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Review: NCISLA “Mountebank” (S9E5)


Well, here we are folks and I will go ahead and start off with the best news about this episode right off the bat … ARKADY! Yes! One of my favorite NCIS:LA characters is back with us and ready to cause as many headaches and laughs as humanly possible. The Russian mobster is always full of surprises and never fails to crack me up.

“Mountebank” is helmed in the director’s chair by Terrence O’Hara and written by the multitalented Jordana Lewis Jaffe. A tidbit already shared in the preview by my pal Tess DeCorsi, mountebank actually means “a person who deceives others, especially in order to trick them out of their money; a charlatan.” Hmmmm … but who is deceiving whom?
Okay … onto the show!

As usual, the case gets set up in the first segment: we are presented with a prominent investment banker chatting on the phone with a rather unpleasant Russian oligarch. Now, if you’re as smart as this guy should be, you would think he would know to actually chase after the dropped hand sanitizer AFTER bringing the vehicle to a complete stop… but he did and got rammed anyway. I do not think the people over at the National Highway Safety Board will be too happy about that message.

Callen… I mean… Dexter

So, somebody stole one of Callen’s identities and opened a credit card account? It looked like this was going to be tied to the case at hand but it appears to be just a kid lost in the system.

What a cool way to give us another glimpse into the enigma that is G. Callen and his way with kids that have been placed into foster care. Phin, who probably is pretty good at deception, does his best to hold it together, but fails big time when dealing with someone with a skillset like Callen’s.

A New Sheriff
Mosley swoops in and starts calling the shots… again. I would have been impressed with her request that she needed someone undercover if that hadn’t been so obvious that is what the team needed to do. With one of Callen’s identities compromised, holding him back actually made sense but her method of delivering her orders has a lot to be desired. The crack about not even being in the same book clearly showed Callen’s growing frustration at how she seems to usurp his position as team leader.

When Hetty was running Operations, her guidance was more of a gentle breeze that only became a hurricane when necessary. Mosley, on the other hand, comes in with the force of an F5 tornado, making sure that everybody knows that she’s in charge. While necessary sometimes to establish the new pecking order, it gets old when that’s the only way you deal with those under you in the chain of command. She redeemed herself a little with the meet with Sokolov, allowing the team to take the necessary risks in order to cement his trust in Leigha and getting tracked back to his Russian cronies. Maybe Mosley is beginning to see that this team operates best when you don’t hobble them with micromanaging and quotes from the Executive Assistant Director’s Handbook.

Kensi, Deeks, and the Super Duper Secret to Getting Through Arkady’s Front Door
Who knew that Arkady was such a pushover? Coffee and pastries? Wow. Maybe Sam could try that to stay on the Russian’s good side.
The look on Arkady’s face when they mentioned Abram Sokolov (he did pull a creepy on Kensi with admitting to pretending she was his daughter instead of Anna)… sounds like we’re dealing with one of those dudes that even the bad guys don’t want to mess around with.

Man jewelry Deeks, really? And those towels looked more like fancy drapes than something that you should find in anyone’s bathroom. I do have to hand it to Arkady (and his ability to put even large bouncers at ease), he kinda reminds me a little of someone else who can get an entire room wrapped around his little finger with aplomb. I was enjoying the scene, right up to the point where Deeks mentions Arkady’s nipples. Ugh… could have done without that image in my head.

Deeks gets to show off! First, he kills it at the poker table, then he slams the table with the bouncer’s hand in an arm wrestling match, then he gets to flash his ‘bling’. Unfortunately, he looked a bit like a Back Street Boy who forgot to stop acting that way once they hit thirty.

Deeks: That’s it, I’m doing it. I gonna start wearing jewelry … start wearing man jewelry.
Kensi: Please, don’t. Oh gosh… please, seriously don’t.
Deeks: What are you talking about? You know, start with a nice simple chain… maybe put a diamond encrusted “D” on it… work my way up to a sexy little pinkie ring.
Arkady: Do not put your grubby paws on anything. You hear me!?
Deeks: Then why did you invite us up to your super ornate bedroom while you showered… I got to be honest, it’s pretty creepy Arkady, even for you.
Arkady: I tell you already, I do my best thinking in shower.
Deeks: Yeah, me too.
Arkday: Aha!
Kensi: Does that mean you have something?
Arkady: Depends. (starts drying himself off with very gaudy towels) I know Sokolov’s big sister … Vladlena … beautiful woman.
Deeks: That’s fantastic.
Kensi: Do you think she’ll talk to us?
Arkday: Maybe… how good are you two at “poker face”?
Deeks: I can see… your nipples.

Sorry everyone (especially Karen and a few other of my wikiDeeks teammates ), I didn’t get all bent out of shape over Deeks’ arm wrestling, dazzling bling, or especially his flowing locks. I know, I know… but I am a guy and would rather point out the merits of using an M4 chambered in 5.56 mm over an M14 in 7.62 mm in certain situations than discuss anything about how Deeks looks and I don’t care if he’s in a Porsche or trying on gold necklaces. Not going to happen.

Sam in the Suit
LL Cool J was rocking the suit and with Hidoko, who displayed some good tradecraft again this week, as his back-up, slipped right into his persona at the investment group. I really didn’t expect Sam the Mathlete to struggle with his cover so this was simply Sam doing what Sam does best… find his niche, recon, gather intel, and maintain his cover no matter what.

What is starting to surprise me is how the show runners are presenting Hidoko as a competent field agent and not some bureaucrat completely out of their league tangling with true bad guys and not paper cuts or jammed copiers. This is two weeks in a row that she has been right there doing the same thing that we’d expect from one of the more regular characters. I hope that this trend continues and we see her become a vital part of the team that we all know and love (maybe even a replacement for Anna?).

And a New Bad Guy
Finally! This has been the one aspect of this show that for me, has been lagging. We need someone to dread as much as the characters on the show and Sokolov might be able to do just that. Even though we didn’t really see him in action this time around, with all of the second-hand information from National Security to his sister (acid baths… ewwwww), the team may be in for another challenging season like when they tangled with Sidorov. We’ll have to wait and see if he rises to the level of Janvier or the Comescus, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Memorable Moments
Where is Hetty? Hmmmm… whenever the former operations manager is absent, it means she is up to something and you can take it to the bank that it isn’t soaking up rays on a beach somewhere.

We got Densi working Arkady with ease, disarming the room full of Russian mobsters, and enjoying a mediocre firefight… but their banter/tension/romance was almost nonexistent. If they want us to believe that they are an engaged couple working in an incredibly dangerous occupation, we need to see a little bit more of the “couple” part in their work day.

Is it me or does Nell still appear out-of-place in the field? At least for me, I think it is her youthful appearance and not her skill level. Although, when she whacked Phin with the cue stick, she was pretty bad… it just feels like they are trying to make her more physically tough these days and not revealing more of her incredible intellect.

Deeks, Kensi and Arkday… need I say more? It was both funny and weird… and maybe a tad creepy. Yeah, standing around in some guy’s bedroom while he showers in the next room? Creepy. With a big ‘C’.

Check back later in the week for an updated Surf Log, Kensi’s Journal, and the Drabble of the Week from our team of talented contributors. You also have the opportunity to leave your thoughts about “Mountebank”; so please, take a moment and tell us what you think because we love hearing your reactions and reading your comments. So, go ahead… have at it!

Semper Fi!

About Jericho Steele (18 Articles)
I'm just me. I served proudly in the United States Marine Corps for four years after graduating from high school. For the past twenty-six years, I've been married to the most wonderful woman in the world. Our daughter is still at home but our son just moved to Russia to study at Moscow State University. We also live with four cats and one dog in south Georgia where I spend my time loving my family, writing stories, working, and shooting my bow.

16 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Mountebank” (S9E5)

  1. Thanks for a great review Jericho. I really liked this episode, my favorite part was obviously Deeks being hilarious but also showing his smarts with the Russians. Enjoyed a lot all the scenes with Arkady, and also appreciated the small glimpse into Callen’s past. I was disappointed by the main bad guy tho, based on what Arkady and the sister were saying I was expecting a really strong villain. But, I never felt the team was in any real danger and he was bested too easily at the end. I guess I’m still waiting for a strong, recurring villain like Janvier, Sidorov, and even Tahir. But, I agree that Sokolov has the potential to become just that.

    My main issue with this season is that, even though I’m really trying I still don’t like Mosley. She’s too conceited for my liking, and her character always feels flat to me. It’s like she only has one mode, no dimensions, no layers, just her constant state of superiority and arrogance towards everyone around her. I don’t get why the showrunners decided to take Hetty away on the first full season without Owen (who will forever remain one of my favorite characters on TV). I didn’t always agreed with Hetty and questioned a lot of her decisions but in a way she was an anchor for the show and characters and I really want her back soon. I do like how they keep building on her storyline and the little conversations when the team is searching for her and seem to be closing on a location, hopefully the resolution to this storyline won’t disappoint and come sooner rather than later. On the contrary to Mosley, and thankfully, I do like Hidoko and keep seeing potential based on the way she interacts with our regular and loved characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the review of the week, nice work. I must easily admit that you are so right with “but their goal / tension / romance was almost nonexistent. the “couple” part in their work day. ” Maybe in the episodes that follow, we will have a wind of change, mainly in the 200th episode, because I read this in an article published Sept. 21: ” We just filmed one of my favorite scenes We’ve Ever Shot It’s the same thing that I love to Steve, in Bobby Riggs It’s just the way you play 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.” Interview given par ECO

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  3. I loved your review and you happen to be one of my favorite writers. ‘Broken Road’ and ‘My Fault’ are just two of your fanfics that are out of sight. I hope whoever reads this give them a look.

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  4. Thanks for your review, Jericho Steele, I enjoyed reading it.
    In my opinion, this season NCIS:LA has been a little “off” since the very first episodes and this week’s one is no exception, but I still can’t completely grasp why, even if I’ve honestly tried to find some possible reasons. Probably there are more than just one.
    The new additions, maybe? I still have to figure out their exact role in the team but so far I’ve liked Hidoko more than Mosley (I guess the other way round would have been almost impossible, with the way Mosley has been portrayed so far!).
    The looming idea of a total “reset” the authors had mentioned last year? Has it already started? What repercussions could it have on our beloved characters?
    Some plots and cases of the week which have seemed (to me) a little boring and underwhelming?
    Some scenes that are really forced and weird (like this week at Arkady’s) and not very hilarious as they used to be?
    ECO utilized more and more often as the comic relief while we know he is capable of much more?
    Some lukewarm and subdued Densi scenes and interactions?
    The sadness you feel when you know for sure that Granger won’t appear in OPS to save the day? That his wisdom and dry sense of humor will be forever missed? That Hetty won’t arrive either (at least for some more episodes)?
    Or is it the disappointment you feel when you can’t forget that Michelle was killed at the end of last season and you still can’t forgive the authors for such choice? That there won’t be any more Thanksgiving or Christmas at the Hanna’s? That Michelle won’t be there for the bride-to-be Kensi to give her some advice on how to balance and juggle it all when your husband is also your partner in a very tough line of work?
    I don’t know, maybe it’s a mix of all this. I still like the show, that’s not the point, but I can’t help realizing it’s changed and it’s still changing and I hope I’ll understand its direction better in the following weeks and episodes.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m with you Cladani. Just last week or the week before I commented that something felt “off” about this season. I think I figured out what it is: no whole-team bullpen scenes to start off the ep. No Eric whistling, blowing horns, ringing bells, etc. I honestly don’t miss Hetty at all (every time they show her or mention her I’m like, “Oh yeah, Hetty’s MIA” (sound familiar, Tess?)). That’s not to say that I like Mosley, because I don’t, for all the reasons pretty much everyone else has stated about the character and the acting ability. But I guess I miss the more “ensemble” moments of the show that we used to get much more regularly (it’s kind of like watching an episode of Blue Bloods and not seeing a Sunday dinner scene).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your great review Jericho. I, too, loved those Arkady and Deeks (+Kensi) scenes, I just wish there had been even more Arkady scenes and a bigger part for him in the storyline, maybe Arkady causing even more trouble 🙂 . I have to admit that I didn’t understand everything about that identity theft-case and I may have missed some things, for example was there a specific reason why Callen (at first) blamed Nell for the identity theft? It felt to me like both the Sokolov and identity thief may return later this season and I am really worried about the amount of unfinished storylines, I hope they will give some storylines a complete closure before returning to other unfinished storylines. If Sokolov becomes the new bad guy I hope the storyline has a lot of surprises and that the character and storyline are not too similar to for example Janvier and Sidorov storylines.

    Mosley does make sure that everyone knows she is in charge, but the character still leaves me a bit bored and I wish there would be something more interesting. I wish the Mosley vs team storyline would move faster, especially when the Hetty storyline is moving slowly too. I do understand the reasons why tptb wanted/needed to add new characters to the show, but I wish they had done it in a different way. In my personal opinion if they had introduced Mosley in a new and more different way (compared to what we have seen previously on the show), it would had made it much easier to move the show forward and for the new character really become a part of the show (less comparisons to / reminders of previous characters and storylines). I would love it if Hidoko reeplaces Anna and I am keeping my fingers crossed, but I personally am not sure if that is tptb’s plan for Hidoko’s character (I am not sure they want to let Anna go),

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for writing this review. I enjoyed the episode. I thought it seemed a little choppy, I often find Jordan Jaffee to write episodes that seem more like vignettes strung together. However, Deeks, Kensi and Arkady, made up for any flaws in the storyline , all those scenes were just wonderful. They were well balanced , humorous, and fun. Eric Christian Olsen delivered a great performance. Overall it was an entertaining hour of television.

    I still do not like Mosley, for me it is the combination of the part they are giving her to play and the fact that the actress seems to deliver all lines in a flat , snarky way. It also really bothered me that Harley backed up Sam instead of Deeks, Kensi, or Nell. Sam was horrible to Deeks in “Descent” when Deeks was his backup, and I do understand that was different because of Michelle, but still this felt so out of character for Sam to not want someone he knows to have his back. I also feel people are supporting Harley as a character, because she is not awful the way Mosley is. I think if this show were in season 6 or even 7, I would find her an interesting character to add. We are in season 9, and not clear we will get a ten. I would much prefer this show concentrate and give more time to the existing characters . I, of course, would love more of Kensi and Deeks, but I would also love more of Eric and Nell, I really feel like both of them are getting short changed time wise because of the new cast.

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  7. Hey, Mr. Steele. Good stuff. I know you get uncomfortable when we get all gooey over Deeks’ muscles and hair, but hey, we’re entitled. Did hate the man jewelry, but the musclely take down of the guard was fun, what with that spotlight on Deeks’ powerful arm. That I liked. I truly do love to tease you, but I agree they could have cut the line about Arkady’s nipples. That was all sorts of weird and unnecessary.

    This wasn’t my favorite episode by a long shot, and I was left with a lot of questions. The main one being how that young guy stole Callen’s alias. Did I miss something? How was it possible and why didn’t Callen asked how he managed it? I did like Callen’s kindness though. He was sweet. In fact Callen has been my favorite character so far this season…except for Deeks. He has stood up to Smugly Mosley and I appreciate that.

    Now for a strange and scary thought that has been floating around in my brain. What if Harley wasn’t intended to be Mosley’s assistant at all, but was brought in to be a replacement for Deeks? We know she wants to get rid of him, and she has been sending Harley out into the field on a regular basis. The team is getting use to her and like her, so I am worried that Mosley’s plan all along was to ease her onto the team and fire Deeks. Somebody please tell me I’m crazy or at least paranoid.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry, Lindy, but I was going to ask a very similar question about Mosley and Harley re: Deeks. Except my question is more along the lines of: if Harley’s so competent in the field (she didn’t come off as terribly so in her first ep, at least up in in ops) then why did Mosley even take Deeks back in his usual capacity? She could have sent him back to LAPD and had him be the liaison from there (as in the first ep) and slid Harley right in as Callen or Sam’s partner if she’s so hot to mix up the teams. I don’t get it.

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      • I think she is worming Harley in and kind of lulling the team into accepting her as a good agent and then she will send Deeks back to LAPD. As for the writers…I think they are messing with our heads and our emotions. I don’t think it means ECO is leaving I just think it might be a lead up to his thing with Whiting and IA. I’m waiting for Hetty to get back and fix things…fingers crossed.

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    • Lindy, I think there has been a fair amount of speculation on social media that Mosley’s plan is to replace Deeks with Harley. I do not think you are crazy or paranoid. Part of why I went on about Harley backing up Sam in the field in my comments was, I think there is a possibility that Mosley does have that plan. It seemed really strange to me that none of the NCIS agents was upset that Harley was chosen to back up Sam instead of Deeks, Kensi, or Nell. I get why Callen could not do it , but even Eric is a more known quantity than Harley . I do hope the show does not go down that road, I really do not want to watch a show which allows a senior contributing member of a team to be replaced by a new unknown quantity.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great job, Jericho! And I would have loved to have oohed and ahhed over Deeks’ arms, but that horrible jewelry was too much of a distraction. Good point about the fact that Deeks and Kensi could have been from an early season with how much they were like a couple in this ep. Oh well, we go from naming children to having fun in a fancy car (forgive me for not remembering the make!) absolutely no personal conversation at all (oh, except that Arkady has envisioned Kensi as his daughter – wth?!). Guess TPTB don’t want us getting spoiled! And I agree, Nell looked out of place in the field. For me it was the dress and blazer in a pool hall. Shouldn’t she have a change of clothes for when she’s needed in the field? This is not the first time I’ve noticed/commented on this, and clothes are not something I usually pay attention to.

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  9. I was going to respond individually to some reviews which were right on point in my opinion, but as not to post 3 times I will do it all here. “Psyched,” I had not thought about what you mentioned and I couldn’t agree more; you just made me realize how much I miss the opening bullpen scenes with the whole team together and Eric interrupting with a crazy sound to call them up to ops. I totally agree that’s a big reason why this season feels sort of off or just different, and not in a particularly good way.

    “Lindy D” I don’t know if you’re paranoid but I do know you just made me paranoid! I don’t read a lot of NCISLA on social media, other than following the cast on Twitter and Instagram so it’s the first time I hear of Mosley bringing Harley to replace Deeks; and it scares me a lot because based on what I have seen this season it makes total sense. I would love to think that the show would never get rid of Deeks based on how great (and popular) a character (and actor) he is; but you never know, and it scares and worries me to even think of a possible future to this show without my favorite detective in it.

    “sassyzazzi” I have also noticed how the new additions to the cast seem to be taking time from our regular and loved characters and I’m not happy about it. I want to see more of Eric and Nell, more scenes of the team together, more bullpen scenes between our 2 partnerships, more personal Densi conversations, more of Sam coping with Michelle’s death and I don’t want Mosley or Harley taking time away from them, especially if this really ends up being the show’s last season.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Just to add to what you said. I certainly would stop watching the show if they wrote the Deeks character out, Eric Christian Olsen is an incredible actor and he has created a character which makes me watch every episode of this show. However, I also do not want to watch a show where they take a beloved character, who works hard and is good at what he does and somehow Mosley is able to send him back and replace him in the field with Harley .I am pretty tired of Mosley beating up on Deeks and him having to prove himself to her every week.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t even want to think what would I do if they wrote Deeks out of the show. Honestly, he’s the reason why I fell in love with NCISLA. I love the whole regular cast and the balance of comedy, drama and action that past seasons were known for, but Deeks will always be a main reason why this show became my favorite and he will always remain one of my 2 favorite characters on TV.

        I agree that ECO is an incredible actor, and he’s so much more than just the comedy the show so many times sticks him with. He can be hilarious for sure but some of his emotional scenes have been incredible (like during the Sidorov arc, Spoils of War and first half of season 8). I was also really disappointed by Mosley’s lack of professionalism by focusing entirely on his appearance without caring about his work history or how that same look helps his undercover work. I think that kind of sends the wrong image/message in terms of what is really important to focus on, not only on the show but I guess in life in general. After what we fans have seen from him for 7 seasons he doesn’t need to proof himself to anyone.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I love the show and the actors but I will have to tell the truth here. If ECO leaves the show, at this point I’m probably gone too. Not to say never but I remember watching season one and being lackadaisical about it (didn’t miss a show but never had much to talk about later) until Marty Deeks appeared. His character’s interaction with the other characters made the show for me and sorry, but I don’t care how wonderful an agent Harley is she cannot take his place. I don’t really think ECO is leaving; they’ve teased us over the years with this. They’d be really stupid to let him go.

      Good review, Jericho. A show with Arkady is a treat. I like Callan’s interactions with the juvenile but not sure he should have let the kid go so easily. As for Mosely, she has not showed anything to me outside of her smirking and her shameless smug exterior. I don’t know what makes her tick and frankly I don’t want to know. The actress is not giving the character one redeemable quality. I remember when Granger first came on the show. He was universally hated but in each show a bit of his character was revealed and we grew to love his dry wit, his teamwork and his genuine affection for Hetty and as the season continued, his gruff exterior hiding his respect for his team eventually giving way to overt respect. There’s the difference. Granger grew because Miguel could win us over; I’m not sure Mosely can…….

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