Review: NCISLA “Black Market” (S8E04)
Episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles are always better when a team member is personally affected by a case. Early Season 8 has been made consistently more involving because of the continuing storyline around the injuries Kensi suffered during case number two. And so it was with case number four. Jordana Lewis Jaffe, who has never made my short list of favorite NCIS: Los Angeles writers, helped this week’s episode “Black Market” (directed by James Hanlon) rise above the average case of the week by providing some sweet, touching, and even surprising moments surrounding Kensi’s plight. Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t find anything to complain about…
The Usual Fisticuffs
A few of those complaints had to do with the case of the week itself, which was pretty forgettable. I was underwhelmed by bad guy Zhang Kiu’s personality- he didn’t quite strike me as a “deranged crime boss.” And were Callen and Sam truly that good in their interrogation? Their brilliance in this instance was not as clear to me as it was to Deeks and Nell. Then the two bad gals didn’t even get to say a word! Maybe the showrunners were trying to save money- I’ve heard that actors aren’t paid as much if they have no dialog.
Also, I was a bit confused by Nell in this episode. She seemed plenty confident last week with all her “fisticuffs” (loved that line from Sam). Here she was back to looking unsure of herself and feeling guilty about replacing Kensi. I’m not saying any of that is unrealistic- she should feel unsure of her ability to choke out bad guys twice her size (I’m still not convinced she actually could). And the way she hesitated against the “assassiness” when Ming Wah kicked away from Deeks made it clear that she’s still lacking in experience. It all felt a bit repetitive to me, including her final conversation with Granger. On its own it was really nice, but thinking about Nell in the field the past two seasons, I felt a bit of déjà vu. Haven’t we already seen similar conversations between her and Granger, and her and Hetty?
No One is Irreplaceable
Aside from the plot, and a couple of quibbles with Deeks’ scenes (see below), the conversations between team members were all beautifully written. I’ve long said that I’d much rather the show spent more time on character development and less on the case of the week, and I think it did so very well here. I appreciated the way Kensi was still at the forefront of every character’s thoughts. That’s of course as it should be, but it’s not necessarily the way the show has gone in other situations (e.g. Densi bickering while Sam’s in surgery in “Expiration Date,” Sam and Callen apparently unconcerned about arrested Deeks in “Internal Affairs”).
The scene where Granger was looking at replacements for Kensi made perfect sense but gave me pause as thought about what this would feel like if one of the main characters had died. I was never attached to Dom in Season 1, but losing one of the main four now would be pretty devastating. Fingers crossed we never have to watch that happen! At any rate, it successfully drove home the seriousness of Kensi’s injuries. And hey, at least we didn’t see Anna’s face among the candidates! Eric was his usual sweet self, trying to stay positive and defend Kensi. And Granger’s world-weary reply was so him. Overall a great little conversation between the two.
Eric: I know for a fact that Kensi’s going to be back. Besides, she’s irreplaceable.
Granger: I wish that were true, Beale, but it’s not. For any of us.
I thought it was a nice touch that this scene would have motivated Granger to go and see Kensi. Did I see some sparks flying between Granger and Julia? They do have so much in common! My mind immediately leapt forward to seeing them together. But how freaky would that be for Kensi? I actually thought hearing her mom go for coffee with her boss might be enough to bring her out of the coma. And it would also be pretty freaky for Deeks- could Granger be his eventual father-in-law? Yikes! I could totally see him as granddad to those mutant ninja assassins- I’m sure he could teach them a trick or two. OK, I might be getting just a wee bit ahead of myself.
The other thing I loved about that scene was Julia (Laura Harring). The story she told about reading Kensi’s favorite book after she ran away touched me. It made me feel how desperate she was for Kensi to wake up now, and gave us a glimpse into how she felt when Kensi ran away. It’s a subject that’s often dealt with in fan fiction by showing Julia as relatively uncaring, but here we saw that of course, she was heartbroken to lose her little girl.
Will There Be a Happier Ever After?
It feels odd to refer to the “Densi” scenes, since Kensi’s contributions are pretty insubstantial at this point, but I did enjoy seeing Deeks talk to her. He was adorable bringing her breakfast at the beginning of the day, and kissing her goodnight at the end. His devotion is completely expected but beautiful to watch. And how good did we all feel hearing him refer to her as “my fiancée”?
And if Deeks wasn’t talking to Kensi, he seemed to be talking about her. It showed how she is constantly on his mind. Ugh, the poor guy! I will say that I was waiting for him to make a crack about Kensi’s far less than perfect driving in the car with Nell. I’m not sure I love that the females (except for Hetty) are the bad drivers on this team- talk about stereotypes. At any rate, the scene captured how hard it can be to talk to someone about their sick or injured loved ones, and how easy it can be to say the wrong thing. Eric Christian Olsen’s pained expression was heartbreaking- someone needs to give Deeks a hug!
The scene in the boatshed was pretty adorable, and don’t we all agree that there was some serious ECO improv happening as he talked about Kensi’s “weird eye”? It was simultaneously funny and sad, because Deeks just couldn’t help but talk about her, and his love for her just shone through the joking. ECO has been consistently great so far this season- I don’t think he’s hit a single wrong note. It’s hard to imagine that he was ever typecast in comedic roles.
Deeks: Kensi’s the best. Do not mess with her because she can do Good Cop-Bad Cop all by herself. She just uses her good eye and then her weird eye.
Nell: She probably freaks people out with that thing.
Deeks: She does. She starts off all nice and charming and then she gets in there and she turns on the dead eye and she’s all ‘What? Did you do it? Did you do it? Dead eye’s coming after you. Did you do it?
Nell: Alright, Shaggy, I got it.
Deeks: I’m just saying, she gets stuff done.
Nell: Yeah. She’s one tough mutha.
Deeks: Yeah, I know… I know.
Here’s my one quibble with these otherwise strong scenes… Each time we got to the really emotional part, we cut away or the subject was changed. Deeks started talking about the case in the car with Nell, and Eric interrupted in the boatshed. I totally get that Deeks is hanging on by a thread here, and he just can’t expend the emotional energy to share his feelings or seek fuller comfort from a friend. It makes sense to me and I would do the same if I were Deeks. But as a viewer, it frustrated me to have ECO begin to reveal his true emotions only to stop. What was amazing about the end of “The Queen’s Gambit” was that the director, editor, and writer all took their time. They allowed ECO to take more than a couple of seconds to wordlessly think about all that he might lose, and it allowed us those same few seconds to share those sad thoughts. These small touches made that scene a classic. Here we just kept moving right past the emotional parts. The scenes were strong, but they just didn’t quite rise to the same level as last week.
Easy with the “Martin”
The final scene resulted in mixed emotions for me. First, how adorable is Sleepy Deeks, thinking he was talking to his mother? Of course I wish he had turned down Hetty’s offer, or at least fought it a little more to stick around. And ECO and Linda Hunt were adorable together, with more banter between them than we’ve seen in awhile. It was nice to be reminded of a time when these two had such sweet conversations.
Deeks: Did I miss the bus?… Oh! You’re not my mom.
Hetty: Oh, hell no!
Come on Hetty, you know you wish you had a son like Deeks!
I also appreciated the idea that unconscious Kensi might respond almost out of muscle memory to a direct order from her boss. But as a fan of Deeks and a non-fan of Hetty, it rubbed me the wrong way that Hetty would get to enjoy that moment while Deeks wasn’t even present. (Do we think she even called him to tell him, or did she let him go home to sleep without an update?) As she talked to Kensi, I kept flashing back to Hetty sending her to Afghanistan, and all that Kensi suffered as a result. Imagine how Deeks’ face would have lit up if he had been there, or if Kensi had responded to his touch instead. His eyes (and smile) would have been even brighter than when he found that train set in “The Livelong Day.”
Of course, leaving Deeks in agony for another week will only make his joy when Kensi does finally open her eyes all the more satisfying. I think it’s why I love the hurt/comfort genre so much- the more my favorite characters suffer, the happier I am, and the more moved I can be, when they finally find safety or peace or happiness. (Again, what is wrong with me?)
- Sorry, but there’s no way that Callen completed an Ironman Triathlon. Nope, not buying it.
- Also sorry, the real estate agent was much more annoying than she was funny.
- Granger continues to be the funniest cast member (followed maybe by Sam), assuring Eric that he’d figure out soon enough why he had to tear up his note for Nell. Think about it on your own time and thank me later. Plus there was his comments on the bad gal’s business acumen. She’s certainly entrepreneurial- Harvard would be proud.
- Why didn’t Nell get an assault rifle when they breached the building? Didn’t seem fair. I was just grateful that Deeks didn’t get kicked in the “nom de plumes” when Ming Wah got away, as he did in one of JLJ’s earlier episodes.
- Zhang Kiu wasn’t the only suspect who seemed rather forthcoming. Edward Lee also seemed unusually willing to share his life story at the coffee shop.
- Some nifty stunt work from LL Cool J’s double and from ECO’s double, although at least part of ECO’s flying up the stairs was him. Jungle cat indeed! Plus Sam pulling the bad guy off his feet was an amusing sight.
- I know it’s happened before, but I don’t like Deeks using “touché” with anyone but Kensi.
The most gripping few seconds of the night were in that promo for next week. [Spoiler alert] I can’t wait to see what’s happening that leads Deeks to tell Hetty NO to anything. I found myself saying out loud, “Go to her, Martin!” Can’t wait. That one scene alone just might be enough to make up for an episode full of Anna. (Plus we only have to wait a week!)
I’m afraid Kensi still isn’t quite up for making any new entries in her journal, but come back later this week for what are sure to be angst-filled entries of Deeks’ Surf Log and the Drabble and Edit of the Week. This weekend we’ll name the Top 3 Deeks/Hetty talks, plus don’t miss Tess’ Classified Preview for “Ghost Gun.”
In the meantime, what did you think of “Black Market”? Have I been too nit-picky? How did you feel about all powerful Hetty getting a reaction out of Kensi? And what do you think about Granger and Julia? Or should I say Grangia? Granlia? Juliger?
Great review of a so-so ep. I found myself nit-picking out my favorite parts because the case didn’t make sense to me. One complaint I’ve had since the last time they sent Nell into the field with Deeks…making Deeks look incompetent so Nell will look bad-ass. Very tired of that scenario. I like their friendship and their banter, but the writers are trying way too hard to make us believe she can take down bad guys without a fight. I think wardrobe put her in that bulky coat to make her look more formidable. I’ve stood next to Renee and she is very petite. Why can’t she just be the smartest person in the room up in Ops? Guess you aren’t the only nit-picker.
We all love ECO or we wouldn’t be on this site, but I have to agree, his sensitive portrayal of Deeks this season has been touching. His ability to say so much without any dialog make those the moments I most remember. As much as I would have liked him to be the one Kensi responded to, I find that I liked that final scene with Hetty. It made her human and caring and her character needed that. The shot of Sleepy Deeks next to Kensi reminded me of the final couch scene in Impact…yes…it is a love story.
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I am pretty much in agreement with your review – not too picky. I think most of the “cases” have often been so-so for awhile now. I don’t care about any of them as they are really far fetched/stretching for a story (except maybe ones like the triplet, bomb jacket kids). I watch the show for the character story lines. There hasn’t been a really “good” bad guy in a long time, I don’t think. But the ratings look pretty good so far. I love the NCIS:LA, Madam Secretary pairing (and then Poldark on PBS – sorry Elementary). Makes my Sunday nights!
I don’t know about Nell – I kind of liked last week that she got bowled over by the suspect before she actually caught her. She should have shot her without hesitation when she came running at her. Then this week Deeks doesn’t know whether she is behind him or not, has to tell her which way to go when they breech – I kind of saw it as they not being in-sync very well as partners no matter how hard they are both trying. They are really friends, as the discussions and banter show, but she’s just not the field agent he needs to make it work. She’s said that herself to Hetty once, she can’t be one of them, she has to do it her own way & they are trying to make her be Kensi. It isn’t going to work. I would assume she’s not qualified somehow to carry an assault rifle?
I loved the jungle cat scene :-)! And the hospital morning and evening. I did like the play between Granger and Julia. What a hoot that would be! I think I’m a bit confused, isn’t there a Mr. Feldman? I don’t mind Kensi’s reaction to Hetty – a little redemption for Hetty is OK. She just better not wake up to anyone else (not tooooo much longer, please!). I hope we have a few scenes of recovery and reflection coming. I had mixed feelings about the Iron Man. My sister is a runner and she does things like take on a longer race once in a while that blow my mind when I hear about it afterwards. I think Callen does a lot more training than he lets on – he runs down bad guys, climbs buildings in chases, wins every fight he’s in. He trains a lot more than he admits to or he wouldn’t be able to do any of the stuff that he does on a regular basis. U think my question was why? Who was he trying to impress.
Great review. You hit on everything that mattered. I, too, am a big fan of the hurt/comfort sub sub-genre of fiction and you described the reason perfectly. Just one little note. You shouldn’t have doubts that Nell could choke out a much larger individual. Once upon a time I was Nell’s size and patrolling the inner city. I got into more fights than I care to think about. The key is getting the larger person to the ground where you do have some advantage. A well-placed neck restraint is the great equalizer. Plus you fight a little dirty. A few pinches in certain areas makes big bad guys shut up and listen most of the time if you get my drift. How they portrayed Nell in this scene was totally realistic to me. Of course if they had her jumping on the guy’s back and riding him like a bronco trying to get him down and handcuffed would have also been realistic. :). Keep up the great reviews. I and many others appreciate them.
Good to hear from someone with expertise in taking down bad guys. Thanks, Mistr.
Thanks for this great review!
What I appreciated in this episode the most was how Kensi/DR was present throughout it even if physically absent.
I like how the authors are integrating Kensi’s scenes in the rest of the week’s cases, I think they are doing a very good job and I’m glad that Daniela has not been left out due to her pregnancy and maternity leave.
On the other hand I think that Kensi’s condition influences all the others’ actions, expressions, behaviors, not just Deeks’, much more now than when she was in Afghanistan in Season 5, probably because at that time no one could think what she was really going through and what they would need to do to save her. On the contrary, now all the team members have more or less clear what has happened to Kensi, the seriousness of her situation and the possible and realistic repercussions for her job and her future life. I think they are sorry, sad, scared, worried and feel helpless, and this constant, looming, anguish envelopes everything. This never-ending wait for Kensi to wake up is affecting everybody, from the characters to the viewers.
Honestly I want to trust ECO (San Diego ComicCon interview) and believe that “this (storyline) is the best that could happen to them (Densi)” because so far it has broken my heart.
Thanks for the review. I agree with all of your “gripes” and “nitpicking” as I’ve been feeling the exact same way. I like Nell, but I am baffled as to how and why they are portraying her to be as good as she is on the field. She has never been shown to train yet she’s that good in the field. At least with Eric, they’ve shown him talking to Sam about training and shown him shooting. I can believe that he’s getting better being out on the field. When Nell tripped the bad guy and he dropped his gun, why did the woman just take the gun and keep running? Any other time, the woman would have pointed the gun at Nell and have her release the bad guy. At the very least, Nell should have been knocked out, but since it’s this is Nellverine, we’re supposed to take that she overpowered the bad guy. I know I’m being nitpicky, but I just don’t like what’s going on with Nell out on the field. Please, Kensi, wake up!!!!
I am loving all the Deeks/hospital scenes. I am hoping that next week’s promo is a misdirect because there’s no way Deeks would refuse anything having to do with Kensi getting better.
When Kensi wakes up, I’m thinking she’s going to be paralyzed or in danger of losing her leg. I hope she doesn’t push Deeks away.
Thanks for letting me ramble. I love this site and reading everyone’s opinions.
Great review as always. I thought it was a bit boring. I think they seem to be pushing Nell in the field a bit too much. I am over the coma storyline already! The only thing it has shown is Eric Christian Olsens brillant acting. I was annoyed that they wrote Kensi responding to Hetty and not Deeks. I thought that was wrong especially after everything they have been through together. I have this feeling that there is more heartbreak for Deeks coming and I really hope that Kensi dosent push Deeks away and hurts him. FYI: Eric Christian Olsen celebrates 150 episodes next week in the Episode Ghost Gun. Looking forward to seeing Deeks Mum back next week and I would love to see both Mothers in a scene together. NOT looking forward to Anna. I really hope that the show dosent disappoint us with Densi. I really love them together. I adore Deeks and Eric Christian Olsen and have only become a fan of Kensi since she has been with Deeks. Thanks again for a wonderful site.
A very thoughtful review. I look forward to every week. My biggest concern with the show is a lack of strong cases and really good bad guys. I love the character interaction and stories. I believe you can have both. I over the website upgrades. This is a harder storyline to do because the road to recovery is hard work. We don’t see that often on tv and what a tribute to our service people to cover this part of their experience. I do like having the show on early and the ratings seem better. Thanks again.
Well, absolutely loved the scenes beween Deeks and Kensi at the hospital, him bringing her coffee in the morning (and freaking out her ring is missing!) and how sweet him kising her goodnight !! I think Hetty being Hetty didn´t call him to tell about Kensi squeazing her hand. But if hope she at some level she´s hearing everything and I´d love if she wakes up, looks at Deeks, smiles and just say “YES”. Just this! Am I asking too much?
I love your scenario and would love that but I wont hold my breath!
A great review and you covered the issues without any nitpicking.
I just might do some of that below tho…
Oh boy, how do I feel about the episode….meh, bleh, ugh, yuck….something like that comes to mind. There were some good points, Grainger and Kensi’s mom, Deeks bringing breakfast to Kensi, the jungle cat, I like that they include Kensi it the conversations throughout the day and that they are all thinking about her. LOVE that there was no Anna and she wasn’t a potential replacement.
liked the start of Hetty at the hospital.The episode just did not hit the mark for me.
a few gripes…
at times did anyone else feel like they were watching one of those old 70’s cop shows ?
you know the ones that completely lack any realism. like the cops yelling freeze and continuously let the suspect run away… the ones where in spite of dozens ( or hundreds ) of bullets flying that nobody gets hit and nobody reloads or runs out of ammo????
really, forget the Nell and assault weapon issue , why carry the heavy thing? did anyone get hit or did I miss it. granted I haven’t re-watched the show yet so maybe I missed it. the team couldn’t shoot straight, did not detain the enemy well, at least initially, let them run ff and get out of sight, never good, choked out like 1/2 dozen suspects but only zip tied 1 of them, letting the rest to potentially recover and escape or re-engage. next week’s episode should be all of them getting retrained, really.
Ironically, I could have overlooked it all if the final scene was handled differently.
love the way it started and the Deeks banter with Hetty. thought he would have put up more of a fight. disliked that Hetty just stood there staring instead of giving them a little privacy. for the goodby.
Hated that Kensi responded to Hetty’s order. just dump the cliche or just go for the Gibbs head slap already,…really. if Kensi heard her and responded, then how much else has she heard? all of it? she does not respond to Deeks proposal, ring, kisses, pleading or anything else, but then to Hetty, give me a break. even so, Hetty could have ask deeks if she could have tried something, while he was in the room, and let him share in the joy. Why wait until he leaves. if you have an idea,try it, right ???. also, Deeks wasn’t even to the elevator yet, call the guy back.
so what does Hetty do ? she should call the nurse and Deeks, right? will she keep this to herself ? Deeks will be furious with her. Man am I disappointed…
I had hoped that Deeks put the ring on her finger while he was in the room with her and just took it off when nobody was there. I would have liked to see it on her finger again.
I would love for her to wake up with it on her finger and make a comment about Deeks being presumptive with her response saying something about him making a pretty big assumption and then a big smile and a “yes”.
there were some more things I liked , but they kind of just got washed away, hopefully when I re-watch I will be more positive.
Why the h*** is Nell driving if she needs to sit on the first aid kit to see over the wheel? Following that logic, does her feet not reach the pedals? Why didn’t Deeks drive as senior partner in this partnership? For safety and for possible action during the mission, he should have been driving. ARGH
I understand the love of banter each episode. But it predictably happens each episode and losing it’s impact.
Loved the hospital scenes. Loved how when Deeks was asked how Kensi was, his answer was quick and let’s-move-on-to-the-mission. Glad to see people sitting with Kensi in the hospital; it’s more realistic.
Thank you for your review.
This was a terrible boring episode but the news is I didn’t expected much. The writer never show any real connection to the show and the character not now and never before. And the #wontdisappoint from JPK was wrong again! There were so many weak points in this episode most of them you have already mentioned.
Callen would never ever be able to do and finish an Ironman, he is just to heavy. S1 or S2 maybe but not this season. And sometimes he can’t walk later on and sometimes he is just okay. Not possible.
Nell in the field is just awful and I feel sorry for Deeks. Why is it that he always have to team up with her? Why not leave her in ops and let the guys do there job? They did it in S5 sometimes and it was fun to watch.
The hopsitals scenes (though not the JLJ writing, since they have been written and filmed in advance) were also boring. And Hetty has more influence on Kensi than her mother or even Deeks? Really?
Another good news: it only can get better.
Thanks for the fantastic comments everyone! It’s nice to see that there are still many of you out there who are fond of Hetty, or as Laura Ann graciously put it, are happy if she finds “a little redemption.” I will try to model such generous thinking (but no promises).
Thanks to Laura Ann for the inside scoop on the Ironman, and to Mistri for the inside scoop on small women taking down big men. Wow- that sounds intense! Like Daisy, I think I’d be a lot more comfortable seeing Nell take down these bad guys if we had ever seen her doing a second of training in the gym. But maybe the showrunners never got to do that because they never had enough notice that Daniela Ruah would be out and therefore couldn’t plan far enough ahead to plant that seed?
Cladani, I appreciated your observation about the differences between Kensi front and center comatose versus whisked away to a far off land, and how it’s affected the team- and us! Hopefully our misery will be partly over this Sunday. I keep thinking about ECO’s comment about the crew member who cried three times watching them filming. I’m trying to figure out how many of those scenes we’ve seen. I’d say the proposal was one, but have we seen the other two? Maybe Julia with Granger? Or do we have two more tear-worthy scenes coming up? I’m simultaneously fearing them and excited to see them.
Donna Marie, thanks for the 150th episode news- that’s great. Keep your fingers crossed for Deeks once Kensi wakes up- I have no idea what direction they’ll take. jsm, I totally agree about the lack of good bad guys. Not sure why the showrunners don’t at least attempt to create them. I was just thinking the other night about what a shame it was that they killed off Sidorov. How dramatic would it have been if he had flown away on that helicopter, only to reappear later in the season to cause more havoc (and angst for Deeks)?
Adriana, I’m afraid you are asking too much, LOL, but that would be pretty adorable. Ed, you may be asking too much too with your desire for realistic action, LOL. I had the same thought as you as they continued to leave choked out bad guys behind- just how long do they stay unconscious? But I’m afraid I’ve become used to the bad guys’ terrible aim when it comes to shoot-outs. Like you, I’d much rather see more consequences of these exchanges- seeing them get hurt more regularly would give each new shoot-out so much more suspense. Now I pay attention mostly to see what nice stunt work they might come up with. (Hope your rewatch went a little better.)
peakae, I had the exact same thought about how Nell could possible touch the pedals if she was sitting on a first aid kit in the SUV. I guess Deeks just wanted to encourage her to take the lead, to broaden her experience in the field?
beth- I missed you last episode! I didn’t think you’d be too happy with these first few episodes. I know you really love Funny Deeks the best, and he sure hasn’t made much of an appearance so far. I think you’re right, for you, it will get better. But you may have to wait through a few more weeks of angst. Hang in there!
just a couple of thoughts.
I agree that the writers had little time to rework the storyline after Daniela’s announcement.
however, feel this is strictly due to the fact that Dani was protecting everyone on the show by waiting until after CBS renewed the show before announcing the pregnancy . CBS has a habit of playing this crap game of delaying the announcement of renewals until the last minute. To avoid any additional issues to the cancellation discussion Dani withheld the info until an 8th season was locked up. It is the networks fault plain and simple….
about the preview for next week. once I get past the fact that I have to endure 2 full weeks of Anna, arrgghhh, oh joy! ( boy do I dislike her) , where was I ….oh yeah, about Deeks statement,… was he refusing Hetty by not going to work on an assignment. Or was he being called back for an undercover assignment by LAPD and refusing to go and leave Kensi , thus deciding to sign with NCIS and become an agent….. what a thought. that might push him into the decision dont you think.. that could be a game changer
oh, by the way,
the 2nd time around i was more accepting of the action issues and with lower expectations ( does that sound bad) it was enjoyable… that being said, I stick to my comments about the final scene, the way it was handled at the end, and my general dislike of Hetty.
even if I liked Hetty, Deeks should have been there for Kensi’s first response….PERIOD.
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Absolutely agree with you. Deeks should have been there and he better be there when she wakes up!!