Review: NCISLA “Driving Miss Diaz” (S7E3)
The third NCIS: Los Angeles episode of the season, “Driving Miss Diaz,” brought with it a recurring character, canon consistency, and a nearly episode-long Densi undercover assignment, all things we at wikiDeeks have hoped to see more of this season. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough to put this episode on my list of favorites- it just felt a little flat overall. In his prior episodes, writer Andrew Bartels has delivered more than his share of interesting guest characters and heartfelt moments. I loved Ehsan from “Allegiance” and how he bonded with the team, and who can forget “Humbug” and its focus on the team’s private lives? Yet in this episode, I just didn’t connect emotionally, despite the passion Alex Elmslie brought to his mission to bring war criminals to justice, and the fierce determination of a mother to protect her children from those same men. We’ll talk more about that…
…But First, The Plot
We open on a young woman from Peru whose life is threatened by a man masquerading as campus security. It turns out she’s one of four such women in the U.S. who might be a witness to an 18-year old massacre in Peru. Our friend Alex Elmslie, working for the Global Criminal Tribunal, is convinced that a current Peruvian presidential candidate, Alfredo Silva, is responsible, and he’s determined to find the woman and get her to testify. Densi goes undercover to protect the last possibility, a model named Catalina Diaz living in L.A. To make a long story short, the woman’s birth mother is the actual witness to the massacre, and she had Silva’s son nine months later. Our model, his half-sister, is trying to protect her little brother. The team protects them all and Silva is taken down for his crimes.
Be a Force, Not a Face
I think we all recognize that every episode can’t feature a case that directly involves one of the team, like we had with Callen in the season premiere. For me, sometimes filler episodes like this week’s are exciting (“Empty Quiver”), sometimes they are goofy and fun (“SEAL Hunter”), and sometimes, well, they’re neither. Sometimes I just sense a certain lack of energy coming through my screen, something subtle in the way the actors deliver their lines, as if they’re not 100% invested. That in turn makes me feel less invested. And I don’t think it’s the actors at fault. If the banter doesn’t sing, I tend to think the writing could have been stronger. If the action doesn’t feel suspenseful, I start thinking about the directing and editing decisions.
As for the goodness of having a recurring character, canon consistency, and a Densi undercover… It was overall a positive to have Elmslie back, rather than a new character pursuing war criminals. That additional history, the references to his previous interactions with the team, and his resulting personal struggles all added to the storyline. I liked his conversation with Granger, and really appreciated the fact that Bartels seemed to be quite familiar with his story- I didn’t notice any continuation errors. I’m afraid though that Elmslie is a character for whom I had never felt much in the past. No affection, no great dislike, I just hadn’t made an emotional connection of any kind. So even though Bartels did as much as possible to make him a sympathetic character, I just didn’t feel invested.
And yay for undercover work! It’s what this unit is supposed to specialize in, after all. But what I enjoy most about seeing Deeks and Kensi undercover is watching them play different roles. Here it felt like they were merely dressing differently (did I mention yet how amazing that suit was?), but for the most part, they were talking and acting just like themselves. It’s when they have to embody a different personality- a Brazilian swimsuit model and her British friend, a cruel boss and his bullied secretary, a scorned girlfriend and a guy who just wants to get into his safety deposit box- that the undercover assignment really becomes special. And it’s where I think the actors really start to have fun, which I think comes across in their performances.
Don’t get me wrong, there were quite a few delightful moments in the episode (see below). Maybe I was just feeling let down after the first two episodes, which both contained a lot of great scenes between teammates talking about more than just face wash and toilet paper. You tell me, am I just being too hard on the show?
- Was it just me, or did anyone else think about Harry Potter at the description of “la niña que vivió”- The Girl Who Lived? But I was a bit confused about how someone who was two or three at the time of the massacre would be much of a witness.
- I have to say, I’ll watch any episode where Deeks wears that suit the entire time. (But do most chauffeurs dress that nicely?) He could definitely be a model.
- Is Deeks (or ECO) ticklish? I loved the moment when Kensi pulled his phone from his pants, and the way he giggled. But what do you think- was it in character for Deeks to have those photos?
- I kind of expected some America’s Next Top Model references during their undercover assignment, but then again, I think maybe Kensi’s love of that program is much more established in fan fiction than on the show.
- I laughed at the new receptionist, and Sam’s Saved by the Nell line. But come on, Nell has more IQ in her little finger than this nice lady had in her whole brain. I didn’t really see much resemblance.
- I kind of wanted Eric to leave the purpose of his evenings at home with Nell a little vague, but hey, maybe board game night is just code for something else.
- Hetty’s photo shoot felt more like an excuse for her to relive her Holllywood glory days than to actually protect Catalina. She definitely seemed to be enjoying herself. (I’m not real sure about the results though- I wasn’t a fan of the pictures.) I’d have loved to watch her actually work an undercover with Deeks- I don’t think they’ve ever done that together.
- Yay, Monty’s still alive! I’d begun to wonder since we haven’t seen him in forever, despite several visits to Deeks’ place. I have definitely begun to worry about the doggie actor who plays him (fun fact- his real name is also Monty).
- Deeks figures out a key clue two episodes in a row- hooray for Competent Deeks!
- Poor Kensi’s new car! I guess it was bound to get a few dings at some point. At least no bullet holes so far.
- I loved Deeks asking Sam to feel his face. It brought to mind the end of “Fame” when he asked if Sam wanted to coddle him. Similar teasing, but such a different tone. Look how far they’ve come! I just want to see as much of these two together as possible.
Kensi: This girl has to be the only person in L.A. who doesn’t drive.
Deeks: That’s because Catalina Diaz is a self-entitled model. She’s probably never carried her groceries or paid for a single drink in her life.
Kensi: If she is who Elmslie thinks she is, she’s had a pretty rough childhood.
Deeks: So did I, so did you, and you can still execute a power slide while firing a weapon, and you know what that is? That’s my kind of girl. [Kensi starts frisking him.] What are you doing? Oh, we can make time for this later, if you really want to get into my pants.
Deeks: I call that being a force, and not a face.
Kensi: [Smiling] Shut up.
Deeks: Oh really? Where’d you even hear that, for god’s sakes?
Kensi: I… I don’t remember.
Deeks: You don’t remember? Oh, I remember. You read it off your bottle of face wash. Yeah, that’s right princess. You gave career advice… from soap.
Kensi: OK, it was very good advice…
Deeks: Was it?
Kensi: And plus, how do you even know that? Have you been using my face soap, again, hmm?
Deeks: Well, Monty has very sensitive skin.
Kensi: Oh does he?
Deeks: Yeah, he does.
Classic Deeks & Sam (AKA Ice Cream)
Deeks: As a wise bottle of soap once told me, “Don’t be a face, be a force.” I think we can all learn a little something from that.
Callen: What the hell’s he talking about?
Kensi: I don’t know.
Deeks: All I know is that face wash is changing my life. [To Sam] You wanna feel this?
Deeks: So silky smooth.
Sam: I don’t want to touch your face, Deeks.
There’s a new episode next week, but in the meantime, tune in later this week for Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, plus the Edit of the Week.
Title: “Driving Miss Diaz”
Writer: Andrew Bartels
Director: James Hanlon
Original Air Date: October 5, 2015
I am going to sound horrible to people who liked the episode. I watch this show for Densi so this was my beef with the densi ness in this episode. Is it me or did Densi act more like a couple in Season 3 and 4 than they are doing now that they are together? I mean i would think Deeks being Deeks would have his hands all over Kensi when she was frisking him (more like the talking detective scene that we got which i thought was more how deeks would be if/when kensi has her hands on him). It was a very self absorbed Deeks that i saw i mean he didn’t even comment on Kensi looking good even though she got the complement on model herself. Maybe it is the protecting Kensi side of me but is Deeks getting overly confident that he can let other girls kiss him and check other women out infront of kensi even though when he is hiding his mother and god knows what IA things from her? Is he being that over confident? Are they building up to the densi downfall by letting Deeks act this way? I mean maybe I am forgetting is densi really a couple? If i was not a densi shipper and a casual viewer i won’t even know that they are together. I understand the professional aspect to the show and how they cannot be all over each other at work but Citadel really pissed me off. I mean Deeks reaction to greeting his mom was believable how he gave her a kiss and slight hug but what about your girlfriend who is freaking out about meeting your mom, can’t you even pull her for a hug to calm her down. Now with Talia coming in for another freaking episode god help densi. While deeks was calling Catalina hot at the end i was saying “half your age deeks half your age”. I understand that Deeks is a man and not dead and will check out other woman but really we got a deeks feeling guilty about hiding monica in Parley while densi was not even together…..and the deeks we saw hiding his mom didn’t look guilty to me or did i just miss something?
I know i am going back to Citadel on this one but Kensi booking the “proposal hotel” at the end does that mean that she is ready to be proposed?
Thanks Di. Your review mirrored my thoughts…a very blah ep. I have no idea what that opening was about. It made no sense whatsoever and was a waste of time. In fact the whole episode seemed sparse and weak, lots of blank spaces. They never made us care about the people lost in that massacre. They could have used the opening to give us some idea about the man responsible and the cause we were being asked to be outraged about. No passion there. Elmslie’s reactions seemed forced and over the top and his hair was just weird, but at least he appeared to care, while everyone else just seemed matter of fact about it.
Without a compelling story, my only interest became how good Deeks looked in that suit. I was just thrilled he wasn’t dressed in one of those horrible hoodies they keep shoving him into. This episode was completely forgettable. Hopefully we’ll have better luck next week…it is their 150th episode.
Sorry, This was a Karen P original review, Lindy. I would like to take credit here though because I have to agree with her that the episode was definitely a whitewash episode. I really didn’t attach emotionally to any of these characters. But at lease the storyline was believable yet….there was something just off.
Thanks Di…wrote my response after midnight. Great job Karen.
KAREN! A+ review, A++ for including the Ice Cream moment. 😀
I agree, it was flat. I missed a good portion of the episode when it aired and don’t really have much desire to go back and watch it. Always love Detective Deeks using his brain, which is probably the biggest positive that I took away from this. With Deeks’ character being put into question recently, it was nice to see his competence shining through.
Hee hee. You have totally converted me on Deeks and Sam. 😉
And Competent Deeks in a suit is an impressive combination.
This episode felt like a filler to me. And one glaring error-the ages of Catalina and Gabriel. Nell said that Gabriel was her much younger brother (like 7 years difference I think). The massacre was 20 years ago, she was supposed to be a very young child, and yet Gabriel is old enough to “pass” as her boyfriend? If I’m missing something, let me know!
I agree with the other posters that the undercover just felt like dress up. Why would Deeks have those photos on his phone? The banter was fun, as was Sam’s 1000 watt smile at the girl at the tribunal. Loved Hetty at the end with her James Bond photo. Very cute. Overall I’d rate this a 6.
I’m probably in the minority in that I actually enjoyed the episode. Any time Deeks and Kensi have a lot of screen time and lines is good for me. But, in answer to your question about why Deeks would have those photos on his screen, my guess would be that he (and Kensi) were given those photographs so they would know their subject when they saw her. The pictures Nell and Eric were given were probably the model shoots and those pictures were the same that was shown in Ops. I think it was supposed to be a joke, not that Deeks was looking up and keeping photos of the model. As for the brother, wasn’t she like 2 or 3 when the massacre occurred? He was born 7 months later (at least that’s the way I read it). It’s very possible to look the same age as your sibling even if you are a few years younger.
But, all things considered, I enjoyed reading the review as always (thanking everyone who takes the time to write out these thoughtful takes on the episodes) and the comments. Always love Deeks in suits or hoodies and here’s hoping his hair is always “styled by pillow.”
Fully agree with the other comments… this one left me flat. The best scene – the frisking scene – was in the sneak peek. I didn’t bother doing the age numbers, just didn’t care. Deeks was the only one who connected the woman in the interview room with the clipping Elmslie had? And what was she going to do with a vacuum cleaner full of a combustible liquid – kill herself? The lines regarding the face wash were cute and continued the circumstantial evidence that Densi are living together, but got lost in the general lack of energy in the episode. On the other side… the pant suit and the suit worked! I thought the young model looked a lot like a younger DR, from the early pictures that are posted. Same hair, same body build, etc. That is why Deeks had them; he could have copped to the resemblance. Re Nell and Eric… she sure had a strong reaction to his mentioning DNA evidence for a board game.
Overall, an average filler. Maybe 6, but more toward 5. Weak story line, less believable than usual, good interactions few and far between.
Thanks for the review!
I think last year there were much worse fillers than this, so, all things considered, I was not particularly surprised in a negative way by yesterday’s episode.
It was, more or less, as I expected, and I am well aware that not all episodes can be a rollercoaster of emotions. This definitely kept everyone’s heart (mine, at least) safe from dangerous palpitations!
There were two things which I particularly liked:
– How stunning Deeks and Kensi were in their suits. Finally an undercover operation that didn’t need homeless clothes. A feast for the eyes!
– Densi as a couple, the fact that they are a non-issue for the rest of the team. What a great conquest! Established and accepted Densi has been my dream for a long time, ever since the writers teased us fans with breadcrumbs. Even Granger is showing his softer side towards Densi. Almost unbelievable.
I hope that, since they have accepted this workplace relationship quite well, all the team will be on Densi’s side if something gets in their way like IA investigation. I don’t know how much I would like to see a supportive team that would do everything for the safety of their coworkers.
Even in a show that has lost part of its appeal (especially for what concerns plots and how stories are handled), I will be forever grateful to the authors for having made Densi happen.
I like what you said about Densi being a non-issue for the rest of the team. It’s a nice change!
They were stunning in their suits!!
I didn’t get to watch the ep last night, writing my exam. Since we tend to agree on most things Densi/NCISLA, looks like this can sit on the PVR for two weeks until I’m done!
Sounds like (again) the sneak peek was the best part of the ep. That is something that is very consistent – flat eps have great sneak peeks. But sometimes great sneak peeks go with great eps, so they keep you guessing.
Yes to all of this.
I agree with everything you said in your review and Deeks does look good in his suit!
I found your comment ” am I being too hard on this show” interesting because I wrote the same comment to a friend of mine when we were discussing the show. I think we have high standards for the show because we know they can deliver and are disappointed when they do not. However, so far this week, this is the best show I have seen on television.
Hah! Great minds think alike? I will quote a friend of mine (who will remain anonymous), who said “It could have been worse.” That is not what you want to be thinking after an episode of your favorite show!
Overall I enjoyed the episode even if it was a filler. It would have been more enjoyable if there had been more energy like you said, Karen.
Was anyone else bothered by Deeks’ “research” of Catalina? Why did he know her bra size? The final scene was funny because of Hetty, but Deeks’ comment about her being hot (again) left me with a disappointed feeling. C’mon Deeks. You have Kensi!! It would have been nice to see him apologize or compliment her later.
I think for the writers it’s not easy to balance this “new” (almost one year old, though!) Deeks in a committed relationship with Kensi and the “old” Deeks who seemed to flirt with any woman. So I guess sometimes the kind of comment about the model of this episode is more an old habit the authors have to portray Deeks as a “lady killer”.
The comment didn’t bother me much, it came out as a little forced. Talia’s behavior annoyed me much, much more, in Citadel and I was a little disappointed Deeks couldn’t find a way to make her understand to let him be. Kensi was self-controlled and I liked her, but I would have liked to see a different reaction from Deeks.
Now she is coming back in a forthcoming episode and I am wondering which Talia she will be: the competent “Fish out of water” DEA agent or the obnoxious “Citadel” cartoon?
I think the reason of writers portraying Deeks as “lady killer” (3 weeks in a row!) is also to show how Kensi’s getting more confident and mature in this rerationship. Adding to the ‘caring Kensi’, it’s important to show those side of her now considering IA investigation storyline.
I also think that the writers are trying to cast some doubt on Deeks to set up the IA investigation. It seems like he’s hiding stuff from Kensi, going to his earlier flirting ways and out of the blue all these women recognize him at the beach and refer to him as Party Marty. It’s a little revisionist writing perhaps?
As always, your article is the articulate, level-headed version of my own thoughts. How do you manage??
I especially liked the comment about it simply being a costume change. On paper this episode should have been stellar — undercover-densi heavy is a dream — but it didn’t actually deliver. Plenty of potential, but “flat” is a accurate descriptor for the whole thing. Such a waste.
(And yes, those photos were unimpressive at best. The shoot pics were bad enough, but that one of Hetty was cringeworthy. Are we to believe she took a photo of herself posed with a gun and then cropped out the background and put it on a blank white canvas? They could have easily made a truly funny joke by having the last slide be of her wielding the blowtorch and posing, as if she had snuck her own shoot after everyone had wrapped.)
Hah! You should see the first draft that gets written in the hour after the episode! It definitely helps that I have to wait until the next day to finish it… I bet it killed you to see those photos- maybe you should do some of your own adjustments to make them better- I bet you’d come up with something awesome.
I can kind of agree with your comments. I really thought the whole Elmslie/child witness story was a real stretch, and he really was just kind of psycho about it. It was just way off to me as a plot. I thought it would have made more sense if they were after the mother herself and going after the kid(s) to identify to her. She could have changed enough to be hard to find – but the kid would have Silva’s DNA or ??? That I could have understood??? But the whole “a 3-year old will remember something?” Nah. Otherwise I thought it was an OK episode. I would assume that occasionally they handle a case that doesn’t involve WWIII. I don’t know about this philandering Deeks. I think he does it just to give Kensi a hard time. Seems like he’s almost always laughing when he does it. She doesn’t react anymore and I think he just tries harder to get a rise out of her. Regarding the suit it’s about time – this show has ALWAYS bugged me with their wardrobe. I mean, really, what law enforcement person runs around in worn out jeans and a t-shirt Every Day To Work! OK, undercover, going out into the desert, something, but I keep thinking of all the times they are sent out to “talk to a civilian” – I wouldn’t let those two in my house or business LOL I’d be calling the police/security and telling them a couple of transients were at my door pretending to be cops. They don’t have to wear a suit and tie (I know it’s LA – I’ve lived there), but jeez. They couldn’t look more unprofessional. I don’t think they remotely portray/invoke any kind of confidence – reassurance – professionalism – believability dressed as they are. There’s casual and then there’s just sloppy! I think it’s gotten ridiculous.
I liked the receptionist – she was a nut – I thought Sam was referring to it being Nell that called her on the phone to get her out of the way – not comparing her to Nell. Or was it because she was cute & short. Might have miss read that whole thing!
I know several people who chauffeur – they do dress that way – always a dark suit and white shirt when driving. Usually a tie, too.
Yea, Monty lives!
Absolutely right about the chauffeur “uniform.” When the All-Star game was in Kansas City, the limousine service hired 25 retired police officers to drive the celebrities, players, etc. around during the ten days surrounding the game. I was told that I needed to wear a dark jacket, blouse and black slacks. The guys had to also wear ties which was a bear considering how hot Kansas City usually is in July. I had a lot of leeway and took advantage of it, but yes there is a “uniform” and Deeks was wearing it sans the tie.
Yeah, I thought the idea of a chauffeur wearing a suit made sense, but that suit just looked so expensive to me. Maybe it was just the way ECO wore it though. He does make plain white t-shirts look pretty amazing after all!
I haven’t seen this episode yet so cannot comment (I am in Australia so a delay for us seeing episodes). But wanted to say God, Eric Christian Olsen looks good in a suit! (then again, he just looks good ALWAYS!)
Great review! I didn’t like this one as much as the first two. Deeks calls Kensi princess in this episode. The only time I remember him calling her that was way back in season 2 in Special Delivery. Am I correct or did he call her princess in other episodes?
Hmmm, good question Michelle. I feel like I’ve definitely heard this quite a few times before, although I think “Special Delivery” was the first. I can’t think of any other instances though- it’s probably all that fan fiction messing with my head.
Thanks for response back! I agree it’s the fan fiction. So use to him calling her that in fan fiction. I’m going to go back and re-watch and see if he does call her princess in other episodes.
In “S2x04 Special Delivery” may possibly only time Deeks called Kensi ‘princess’ from subtitles I have. Although in “S6x02 Inelegant Heart” Kensi called Deeks ‘princess’. You know, just before Deeks said “You can’t wash out ghost!”
Nice job Patty- very impressive!
Thanks! I thought “Special Delivery” might be the only time but wasn’t sure.
Great write-up, Karen! Love your attention to detail. I agree that the best part of the episode was seeing Deeks in a suit. I admit the case of the week was a bit off and you have a good point..is it in the editing or in the acting. I had to really focus to keep interested in the case. I thoroughly enjoyed the episode for all of the team banter and interaction. The undercover work by Kensi and Deeks, although not over the top characters was still entertaining with the banter. Kensi’s personal assistant deference and multiple apologies (5 times with hand gestures by Catalina) was funny. When Deeks busted Kensi on her face-wash quote, I was quite happy thinking that Densi must be spending an awful lot of time together. And Yay, Monty is still in the picture!
The spotty wi-fi ruse was also entertaining. The receptionist was clearly taken by Sam…can’t blame her with his dimples when he smiled at her. And the ‘saved by the Nell” made me laugh. There were many entertaining lines. I loved Hetty as her serious self revealing the op to Catalina and then running the shoot reminiscient of the early seasons when she told outrageous stories of Sinatra and hollywood. Overall, it clearly was a fluffy, filler case of the week and for that I will re-watch just to enjoy the fluff.
As for the photos that showed up on Deeks’s phone were the same as those at the briefing and since Densi was already in the field, the briefing was sent to their phones which is why Kensi knew they were there. I thought it was just an opportunity for Kensi to get her hands on Deeks. Who can blame the girl when he looks so fine in his suit. 😄
Thanks everyone for the comments. I really enjoyed hearing what you all had to say.
I agree with everyone that this episode felt “flat”. I was certainly underwhelmed.
I was also disappointed that the writers are moving away from the Deeks canon. The Deeks of the last couple of years would never have photos of Catalina on his phone “for research”. Also, the protective Deeks seems to be gone as of late. Past explosions had him protecting Kensi and shielding her from the fallout, but he didn’t do it this time. Maybe I’m being super picky. Also, gone are the looks and shoulder bumps and walking so close to each other that they bump hips. The writers aren’t writing those types of scenes and/or the directors aren’t directing them to do that anymore. Also, it seems like Kensi is regressing back to the snarky version of the earlier seasons. I know they have to be professional at work, but it seems that there’s no flirty banter, just snark. Maybe it’s just me.
I don’t like that writers are making Deeks out to be too secretive and is hiding stuff from Kensi. The whole plumber story seem out of left field. Was there a scene that was cut to explain why he was so secretive. It seems like a lazy plot device, much like Talia and her annoying behavior. Now, I see that she’s back once again. Deeks, please call Human Resources or at least put her in her place the next time she lays a hand (or lips) on you. It’s demeaning for women that a highly trained and accomplished agent has to resort to those behaviors.
Haven’t been enjoying this season as much as earlier seasons. I want the old Deeks and Kensi back.
I miss the cuteness of Deeks and Kensi, too – the looks, the bumps, the flirtiness. Deeks was much more charming in previous seasons. I thought the same thing you did about this being out of character for the recent seasons of Deeks. I feel like the ‘lady killer’ Deeks was in the early seasons. Kensi’s overall demeanor is pleasant, I think. In what ways do you she’s been snarky? With Deeks or others?
I’m glad they’re a couple and handling it well at work, but I miss the playfulness. I would think that they could be a little more flirty when it’s just the two of them….
I still love the show and new episodes. I’m looking forward to Monday!
I am so sorry to say it, but I think Deeks/ECO has been quite bored/tired/distracted lately. I hope it’s all scripted by the writers as a way to build his character for something bigger and deeper in future episodes (IA investigations, his lies etc…) and not just his own personal life that is getting in the way. It would be a great pity.
I think Kensi has been written better than Deeks recently and her character has been given more opportunities to shine.
Oh no – I hope it’s scripted, too! I definitely felt like it was in 7×2, but I wasn’t sure about 7×3. I think that’s why I felt disappointed when the episode ended.
I’ve been thinking about your comment and thought I’d share a few of my own. I hope they are building to a break through in communication for Densi. Deeks has been preoccupied with the IA investigation. Kensi has gone all serious again, and admits as much to Sam during their little pep talk. I feel like Deeks is feeding off Kensi’s angst about getting the relationship perfect and add that to the IA investigation and things feel off. I’d like them to get back to flirty and fun. I’d love to see them take the lead on figuring things out on a case and Sam and Callen are impressed by them for a change.
I saw from Daniela’s instagram feed that Talia is back on a mission with Jada. I hope the writers are listening and have Densi in a good place (and Talia shut down) for this next go around. We haven’t had one of them in danger like we have in the past for a while. I think Deeks let Talia run her mouth because he was annoyed with Kensi’s serious side.