serial killer angle by conferring with the FBI? It seemed a mite too coincidental that she’d have been a consultant on one of the prior murders.
- I also found her impromptu kiss of “Beale” a little unwarranted. But maybe that’s just because I’m bitter that we never see that much affection between Densi. (At least until next week???)
- Nicole’s “They want to use you as bait to smoke this guy out,” and Callen’s “We’ll be with you every step of the way,” totally brought to mind key Deeks quotes from “Plan B” and “The Job.” Ah, Season 2, I miss you.
- Nice, creepy, serial killer touch with the repeated variations of the “Hush, Little Baby” lullabuy. I also liked the spray painted art at the abandoned school, including one telling piece where a large dark figure is about to stomp his giant foot onto a small figure with a halo, a sword, and his heart in his hand.
- It was a nice touch to have fatherless Callen telling bad guy David that he hadn’t saved the other boys by killing their fathers, he had ruined their lives by leaving them without a dad.
- When Sam dove into the pool, was I the only one to have a flashback to “Descent”?
- I hope neither Kensi nor Deeks paid for Hetty’s dinner. Who invited her, anyway? Yep, I’m still bitter about Season 5 Hetty.
Stay tuned this week for Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal. I look forward to seeing what they take from their interaction with Kip. And come back next week for Di’s review of “Humbug.” I can’t wait to discuss what we may- or may not- get to see!
Title: “Reign Fall”
Writer: Joseph C. Wilson
Director: Christine Moore
Original Air Date: December 8, 2014
I thought the editing/dialog was kinda off this week – especially the Kip scene – that whole look at the top if Deeks’ head and side of his face when Kip was teasing him about Kensi?(maybe it’s my old TV cutting off things?) I wanted him to get Really embarrassed about what he “might” have said to his BFF or cheeky and making it worse, but the kind of half-“baked” guilt just didn’t seem like him. (as usual they never listen to what Deeks has to say as he tries to tell them he knows the guy, but I can kind of see Deeks not “claiming” a celebrity friend to avoid notice). I thought the whole “gonna hurt you” interrogation scene was bad and looked almost like they edited in the same dialog twice, the bit of Devin giving his step-to-be mom the badge(coin, ??) & then hugging her with no mention of it later when Sam and Callen where talking about feathers being needed too was like they should have taken it out all together but had to fill 30 secs. It was weird, When did Sam talk about a son? I totally missed that – I thought he mentioned that “he” went to military school?
Laura Ann you make a number of good points. I’m with you on the editing choices made this week. And you’re also right about the way they shot the scene with Kip. I had been impressed with some of the wide shots that showed off that spectacular house, but when I rewatched it just now, I saw what you were pointing out, that Deeks’ face is continuously out of focus even when he’s the one speaking. It does seem like there should have been a better way to handle shooting that three-way conversation. I also found the scene with the coin a little odd, they way the kid went from super scary stiff to hugging his future stepmom, with no time to explore that “turn” in the scene, to borrow a term from ECO.
When Callen and Sam go to the school to pick up Devin, Sam tells Callen, “This is just like the military school Aiden goes to.” Yes, I made a bit of a leap to assume that Aiden is his son. However, Aiden Hanna is in the credits for “Humbug,” along with Kamran Hanna, whom we’re assuming is his daughter, so he does appear to be family of some sort.
This was an excellent review, Karen. You touched on two things that bothered me. One, that neither Deeks or Kensi’s relationships with their dads was included. I, too, liked Callen’s response. I thought it was very poignant, although I was surprised by Sam’s lack of response to Callen’s observation. Not including Deeks or Kens, I get the feeling that Mr, Brennan wants all of the attention on Callen and Sam this season, or at least in the first half.
I thought the interrogation scene with Deeks almost losing control and threatening to beat the obviously unstable suspect, came out of left field. If this is a set up for a later episode I may be able to accept this, unless they are going to revisit what he did in Afghanistan in a later show. He clearly had reason to lose control then, but this scene was just oddly disturbing. I have heard that Joey Wilson tweeted that Deeks was just trying to get the mother to give up information, but there was no set up for that. I also found it puzzling that none of the other agents thought it odd that Deeks would act this way, even Kensi seemed alright with it, so maybe the set up was left on the cutting room floor. Maybe they are going to refocus on Deeks PTSD later in the year. I think Kalstein’s upcoming episode is called Spiral, so maybe Deeks really does lose it. Has there been a press release on that ep yet?
The childhood friend scene was a little weird, but I liked it too. Who knew Deeks had rich friends? Apparently not Kensi or anyone else for that matter. Interesting. Wonder if he took advantage of Kip’s hospitality before things got serious with Kensi…or not so serious…who knows.
I also thought it odd that in a couple of episodes this season where fatherhood has been a theme, we got no mention at all of Deeks’ troubled relationship with his father. And the interrogation scene would have been the perfect opportunity: the team needs someone to intimidate the kid and get information from the mother by behaving like the abusive father; Deeks has the perfect role model to do just that. It would only have taken a line or two to make it clear that is what he was doing, and that he had very mixed feelings about doing it. Instead we get…. that weird and OOC interrogation scene.
I also agree with you about the first half of the season being all about Sam and Callen. I get that Shane Brennan probably feels like he has to push his big-name stars to get the show established in a more competitive timeslot, but I’m getting impatient for some Deeks-centric episodes. I love Sam, I like Callen, but they’re not why I used to tune in week after week.
Deeks and his NBA-star friend had a great bromance of their own going on, but I don’t think Kip was rich when Deeks met him. I got the impression that Kip was much younger than Deeks (cuz Deeks evidently knew Kip from before his growth spurt). Maybe Kip got in trouble with the law as a kid, and Officer Deeks chose to mentor him rather than arrest him? Whatever the case, I think Kip knows more about Deeks’ background than the team does. And it seems totally in character for Deeks to not mention their friendship. Underneath it all, Deeks seems the most humble of our main characters, the one most able to laugh at himself and the one least likely to name-drop about his famous friend. This is one guest character that I would love to see come back, preferably without a shirt again.
Lindy and Jan, I totally agree that the huge focus on Sam and Callen for the first third of the season seems very calculated as a way to draw in new viewers in their new timeslot. It’s frustrating because they certainly seem to rely on Densi for a lot of special promotions. I just wish they featured them on the show as much as they do in their public relations.
Lindy, hah! I know you are totally picturing Deeks having fun with those models.
Jan I agree, more Kip! It’s always nice when someone has some secrets on our favorite character. Like when Ray was around, spilling stories to Kensi about their time growing up. I really like your theory about how Deeks and Kip met too.
So, when Sam mentioned that “Aidan goes to a school just like this”, he’s referring to his son? That’s a great catch, Karen!
I enjoyed Sam’s reflection on his childhood and his military upbringing. I really enjoyed G’s comment about his Dad pushing him because he cared. The ‘hugging it out” comment was hilarious. And it would have been a perfect opportunity for insight on Deek’s and Kensi’s relationship with their Father’s. It could have been accomplished with a few chosen lines.
Deeks seemed so out of character in the interrogation scene. I also heard that Joey Wilson tweeted that it was intentional by Deeks to get his Mother to give up info. I think the editing of this scene may have left that intention on the cutting room floor. And it probably is a bit of foreshadowing as to what’s ahead.
The best part of the episode was Densi, of course! The Kip scene revealed a lot. Apparently Kip considers Deeks his best friend and Deeks talks to him about Kensi. Nice! And the fact that Deeks asked Kip to put on a shirt was indicative of his feelings for Kensi. After all, what guy would ask another guy to put on a shirt? Unless it’s in front of Kensi😄. And we now know Densi attends basketball games together😄 They definitely spend time outside of the office together.
Great review, Karen!
Thanks Reader! Yes, if they had just shortened that lengthy shoot-out at the school, and particularly the lengthy shots of Sam walking through the school after they had caught David, they’d have had a few extra moments to make that interrogation scene make a lot more sense, and maybe to incorporate a little more emotion and backstory from Deeks in the process. But sadly the editors chose action over emotion and exposition.
And yes, you are so right about the shirt request. I loved it when Kip just slung it over his shoulders. Kip and Deeks had good chemistry together, and it would be nice to see more of that.
Great review and insights Karen.
I was pretty disturbed over the interrogation scene. It was TOTTALLY out of character for Deeks just like the scene in Afganistan. But a Taliban cleric and a mentally disturbed kid are two different things. And the stakes were much bigger for Deeks in afganistan. It was obvious this boy was sick. If we were keeping in character Deeks would have found a more compassionate way to get the mother to give up her other son. Also I believe Deeks would have been the last one to want to go along with that tactic. Like Lindy said maybe they are setting something up to happen in the future and I could see something like that coming from Granger but not Deeks. The editing was definitely off and they could have quickly thrown in an explanation…. not that I would have accepted it. It’s not the Deeks I know and love.
Also I find it strange that Kensi wouldn’t know about his friendship with Kip. Would be interesting to find out the backstory there.
Nice Callen and Sam banter though and I liked that they kept a local angle to the story.
Yep, I agree about OOC Deeks. Even before the mother was there and he was maybe pretending, he raised his voice in a way that didn’t feel right to me. Not sure what that was about. My guess is a bit of sloppy direction and editing. Especially the editing. It was downright disconcerting when Sam and Callen left to get the mom and they moved straight into the interrogation, and then showed the them showing up with the mother without any indication that any time had passed at all. You could barely make out that Deeks was talking about something slightly different. And to go round trip from the Marina to Echo Park on a good day is 90 minutes.
I totally thought of you when it turned out to be JUST a serial killer, who wasn’t trying to kill all of Los Angeles. 🙂
Karen, I totally forgot your comment on the promo clip for next week! I was so excited when that scene flashed that I would have fallen out of my chair if I hadn’t been sitting in a love seat. But then a sobering thought hit me…I bet it’s just a “cover” kiss. 😒
A kiss is still a kiss😉 I guess a cover kiss will be have to be enough.
Oh Reader, why oh why am I finding myself growing hopeful when deep down I know my hopes are 99% likely to be dashed? And yes, a cover kiss is a possibility. I think you have anticipated our weekend Humbug poll!
I think in this Christmas episode a cover kiss is a possibility too, but on the other side, from the promo (which I know we should never trust!) it didn’t seem such… It seemed a more intimate moment, genuine Densi and not undercover. I have watched the promos from “Descent” and “Recovery” again,just to have a comparison, and have realized that the key-scenes were kind of spoiled in the promos too (we didn’t see the exact kiss on the bike but the moment they looked at each other and we saw the restaurant scene “I want to be at my place right now”). This gives me hope for the Monday episode and who can be hurt by two more days of hope??
I am still hopeful especially After the new promo clip where Kensi says “I want to be bold” when her eyes lock with Deeks… Eeeeekkk!! I like living in the state of Hope. But the realist in me..
Cladani, you and Kara did the exact same thing (see her comment on the Humbug poll post). Great minds think alike! I’m going to move into a total Internet blackout from now until Monday so as to avoid any additional spoilers. I think many of the sneak peeks, not just this season but previously, have given away way to much in the way of key Densi scenes. I do think they’ll save the rest of the skating scene, but you never know.
I have read Kara’s post in the other thread too, Karen, and realized that we did the same comparing the promos! Curious how this show has the power to drive us crazy!! I can’t move to total Internet blackout as you, but I’m trying to resist spoilers that spoil too much! Even if I think this time they are saving the best for the episode and I am totally, utterly excited…
Cladani – I just sat down to read these comments and you and I are so in sync with our past promo-stalking. I love it. It makes me feel just a little less crazy!
In 24 hours, we’ll know. I feel like a nut just typing that. I’m seriously so anxiously excited about this right now.
Promo-stalking! 🙂 LOL You made me really laugh, Kara! I felt a little less crazy too when I saw someone else had had the same idea! In a few hours we’ll see, but I confess I have never been so excited about this show as this time and Kyle Harimoto tweet gave me even greater hope (“NCISLA Familia I suggest you get together and watch with friends tomorrow night. We made this 1 for YOU for you – our die hard FANS”).