Review: NCISLA “Exchange Rate” (S7E18)
I can’t say I was looking forward to this episode. Bar Paly’s last visit to the show was so painful I could barely watch her performance. But, she’s back again and mysteriously helping Cuban spies escape U.S. custody. I’ve always enjoyed the return of her father, Arkady but sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder too. I guess we’re stuck with the Arkadys for now but something seems to be brewing regarding their return so soon after their last appearance. I don’t think her reappearance has anything to do with fleeing Cuban spies either. But more on that later. This week we have an all-female team overseeing the episode with a new Jordana Lewis Jaffe script and a new (to NCISLA) director in the chair, Tawnia McKiernan.
Uh, oh. Has the bloom fallen from the rose? Obviously Deeks is feeling much more secure in his relationship with Kensi and despite some water torture from his partner, he feels he just has to express his concern about her ‘neatness aversion’. Not that this is new; Deeks has always been able to get a few barbs in about her lack of housekeeping skills, and even Deeks’ mom mentioned it was not one of Kensi’s finer qualities. But Deeks has finally had enough and leaves early to sneak away to take a shower at the boat shed instead of competing with all the hair products littering the shower floor. Kensi is hurt but I’m not exactly sure why. Except that I think she’s oblivious to her Pigpen persona. Either that or she thinks it’s cute and she can get away with it. I don’t envy Deeks. It’s going to be a hard habit to break. But looking at the bright side of their little tiff, anytime we can start the show off with a Deeks’ shower scene I’m a happy camper.
Getting back to the storyline, Anna Kolcheck has returned and the team discovers right off the bat that she is the one responsible for helping Pena escape before he was scheduled to be taken back to Cuba in exchange for an American detainee. But the spy isn’t the only one missing. Hetty has gone off the grid as well and given her mysterious past with Anna she may be involved in this whole mess along with the DOJ. After chasing down Anna through the streets of LA, the team discovers Pena is not Cuban but Russian and that Hetty has been pulling the strings all along regarding his abduction. While Russia manipulated Cuba into bring their KGB comrade back, Hetty wasn’t going to let that happen. She suspected all along he was a Russian agent and hired Anna to capture Pena and keep him from absconding back to Russia with American tech secrets. I’m a little concerned after listening to Hetty’s one-on-one with Anna towards the end. Could she be setting her up to join the team at some point? Someone please tell me this is not going to happen! Bar Paly’s acting skills haven’t gotten much better, and I can’t even say I like her character all that much either. It’s going to be hard enough to imagine her as a regular if she and Callen hook up as lovers. But as a member of the team? Oh, hell no! Maybe I’m just reading more into this than I should but I think this episode was a set up to introduce Anna’s possible induction into the team. (It reminds me a bit of how they integrated Deeks into the team.) Last night’s storyline was marginal or secondary as to why she was actually called on by Hetty to lead this mission. She could have recruited any number of people to capture this man. Let’s just hope Callen takes Sam’s good nature ribbing to heart and we won’t see her listed as a new member of the cast next year!
•Can you blame Sam for not wanting to use a bean bag? Just the thought of him trying to wiggle his way out of one makes me want to giggle.
•As Eric and Nell are discussing ‘Densi’, we get more insight into their relationship that seems to be further along than I suspected. The question is who else knows or is this all under the radar for now? It seems Granger suspects more than he’s letting on.
•While I enjoy Arkady in small doses, I have to admit he always makes me smile whenever he’s in a scene with Callen and Sam. It’s like a bizarre version of the Three Stooges. (Sam: One day I’m going to kill him. Callen: One of these days, I’m going to help you.)
•Here’s Granger always being so warm and fuzzy: Henretta it’s Owen, again. If you are lying in a ditch and can’t get to a phone, my apologies. Otherwise, call me the hell back.
•It seems our lone wolf, Callen has reached out to Anna since their return from Russia. I doubt if he wanted to share pictures regarding their vacation together in the Motherland. (Callen: Anna works alone, she doesn’t want a partner, she doesn’t trust a team, she doesn’t need anyone’s help.) Takes one to know one, Callen. Sounds like a match made in heaven. Ugh.
•Did anyone else find Deeks’ whistling in the shower endearing? I could listen to him whistle like a little kid all day long.
•Deeks loves his dentist. Why does that not surprise me? Got to keep those beautiful pearly whites clean.
•Despite being right, Deeks feels guilty for offending Kensi and offers her a cup of coffee to placate his hurt partner. Nice try but it looks like it’s going to take a lot more to get back into her good graces. But you have to admit he looked so cute trying.
•Two words: Shower scene. My first inclination was to do a 2000 word fanfic on the beauty that is Marty Deeks instead of writing this review. Actually that may not have been a bad idea after watching such a lack luster episode. But we will always have the shower scene, won’t we? Sigh. (Deeks: Kensi! That’s fine I’m just going to air dry. Just going to air dry!) Sigh, again.
•Wait! Is this the first time the writers have used the names Densi/Keeks? I was surprised at how casually Eric and Nell threw out the monikers as they were discussing Kensi and Deeks relationship problems. It sort of sounded out of context and jarring to hear. I’m not sure the characters are allowed to come into our domain!
•I tend to agree with Sam on his request for discretion. I’m not sure I wanted to know about Densi’s choice of role play in the bedroom either. A robot, really Deeks?
We’re on a roll here because there is a new episode next week. So be sure to return but in the meantime check out Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal later this week and of course our Edit of the Week. See you then!
Episode: “Exchange Rate”
Writer: Jordana Lewis Jaffe
Director: Tawnia McKiernan
Original Air Date: March 14, 2016
Diane Volpe is a Contributing Editor at wikiDeeks.com
Follow her on Twitter: @phillydi
Thanks for your review.
As much as I like a good-looking, wet, almost naked man, I think the shower scene was quite odd in the way it unfolded. Even how the two characters interacted seemed weird: was Deeks angry? Annoyed? Slightly amused by Kensi’s messiness and hoarding tendencies even with shampoo bottles and conditioners?
And what about Kensi? She didn’t seem to be having much fun when Deeks accused her of cluttering the shower box, yet she felt like playing with him taking her revenge and “punishing” him with cold water and stealing his towel.
I’m afraid the characters were not sure themselves what was expected from them, how the situation should be played out: like quarrelling? Just bickering? Having light-hearted fun at the other’s expenses? It didn’t seem the moment to have an “honest conversation” about Kensi’s house-keeping skills.
Anyway, whatever the purpose of the scene was, I realized (again) that:
1) Deeks (ECO) is gorgeous and this close-up confirmation was more than welcome and a little unexpected in a non-COD’s episode
2) Densi are so married and in love and if their relationship’s “bumps in the road” are only Kensi’s too many beauty products, we can sleep tight at night!
Other random considerations:
– The case was normal and quite predictable
– Granger’s collection of memorable lines and moments this season gets longer and longer
– Arkady is still Arkady and has his way of shining in every episode he’s in
– I’m ok if Anna will be in other episodes as long as she doesn’t officially become part of the team, but I’m afraid that’s the producers’ idea since they are pushing her towards Callen so overtly (maybe future Kensi’s replacement in the event of little ninja assassins? I can’t even think about it).
– I can’t believe Deeks is so comfortable with dentists…
– Sam is so done with everything and everyone!
The last thing I’d like to say: in my opinion the shipper names like Densi, Keeks, Neric should be left to the fandom and not “stolen” and used in episodes. Just a thought. But they sounded weird and I am not so sure if I like the real world and the fictitious one to mix like this.
I completely agree with you about the shower scene being odd! I watched it several times and enjoyed it mostly, but I kept wondering what really going on. I felt like they were acting in a strange way! Do they really “riff on [her] ex-boyfriends”? That scene could have been SO much better for sure!
wondering what *was* really going on….
I so agree with you on Bar Paly! Please CBS, do NOT add her to the cast, at least not on a permanent every episode basis. While I’m sure she’s a very nice lady, her acting is so wooden, her facial expressions seem to consist of smirk,smirk and smirk and don’t even get me started on the accent. I’ll be happy for her to be Callen’s lover as long as her role in the show is a casual mention or tease here and there without her actually showing up.
Deeks in the shower? I think I rewound that scene about as many times as I fast forwarded through every one of Anna’s scenes! MORE!
This episode felt like a fun filler ep before we go dark with the coming episodes about the mole, Nate, and Sam’s family. I could see Anna fill a Mike Renko type role. She would be an agent at OSP under Hetty, but do mostly solo work. That way she wouldn’t be part of the team.
Shower scene…shower scene…shower scene…was there anything else in the episode more fun to watch? I wanted to watch him air dry, but I guess that would be a bit too steamy for CBS. I do thank the director for how much we did get to see. Yummy stuff.
I didn’t mind the storyline until Anna showed up. Why do they like her?? Why did they cast her? Why does the conversation with Hetty scare me so much. Are they preparing for the departure of Daniela or LLCoolJ? I am scared…I am very, very scared that she will be a regular and I will have to pull my hair out. Really? Seriously? Please NO.
One other complaint. Did we really need three scenes with Nell and Eric having the same conversation with small variations in dialogue? I would have preferred seeing Kensi cleaning the bathtub in their house…followed of course by another shower scene. I know, I’m being greedy…but hey…it’s season 7.
I think your description of lackluster fits perfectly for this episode. I do hope you write that fan fiction.The shower scene, of course , was the best part of this episode and definitely not lackluster. Obviously ECO is a good looking man who is in great shape, but he is also a wonderful comedic actor. I thought he did such a great job on this scene, it was so cute, so funny and just so enjoyable to watch. I thought it was a real treat for us fans.
The rest of the episode appeared to me almost like a series of vignettes that someone had written and then someone said let us stick them together and make a story . Some of the vignettes were good, some were just average. It did not feel like an integrated storyline.
As far as a Anna, I certainly do not want to see her added to the team, she just does not have the acting ability to do that. I think TPTB have been trying to add a recurring female character since season 5. From my perspective the Talia character was a total disaster, she was coarse, unpleasant, unprofessional, and arrogant. I think they have learned from that experience. Anna is an attractive woman.It seems like this season, her interactions with the team are pleasant , she acts in a professional manner and she seems somewhat sophisticated. As someone said, I think if they brought her in as a Mike Renko character, recurring once in awhile, smaller part, while she worked on her acting, it would be okay. However, I do not see any chemistry between her and Callen at all and as a result those scenes seem so forced , they do not work. Again, maybe an occasional appearance by Anna would be okay, but certainly not as much as we have seen her this season.
I fast forwarded Anna scenes. Still Love Arkady. And I am all for more Deeks shower scenes. What was the case about? I didn’t really care.
Shower scene, yup,that’s the ticket😄
I think we are heading for a cast addition with Bar Paly. There’s a lot of conversation between Hetty and Anna about working with a team or with a partner. If that isn’t a setup, what is? It may be that LLCJ is planning on leaving. LL has a lot on his plate with the lip sync battle, his music, the annual Grammys and other endeavors. I hope my sense is wrong because I do love Sam. I can’t imagine the show without him. The banter between Sam and G has been a bit more barbed in its delivery than in the past. I sense a bit of friction and I’m not sure if it’s to setup for Sam leaving or…
Back to the shower scene!
This episode fell flat to me. I don’t like Anna and I am not a fan of Callen. (sorry) Loved the scene with Deeks in the shower.(watch, pause, rewind, watch, pause, rewind!) Eric Christian Olsen is GORGEOUS and this scene just proved it!! Great way to start the show they should do it more often!! I cant believe though Kensi just stood there in front of Deeks naked and did nothing but give him a hard time! I hope the remaining episodes are better and we see some more of Densi. I would have preferred the final scene with Deeks & Kensi cleaning their bathroom at home. Imagine the possibilities!
I want Season 8 and the promise of more Densi and Deeks M episode.
I love Anna and the way she and Callen act together, I dont mind having her in the show more often, it makes Callen more interesting for me, I wouldnt mind her as a regular cast member, there is always yelling if shows add or replace people, but thats what it is a tv Show, you will never please everybody. And sometimes they Need to add new characters for new storylines… All in all I liked the Episode it was light headed, cause I am pretty sure the end of the season wont be, And whenever they feel an episode should start with ECO in the shower they should go ahead.
Most of the season is overrated, there are only bits that make you go happy, storylines not so much, just get rid off Anna, like seriously, what are they thinking, yes shes a model , but an actor , no way, the smirk she gives, everything seems so fake in this character. So they build up a storyline between a cuban spy, eventually they put on some dramatic music in the scene and LL just ends up suckerpunching the guy who throws them with a meat clever, thats really all they can do ???? And god damn I wish they get rid of Hetty, just based off how theyve been writing her script, always behind them backs, what a hypocrite.
Thank you Diane for your review. I was really enjoying reading it. And I must admit, and I see that I am in huge minority here (read “only one”), that I actually liked this episode. I agree that Bar Paly and her Anna does not bring anything substantial to this team and serial and do not see her fitting in. I also strongly hope that nobody (particularly Kensi) is not leaving the serial and producers have now free spot to fill in. On the other hand, Hetty’s intentions to bring her to OSP are clear (at least to me).
Saying that and returning to the matter in hand, I liked episode in overall (survived parts with Anna), I found story ok, Sam/Callen’s bromance funny, liked Granger very much (then again I liked him from the very beginning – always felt that he was much nicer and caring person than he showed), liked Neric very much too. Hetty does what she does all the time, so no comments there. And the last but definitely not the least, Deeks and Kensi, Kensi and Deeks, Deeks, Deeks, Deeks- ohhh boy!! Where shall I even start and not repeat all that has been already said above. Ah yes, I have just remembered something that popped to my mind the moment I heard “Robot Kensi”. Namely, being big fan of hermionesmydawg and her stories, especially Companion and Symbiosis, the moment I heard Kensi and Deeks talking about Robot’s and roleplaying I thought about stories Companion and Symbiosis and cyborg DKS-35 or now already DKS-36. So having heard actors actually saying “Densi”, “Keeks”, “Neric” and showing us “Robot Kensi”, I would say that writers do listen to fans and obviously read fanfiction. Who knows, maybe they would invite some of (our) really excellent writers to work on scripts with them!!
(P.s. Yeah I know, but one can hope)
I thought the same thing, Maria, when they started talking about Robot Kensi. I immediately thought of Companion. What a great AU by one of my favorite writers, hermionesmydawg.
I actually liked this episode. I love Arkady. Vyto Ruginis plays that part to perfection every time he appears. I am not a fan of Anna, though. Having said that, I still enjoyed this one.
I’m afraid they are indeed grooming Anna to become a teammate. I think the tension between Sam and Callen has been building all season. As Reader1976 alluded to above, with all of LL’s stuff going on outside of NCIS:LA, maybe he’s bowing out after this season.
Speaking of this season – with all the things happening this year; Kensi and Deeks moving forward in their relationship, Callen finding out his real name, to last night’s nod to fanfiction by including Densi, Keeks and Neric in the script – I’m wondering if they aren’t adding all these things into the remaining episodes as a farewell of sorts. I certainly hope not!
It definitely seems as if there are changes coming one way or another. Whether they be in a season eight or they just leave us with that impression as NCIS:LA rides off into the sunset remains to be seen. I am very hopeful we get at least one more season, though. Several more would be even better!
I’m optimistic about season 8 but I think it is in the hands of the CBS head office. SB has alluded to season 8 in his comments and they have a lot of plot lines if Kensi gets pregnant, Deeks moves over officially, Anna is added (plus minus on that) and Hetty retires.
The episode seamed a little disjointed and again ultimately would be to how the director handles it.
Divided on Bar Paly.
She comes across onscreen as someone you might like but as an actress she is not natural and seems forced – ‘my features now will display…’ instead of ‘in the moment I am feeling…’. I wish she could even out and relax to find those emotions and not “execute” them.
While the Joelle character brought out Chris’ wonderful subtle acting skill, the Anna character would probably be more suited to Grisha.
I would not mind Anna as a substitute if Daniella became pregnant again. Press for an upcoming episode reveals Densi talking about kids – is Danny pregnant? She and Sara seem to “run” on the same schedule…
Not alone, Maria. I enjoyed it also. I thought the shower scene was a perfect approach to what a wife would to in that situation, especially given her temper (at least she didn’t slug him).. but in my experience flushing a toilet causes a spike in shower water temp as the toilet puts an increased demand for cold water to refill the bowl… and that boathouse is OLD. The bickering was just a bump in a marriage… he has always been slightly OCD and she has always been slightly “less than neat” (ahem…) That was brought up explicitly with Jack and Deeks talking. Sounds like their difference in neatness was worked out by the end of the episode.
I actually liked the plot line.. a Russian spy playing a Cuban spy with Hetty being the manipulator in charge and bringing in an outside agent to foil DOJ… DOJ is going to get seriously irritated with her. Densi finding the holes in the case file (although they were obvious once someone looked) and browbeating the attorney into coming clean (but Kensi was doubtful about using a weed arrest against the African kid in “Revenge Deferred”?) Loved the restaurant scene and the role playing in bed reference as well as Sam’s reaction… was surprised that Kensi didn’t shut Deeks up but they are being very open, even on the job. Still haven’t figured out why Anna played a Russian consular official, except to allow Callen to throw in that obscure Russian term and break the guy’s cover.
I was surprised by the Neric conversation… do not recall there ever being anything overt about their relationship before, although I suspected it and it has been raised in fan fiction many times. I don’t mind Eric picking up on Densi as a tease or Nell wondering if it is Keeks (Densi sounds better to me), Nell is obviously in charge of the Neric thing. Poor Eric tries to defend her but she does not want or need defense… I have noticed Eric getting more assertive over the last few episodes (the kilt?).
I did not like the Anna character. Easy to look at, but little acting ability. IMO the showrunners are getting ready to add her to the cast either as a team member or a recurring character much more involved than Joelle whether we gripe or not. I DO NOT see the interaction between Anna and Callen that there is between Densi, and was even back in season 1 and 2.
I wondered about Hetty’s comment about having gone off the leash. She stomped on DOJ in the “Praesidium” arc and now has done it again. Could this be a hint that she has crossed the line once too many times?
Sam teasing Callen about the Kolcheks seemed forced to me also.
My crystal ball (which has a few chips and blurry spots) says we have a couple of shoes to drop yet. Kensi to inform Deeks of his impending fatherhood and Deeks to move over to NCIS officially. Then we have the contract negotiations… would not be surprised to see Linda Hunt retire and Todd Smith to leave. COD wants to stay until his last child graduates, which means one more contract cycle, DR has made comments about wanting the assurance of a steady income, ECO has one more year on his contract, BF is up for renewal this year since he was one of the originals. The other key question is renewal… it was late last year before the renewal was announced and the numbers have been decent but not great since the move to 10PM Monday. I’m optimistic.
Kensi’s messiness seems very inconsistent with a character who supposedly was raised by a military guy.
I’m going to weigh in as one of the minority that liked the episode, and go one step further and say I like Anna. Callen is not my favorite character, but his relational history is very much complicated by his childhood/abandonment issues. Realistically, individuals with such histories can find it difficult to relate to people with more “normal” childhoods. It is evident in Deeks and Kensi as well, “crappy childhoods,” in their own words, allow empathy without necessarily having to divulge or discuss details one would rather leave in the past. I think Anna offers Callen the same – not perfect, not one who easily gets along with others, but a mutual understanding in their similar histories with their fathers. I don’t see him ending up with a Joelle or a Michelle, it just wouldn’t work for his personality. He is not destined for the white picket fence existence – Joelle would have given him that and he couldn’t do it no matter how much he cared for her. He is a complex guy, who can be difficult and the most realistic would be for him to end up with someone similar.
As far as Bar Paly’s acting goes, I think a lot of the guest stars clearly don’t have the same level of skill as the core group. I didn’t think Joelle’s acting was that believable either. I think that’s sometimes just an artifact of the stark contrast between the series megastars and those who for various reasons are not in leading roles. I’ve also heard comments about her accent – but if you’ve heard an interview with her, it’s not an affected accent. That is her actual accent. And while we’re on that topic, since the accents affected in the series are a perennial pet peeve of mine I do need to comment on Callen’s Russian accent – what happened there? It’s usually so much better – sounded like the first take or something.
I do agree with the comments about the Nell/Eric scenes – not sure what the point was there. Would definitely rather have had more Densi scenes – seems like the last few episodes have had too few for my liking. Especially after the opening shower scene – needed a closing Densi scene instead of the Sam/Callen scene.
(bracing for the down votes… 🙂 )
Whoever’s cutting/styling ECO’s hair gets a thumbs up! Deeks’s hair in the photo for this review is a ‘case in point”😄 On the second watch on all the recent episodes, I catch myself thinking…nice hair😄 Just a totally random thought when I logged in and the pic came up😄
I was thinking we have not had a death of a character in a while… maybe they are bringing her on for this reason.
One scene that I really have a problem with that I don’t see many comments about is where Deeks says he loves going to the dentist and goes as many times as his insurance allows. I wouldn’t think a person who endured what he did would want to go the dentist. Have they forgotten what he went through or this just more writing inconsistencies? I will say that the shower scene was great but I do agree with previous comments about it being odd and it could have been much better. Maybe someone could rewrite that scene in fan fiction.
I wandered about the dentist issue as well. You would think they would explain it more.
Yes, I also noticed the dentist piece did not seem to fit with Deeks trauma with his torture. It could have been explained with just a sentence of how he had to go to the dentist so much for severe dental work that going for regular checkups was fine. Since it was not explained I assumed the writer just did not pay attention to what she was writing and how it related to history on the show.
Maybe it’s just Deeks’ usual cover-up story for still going to the dentist frequently but not wanting to talk about it. Bringing up “Sweet Debbie” story felt like similar to “Deeks’ first sexual experience” in “An Unlocked Mind”. He won’t be asked about it again, and that’s his goal. Or maybe, the dentist he mentioned is like his counselor since he was a kid, because the first time he met the dentist was after Deeks’ father hit him or something. I don’t know.
The dentist dialogue was definitely the writer’s mistake. It was jarring and totally inconsistent with what Deeks had suffered not that long ago.
Sorry this is so late, but I wanted to make sure to share this. THANK YOU Diane for being “brave” enough to call Bar Paly out for what I find terrible “acting”, particularly in comparison to this talented cast. Adding her to the show full time would ruin the entire series for me.