Review: NCISLA “Fool Me Twice” (S9E09)
As we move the annual NCIS: Los Angeles Christmas episode in a few weeks, it’s hard not to think back a couple seasons to “Humbug,” the Christmas episode where Deeks and Kensi went all in. It was also a key episode for Callen and his girlfriend Joelle, who at the time did a mighty fine job pretending to be freaked out at learning Callen’s true identity. Both relationships have changed a lot in the past two seasons. One was explored in this week’s episode, written by Andrew Bartels and directed by the aptly named Benny Boom. Unfortunately for a website dedicated to Marty Deeks, “Fool Me Twice” was all about Callen and Joelle, with only a few Densi moments to enjoy.
Shuffling Identities, Shifting Allegiances
I had liked Joelle the schoolteacher and thought she was a good influence on Callen. Too bad she wasn’t real. I almost always enjoy when the show explores the ramifications of long term undercovers, particularly when there’s a personal relationship involved. Here my enjoyment and my emotional investment were a bit hampered because I didn’t remember the details of Joelle’s involvement with the mole and the rogue CIA group. (Maybe that’s because they were never clear, maybe it’s just my failing mental powers.) It made it harder for me to decide whether or not to feel any sympathy for her plight or to think she could be telling the truth. Still, Elizabeth Bogush did a nice job playing Joelle/Beth/Jane’s shifting story and Chris O’Donnell and her scenes held my interest.
We also got to see the non-spy side of Beth’s family, listening in as her husband Nick discussed their marriage with Kensi. Hearing him describe his experience of knowing Joelle was sleeping with other men because of her job made me immediately wonder how Deeks and Kensi would handle such a situation. We’ve seen it happen before they were together with Monica in “Parley,” and maybe after they were together with the rich “douche” in “Command & Control.” At that point they seemed to easily manage it, but how interesting would it be to see it play out in an episode now that they’re each others’ world?
Likable but Limited Densi
The single Densi highlight of the episode was their conversation interpreting Kensi’s wedding dream. And yikes! Deeks took the news that she dreamed about Jack far better than I did. I’m glad to see he’s feeling so secure about his place in Kensi’s world. (Oh that’s right he is her world. Kudos to Kensi for making him believe that.)
And what are we to make of the fact that no wedding plans have apparently been made? We already knew they hadn’t set a date (no, 2018 is not a leap year Deeks). They both seem more than ready to take the plunge. Could their ongoing discussions about the future be holding them back from taking concrete steps to move forward? I hope that once they are ready to get on with the planning, they opt for something simple on that beach we’ve read about in so many fanfics. But however they do it, here’s hoping we don’t have to wait two more years to see it happen.
Kensi: Deeks, my mom has been great. It was a dream, OK? It didn’t mean anything. Let’s just forget I said anything.
Deeks: So you dream you’re getting married to your ex-fiance Jack, and when he puts the ring on your finger it turns into a spider and you don’t think that means anything?
Kensi: No, I think it was random electrical impulses firing in my brain, that’s all.
Deeks: Really, because this website says that if you’re dreaming about your ex, you’re actually dreaming about your current relationship. So that would mean that Jack was me and I gave you a spider which is an overbearing mother which is my mother- oh my god I gave you my mother.
Kensi: Wow, that’s awkward.
Deeks: Why is that awkward?
Kensi: Because I kinda sort of squished the spider.
Deeks: You squished my mom.
Kensi: I squished a spider.
Deeks: You squished my mom.
Kensi: I didn’t squish your mom.
Deeks: You squished Berty.
Kensi: I love your mom, OK? Let’s just drop it.
Deeks: No dropping it, ’cause you’re right, I’m sorry.
Kensi: Thank you.
Deeks: Just breathe. Breathe with me… Speaking of which, I forgot to mention my mom put together another binder of flower arrangements she wants to go over when you get a chance.
Kensi: Are you kidding me?!? That’s like five bi- oh, wait. You’re messing with me.
Kensi: You’re not funny.
Deeks: It’s pretty funny.
Kensi: No it’s not funny.
Deeks: I’m pretty sure I just saw those random electrical pulses shooting out of your ears right there.
Kensi: You’re the worst. You’re literally the worst.
A cute scene, but I think the true highlight of the episode for me is actually the 25 seconds of Instagram magic Daniela Ruah posted while filming this scene. You can see it by scrolling down Tess’ fantastic episode preview to what she describes as “the musical portion of the episode.” Eric Christian Olsen’s silliness is utterly charming, and you can easily see how it shines through into the scene itself. It’s wonderful to see them having fun together and it’s one of the many reasons their pairing is so amazing.
A Crowded Cast
I really like Hidoko and enjoy her interactions with the regular cast. She and Sam seem to have developed a strong working relationship, and their banter at the end of the episode about saving each other’s life was pretty adorable. Still, I can’t help but feel that her presence comes to the detriment of the regular cast. Deeks and Kensi didn’t make an appearance until 13 minutes into the hour. And how many total lines did Nell even have? Of course, I’m not a huge fan of Nell (or god forbid Eric) in the field, but I would have enjoyed seeing Deeks and Sam working together, taking turns saving each other’s lives. That’s the kind of bonding we can never have enough of. I also wonder if maybe this expanded cast of characters has come at the request of the four leads wanting to spend less grueling hours filming?
Mosley was largely back to her old, somewhat annoying ways of not wanting to take the team’s instincts and advice into account. She listened more than in earlier episodes, but for me she still comes off as arrogant and unlikable. Sure, she generally went along with their plans, but imposing unnecessary and unrealistic two-hour deadlines feels less like extra drama and more like an unpleasant lack of team cohesion. I did appreciate her assessment of Hetty’s “illusion of access” in the midst of all her secret-keeping. But come on, who wouldn’t want to try out the 3D headphones?
- Please don’t use the “Clambake” as a safe house – I’m kinda fond of her already. It looks like Sam (and Callen) have been putting in a lot of hard work fixing her up and I’d hate to see her go boom.
- The warehouse scene with Hidoko and Sam was nicely put together. When they spotted the camera I said, “Oh &!$%.” When the door slammed shut I repeated “Oh &!$%.” And I said it a third time when the fire started. Nicely unexpected and exciting.
- Of course Deeks was all over the child care. Yep, he’s definitely “a good kid.”
- Is it just me, or did Nick bear some resemblance to Sullivan?
- Deeks was darn cute working the mail cart looking for the bad guy (“No mail for you!”).
- Mosley’s new office is pretty sweet. What a great job the set designers did at finding the perfect spot for the new space. I love the way it looms over the bullpen, and particularly how it dominates Hetty’s desk. Even its modern aesthetic inside the historic building fits with Mosley’s character coming in from outside and trying to shake things up. The one element that I haven’t figured out yet is that tall white object… Is it a statue? Does it serve a purpose?
- Now we have more bad guys (or gals!) lurking out there – a whole syndicate! Seems like there’s an ever-lengthening string of not quite resolved stories the showrunners have to draw from for the second half of the season. I only wish we had some memorable bad guys like Sidorov lurking out in the shadows. I’m particularly unexcited about the rogue CIA group since I wasn’t a fan of how the original mole storyline played out; however I do think Sabatino is a fun character so hopefully we’ll see more of him at some point.
Come back later this week for another edition of Deeks’ Surf Long and Kensi’s Journal, plus the Drabble of the Week. In the meantime, how did you like “Fool Me Twice”? Was there enough Densi to keep you happy?
I loved your review and I have one question. Are you assuming that Kensi slept with the rich ‘douche’ in ‘Command and Control’? I didn’t get that impression at the time. Again a wonderful review Karen.
I don`t think so.
Thanks ewaguy. I did use the word “maybe” in reference to that particular assignment. I think in a cable TV version of the show, Kensi would definitely have needed to sleep with the guy. On the network TV version, I don’t know. I felt like they left it up to the viewer to decide.
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I’m glad I am not the only one who didn’t take Kensi’s dream about Jack as well as Deeks did. He was very Zen about it, whereas I was wondering what was the writer’s intention in bringing that up in the first place. Is this supposed to be some kind of foreshadowing, or maybe to point out that Deeks doesn’t have jealousy issues toward any of Kensi’s exes (whereas she pushes him off his bike at the mention of his having dated other women casually – sorry, I couldn’t resist pointing out the contrast.).
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Thanks for the great review!
Pluses for me:
The Densi scene in the car. It is nice to see them have a good time together.
ECO look great in the blue shirt delivering mail and was CompetentDeeks yelling at people to get down, etc.
I really like Hidoko. She just *feels* like an agent and I don’t have to worry about her acting. Her chemistry is great with everyone she works with.
Ok, I acknowledge that the show was throwing us a bone for better closure on the Joelle storyline.
Minuses for me:
What the hell was that scene on the roof??!!?? The guy spewing exposition like a Bond bad guy and their nefarious plans….???!!! Wow, so bad.
Mosley. Her office is lovely but as a perch to overlook the people below it’s not that great. Anyone could walk underneath the foundation if they wanted to hide their activities.
The Joelle story. I would have preferred that they just broke up and parted ways. I really didn’t like her entire CIA thing.
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You hit the nail on the head with your review. I admit I watched the show with limited attention. I used to actually sit down and watch the show closely. My mind just wanders during the show. Same with The Walking Dead dead. I guess I am experiencing viewer fatigue.
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Karen great review. I agree with everything you said. Overall I enjoyed the episode, I thought Chris O’Donnell and Elizabeth Bogush were really good, and they have an on screen chemistry. As you pointed out it is interesting when a show explores the ramifications of long term under covers. I thought making this about Joelle enabled them to do this episode , I think an episode about one of the main characters being unfaithful because of the job would probably have not been well received by fans. I also thought this episode was a bit of a message to Deeks and Kensi. At the end of IA, I thought Hetty made clear to Deeks the risks in these jobs of sharing the truth, clearly he chose Kensi over the job. In this case, I think Jane’s husband was sharing the risk of these jobs with Kensi. I think the show is clearly going down the road of the end of the series Deeks and Kensi will chose each other over the job.
I totally agree with your statement about Hidoko. I like her but at this point it is clear she is taking time from the cast I watch the show for. We are in season 9, with really poor ratings and I do not care to see a new character inserted and developed. I would have loved to have seen Kensi and Deeks back Sam in the firefight and have either Kensi or Deeks back Sam in the scene at the site Joelle was held. It would have been a great opportunity for Kensi to discuss with Sam what she learned from Joelle’s husband. It would have been reminiscent of Kensi talking to Sam in Fighting Shadows or the beautiful scene with Sam and Kensi, “ more being less doing”.
As you said Mosely is still arrogant and unlikeable. For the life of me, I cannot even fathom how TPTB replaced two incredible actors, one of whom won an academy award with an actress who delivers every line in a flat, yet arrogant tone. On a purely personal note/rant, I really love this show and I do not want it to end this season. I want the bullpen scenes back, I want the main cast of four talking to each other. I want to see much more of Deeks and Kensi, I want my Deeks, M episode. I want to see a Densi wedding.
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Than you for great review Karen and all the great comments. I, too, really didn’t like the Joelle storyline in season 8 and I was a bit nervous when I found out that she will be in this episode. This episode didn’t really change my personal feelings about that Joelle storyline, but Elizabeth Bogush is a good actress and has great on-screen chemistry with Chris O’donnell but the change from Joelle in Humbug to Joelle in season 8 & 9 was just too unbelievable and too much for me personally (for example her reaction when Billy grabs her in Humbug and now she is able to kill several men even though she is held captive and has a hood over her head). I totally agree with Karen’s comments about the rogue CIA group and Sabatino. Mosley was disappointing for me too, we have already seen 9 episodes this season and I was expecting a lot more when it comes to her character.
There were things I loved in this episode, for example Deeks interacting with children is one of my favorite things (wished there had been more of that) and that Densi scene in the car was great. Benny Boom is a great director and I loved those booms and action scenes. I, too, really miss those bullpen scenes that sassyzazzi mentioned, the main cast has great on-screen chemistry and I really wish we could see more of that.
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Thanks for your great review.
I honestly liked the idea that the authors would explore Joelle’s character a little more than last time we saw her and the ramifications of her job and I was really looking forward to this episode even if I guessed we would be getting very little Densi.
Chris O’Donnel and Elizabeth Bogush have such an amazing chemistry that I’m always captivated by their scenes together and I would watch even more of them.
If I didn’t know she’s just a spy and she’s a liar and who knows how many more names she has and you can’t trust her, and so on and on, and if I didn’t know Callen is clearly angry and disgusted by the way he was used and betrayed and deceived, and he has his own family to take care of, which now includes Anna too, by the way they look at each other and the way Callen calls her “Jo”, I would think they still have feelings for each other, but we know this is not the case, so kudos to the actors for making us believe it could be true.
About Densi, more than by Kensi’s dream (which seemed so odd and a little out of context, unless it has more future repercussions, which I hope not, after how longit took in Season 8 to see Deeks and Kensi finally engaged), I was struck by Kensi’s serious expression and concern when she was listening to Joelle’s husband in the boatshed: we could sense she was thinking about her and Deeks and what their job may ask from them in the future, her worry was palpable. I agree with sassyzazzi: I think the show is going down the road of Deeks and Kensi will choose each other over the job when the show ends.
The last thing I would like to say is about Deeks and Kensi’s wedding plans: when it comes to Densi, I know the writers like to surprise us fans and maybe to play with our emotions a little bit, but I’m not very fond of the idea that after nine episodes, their wedding is still a mystery, they seem to be having no plans and every time the event has been mentioned it has just been fun or weird (this week in the car, the spider, squishing mama Deeks, Roberta and flower arrangements, 29 February). I wouldn’t like to get to the very end of the season and still no mention, or, to have a quick rushed scene the two last minutes more or less as it happened last season with the engagement scene, which might have been nice and cute and so very them and blah blah blah, but that came out anyway in a very dark episode where one of the team members was at the morgue mourning the loss of his beloved wife… I honestly expected a better moment after how long we had been waiting for.
I don’t mind the Densi wedding being this season, I’m OK if it is later on (since I hope NCIS: LA will be on for many more seasons) but I hope, if we are lucky enough to see it onscreen, it will be given the time, but especially the atmosphere it deserves: a two-minute scene can be enough provided the authors really make it count.
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What a surprise to have Joelle back! And even more of a surprise to see Callen’s reaction to her- he seemed pretty protective of her.
Sam and Hidoko had much better chemistry though and I really enjoyed their interaction during this episode.
Thanks for repeating Kensi and Deeks’ banter, Karen, as part of your excellent review. There was definitely NOT enough Densi for my tastes. Having the two extra people on the show really changes the dynamic of the show and how much screen time each actor has.
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Thanks Karen for the another great review. Sassyzazzy and Cladani wrote all of my thoughts too: Callen/Joelle chemistry, Hidoko. Mosley, etc.
Despite all what happened between Callen and Joelle (Jane actually) they are still much better couple with so much more chemistry than Anna and Callen will ever have. Although Anna as a character could be a great partner to Callen, she is not and it is because of Bar Paly. She and Nia Long share very important trait and it is that all their lines are given at the same tone and with the same smirk or face expression. It is sometimes actually painful for me to watch them struggling with their lines.
And behind all his disappointment and anger we were able to see that Callen genuinely worried about Joelle/Jane. Now mentioning the end of the serial I would not have anything against Callen and Jane riding together in the sunset.
Which brings us to our favourite couple. Although I liked the episode I was very much aware of the lack of Densi. I missed them in the filed although (on the totally shallow note) seeing ECO/Deeks in blue button down was real treat and pure joy for my eyes.
But in all seriousness, what we saw of Densi left me happy and content. I found the car conversation great and very enlightening in the sense that we got confirmation for the following facts: Deeks and Kensi are so relaxed, trustful, truthful, loving and confident around each other that there are no off topics and/or secrets between them. The fact that Kensi told her dream (that could be really misunderstood) to Deeks is the ultimate proof how far they have come in the road that represents their relationship and that every dangerous, emotionally draining , unhappy and hard situation we have also witnessed, helped and served along the way;
we have also found out that Kensi is in the best terms with her mom and that she loves Bertie (who by the way is overbearing mother); unfo we have found out that there are no wedding plans and that is solely on Deeks (Kensi has showed already three times her displeasure with the lack of wedding plans and Deeks – if we include her pushing Deeks to tell Roberta about their engagement).
Like all of you, at this moment I do not see both Kensi or Deeks to chose the job over each other like Joelle was able over her family. Honestly I cannot even imagine myself in Nick’s shoes. It was very clear that Joelle’s job hasn’t sit well with Nick (never had I suppose) but he learned to live with that and I would add at the enormous costs for his personal happiness.
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Your comment made me realize that as much as Callen had fallen for Joelle previously when he thought she was a schoolteacher — he would have never really made a life with her because their worlds were SO different. Now he knows their worlds are not. They have much more in common than they probably care to admit. And I can hear the complaints of “She lies!” already but, guys, Callen has had to as well. Just a simple example, back when we though Joelle was a schoolteacher, Callen had to lie to her all the time about who he was. And we don’t know all of what he had to do in his time with the CIA. So, overall, I wouldn’t be completely displeased with a ride off into the sunset at the end of the series for Callen and the redhead of many names. (A much better choice than Anna in any form — die, Anna, die!)
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Thanks for another excellent review, Karen. This was one of the best Callen centric episodes in a long time. I found his interaction with Joelle very intriguing. There was tension, anger, distrust, and an underlying sense of caring, at least from Callen. Not sure there was from Joelle, or whatever her name is. That said, she had to believe he still cared a little bit for her and would help her. The storyline also gave us insight into long term undercover operations. The commitment needed is unbelievable, and obviously she was good at it. Her line in the boatshed when she said he wasn’t mad at her betrayal, but simply angry that he didn’t find her out, was right on. If I remember from an earlier season, Callen has done the same kind of undercover operation and even went back later to try and find out if the woman’s son was his. So it is tough for him to point fingers.
I think Joelle will return to draw us back into the shadowy world of whatever-the-hell that secret not-CIA group is and what they have planned. Still confused as to why they went after NCIS in the first place. Confusion reigns in my brain. Hopefully we will get clarification at some point. I think we all kind of knew that the mole story wasn’t completely over, and this episode only made it more complicated and exceedingly vague. Now they have two major story arcs for us to follow this season, not to mention Kensi and Deeks’ maybe wedding and Mosley’s intent to break up the team. That’s a lot to keep straight. I was sorry we didn’t get an update on Hetty’s situation. That is the arc I’m most interested in, after the wedding. Love when the team goes international.
Missed more Deeks, but then again, I can never get enough of him. Silo is still the best episode so far, especially that last scene.
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Well I think Callen still has feelings for Joelle! It is clear he has such anger toward her (dining table) and his actions in the episodes after they broke up shows his feelings go deep. On her part she keeps saying she was only doing her job and makes comparisons to Callen or any man agent (Sam etc) doing their job while under cover. She says she was misled and wrong and is now paying the price.
Callen has to know how many women he has used, so to me it’s more about him being fooled than Joelle using him. Remember they had broken up (unclear when the sleep overs stopped)
and he has moved on to Anna.
I think G and Jo have chemistry and Anna is portrayed more as a young girl interested in Legos and playing video games with young school boys… it just doesn’t add up to me. Maybe because the actress that plays her (Anna) is not as good as the other actors.
Hidoko as stated above is believable as an agent and somewhat likeable but I haven’t been watching theses characters all these years to have their time cut down, and I see all the missed opportunities this season. Even Mosley bonded with that boy last episode was a scene that would have been more interesting for Deeks/Kensi
And Kensi dreaming about her ex is not a good thing to me at all, but I’m glad she told Deeks (I wouldn’t have) and Deeks talking to her about it although in a nonsensical way!
Deeks looked good delivering mail which just makes me want more of him and less of the extra people who don’t add to the show. My only hope is when (if) Hetty comes back and Mosley gets the Full Hetty Experience!
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Why can’t they make episodes anymore with simple tactics, Hetty screams , we have a case ! Not that Vietnam disjointed crap ! Let me predict 20 episodes ahead that series finale will be saving Hetty and she dies ! Spoiler alert ! Bye . Callen & Sam not in the boat ! But on the case ! Even if Sam is still grieving he still seems so out of character you just don’t switch sides. Callen & Sam run on the first lead , Kensi & Deeks homelife is awesome, they run on scene 2 , Nell and Eric run on scene a few . Maybe then the show has uprising, all these new or recurring characters should be put on as side.
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Wonderful, thoughtful comments everyone! I particularly enjoyed hearing all the different interpretations of the Callen-Joelle scenes.
Speaking of Christmas I hope Deeks will finally be able to decorate the facade of his house, he lamented not being able to do it as he would have liked so much last year because Kensi was in recovery.
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