In episode 20 of Season 8, “From Havana With Love,” the NCIS team investigates a defense contractor, Rebecca Larmont, who works for a weapon development company designing nuclear submarines. The OSP operatives are called in after her soon to be ex-husband, Victor Larmont, says he has proof she is selling Navy secrets to a foreign government. Also, Kensi goes undercover as a professional dancer at the Cuban club where Victor works, while Deeks is undercover as… wait, not the custodian this time… but the bathroom attendant! Moving on up, Deeks, moving on up!
In the guest cast department, we have Lou Ferrigno Jr. as Victor Larmont and Shanna Collins playing his estranged wife, Rebecca.
If you are too young to recognize the name, Lou Jr. is the son of the Lou Ferrigno who played the big green guy in the CBS TV series The Incredible Hulk from 1977 until 1981 and three made-for-television movies in the years after. He starred with the late Bill Bixby, who became Lou senior’s friend and mentor. More recently, he made cameo appearances as a security guard in both the 2003 film Hulk and the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, in which he also voiced the Hulk. No disrespect to Edward Norton or Mark Ruffalo, Lou Ferrigno will always be (to me at least) the original, Incredible Hulk. Lou didn’t use computer animation, just his massive physique and some green body paint to topple cars, tear through almost anything, and he even fought Sasquatch once (turned out to be an alien-built robot, but it was still pretty cool).
I haven’t seen much from Lou Jr., so I was interested to see what this young actor might bring into the mix with our favorite family at NCIS:LA.
Just the facts ma’am
“From Havana With Love” (I’m guessing this is a nod to the James Bond movie, From Russia With Love, which starred Sean Connery as the unflappable 007) was written by Joe Sachs, who brought us “Drive”, “The Livelong Day”, “Fish Out of Water” and “Core Values”, among other episodes as well. Sitting in the director’s chair, we are graced with Dennis Smith, who led us through “Fame”, “Rocket Man”, “Exit Strategy”, “Patriot Acts”, “Granger, O”, and “The Queen’s Gambit” just to name a few.
I missed the preview for the episode but I checked out the two inside previews that the extraordinary Tess DiCorsi put up in the wikiDeeks preview page. (Thanks Tess, you ROCK!) Anyway, in the initial meeting with Callen and Sam, Victor looks like he’s grasping at straws with the mysterious texts and the new Porsche that his ex just bought. I could see the looks on Callen and Sam’s faces that said, “Are you kidding? Sounds like you’ve been watching too many spy movies and are just looking for a way to get back at your wife.”
Lots of viewers were looking forward to seeing Kensi make some moves out on the dance floor and we weren’t disappointed. Daniela Ruah did win the celebrity dancing competition Dança Comigo, the Portuguese version of Dancing With the Stars, so she had a lot of experience to pull from. I’m not sure that Eric Christian Olson ever had a job as a bathroom attendant, but with a new little one and a toddler running around the Olsen household, taking care of the bathroom at a fancy club would be no big chore. I’m sure his wife, Sarah, has him well trained.
Ah… the banter
I actually enjoyed this episode (I do like most of them) where we had a pretty straightforward who-done-it mystery as the team works together to find the clues that lead to the bad guys. There was plenty of the usual team banter at the beginning and, by the way, nice card shuffle Eric, even though it was, technically, cheating. And the word count competition Deeks? Was there an off screen “You talk too much” directed at either Kensi or Deeks? At least they seem to be taking it in good humor and no serious issues with their maturing relationship. It was cute watching them struggling to keep count of their words through the suspect interviews and interrogations. Leave it to Kensi to enlist the Wonder Twins to keep her app in neutral. Bad form, Kensi! Loved their entry at the development center when it looked like Deeks was taking notes but instead, he’s tracking the words they each used. And here I thought Kensi was the competitive one in the relationship!
Is it me or are Sam’s little snide comments directed toward Deeks getting a little old? I thought we had moved past that level in their relationship but I guess it’s easy to fall back into old habits.
Poor Victor seemed lost and desperate most of the time and even was going to try to act as his own attorney. Trying to serve the papers to his wife almost got him shot by Kensi but that was a sweet open field tackle by Deeks… I was all-state in high school and that was a beautiful take down; drop the shoulder, roll into the guy’s thigh, and up into the air and back to the ground he goes. Part of me was screaming, “Be careful, Deeks! That’s the son of the Hulk! If he starts turning green, RUN!”
I almost felt sorry for poor Victor though, feeling like he was just a cash cow for his wife who seemed like she was just looking for a better meal ticket… that’s got to do a lot to a man’s pride. And then there’s a mysterious Cuban doctor waiting to marry the wife when the divorce is final? Talk about waiting to swoop right in!
It’s all about the characters
The best shows to me are the ones that allow my favorite character (and the others as well) to really shine and this one gave Deeks the chance to do just that. From the fluent Spanish, to the physicality in his repeated Victor tackles, and the final dance with his ladybird. Even the humor had me cracking up… the “petite condoms” made my side hurt and the Costco interruption of the dirty dancing Kensi was enduring with Perez was simply classic Deeks. The WWCD (What Would Columbo Do) is going into my lexicon as one of my go-to phrases (if you don’t know who Columbo is… first, shame on you and second, Google him and discover another great detective from years gone by). And before you ask, yes, I’m old enough to have watched Columbo on broadcast television with my dad; it was one of his favorites.
The use of the non-digital ham radio was a little old school but still effective as pointed out by Hetty (one of the reasons I still favor my trusty compass to a GPS that might just lead you down the wrong road from time to time). I was jotting down notes as I watched the show and was making a point of the rather ineffective trash bomb that would have barely scorched off Victor’s eyebrows, much less actually caused any real harm, when the team figured it out for themselves. The case kept us going back and forth as to which one was really the bad guy and that kept me interested and guessing as to the outcome. I hate “knowing” who the real bad guy is before the first commercial and this episode had me going until the end. Hiding the sub plans in the bird drawings was a stroke of genius and I actually cheered the creativity in that one (“Bloody brilliant” as Ron Wesley would say). Good job, Mr. Sachs!
I did have some issues with the shootout at the end: why was it that the only bad guy who was smart enough to get behind cover before shooting was the doctor? Callen and Sam’s choice of observation position was pretty poor since they had no opportunity for overlapping fields of fire and they had all the bad guys shooting in the same direction, which was right at the two of them. It sure was lucky that with all that lead flying around, not one round found its way into Rebecca, who was tied up in the car trunk. I know it’s minor, but these are highly trained tactical operators and I expect more sometimes.
Lou Ferrigno Jr. was pretty cool through the first half, but he seemed to really come out of his shell when he and ECO are doing the dancing lesson scene. The “you can learn to dance in a day” delivery comes at just the right moment for Deeks, who seems to be doubting himself, and Lou Jr. delivers it superbly. The only downside was the cut-back to the club where Perez is putting the moves on Kensi. I was hoping someone would seriously hurt him, preferably Kensi with a place-kick to the nom de plumes. Thankfully, it is resolved when Kensi is able to literally dance away while taking out the creep at the same time. Too bad it was only a flesh wound but maybe it will get infected and fill with puss, leaving a nasty scar.
Was it odd that when Deeks learns that Perez is dangerous, he chooses to remain in the boatshed with Victor rather than race to back-up Kensi? I thought this was another instance where the characters are made to act in a way that is outside of established behaviors. I know the writers wanted the dance lesson for the ‘cuteness’ factor but how do you explain leaving Kensi alone with the loan shark who has already shot one person and blown up a defenseless trashcan?
Deeks asking Kensi to dance through the coded message was both sweet and keeping with the app word count war that flowed through the entire show. It was incredibly cute and Kensi’s attempts to protect her feet came across as both concerned and a little fearful for her metatarsals. Victor’s instructions paid off and I think Deeks made a really good impression on Kensi by showing her the effort he’s willing to put into “them”. I was hoping to see the end of the dance that suddenly turned painful but the director cheated as they faded to black for the body thump and the cry of “Deeks!” from Kensi. I just wonder who it was that went down in the end.
Deeks: Yeah, what do you got?
Deeks: Something wrong?
Kensi: Ummmm… it’s umm…
Deeks: Something wrong?
Kensi: It’s not a number; it’s… seven, two digit numbers.
Sam: Maybe you got hacked by the Russians.
Deeks: I don’t know, this is crazy but maybe you should try that ‘one time pad’ thing…
Callen: No, no… Sam was a mathlete; he can do it in his head.
Kensi: Okay, go ahead.
Deeks (chanting): Mathalete… mathalete…
Sam: W… I… L… L… Y… O… U…
Kensi: Will you? Will you… will you what?
Deeks: Will you dance with me?
Kensi: Oh Honey… no, I’ve had enough for today but thank you.
Deeks: Come on baby…
Kensi: No… no… I don’t want to dance with you…
Deeks (cues up music): Seriously…
Callen: That’s our cue to leave.
Sam: Yeah, I think so.
Callen: Good night folks!
Deeks: See you guys.
Kensi (walking away): Last time you broke my metatarsal.
Deeks (tugs her back to him): Come on baby, dance with me! Don’t laugh at me, I need to concentrate.
Kensi: It’s very hard not to laugh at you.
They talk over each other, then Deeks starts to count: 5… 6… 7…
Kensi: Wow, he’s got rhythm.
Deeks: By the way, the word challenge thing, you totally won that.
Kensi: Not surprising.
Deeks: Wanna go best of three?
Kensi: If you want to keep losing… what happened to my app?
Deeks: Little help from the meerkats up in ops.
Kensi: Yes, they were supposed to remain neutral.
Deeks: Are you kidding me? A couple of gift cards from Dave and Busters and they snapped like peanut brittle.
Kensi: What did…
Kensi (impressed): Where did you learn that?
Deeks: Well you know, took a couple of lessons from our boy Victor.
Kensi: Sorry, Victor?
Deeks: Yeah, I know it sounds awkward, but it should be worth the big finish.
Deeks spins Kensi into a low dip: Ahhh… charley horse… charley horse!
The scene fades to black as we hear Kensi call out: Deeks!
And the look on his face when he asked her to hang onto the red dress? Priceless.
What kept me up last night
Now, I’ve already mentioned Deeks interrupting the little dirty dancing Perez was working on with Kensi but there was an idea that popped into my head during the scene in the dressing room that I want to mention. Could undercover operations where one of them has to play a lovey-dovey role with someone else become an issue? Deeks having to watch his fiancé, and eventual wife (fingers crossed on that one), putting the moves on some suspect or even having to go way beyond that for the sake of a case. Kensi seemed to have her own issues with playing the part as the single and available female, especially when Perez’s hands went too far south and he sought more than just her peck on his cheek.
These people are super at undercover work, but what happens when they have to watch their significant other go all out on someone else? Being able to separate the two worlds takes talent, training, skill, and a lot of hard work, but when will it prove to be too much? Of course, there’s Sam and Michelle that appear make it work somehow, but Sam didn’t see her smooching all over Sidorov either and he nearly beat Sabatino to a pulp in his own yard for getting a little too close. We had Joelle, who is apparently married with a young child, having an intimate relationship with Callen for several months. How different will it be to have to sit there and watch/listen while your husband/wife has to let someone take liberties or, worse, has to be the aggressor in being touchy-feely?
I bring this up for a couple of reasons. First, over the past few episodes, we’ve seen a little peak at this particular issue. In “Queen Pin”, the female PR rep at the lab was all over Deeks, who seemed very uncomfortable and later, Kensi was overly friendly enough with Sam’s SEAL friend to catch her boyfriend’s eye (and a slightly confused head-cock as well). I may be grasping at straws (and I really, really hope that I am) but my second reason is that there are little birdies telling us that the season finale will bring something dramatic to the Densi world. Now, most of us are expecting the finale to include the big proposal on the beach and jubilant acceptance by a very excited Kensi… but what if the “drama” isn’t of the happy variety we are anticipating?
This is my dark side looking at different angles that the writers could take to bring about a huge shift and additional angst to the show. What if Kensi, or Deeks, has to go undercover and part of their mission involves the aforementioned intimacy with someone else and the other happens to witness the… ahem… activities? This could cause a possible serious re-evaluation of the relationship and just how much they each can stand. What if the proposal doesn’t take place because Deeks can’t share Kensi or what if Kensi turns Deeks down because she saw how much it hurt him for her to act lovingly toward another person? I just had a full body shiver, but that’s where my mind went after watching “From Havana With Love”, wondering what Deeks’ reaction would have been if he had seen what was happening in the dressing room and if Kensi was unable to turn Perez away for the sake of the case.
As usual, I only covered the basics of this episode and the things that stuck out to me. There are a ton of things that I haven’t mentioned but I am trusting you all to fill in the blanks in the comments section at the end of the article. Let us know what you think about any little thing that you feel needs discussion and even those that seem trivial might generate a hefty debate between all of us fanatical fans. Now, it’s up to you, give us your thoughts on “From Havana With Love”.
And remember, WWCD?