Review: NCISLA “An Unlocked Mind” (S7E7)
It’s always a treat to watch the team go undercover and even more so when it’s Kensi and Deeks. This is Chris O’Donnell’s third time in the director’s chair, and veteran script writer Frank Military is there to lend a helping hand. I’m really not a fan of these episodes filmed out of order because they usually have a very disjointed feel to them. They seem to come out of left field and leave us wondering what’s going on with all the unresolved storylines. But the opening yoga workout with Densi left all of those concerns in the dust! All that talk of deep straddling and Deeks’ pelvis left me swooning like a southern belle. (Deeks: Wow, deep straddle. That’s a crowd pleaser.) Suffice it to say, this latest Densi interaction was also a crowd pleaser for the fans as we finally get to watch them in a sexy and provocative workout while at work. There’s no doubt how Deeks feels about his partner as he unsuccessfully tries to focus on the yoga positions and not Kensi’s iliac crest. Classic Deeks.
So after taking a cold shower, I sat down to watch the rest of the episode, which centered around a former DOD engineer who is suspected of handing over classified government information to a well-known cult organization called the Church of the Unlocked Mind. (Deeks: All aboard the crazy train.) The church may be selling military intel to China, and the team must close down the operation before any more damage is done. Densi also has to move quickly to infiltrate the group as the DOJ wants to shut down the agency’s operation in fear of offending the church.
Once inside, Kensi and Deeks go through a memory extraction technique which was very disquieting. It’s hard to believe people can be so drawn into the hype. Yet, when you are broken and desperately searching for the keys to a better life, then places like this can be a comforting port in any storm. Deeks and Kensi are pretty convincing as a couple of lost souls and the cult administrators are salivating over ways they can use the information they are feeding to them for future gain. It only gets creepier as the members try to cure Deeks’ faked aversion to water and discipline cult members with a game of Simon Says. Kensi’s ‘special’ initiation was probably the most disturbing practice. This is scary stuff.
Some of the facts Military scattered throughout the episode were extremely interesting, especially regarding cults and their litigious nature. I was also surprised they even mentioned Scientology within the same conversation, courageously poking the bear, as Callen remarks. Even the DOJ is scared of them. With missing members unaccounted for and Deeks and Kensi out of communication with the rest of the team, the case gets even more perilous. Deeks ups the ante by making the first move to try and help the former DOD engineer escape. (Some nice moves there, Deeks!) With Kensi drugged and Deeks plotting a breakout, the other members of the team try to stop the exchange of intel with China while also staging a rescue to release Densi from the grasp of the cult leaders. I was really happy to see Deeks take such a commanding lead in this mission. I don’t think anyone can complain about the lack of respect that’s sometimes dished out at his expense. This was a man on a mission and he was a lot of fun to watch as he swashbuckled his way out of the building to save Kensi and take down the bad guys. My hero!
- Even a drugged Kensi is a force of nature. Never count her out!
- Family comes first and Sam is not beyond lying to the DOJ to save his teammates inside.
- Oooh, I could hear that arm cracking as Deeks attacks the cult’s goon. (Deeks: How’s that for your spiritual awakening?)
- Welcome to my reality plane. Assistant Director Granger is feeling the love for his team and you just gotta love him back after this line: No this fish stinks from the head, it was my plan, my orders. I’m a megalomaniac… just can’t be stopped. You gentlemen with the cuffs, I have delicate wrists.
- Ganging up on the DOJ guy provided classic NCIS:LA banter. You can’t get much better than this dialogue… and I loved the smirking smiles all around. Even Nell can’t bear to be left out of the ruse: Nell: I told him I’d jack him up if he didn’t do it. Sam: Scared the hell out of me.
- Just for once why can’t Hetty keep her nose out of her agents’ personal business! Yes, there was a cute factor to all of it (Hetty: You had better hope that love conquers all, Mr. Deeks!) but would it kill her to give them a moment of privacy, please? Jeez!
- Deeks’ bizarre sense of humor serves him well for this assignment as cult members and our funny detective didn’t let me down: Deeks: Well the good thing is, nonsense is my middle name so go ahead and probe my inner mind, brother. Eric: Why am I scared?
- Deeks first sexual encounter story is a hoot. Anybody really surprised? But can we believe him or was he method acting for Kensi’s sake? Deeks: I’m good at what I do and what I do is undercover work. Nell: Undercover work indeed, Mr. Deeks. Deeks: Are you seriously turning into Hetty, because you’re freaking me out! Nell: No, no. Don’t divert the freak to me.
- Kudos to Military for writing what is probably the closest we will get to an ‘R’ rated Densi scene. Who knew yoga could be so titillating on prime time.
- This time around I learned that I really don’t care if there is an out of order episode, especially when we get wonderful Densi scenes like the ones that opened and closed this episode. Although we got to take a break from all the worries over the IA investigation, these heartwarming moments between the two lovers may make what’s coming even harder to take. But on the plus side, I think the writers have finally started listening to us by reading our rants on the pages of this website! Hallelujah! It was glorious to see them sharing these small moments in their love story, worrying about each other, being grateful that they have one another for consolation and getting a hug and a kiss at the end of a long day was a perfect way to end the mission. Forget about the rules, Kensi because not even Hetty can spoil this moment!
Episode: “An Unlocked Mind”
Writer: Frank Military
Director: Chris O’Donnell
Original Air Date: November 9, 2015
Diane Volpe is a Contributing Editor at wikiDeeks.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @phillydi
Great review!! Cold shower indeed!
LOVED the episode!!!!! So many good moments!! If I had a complaint about the episode it was completely erased by rewatching the “deep straddle” scene. LOL
I shared your concern about an ep filmed out of order, but that was clearly unfounded.
I really have to wonder if the “that’s a crowd pleaser” was an ECO ad lib. He has to know the fan base well enough to know their “deep straddle” interaction was going to be a hit. And I agree, the ep felt like one where they had listened to the kinds of concerns expressed here!
I really appreciated the way the cult group was portrayed. I wondered initially if it was a take-off on Scientology and then later when Scientology was mentioned whether that was intended to make clear that they were not parodying the church in order to avoid invoking the ire of Scientologists. The writing was chilling in the effective portrayal of how sociopaths can be enticing and dangerous, without necessarily being serial murderers, but serial life destroyers with their self-interested manipulations and machinations.
Favorite moments: Deeks describing his first sexual encounter – who knows if it’s true, but it was funny! The concern Kensi had for Deeks in the pool – could have blown the cover but didn’t. Never mess with Kensi – even drugged! And definitely do not mess with Deeks if he thinks Kensi is at risk!! The team loyalty was really on fine display. Sam willing to lie to DOJ, and all of them ganging up on the annoying DOJ dude was just great. Nell’s claim to threatening to “jack him up” and Sam saying she scared the hell out of him – absolutely priceless lines and awesome delivery! Granger’s “welcome to my reality plane” was perfect. They have softened him up just enough that he is definitely part of the team, though not warm and fuzzy enough to be unbelievable.
I had mixed feelings about Hetty at the end – agree she could give them a moment of privacy. But it was true to her character and it didn’t really seem to ruin the moment for them. In the past they would have awkwardly pulled apart and apologized and they did not. That is substantial relational progression. I also thought the “You better hope love conquers all detective” was funny, but probably some foreshadowing too. I finally saw next week’s promo today – Canadian networks often don’t run those promos and I have to scout them online (pet peeve!!!) – and it seems our detective is in trouble. So let’s all hope love will conquer all.
I think the best part of the writing was the way the opening Densi scene so perfectly set up the final scene. Each scene alone would not have been as hot or meaningful as the two together. Perfect use of innuendo and actual PDA.
Kudos to Frank Military, Chris O’Donnell and the cast on an ep that is, in my opinion, destined for “essential episodes” status!
Havent seen the episode (as I am in Australia and we have LONG wait to see Season 7). Lots of Densi scenes which is a good thing. I have to believe that their ‘love will conquer all’ and the team will come together to save Deeks. Their relationship has come a long way and I want to believe that the writers will not let us down. Can anyone tell how many more episodes there are after Internal Affairs?
That was one of the best episodes yet. I was completely creeped out by the cult, loved the Densi yoga and closing scene. The team was great, with everyone pitching in. I thought the first sexual encounter scene was a bit much, but to each their own. The yoga was sexy and the closing scene (even Hetty-interuptus) was perfect. I love Deeks wondering if Hetty could see them. So cute. The show finally seems to have a better balance. Yes, this was Densi centric, but the rest of the team had plot lines too. Looking forward to the next two episodes, finally getting a Deeks centered episode.
Great review Diane! I agree with it all. I loved this episode. It just seemed to keep giving and giving. I would have been happy with just the sexy yoga scene at the beginning, but we got the pool scene, Deeks taking on seven men, and then the kissing at the end.
Plus, the whole story was super creepy, I think because so much of it seemed inspired by real world stories. I loved that Deeks recognized how abusive the situation was inside the cult and that he was able to help David see that (OK, maybe a little too quickly to be real, but this is NCIS:LA after all). I loved the way he protectively slid in front of Kensi when they were surrounded on the hill. I loved the way the team covered for each other, especially Granger and then Nell, who was hilarious. Was this the first full-episode length undercover since Neighborhood Watch? Chris O’Donnell should direct every episode, if only because it throws off the ratio of Callen/Sam to Densi screen time. (Not to mention that he seems to like putting Deeks in a pool.) Frank Military really does stand alone on the entire staff in the way he seems comfortable approaching darker subject matter, which is what I am drawn to. (Although a near gang rape was maybe a little too serious to be handled well by this show.) The only quibble I had with the end was that he didn’t tell her he loved her even though she clearly wanted to hear it, but I think that was likely left out because at the time they filmed this, they didn’t know exactly where Densi would be. I’d have liked to see just a bit more angst there at the end, given Kensi’s scary experience, but that’s a very minor quibble and I am delighted with the PDA.
That “I love you” in the promo sure was intense! I now have a theory based on the guest cast list for Internal Affairs, which is that Nelson Sanders from The Debt wanted revenge on the cop (Deeks) who brought him down, so he’s framed him for murder. His attorney (I think?) is listed on the cast list (Monica Lee) as is another Sanders. Hmmm, we’ll see just how these The Debt characters are tied in to Deeks’ first partner and to Deeks’ mother. Should be quite the story.
Hmmm, correction to my theory (thank you mountaingirl777). Nelson Sanders was the arms dealer in Plan B not The Debt. Now I am back to having no idea what’s going on!
Great review! Great episode! I just loved everything about it from start to finish, from the yoga in the beginning to the kissing scene at the end. I also really enjoyed that ECO got to show he can do comedy , action, and serious drama all in one episode and do it well. I hope they write more scripts like this for him. Like most folks, I cannot wait for the next two episodes.
Love your review Diane! Yes we All Need A Cold Shower- Even A Grandmother Like Myself!
Great Directing, Writing And Incredible Actors!
All The Densi Was Beyond Belief! ❤️
I could hardly wait to read your review, Diane and a great one it is. I loved this episode. I was totally creeped out the entire episode. But the Densi was simply awesome. I loved this and need to go re-watch agin, now that I know how it ended. 😄
I just loved it. It was creepy, suspenseful, romantic, a little funny, and I liked how the team had each other’s backs.
Thank you for the review. It has many aspect of this episode covered.
Yes it was a good one for Densi fans. Well I am not a Densi fan, only a Deeks fan, so I don’t like the thought that the writers finally get what some of the fans want. It is not all of them. But most scary is that the writers will listen to the fans (I still believe they don’t) because if the fans know what is best for a TV show they wouldn’t be fans but writers and producers of TV shows. But we all do different things for living and that is for a reason.
This episode was also good for not Densi fans. The Yoga scene was hilarious. Kensi wanted Deeks to focus and he did, so why did she complain? There was the funny Deeks I will always love because that is what he is best at.
I don’t see the dark in this episode (you mentioned it), it was just another case nothing creepy or dark IMO.
Deeks was pretty serious the rest of this episode and it was a nice touch that they (whoever is responsible for the guest actors) did choose another actor with the same talent as ECO for the serious part of this episode so he wouldn’t be expose again for his lack of that certain talent (which and I repeat myself is not a bad thing because he has more than enough comical talent).
But the best part of this episode was the slapstick kind of fighting scene Deeks had with the rolled up magazine in the room. Deeks went all Jason Bourne but the funny way. I had to LOL during this scene. It was great and I really loved it, especially with the unbeatable comical Deeks. Kudos to everyone who was responsible for this scene FM, COD or ECO, it doesn’t matter it was just great.
This was a great episode and I will watch it again.
Coming back from vacation, I had a few episodes to catch up on, or should I say, binge on. This episode being the last was also the best. The writing was tight, the story line a bit different and the directing so very accomplished. There was a great deal of tension in this story and COD balanced it perfectly. You could sense the weirdness Kensi and Deeks felt as they pretended to be manipulated by these odd people. Kensi’s fear for Deeks being held under water was real, even though she must have known he could handle it. That scene gave us the first hint at how cruel these people were.
I could see Deeks’ anger growing each time David was slapped and made to feel worthless in that cold, windowless room. You could sense how much he wanted to get him out of there. This was one of the episodes where we get to see a very competent and confident Deeks. I believe his anger at what he had seen David go through gave him added strength to take on all those men who attacked him. He certainly made short work of them, and that David joined in was a well written addition, signalling his decision to break with the cult.
On the other side, the tension was building for the rest of the team. When they lost contact with Deeks you could see the worry on their faces. The addition of the DOJ guy keeping them from rushing to the rescue added to the growing tension. I even liked Granger in those scenes. He keeps threatening people who threaten this team and I would love to see a scene where he makes someone like the DOJ guy pay. Loved that Sam lied so they could rescue Kensi and Deeks and that was a great scene where they all claimed responsibility, especially the line Granger uttered about his delicate wrists and Nell scaring the hell out of Sam. It was funny, but COD kept all the actors restrained and that made all the difference.
There was restraint in the ending scene as well, although I didn’t think they needed to add Hetty at the end. I agree it was a forerunner to Deeks’ arrest, but interrupting them during such a sweet love scene is getting old. There is such tenderness between them now, and I can never get enough of them expressing that on screen.
There’s so much to say about this episode – the windowless room scene had so many incredible layers. I agree with your thoughts. I also wondered if Deeks wasn’t also channeling some of what he felt from watching his mothers’ abuse in the past. All the lines about how messed up that was and how David could leave would just as easily applied to things he might have said to his mother at some point.
The cult portrayal in this scene was also masterful. In earlier scenes they were just creepy in a Stepford Wives-ish way and in later scenes it was just cruel/abusive. Here the manipulation with alternating abuse and “love/kindness” was a perfect demonstration of the psychological techniques used by both abusive groups and individuals, and they way they obtain/retain power over others. Cruelty alone is easier to reject. Cruelty masquerading as love/assistance can have a potent hold on a vulnerable person. So well-written and well executed at all levels.
Thanks for this perfect review of an awesome episode! Reading these reviews has becoming my Wednesday morning appointment (first thing I do when I get up!). Then I need some more time to process my own thoughts and here I am.
As much as I found the Dinozzo episode inconsistent in many parts, I found this one perfectly fitting with the rest of Season 7 stories and general tone so far, even if it was filmed last season. This proves that if you want, you can do a good job of putting all the pieces together giving sense to what comes before and what comes after.
This episode was what I had been looking for from NCIA LA for quite a long time and I am so glad that we got what we wanted from a terrific combination of author and director.
The action was great, the team was great too, Granger had some memorable lines and scenes and all the characters’ interactions weren’t forced but worked very well as a whole.
It may be pointless to say that Deeks and Kensi were outstanding in this episode. I liked ECO’s and DR’s performance so much that I had to rewatch most of the scenes they were in because I was so on edge during the first watch that I was afraid I had missed too much!
The ending was so sweet, the perfect touch to an already awesome episode. Every real couple would do what Deeks and Kensi did after such a tiring and demanding day, in which one was drugged and the other was almost drowned to death and had to fight with other seven men almost all by himself.
They felt so comfortable with each other, they flirted a little, they touched and they kissed, in a way that I’m sure swept away all the day’s fear, anger and frustration. Perfect, really realistic versus all the unrealistic interactions, or better said non-existent interactions, we were given last season, when they were often so distant and cold with each other.
Even Hetty’s interruption didn’t seem to waste a perfect Densi moment! Being bold means being bold in toto, doesn’t it? So being bold it is, even if it means being caught kissing by Hetty. What an incredible progression for our favorite couple!
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Sorry for the typo, I obviously meant NCIS LA 😉
I thought the team as a whole was well balanced. The loyalty is what impressed me, proves they are a family. ECO and Dani were perfect in their scenes weather they were comic or serious. I was disturbed but that’s exactly what Frank Military & COD was going for. Great writer/ director team. I’ve read on other sites where fans felt the bedroom scene went to far, frankly I’ve seen worse on Criminal Minds (another of my favorite shows). And they are actually on an earlier timeslot than NCIS: LA. I also commend Deeks for keeping his cool despite his obvious fear for Kensi while they were on the run.
Every Fan here has already covered my thoughts about this episode. I love this site!!! However I will echo a big Kudo to COD for this excellent direction and being true to the characters; great story all around. This episode had something for everyone. The bits of humor were terrific! My one different observation is the pool scene, yes Deeks can hold his breath a long time; however, remember David’s wife told them people disappear. I also didn’t think it was too soon to turn David; I think once his wife escaped he was ready. There are so many great scenes, too many to mention however, having Deeks take on a room of men on his own was priceless!! Then saving his partner/lover/girlfriend whatever works :)!
For me, now it feels like Season 7 has finally started and started Great. Happy Dance!!!
Just something I forgot to add to my previous comment.
I have noticed, like I think everyone else has, that in this episode we have Deeks referred to as federal agent at least three times (that I can remember for sure): one by Callen when he says “Agent Blye and Deeks” and twice by Deeks himself when he’s inside the cult (in the room with David and the other quite unfriendly men and when yelling to the blonde girl asking her aggressively where Kensi is).
Could it be that this is the season Deeks resigns from his liaison position to finally become an agent (after the IA investigation, maybe)? And could it be that when they filmed this episode they thought he would already become an agent in the following season by the time the episode was aired?
I am wondering out of curiosity because even if we have heard other times Deeks being called federal agent, all these times together in one episode seemed a little too much for being just a coincidence.
As I mentioned elsewhere, the first time I saw this episode I was “creeped out” by the cultists; when I watched it a second time the next morning, I was able to take the cult scenes in stride and saw the rest. Bluntly, Loved It! The gym scene was hilarious with Kensi trying to get him to relax and him tied in knots with her *ahem* assets. The first sex experience scene seemed to me to be a parody on “The Graduate” and “Mrs. Robinson” – I’m also not sure that the lines weren’t an improv given how strongly Nell, Eric, and Kensi reacted. I loved how the whole team jumped in when they realized Densi had gone off communication. Someone doesn’t like the DOJ and FBI – this is several times those two groups have portrayed as jerks and fools (very well portrayed by the various actors, IMO). To me the bedroom scene was appropriately erotic… teenage guys daydreams, being the harem master with a helpless beauty and concubines in their undies. But she wasn’t helpless, was she? I did note that Frank Military got Kensi undressed again, but at least not with Callen this time. The way that Deeks was scared to death for Kensi was great as was the way he stepped in front of her on the hillside. The final scene in the boathouse was wonderful… Deeks actually saying what he felt, as did Kensi – they have come a long way since “Descent”. And of course, Hetty’s snarky comment – perfect.
I did notice that Deeks was referred to several times as a Federal Agent; it’s happened before but not so blatantly. Hmmm? There is an episode coming up in which Kensi, Talia, and Jada seem to have the major roles, with no Deeks in evidence… could that be while Deeks is at FLETC? With his law degree, LAPD experience as a detective, and 5 years working with NCIS he wouldn’t need the whole trainee course, just some specialized subjects he may not have been introduced to…. after all, most NCIS offices are not like OSP; more like the DC office on the mother ship.
Well written, well directed, well acted, tension, love, and sex… what else can we ask for in a TV show?
Re: “Internal Affairs”, Monica Lee was the crooked attorney in “The Debt”, and the gangster part was named Carleton Fisk… The CBS press release for “Internal Affairs” says that Deeks is arrested for killing his partner. We know that he mentioned a jerk partner who was supposedly killed by a prostitute during his first field assignment, but that was a long time ago… If that is the partner, someone really is reaching back… IA investigated that and dropped it. The only other partner pre-Kensi we know about is Jess Traynor, who was killed by human traffickers.
Monica Lee worked with John Quinn, the IA investigator who Deeks exposed as dirty. During his time with Internal affairs, Quinn could have had access to the details of that investigation and fed them to Monica who manipulated evidence to wrongly implicate Deeks.
Could well be. We don’t know what Quinn’s penalty was… resignation/termination definitely, but he may have pled out to nail Fisk. As the IA detective, he would have had access to all the old investigative files up until the “The Debt”, and Deeks is unpopular enough for them to have found a “closed, insufficient evidence” case to use against Deeks.
Rats! Now we have to wait at least another week to get started on the IA, with CBS juggling the episode calendar because of the sensitivity after Paris.
Pray, meditate, whatever for the people of Paris and for the rest of us… the hatred and hopelessness mixed with religious fundamentalism that leads to these episodes is not going away any time soon.
Great review Diane as always! Loved this episode and capable Deeks. Also loved the scene where they all took the blame for the decision to lie to the DOJ. Very funny! Let’s hope they don’t drag our Deeks down with this IA thing.
Thanks for a great review!