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Review: NCISLA “Se Murio el Payaso” (S9E02)

The latest NCIS: Los Angeles episode, “Se Murio el Payaso,” was actually filmed at the end of last season. Slated to run as Season 9’s third episode, it was unexpectedly moved up a week, presumably because some part of next week’s “Assets” has content disturbingly close to the awful recent events in Las Vegas. The good news for the showrunners and for those of us who obsess over continuity is that it appears to have been a smooth switch, largely because the episode, written by Kyle Harimoto and directed by James Tunnell, presented a solid, classic case of the week with little in the way of continuing stories.

Where’s the Densi?

As you all know, this website is focused on all things Detective Marty Deeks, and unfortunately this episode was quite short on such content. As a result, this review is less rambling shorter than usual. Densi spent the entire episode at the boatshed, interrogating the Peruvian counterfeiter’s apparent daughter. Their scenes were fine, if somewhat lacking in energy. I never felt much spark coming from either of them towards the other, or even in their questioning of Lucila Marca/Claudia Diaz, played by Fernanda Andrade. Diaz’s intentions confused me a bit- she alternated so quickly from enticing Kensi to a life of crime to trying to convince them she wanted out of her life of crime to threatening to lawyer up to smug criminal that it was difficult for the scenes to gain any traction. And since – for a change! – no one was threatening to blow up Los Angeles, the intensity of Densi’s assignment dropped from its usual high level.

Familiar Faces Return

As much as I had hoped we’d never see Anna again, sure enough she popped back up. Her opening scene with Callen did work well, not because Bar Paly played her with any more nuance, but because of the adoring way Callen looked at her. Chris O’Donnell did a lovely job here communicating just how smitten Callen is with her. Throughout the episode Smirky Anna did seem slightly more comfortable in her scenes, but I still don’t see Paly having the range to play more dramatic scenes.

We also had the return of Secret Service Agent Nicole DeChamps, played by Marsha Thomason. She’s competent and likable, if slightly lacking in humor. On the other hand, the new and immediately appealing guest actor who played her overwatch detail, Steven Allerick as Tom Rhee, had more than enough charisma for them both. Can he please come back?

We always need guest stars to play the bad guys, and when they recur it’s usually a big plus. But the trouble with inviting so many guest stars to play the good guys is that the good guys we specifically tune in to watch each week don’t get a lot of screen time. Imagine how different this episode would have felt if Kensi had partnered with Callen, taking on the bad guys at the abandoned hotel, and Deeks had gone one-on-one with the interrogation (or vice versa). It’s a tricky balance, and I’m sure I’ve complained about the lack of good recurring characters. But perhaps we could ration them to one per episode?

Sam Goes UC

Sam’s undercover alias was one of the more interesting we’ve seen in a while. Episodes where the undercover role lasts for more than a single scene always seem just a bit more entertaining or suspenseful. Sam’s take on his undercover persona Brighton, a financier with an autism-spectrum disorder, was an approach we’ve never seen from him. Brighton’s talks with bad guy Michael Silva, played by Kip Pardue, were a refreshing twist on Sam’s more frequent arms dealer/drug dealer aliases. I found myself hanging on every word, waiting to see if Silva would buy his cover.

I also enjoyed Sam’s conversation with DeChamps at the condo, where he provided his advice on her “UC” career and she offered condolences on Michelle. It was a well done scene that, despite lacking any of the show’s trademark banter, gave the two temporary partners some nice bonding time. That paid off in Sam’s final scene where he insisted on accompanying her to the hospital- very sweet. Less sweet was that moment after the final shoot-out when Sam took a few seconds to catch his breath. I could only imagine he was thinking about how close he had come to leaving his children as orphans. I’m sure he’s chosen to keep putting his life in danger to make the world a safer place for his kids, but it can’t have been a decision he took lightly. I’d love to hear more about it someday.

Memorable Moments

  • Any theories on the meaning of the title, which translates as “The Clown Died”? I’ve no idea. The only reference to a clown came from Agent Rhee, who apparently has an excellent story about Callen with a clown, the KGB and a cheetah. My best guess (and it’s a big stretch) is that it’s a reference to Claudia Diaz, who wasn’t a clown but rather a decoy whose cover was blown, but I’m sure you clever people have some much better ideas. Wouldn’t it have been fun if it had somehow involved Sam’s coulrophobia?
  • It struck me as unusual to hear Kensi refer to Deeks as “Marty,” even if to another person. I know I’m in the minority, but I would absolutely love to see her call him that when they’re off the clock.
  • I did like the exciting shoot-out on the boat, but I wasn’t a fan of the fight scene at the hotel. With so many quick cuts I had a hard time figuring out which man was Callen. (And couldn’t he and Anna have called in a little back-up before taking on the final group of counterfeiters?)
  • It’s interesting that Mosley is apparently OK with Callen and Anna working together but not Deeks and Kensi. Does that mean her concern is limited to Deeks’ non-federal agent status rather than their relationship? Or was it more that Nia Long wasn’t yet on-board when this episode was filmed?

Be sure to check back later this week for new installments of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal plus the Drabble of the Week. And stay tuned for another new episode next week- the delayed “Assets.” In the meantime, what did you think of “Se Murio el Payaso”? When did the clown die and who killed him?

About Karen P (275 Articles)
wikiDeeks Writer & Assistant Editor. I never wrote for fun before... until my ECO-obsession. Now I love to analyze any and all aspects of the best character on television.

27 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Se Murio el Payaso” (S9E02)

  1. Thanks for your (short) review it was insightful as always… and with all the skipping over scenes my viewing time was short also! I don’t understand why they keep splitting up the team and teaming them with other people. I think most of us would rather have interaction between the cast.
    I too was hoping to not see Anna again and yes one of the other cast members with Callen would have been what I was wanting to see also.
    This episode was really lacking (so little Deeks) in so many ways that I hope this isn’t the direction this season is going!


    • I`m worry about my NCIS LA, very worry.


      • Totally agree, the ratings have been low this season and I think they’ll continue to get worse if they keep messing with the team and well established relationships that we love and tune-in to see. Hopefully the season and ratings will get better, I’ll hate for the show to be cancelled.


  2. Thank you for the review.

    This was such a “meh” episode, I don’t even want to talk about it. Are they TRYING to sabotage the show?


  3. If they want the end of the series they will succeed. I did not like the first two episodes at all, I wonder what direction the crew wants. Last week’s rating 8.9 and this week lower still 8.3, I do not believe in a 10 season if they continue like that. No beautiful scenes of Densi as we already had, it is as if the two actors no longer wanted to work together, although I know that this is not the case at all. Too many new characters in the same episode, no room for the regular ones, as you say. I do not know where we are going but bring us Hetty asap which will probably bring us a nice case, an interesting story to follow because now there is nothing worthwhile. The presence of Anna is not at all interesting and useful, they can very well manage without her. As for Deeks in the first ep his beard was too long and dark and this week it was as usual, next week it will be too long and dark again, what a mess. I hope that on her return Hetty will give it to him too as she did with Callen, a razor, because for now he is no longer the Deeks I’m used to see, I even find it ugly (sorry). In addition, I read an interview given by ECO recently in which he said this: ” We just filmed one of my favorite scenes we’ve ever shot. It’s the same thing that I love about Steve, in Bobby Riggs. It’s just how to play the most complete and human character even when you’re doing unlikeable things. One of my favorite scenes so far is where Kensi is on the tip of a catastrophic event and Deeks scrambles for his footing, trying to imagine what life is going to be like without her. It’s a really human and flawed, and emotionally honest moment for him and the one where they are in their careers and their relationship..Someone can tell me what it means. In addition I confess that I look at an ep 3 or 4 times in the week, but this week, only once was enough, too boring. To finish, i`m saying, they are better to get married in this season cuz I don`t think they`ll be back next year the way things go. Again, excuse my poor English, I do the best way I can.


    • ECO was off 4 out of 7 days when they filmed this episode back in April. That’s why he wasn’t in it as much. It’s not like they are intentionally cutting him back.

      Liked by 2 people

      • OK I can understand but that does`nt explain the crap in his face.


        • It is a beard for god’s sake. Get over it already. Criticising on that level seems a bit harsh and unnecessary. You don’t just walk down the street and tell people their “ugly” either because you don’t like their hairstyle, do you? I get that he is an actor on a TV show, but please, show some respect.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m sorry, maybe I misunderstood myself and I did not choose the right word to describe his beard. I have a very great respect for ECO and I don`t care about his beard in his real life. What I wanted to say is that his beard is too long and dark, same thing for his hair we no longer see his beautiful face him that is so cute and handsome, it does not look like the one I’ve known since the first season. I did not want to offend you by my words, sorry


      • It appears Anna is here to stay. This show is in it’s ninth season and it looks a little tired. I recommend re-watching the first season on DVD. What a season, it was majic. This show may be coming to an end, but I have hopes they will do better. I loved the fight scene with Sam. He’s the man.


        • I still think the show could be great if they stick to the basics that worked in the past. As a main thing they should really stop breaking up the team and keep the partnerships as we love them. I would also like to see another long-storyline and/or recurring villain, something like Janvier, Sidorov and even Tahir; and for them to go back to the storylines they left open last season, mainly Deeks and his LAPD issues/investigation.

          Hopefully the season and ratings will improve, even though this is the ninth season I really do think the show could last more and I hope they don’t cancel it.


    • I’m also concerned about the ratings and think that if they keep messing with the team and their relationahips/partnerships they’ll continue to go down. Hopefully they will pay attention to their fans and change this before it’s too late.

      I know of other shows who experienced a bad season/low ratings and still weren’t cancelled and got better so I’m hoping CBS will give the show the time to solve its issues. It might not be perfect but I still love it and will continue to watch for more seasons.


      • I Wonder if the crew pay attention to our comments. I`m not too sure but I think ECO reads Wikideeks.


        • I don’t know if they read everything but I think it would be beneficial for the writers to know what the fans think about the show and their decisions, then they can decide if they want to pay attention or not. Especially if the issue is common among many fans; thus, hurting the ratings. And, I do know ECO mentioned Wikideeks one time in the DVD audio commentaries.


  4. Thank you for your great review Karen. I was a bit disappointed with this episode, I think I would had enjoyed this episode more if it had been aired later (near the end of the season). There were some things I liked, that little twist (Lucila/Claudia) and I did like that the case did seem to get a bit more time compared to case in season premiere.

    I like Nicole DeChamps and I think Marsha Thomason is a talented actress, and some Sam/Nicole scenes were great , but in that first Sam/Nicole scene though Sam did feel a bit out of character for me (compared to Sam in season premiere who is mourning Michelle).

    I don’t like Anna and that gaming scene kind of reminded me once again how different Anna and Callen are and I just can’t see the romance between them. Almost everytime Anna and Callen do something or are planning to do something together it is something Anna likes or wants (Anna wanted to see heavy metal band, Anna wants to go to Legoland…). I think it important to have your own interests/hobbies, even when you are in a relationship, but when it comes to Anna and Callen it is too focused on things Anna likes for me. Kensi and Deeks have their own things they like to do too (for example Kensi girly things with her friends and Deeks surfing), but there is much more balance and there seems to be more common interests.

    I am curious about Hetty and what she is doing, I hope the storyline will be great.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Karen for a good review. I actually enjoyed this episode. I thought the script was well written and the storyline interesting. I guess it was much better than I expected it would be. I do not like Anna and that combined with the fact mentioned by Ryan that we knew Eco was off for most of the filming I thought would lead me to an episode I really did not like at all. In watching, we never really got the entire team together, no Sam and Callen together at all, so I am guessing since they filmed the end of last season maybe a lot of folks had plans and I thought the writer and director did a great job putting together a cohesive/ integrated episode. I give them a lot of credit for that.

    I think if this had been a mid season filler episode, it would have been received better . I agree with you that the Densi scenes were low energy. However, I thought Sam and Agent De Champs were really good. LL did a good job with that role. I thought the scenes with Anna were not good. The actress has no credibility as an agent. The notion that she fights bad guys with her really long hair loose , flowing down her back, borders on ludicrous. I actually was hoping when they talked about ATF and her not be available to work they were implying she would not be back at least as a field agent.

    To your point about workplace romance. I am really hoping they read the negative fan reaction to that and dropped that concept. I do not remember it being brought up in the premiere, I thought I only read about it in articles before the show came out. . As far as Callen and Anna , clearly it does relate to them, more than Deeks and Kensi. At this point Anna is a free agent which means she is a subcontractor to the the NCIS Office of which Callen is the team lead .So Callen makes decisions about hiring her, firing her, and salary, all of which are the makings of a lawsuit if their relationship goes south. So there is no way that Mosley could have that rule and not apply it to Callen and Anna.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Nice review but sadly this was one of my least favorite eps.

    First what I enjoyed: I liked Sam. His avoidance when the other agent mentioned Michelle and his overall demeanor and heavy-breathing after the shootout; both give a little glimpse into his state of mind and how Michelle’s death affected him. I also enjoyed the last scene at the boatshed, thanks to Deeks the only one that made me laugh. Lastly, I’m intrigued by Hetty’s Vietnam storyline and I’m curious to see where it leads and how it will connect with the team back in LA.

    Now, onto what I disliked: Anna… I really do not like her, I don’t mind her personal relationship with Callen but I don’t like her in the field or as part of the team. Callen and Anna are not Densi and I would love for the show to leave couple scenes/field work to the ones that do it best. My favorite aspect of NCISLA is the characters and their partnerships/relationships; I like the team as it is, Callen and Sam, Densi and the wonder twins, so I don’t enjoy when they mess with that. As for Densi, the whole ep felt like a waste of good characters. I usually love their interrogations but this one didn’t work for me. Lastly, as an Hispanic myself I was expecting a bigger hispanic connection given the name of the ep and was disappointed in that regard.

    Overall, this felt like a filler ep, hopefully the rest will be better. I do have to say I’m a bit worried about the ratings this season, they were low for ep 1 and I was hoping they would improve but they were even lower this week. I know the show isn’t perfect but still, it’s my favorite and I would hate for it to be cancelled, hopefully I’m just being paranoid.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t have to say much this week. I found the episode very weak and a little predictable and boring, with really “low energy”, as some of you said.
    Maybe one of the reasons the episode didn’t convince me completely is I don’t like Anna much, especially with Callen, I’m sorry, I can’t help it, I have nothing against all the Callanna fans, I’m glad they have their own “ship” to root for, but I personally see no chemistry between the two characters and I think the actress is too young to play Callen’s love interest, to me they seem more like uncle and niece. Anna has all the interests and energy of a teenager while Callen is definitely more mature and “man”.
    In conclusion, I expected it would be a filler episode, but I thought better. And that’s a pity, because NCIS:LA can be great and all the cast and crew, writers, directors and showrunners can do great. I hope there will definitely be better episodes in the following weeks. Is the well-oiled machine this show has always been starting to show some signs of age and tiredness? I do hope not, honestly, but I’m worried.
    I would like my show back, the one I fell in love with since the very beginning. I can see it’s still partly there, but I think it urgently needs to go back to its previous amazing stories and awesome episodes, characters and actors’ performances.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The only thing I really liked about this episode was LL Cool J’s performance. It was nice to see him playing a character so much out of his comfort zone.

    I’m still cringing that Bar Paly is back. I was hoping the girl would be taking some acting lessons but I guess not.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great review as always.

    I found out what “Se Murio El Payaso” means in Peru. From the Internet:

    “The Clown is Dead! – ¡Se Murio el Payaso!
    When Peruvians conclude a long business or affair, they say ‘the clown is dead’. The phrase can be used for all sorts of cases: from love relationships to work assignments, business, personal arguments, reunions, etc. A vague translation would be it is finally over. I suppose the phrase comes in relation to “clown performances”. If the clown dies, the show then is finally over.”

    That makes sense – I wish they would have explained it. And it works for several aspects of the story. The counterfeit deal/case, Lucilla/Claudia’s impersonation, DeChamp’s future with the Secret Service – a lot worked here if we only knew it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really glad you posted this because the name of the ep was one of my issues with it. This actually shows a lot of thoughtfulness from the writers and I think the association is really cool, if only they could have found a way to explain this during the ep, it could have been so much better and carry the intended purpose.


    • Thanks, Tess. Great explanation of the title. I needed that.


  10. Thanks for your review, Karen. What did you do with all the extra time you must have had? 😉
    I too liked this more than I thought I would, despite the fact that everyone worked separately and the very low energy Densi. Like several others, I loved the Sam scenes; watching LL play such a different UC was intriguing.

    I do wonder if they cut the Hetty scenes from Assets and plugged them in here, since those seemed to follow smoothly from last week (unless there are no Hetty scenes in Assets, which I doubt). Then will they just replace the Assets scenes with the ones that were originally in this ep? Regardless, I’d like some movement, or at least information, on this plot line, sooner than later. This feeding-things-out-in-drips-and-drabs business is just not cutting it for me and is really not holding my interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t remember much about the episode, except that I was intrigued by the Hetty scene at the end. I tune out the Anna scenes so don’t know anything that happened with her and Callen. The agent that worked with Sam fits in with the cast though.


  12. I loved the Deeks and Kensi interrogation, it showed another side to the pair and it was so interesting to see them delve deeper and deeper in to their suspect’s story and past, which led to them totally unravelling it. Not too many episodes have the capacity to do that, to devote so much screen time to one interrogation.

    And as for Mosley allowing Callen and Anna to work together? Well she wasn’t in the episode, presumably she either didn’t know or is happy the case didn’t require top level security clearance. So far she doesn’t know about Kensi and Deeks’ relationship or about Callen or Anna’s.


  13. Seems that I am in huge minority here but I found this episode really enjoyable. Everybody was busy with something and had clear tasks. The case was well written and executed, agent DeChamps was really good and I do not have nothing against seeing here again and more. Unfo Bar Paly hasn’t improved her acting skills in the meantime so I rather do not see her again on this show. I agree with Karin that fine acting from COD saved their joint scenes, but Bar Paly is simply bad actress.
    I loved Deeks &Kensi spending their day in the boatshed interrogating “very pleasant” criminal as I actually liked much more when team (especially Deeks) is able to outsmart the bad guys rather than shoot them.
    I find Deeks very handsome and attractive with any beard and hair length…


  14. Excellent discussion as always. And serious kudos to Tess for tracking down the meaning of the title. So helpful! I wonder if they were moving Hetty’s scenes around as Psyched has hypothesized, maybe they had to cut out a conversation where somebody explained the title.

    As for the ratings, I took a look at Madam Secretary’s ratings last year in the Sunday 9pm slot. It averaged 8.27 million viewers and a 0.88 in the 18-49 demographic. In its first two eps at 9pm, NCIS:LA has averaged 8.7 million viewers and a 1.13 in the 18-49 age group. So I’m not too worried (yet).


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