Review: NCISLA “Unspoken” (S7E6)
I came into this week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles with lower expectations than I’d normally have for a show scripted by Erin Broadhurst and Frank Military. But given the fact that Eric Christian Olsen spent a good part of filming on vacation in Hawaii, I wasn’t sure how much Deeks screen time we’d get. What we did get was a nicely written and directed (by Diana C. Valentine) episode centered around Sam and his ex-partner, with plenty of the character-centered scenes I enjoy. Plus, we just might have gotten the strongest foreshadowing yet about the upcoming Internal Affairs investigation. Or maybe I’m just being paranoid? More about that…
…But First, the Plot
We open with a nice boom! as a deal to purchase black market explosives goes south. A man we later learn was Sam’s first NCIS partner, Mark Ruiz (well played by Anthony Ruivivar), appears to detonate the bomb that takes out the militia buyers. Ruiz is working as an undercover asset for ATF after having left NCIS due to a drug problem. As the case unfolds, bad guys in the form of Filipino hired guns turn against an arms dealer who is actually a terrorist. At one point Ruiz nearly turns against Sam over his suspicion that Sam had an affair with his wife. In the end, he earns the trust Sam has placed in him when he saves his life in the final shoot-out. The explosives are recovered, the bad guys are either dead or arrested, and Ruiz and the team live to fight another day.
A Question of Trust
This episode’s overriding theme was trust. With Ruiz’s motives in great doubt, only Sam wants to vouch for his troubled ex-partner. Sam is “loyal to a fault,” as Callen describes him. Yet that’s one of the things I love about him. Sam stood by Ruiz, and his family, as he fought his addiction. Who wouldn’t want him on their side when the going gets tough?
The issue of trust is repeated throughout the episode, discussed by every character at some point. Sam doesn’t trust Deeks and Kensi not to jump to conclusions, so he doesn’t give them Ruiz’s full history. As a result, Deeks and Kensi aren’t so sure they can trust Ruiz so they investigate his past. Hetty knows his past (she’s somewhat responsible for it- no surprise there), but can’t decide if she trusts him. Callen definitely doesn’t. Granger trusts in Sam’s assessment, but Sam doesn’t trust that Granger did the right thing in shooting a bad guy to protect one of their own. Ruiz expresses frustration when Sam begins to doubt him, reminding him that he never screwed up in the field, despite his problems.
On the other hand, Ruiz really doesn’t trust Sam. He’s convinced that Sam had an affair with his wife Alicia. Now if I know one thing about Sam Hanna, it’s that he’s an honorable man. As Hetty told him in “Active Measures”, “It is a privilege to have a man with your honor on this team, Mr. Hanna.” No one should ever accuse him of betrayal: if there’s one person to be trusted to do the right thing, it’s Sam. Indeed, “there are 10 different reasons why [an affair with Alicia] would never happen.” On the other hand, while Sam will help you through a dozen relapses, if you do question his character, he’s “done” with you. (His attitude after Ruiz confronts him makes it all the more shocking that he would have done that very thing to Deeks in “Descent.”)
The issue of trust also played into what was possibly the most disturbing conversation of the episode…
This Just Got Real
As Deeks and Kensi investigate the scene of the bombing, they discuss Sam’s trust in Ruiz:
Kensi: I just don’t understand why Sam would protect some guy that may have killed three people. I don’t.
Deeks: I do… Because they were partners, and to be completely honest, I would do the same thing for you.
Kensi: Not if I murdered someone.
Deeks: I mean, if you did it for the right reasons, yeah, yeah, I think I would.
I’m sorry, what? Did Deeks just give Kensi and us a subtle hint that he killed somebody? Perhaps the same man he referenced in “Active Measures”, the detective who put a gun in Deeks’ mouth when he questioned his methods, and who liked to beat up prostitutes for fun? I know there may have been absolutely nothing more going on here than a random Densi discussion, but the emotions on both their faces made it feel more significant to me. I interpreted Deeks’ intensity as him unable to hold back the guilt and anguish over what he did and what he thinks is coming with IA, and I interpreted Kensi’s as her frustration with his continuing failure to tell her everything, along with a bit of fear of what she’s going to find out. This exchange definitely scared me a little: a murder charge would make the IA investigation so much more serious (and dramatic!) than if it was just about alleged financial misdeeds.
Now, I’ve absolutely been 100% wrong before, misinterpreting random snippets of dialog as potential clues. This may very well have nothing to do with the investigation. But Deeks does have one additional line that would tie into this theory, when he tells Sam, “Maybe he lost his edge, got frustrated, killed the militia guys?” I could picture scenarios where Deeks interrupted that detective “whaling on some poor girl,” triggering his protective response to seeing a woman being beaten- and setting off his Max Gentry temper. Given that this episode was filmed in sequence, the writers had to have known what the actual IA storyline is going to hold for Deeks.
Of course Deeks said other random things last night that wouldn’t seem to tie in with this scenario, and would themselves make for completely different theories: I’m just saying, people change, Sam, especially when they’re in deep cover… and Betrayal between partners… this just got real. I need to believe that whatever he allegedly did, the writers will not make Deeks out to be a real bad guy, even if he didn’t follow the letter of the law in some way. What’s your theory?
Classic Densi Team
The opening bullpen discussion on boundaries provided lots of classic Densi, as well as signature team banter. But I gotta ask, why does the team get to witness so many of Densi’s public displays of affection, but we hardly ever do?
Kensi: Who writes their name on things they then leave at their girlfriend’s house?
Callen: [to Deeks] Do you still write your name on your underwear?
Deeks: I gotta mark my territory.
Sam: That’s a poor choice of words.
Kensi: The bottom line is, you’re just really bad with personal boundaries. [Sam and Callen laugh.] Is something funny?
Sam: You two? Having a discussion about boundaries? Isn’t that a little ironic?
Deeks: Explain that.
Sam: Most people bring their work lives home, you guys bring your home lives to work. Boundaries get blurry.
Kensi: Deeks and I keep our work lives and personal lives very separate. I have a rule about that.
Callen: What about that little display of affection last week on Lincoln, at the stoplight?
Deeks: Hah! Didn’t know you guys were behind us.
Sam: And the fight over who gets the side of the bed that’s closest to the bathroom?
Eric: Oh, or Deeks telling us how Kensi likes to hang dry her underwear in the living room.
Kensi: Deeks, you hang dry your underwear!
Deeks: Yeah, in the bathroom, where things are supposed to hang dry.
Sam: And there it is… boundaries obliterated.
Callen: More stuff I can never unhear.
Oh, and how exactly does Callen know that Deeks writes his name on his underwear?
- Mark and Alicia had an adorable son. I loved little Joey’s reaction to seeing Sam on his doorstep (Momma- there’s a super ginormous man here).
- I actually liked Granger a lot in this episode. I’ve come to appreciate his gruff one-liners (There’s been a complication). They crack me up, and compensate for his otherwise dour demeanor. And here he was so thoughtful, not wanting to be the “office gossip” and really giving Ruiz the benefit of the doubt.
- Awww, Kensi knows Deeks’ password. They are adorable.
- The desperation with which Ruiz tried to salvage the op after five long months reminded me of the Deeks of “Human Traffic”, who was so determined to apprehend Lasik that he met with him without taking any back-up.
- I thought I read somewhere that law enforcement officials aren’t supposed to have guns in the interrogation room, but first Talia in “Citadel” and now this unnamed NCIS agent have me wondering.
- Finally, a closing op where the team has adequate back-up, instead of trying to take on the bad guys alone. This felt much more realistic to me than some of their 2-on-10 shoot-outs.
- There were some very nice moments between Sam and Ruiz at the junkyard and hospital, but seriously, how did Sam managed to keep that suit blood-free?
- Sammy? That’s too cute. I so enjoyed Callen teasing Sam with his nickname. Now I really need Deeks to find out about it. Can I at least get a drabble or two about this? Anyone?
All in all, it was a very enjoyable episode. Check back this week for Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, along with the Edit of the Week. Then tune in this weekend for our Classified Preview and Case Briefing on next week’s out of sequence episode (directed by Chris O’Donnell at the end of last year), which looks like another tense Frank Military outing. I won’t hold my breath for a lot of Densi continuity, but as a stand-alone episode, it looks quite promising.
Writer: Erin Broadhurst and Frank Military
Director: Diana C. Valentine
Original Air Date: November 2, 2015
Great review. I loved this episode, and am in the process of driving my house crazy with repeated watchings. I just have 2 things.
1. Patents wrote their kids’ names in their underwear back in the day. That’s what I figure Callen was referencing. Always the big brother teasing his kid brother.
2. Everybody heard Ruiz say “Sammy”. It was in the boatshed, and when the picture went to the main room, Deeks, Kensi and Callen were all listening to the interrogation.
Favorite line of the night: “boundaries obliterated.”
I have been reading how everybody has been enjoy Unspoken and it was such a good episode. But honestly it was good but not as good as everybody was saying.I thought we didn’t get a whole lot of Densi, like we do in other shows. Like you I questioned about the boundaries at work, like why can’t we see them. I do like that they talk about it but does Sam & Callen have to know about it? I too was wondering if Deeks shot someone or if I was reading too much into it. Well I quess we will just have to wait and see what will happen next. Thanks for your post
I interpreted the murder conversation a little differently, seeing it as him voicing his willingness to protect someone who does something wrong but for (what he would see as) the right reasons. I don’t think he’s a murderer, but wouldn’t put it past him to cover up for someone who was.
Good review for a good episode!
Great review. Not a lot of Densi (after all it was Sam’s show and ECO was on vacation) but there were enough choice scenes to keep me satisfied.
In answer to your question about guns in interrogation rooms, on my department it’s a major no-no for the obvious reason that if someone is brought in on charges you don’t want to give said person an opportunity to blindside the officer, take the weapon and go on a shooting spree to escape justice. We also have to put our weapons in a lock box when we enter any detention area. Safety and security is what it’s all about. However, all departments, federal, state, or local operate under their own guidelines and procedures. I do not presume to speak for them all. Personally I think they’re nuts if they don’t follow that simple safety procedure but it is what it is.
Perhaps Deeks is protecting his mom, who might have done something illegal? He would go through great lengths to protect her. I think I read somewhere that mama Deeks comes back.
I agree about possible foreshadowing when Deeks tells Kensi that he would cover up for her if she killed for a good reason. I just saw the rerun for Season 2 Episode 1 last night, where they thought Deeks partner had been a dirty cop and turned out to be a different cop. IA had been involved there as well. I wondered if this current investigation could somehow lead back to that issue.
Thank you for the nice review.
I was unsure about this episode because I am not a huge Sam fan. And this episode was all about him (actually I think it is kind of unfair that LL Cool J has this kind of episode since he is more interested in his music show and spends NCIS LA filming days for this and still he got his ep. ECO should have this special episodes. I guess ECO is kind of mad about this too since he didn’t even promote this episode on his twitter account, LOL you go man). And I was right, this episode was kind of boring IMO.
The opening scene in the ops was the best, slurping his smoothing and getting on his teams nerves. But the rest of this scene was unnecessary. I mean who puts a label on his belongings at his partners place. And even worse the discussion about it in the office. We don’t need that kind of background between Kensi and Deeks, it was childish and uncalled-for.
There was not really the hilarious funny Deeks in this episode, so ECO was not at his top of acting (also maybe because he was mad due to his lack of screen time). Maybe the next episodes will be better. I hope for the best.
All your guesses about his IA investigation could be right. We saw Deeks being capable of really illegal things (e.g. the torture of the old blind man in Afghanistan) so he could have done something really bad or this could all be a plot from a former partner or whatever. But the good thing is it will be all over before x-mas and the smiling and funny Deeks will be back.
I’ve seen it twice and loved it both times… except for Sam’s accent 😦 sounded just like Janvier. I thought the bull pen scene was very well done… more info for their relationship, how they slipped up on the street (red light, I hope) where Callen and Sam could see them. The exchange over drying underwear was cute… but how did Eric find out? Deeks, you are in trouble! I missed the part of the exchange in the bombed out building. At first I thought he said he would kill for her; second time I heard him say he would cover up a killing for her… combine that with the deep undercover line and we get a hint of the IA… We never did get a resolution of Bate’s comment in “The Debt” about Deeks having said he would never work with a female partner again… another hint?
I really liked the fact that they swapped plots three times and added in jealousy as well. Weapons dealer to terrorist to a different set of wannabe weapons dealers. I could see Sam having an affair… he and Callen seem to have no problems with using innocent women – Callen with Kristen Donnelly and Sam with Jada; just don’t think it happened in this instance. I really liked how the writers kept us guessing up until the last scene as to whether Ruiz was dirty or not; agents are so good at lying I really couldn’t tell. Glad it worked out that he was currently clean– and the actor did a great job.
Loved the scene where Nell and Eric catch Densi trying to access Ruiz’ personnel file. I’ve wondered (apparently with others) about the weapons in the interview room… it wasn’t clear one way or the other since the team uses those butt holsters, but I do believe most law enforcement agencies have rules against weapons in the prisoner detention areas – because of exactly what happened in this show.
Now just to wait and see how Deeks plays the cult convert… He really went overboard as a sex addict. If the cult leader makes a play for Kensi, there will be fireworks.
Another great review, Karen! I too, rewatched last night and enjoyed it both times even though it was a bit light on Densi. Having said that, I thought there was enough Densi with the opening team banter and the explosion crime scene to spur my imagination. Afterall, the imagination has no limitation and I always fill in the blanks in my own head the way I want things to be. The underwear comments and the reference to the pda’s at a stoplight was pure gold. 😄 I imagined the stoplight scene occurred after the bad guys were apprehended, case solved and the team was headed back to the bullpen…adrenaline’s running high and….😉
I am totally on board with Hetty’s opinion and Granger’s too about Sam. Your paragraph on trust is spot on. Perfect summary of the episode theme, Karen! I love when the theme of an episode touches everyone and everything. Throughout, I trusted Sam to do the right thing and to be there for his ex partner and most importantly for the team. Sam is rock solid.
There really was a lot to love about this episode even though it was light on Deeks. The scene at the crime scene where Deeks understood Sam’s loyalty in an ex partner was phenomenal. I loved the expressions on Deeks’s face. Speaking for myself, I love scenes with intriguing dialogue and then the camera flashes to his face where his emotions play across..awesome. I also loved when his voice drops down a register and he says”yeah..I would” when Kensi says “even if I killed someone.”
There’s only an hour and less with commercials, so I consider this an exceptional episode when the crime is introduced with sufficient but not overdone background story, with entire team involvement and team backstories revealed and a healthy sprinkling of humor to top it off. The gurest stars had sufficient screen time for me to become vested in their characters, Ripuiz’s son was cute and charmed me with his comment about ‘gi-normous” Sam. I too, am really liking Granger….he’s been steadily climbing up my list from rock bottom when he first appeared. Nicely done, writers. Did anyone see how close Neric was when they caught Densi in Sam’s laptop? Notwithstanding having to get into the camera range, they were really comfortable with how close they were to each other. And the last comment when G said “I love you too, Sammy” made me laugh and appreciate the partnering of Sam and G.
All in all, I chalk this one as a successful episode to be re-watched, imho. Thanks for the review, Karen!
Good review. I enjoyed this episode a lot more than I thought I would. It was a good story with a good message about trust. I liked the way they presented Densi as a couple and also Deeks and Kensi as being very competent agents in the field; I thought that was well done.
I do not think they will make Deeks out as a murderer , I think that would be out of character. It may be he killed someone in self-defense , and that has to be proved . I tend to agree with hermionesmydawg, it seems more likely he would be covering for someone else who committed a crime for what Deeks sees as the right reasons.
I agree with you. I don’t believe that they can change Deek’s character overnight (at least I hope so). I feel if he did something wrong he is covering for someone. I did read his mother comes back so maybe it has something to do with her. Maybe all the hints they have been dropping is just to confuse us. Does anyone know how many more shows there is before the Christmas break? And is the IA investigation all over before then? Next weeks promo looks promising with lots of Densi presence. (I am in Australia so it is not back on our screens here yet)
Thanks for all the great comments everyone! hermionesmydawg, I like your theory very much. I can totally see Deeks protecting the prostitute who killed this horrible detective. But as others point out, how would his mother fit into any scenario with this detective partner? I found Deeks’ story about the detective so detailed, so specific, that it seemed like it would have to have something to do with this IA storyline, or otherwise it would be out of character for the show. On the other hand, I wouldn’t put it past them to plant it there thinking that’s the direction they would head, and then for the writers to change their mind about the story and do something different. Can you tell I’m anxious to find out more? However it turns out, if he’s somehow committed a crime or covered one up, he probably can’t tell Kensi or he makes her an accessory after the fact. (I think that’s the legal term? Any attorneys out there?) So maybe he’s lying to her because he really is trying to protect her.
The attention to detail on the first partner makes it seem relevant, especially knowing that the Internal Affairs episode is penned by the same writer as the premiere (Gemmill). But you have a point, how does his mom fit into the story? I’ve long had a theory that she had to do things she didn’t necessarily want to in order to make ends meet for them after his dad went to jail. Deeks has always very sympathetic towards women in tough situations like that (War Cries, Seal Hunter). If he stumbled across a similar situation, then hell yeah I think he’d help cover it up. It’s possible that none of this is connected, but it’s fun to speculate while we can. 🙂
I think the idea that his mother had to do things she did not necessarily want to do could tie nicely to Kensi living on the streets and having to do things she is not proud of. This could provide the connection with Kensi and his mother and Kensi understanding what Deeks had to do.
Thank you for this review.
I admit my expectations of this episode were quite low. I knew in advance it would be a Sam-centric episode and I knew there wouldn’t be much Deeks. That was a good starting point not to be disappointed. In fact, I wasn’t. I didn’t expect much and I enjoyed the episode and some scenes it offered.
I am glad the “boundaries” bullpen scene was not given away in the sneak peeks because it was nice to see some team banter back in action, even if some behaviors they mentioned (writing names on the lid of something you leave at your girlfriend’s house, writing your name on your underwear, hang dry your underwear in the living room) seem quite weird and probably created on purpose to force a smile on the audience.
I do hope after almost one year of “All in”, Kensi can feel free to finish her boyfriend’s protein powder on her icecream!
Some Densi-team interactions still seem forced sometimes after they have become a couple, but I am glad that Deeks and Kensi working together as partners and being together in real life doesn’t seem to be a problem for anyone anymore. If I didn’t know the real reasons behind Kensi’s reassignment back in Season 5 (DR’s pregnancy) I would wonder what was different then and why Deeks was left five months to think it was his fault because they had crossed the line. That was a low blow I still can’t forgive Hetty for.
Nice review, Karen. I found this episode to be solid, but not showy or spectacular – kind of like Sam. But I really wanted Ruiz to turn out to be dirty. It seems like whenever someone who has a history with any of our agents has their honesty put in question, they always turn out to be clean, and our agent’s faith in them turns out to be justified. Just once, I would like for one of our guys to deal with disillusionment.
Great review Karen! Busy week – just getting to it now.
I really enjoyed the episode – except for Sam’s accent. They need to stop giving him stuff like that. Even worse than the accent in “Chernoff, K.”
As far as the Deeks comment, I’m with hermionesmydawg. There seemed to be a thoughtful/reflective pause for a moment before he answered Kensi and said “…if you did it for the right reasons, yeah, yeah, I think I would.” Given his history, I thought this would be consistent with reflection upon the times where his mother was abused by his father and contemplation of how he would have responded had she killed him in self-defence on one of those occasions. Even then, he shot his father, but didn’t kill him. I don’t see murder as consistent with his character, but protecting a victim who did something illegal “for the right reasons” – that makes sense to me with his character.
That being said, I am trying not to be too invested in any one hint because of the documented inconsistencies and things that are never fully resolved despite lots of hints and foreshadowing.
The one thing I took from the episode was Deeks driving! A short/fast clip of he and Granger “executing” the Op. I guess it takes putting Kensi in over watch to let Deeks drive. Otherwise the episode was good; entertaining.
I just read a tweet on Eric Christian Olsen’s twitter page where he has posted a picture of Deek’s “mugshot”. The caption says ‘nothing more dangerous that a desperate innocent man”. So maybe he is being set up? (Have to say a gorgeous ‘mug shot’!) Does anyone know if this is resolved in one episode?
Donna Marie, I don’t think we know for sure. Based on what they’re wearing BTS photos, it looks to start sometime in the middle of Defectors, and based on a lack of ECO in photos of The Long Goodbye, perhaps there will be repercussions that continue there. But that’s just a guess.
When does the Long Goodbye air and do you know what the storyline is? Just curious with the title. I did read that it is resolved before the Christmas break.
I read the conversation between Deeks & Kensi quite differently. For me it seemed to connect to the conversation they had outside the boat shed after interviewing Angelo in Three Hearts. During that conversation I got the impression that Deeks was worried that the only way he might end up on the wrong side of the investigation desk would be something related to Kensi & I saw this as being some of the background reasoning for that…. If that makes sense. Given the IA stuff coming up I’m sure it’s connected to that in some way!