I must admit that I was not particularly looking forward to this week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. I was feeling down about the Callen-centric story and the lack of a much hoped for “Brandel, M.” episode this season. I was very pleasantly surprised by “Beacon,” which is easily my favorite Jordana Lewis Jaffe episode to date. If we can’t have “Deeks, M.,” at least “Beacon” gave us many smaller things fans have been asking for. It accomplished a lot, combining humor, romance, and emotion, all while setting up the final arc of Season 6. We’ll talk about all that…
…But First, The Plot
We open with the infamous Arkady Kolcheck seemingly running for his life, only to fight a gunman and possibly die in an explosion. The team is assigned to investigate, eventually discovering that Arkady faked his death. It turns out he brokered an illegal deal to move $100 million worth of Russian oil in an American supertanker in the face of economic sanctions against Russia. The Americans wanted to pull out of the deal but Arkady moved forward anyway. In the end, the team find the Russian assassin hired to take out the Americans so the tanker could continue its voyage, but the ship disappears. There’s no doubt more to come on this story as we work our way to the season finale.
At Least One Ship is Sailing Smoothly
My mood lifted even with the opening “Previously on NCIS: Los Angeles” scenes, which referenced the LAPD Internal Affairs investigation of Deeks. That told me we might get a little bit of a Deeks storyline, and we did. To start, we find out that Hetty is unconcerned with Deeks and Kensi’s relationship. We had to figure that was the case, for she surely knew all about it, but how refreshing was it to end the mystery?
And then- whoa- does Granger also indicate he isn’t concerned about the Densi ship? He doesn’t want to discuss it, focusing instead on protecting Deeks. He does care! I knew he had a soft spot for the shaggy detective. Maybe that hug and those Swedish nachos wore him down. I only wish Deeks knew how these two felt. To some extent, I think he still feels like the outsider, and it would mean a lot to him that Hetty and Granger want to protect him like one of their own.
How fun is that scene at Arkady’s house? Competent Deeks finds a key clue- very impressive detective work indeed. It’s nice to see Kensi turned on by Competent Deeks, just as Deeks likes to see Kensi kick butt at her job. I like the way they appreciate one another’s skills. Here is something else we’ve all been clamoring to see- Densi physical contact while alone on the job. The flirting is adorable, and the fact that she actually reaches out to touch him just feels natural, unlike so many scenes in previous episodes where the lack of any such contact felt wrong.
Then we get a second wonderful Densi scene, one that shifts us from romantic banter to a much more serious discussion. Kensi finally asks Deeks the question we’ve all wondered about (and wondered about whether she had asked). While I would have loved to hear more details about why Deeks doesn’t know how to answer her (post-ep fan fic please?), the scene is a lovely demonstration of Kensi’s support for him, as well as her willingness to communicate, her desire to help, and her worry for him. Eric Christian Olsen plays the scene beautifully, with so many telling expressions that show the weight of the investigation hanging over Deeks’ head, his sadness and stress, and maybe fear that Kensi might see less than the best part of him. (Deeks: I was just thinking about stakeouts. They’re not as much fun as they used to be… when the cat becomes the mouse.)
Like Grizzly Bear, Nothing Can Take Arkady Down
NCIS:LA has had many memorable guest stars, although few get to stay alive (we miss you Thapa!) and come back in a recurring role. There has been no other recurring character quite like Arkady, so memorably played by Vyto Ruginis. Was anyone really surprised that he is the one who walks away from the explosion in the opening scene? I don’t know if I’d call him a “grizzly bear,” but he is certainly a survivor, maybe more like a cat that always lands on its feet. I mean, he does drive around with his car ready to blow up. (Arkady: It pays to be prepared.)
I don’t welcome Arkady’s appearance because it might bring more of Callen’s backstory, I welcome it because the guy is hilarious. From the moment he strolls into the restaurant, mimes the bagpipes, and starts eating Sam’s fries, he just takes over the scene. He really is like an incorrigible child, and I also enjoyed Sam’s annoyance with him, wonderfully played by LL Cool J. (He is so good playing the straight man to silliness, like he did with ECO’s undercover Sven in “Allegiance.”) But does Arkady have an endless supply of Get Out of Jail Free cards? Anyone else would have been arrested or deported multiple times by now, but his charm seems to work wonders on the NCIS team. He and Hetty together are fantastic. I liked the feeling that he was giving her patience a workout, and that absolutely nothing that comes out of his mouth is the entire truth. One of my two favorite lines of the night was Sam commenting to Callen, “I swear you two sound like an old married couple.” The irony is amazing: doesn’t Sam see that Callen’s true bromantic OTP is Sam himself?
My other favorite lines involved Callen telling Sam that OSP is like a cult, with Hetty the cult leader. He’s joking, but there’s always a bit of the truth in any good joke. I definitely see the team as having followed Hetty without questioning her nearly as much as they should, particularly in Season 5. Don’t worry, I’ll not go on another S5 Hetty rant, but the analogy to a cult leader and her followers did seem rather apt.
- Densi is even starting to dress alike, with Kensi in a simple black t-shirt and green jacket, Deeks in the same but with a white t-shirt. Adorable.
- In the scene at Arkady’s house, Kensi’s “Moment’s gone” line was a nice callback to the boatshed scene in “Praesidium.” Deeks did have more moments, didn’t he?
- What’s Eric’s problem with Deeks? His sarcasm and disrespect for Competent Deeks seemed out of left field. Does he have hair envy? Speaking of which, is it just me, or is Deeks’ hair actually getting even longer?
- Granger’s exasperation with Eric’s inability to provide straightforward information (“Why is your team so hell-bent on finding the drama in everything?”) cracked me up. I love to see him getting a little discombobulated.
- Unfortunately Deeks and Kensi seemed less than competent during the closing action, where they should have been able to stop the bad guy before he even left the apartment complex. And then their questionable decision to take the stairs kept them completely unable to back up Sam and Callen in the rooftop shoot-out.
- But of course, that shoot-out was meant to be a Sam/Callen scene. Diana Valentine did a fine job with the entire episode, although I could have lived without the slow motion.
Deeks: Note to self… severed and amputated pinkies- too far. Who would have thought?
Deeks: Oh yeah? You like that, don’t you?
Kensi: I do, I do love when you talk detective.
Deeks: Oh yeah? Well I can talk detective to you all night long.
Kensi: Oh, I know you can.
Deeks: I can talk search warrants…
Kensi: Mmm hmmm.
Deeks: … chain of custody…
Kensi: Mmm hmmm.
Deeks: …forensic DNA evidence…
Kensi: Mmm hmmm.
Deeks: I can talk about some severed pinkies.
Kensi: Mmm nmmm. No. Moment’s gone.
This was one of the best written episodes of the season, with a high degree of difficulty in needing to make so many tonal shifts, from romantic Densi to serious Densi, from Callen & Joelle to assumed dead Arkady to alive & hilarious Arkady. Then throw in some classically awkward Neric, plus set up the storyline for the final arc of the season (who’s that mysterious Anna?). It left me with a sense of foreboding of things to come, for both Callen and Deeks. How great would it be if they could successfully weave both men’s stories through to the finale? We’ll find out soon enough.
Tune in later this week for Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, plus the latest Writing Deeks. In the meantime, join me in big happy birthday wishes to the awesome wikiDeeks contributor hermionesmydawg!
Writer: Jordana Lewis Jaffe
Director: Diana C. Valentine
Original Air Date: April 20, 2015