Review: NCISLA “Forasteira” (S9E10)
This week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles gave us a fine case of the week that had the whole expanded team working well together. That is, except for Deeks, who had to take the day off to run a personal errand. Written by Erin Broadhurst and directed by Eric Pot, “Forasteira” was diverting enough, but I’m not sure it had enough character development or notable Densi scenes to stick around for long on my DVR.
Go get ’em, girls!
Let’s start with the positives. The opening scene in the bar had some nicely choreographed action as Pietra took out the three men. I was convinced of her capabilities, which enhanced the sense of danger for Kensi when she went toe to toe with her later in the episode. (And didn’t you just know they would inevitably fight? It was something I looked forward to seeing right from that first scene.) Bad guy Souza was appropriately sleazy.
Kensi’s fight scene was also nicely choreographed. I loved that it got so much screen time. It made me feel like the anticipation I had felt from the opening was fully rewarded. Later at the boatshed, Kensi realizes that Pietra should have killed her, yet another brush with death she can add to a long list of reasons why her current profession isn’t conducive to having a family. But despite her reference to “coming out of it in a body bag,” it didn’t seem like Kensi had her own mortality in mind, but instead was focused on Pietra’s motivations. Throughout these scenes I enjoyed seeing Kensi be so tough and determined. She is truly a role model for Hidoko and Nell, and I like seeing the mentor side of her get a chance to shine. It’s a definite benefit to having her and Deeks apart.
The episode’s climax came as Kensi tried to talk Pietra into giving up her quest. Her ability to understand Pietra’s motivations and to succeed in talking her down was a lovely callback to the “Blye, K.” episodes. Daniela Ruah was excellent here, showing just the right amount of emotion. If I had been Pietra, I’d have definitely felt like Kensi was sharing a true story.
Kensi: When I was a teenager my dad was murdered, OK? I did, I did really horrible things, and I shut away the people that loved me the most. But then you know what I did? I did something that I thought was impossible- I asked for help. And I got it. And that anger no longer has any control over me.
This would seem like a good time to take a second to express my appreciation for the show’s consistent creation of strong female characters. Yes, they are occasionally killed off (Hunter, Michelle). But if I had a young daughter (and I didn’t mind her watching such violence, LOL), I’d love for her to have Kensi, Hidoko, and Nell to look up to. Even Hetty, despite her many flaws, is a Wonder Woman of sorts. And equally flawed Pietra gave us an impressive display of skill and determination.
But in some ways it’s even more enjoyable to watch the set of male characters who are unintimidated by their strong female co-workers and continually show nothing but complete respect for their abilities. We know Deeks has always held Kensi’s skills in awe, but Sam and Callen too are always supportive, like when they took great pleasure watching Hidoko take down the creepy professor in “The Silo.” The same goes for Eric’s support for Nell. The showrunners should be proud of their entire cast of characters. (Well, except maybe for Mosley- I’m still not sold on her.)
What kind of workouts are we talking about?
It’s almost never a good sign for those of us writing for a site called wikiDeeks when Eric Christian Olsen misses many days of filming on an episode. In this case, he was out for four of seven shooting days. The good news is that we still got quite a few Deeks and even Densi scenes. My quibble is that they were played strictly for laughs rather than giving us any character development. It’s too bad, because the elements were in place to have provided us with any number of interesting or emotional scenes. Instead we got Eric Christian Olsen doing his best to bring the humor, but not much else.
Which brings me to my main source of frustration with the episode: the two scenes between Deeks and Guy. In his previous appearances, we hardly got to hear Guy say two lines. How could he when Berty and Deeks were going at it, providing us with impressive (and nearly non-stop) comic banter? In this episode we had an opportunity to get to know Guy, to see what he’s like and whether he’s good enough to be in Roberta’s life. I just wanted these two to have a normal conversation where they converse like real people, and maybe bond over their shared love for Roberta. We did get a little along these lines:
Guy: Bert really worries about you guys.
Deeks: Yeah, well, I worry about her too.
Guy: Don’t worry. I really love that girl. You know what it’s like Martin.
Deeks: Yeah. Yeah, I do, Guy.
I guess I was just hoping for a deeper conversation. We could have had Deeks giving Guy a hard time in an effort to protect his mother. We could have had a Guy who’s heard about Roberta’s past reassuring Deeks that he’s going to look out for her. But instead we got scenes that were, again, largely played for laughs at Deeks’ discomfort with the idea of someone having sex (and recording it and drawing it!) with his mother. It was amusing the first time, in “Party Crashers“. It was amusing the second time, in “This Is What We Do.” But for me it’s started to feel a bit tired, a little tedious, and definitely a wasted opportunity. I may very well be the only one who feels this way, but what can I say? I just want Deeks to be happy and I don’t love it when the comedy comes so consistently at his expense.
Everything’s fine in Keeksland.
We did have nice Densi scenes to open and close the episode. The opening scene was cute and their mini argument felt genuine, as Kensi rightfully didn’t want to have to lie to Mosley. And she’s so right about those “puppy eyes”- Deeks totally had them working as he walked away (and they are immensely powerful!). Who knew he was so manipulative as to knowingly employ them to get out of trouble?
The episode’s closing scene also worked, at least in its humor. Deeks’ initial reaction of concern for Kensi’s health seemed right, but the way he quickly moved to silly jabs at her appearance before asking her to check Guy’s sketchbook felt a bit off. I’d have expected him to want more reassurance about her injuries and a full run-down of how she got them. Most of all, I’d have thought he would show a ton of remorse over bailing on her for the day and not having her back. That he’d have thought exactly what I had been while watching Hidoko’s failed efforts to get to Kensi during the fight- that Deeks would have found a way to protect her better, and that he should have been there.
Kensi: What am I looking for?
Deeks: You’ll know if you see it.
Kensi: OK, some fruit.
Deeks: I love a good zebra.
Deeks: Oh my god is it my mom?
Kensi: [laughs] It’s your mom.
Kensi: Oh, Deeks, please it’s like Rose from Titanic!
Deeks: Nope, it’s goin’ in the burn room!
Kensi: No, Deeks, no, you cannot burn it. It is art!
Deeks: It’s not art. It’s my mom!
- At least Mosley didn’t appear to be too worried about Deeks’ unexplained absence. Let’s hope she doesn’t hold it over him next week.
- Where did this sugar-seeking Stress Eating Eric come from? He’s a new addition this season.
- When Sam and Callen started taking fire at the dead guy’s house, the return from commercial seemed poorly edited. It felt like all of a sudden they had a huge back-up team that hadn’t been there a moment before.
- The scene where Pietra took out the SUV with a missile launcher was exciting. I especially loved Callen popping up from the backseat reminding them “I’m good too, in case you’re wondering.” It was funny. Plus it totally reminded me of Deeks at the end of “Borderline” when no one is calling his name to make sure he survived the firefight. He says, “I’m good too, just in case anybody cares.”
- Nice moment in the boatshed with Sam checking over Kensi and offering support over her having been taken down by Pietra. And then later she returns the affection, telling Callen and Sam “I love you.” Awwww!
- Kensi must not have much security on her phone, seeing as Pietra was so easily able to get it working to access Kensi’s contacts and make the video call.
- Can anyone translate what Kensi told Deeks in Portuguese in the last scene?
Next week is the annual NCIS:LA Christmas episode. Will “All is Bright” rise to the level of “Free Ride,” my all-time favorite? We will see. Also be sure to come back later this week for another installment of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, plus the Drabble of the Week. In the meantime, am I being too hard on “Forasteira”? Have I lost my sense of humor? Did you enjoy the girl power? Tell us about it in the comments.
Great, great review Karen! I couldn’t express it better as everything you mentioned above represents my sentiments and thoughts exactly. As much as I love mixing partners to get different show dynamics I was for the first time aware of how much Hidoko and Mosely characters are taking screen time of the original cast (especially Deeks’ time in this episode). And it is really pity that Deeks’ scenes were not written in a more serious way in order to see (more directly) bonding between Deeks and Guy over Bertie’s wellbeing. Almost each scene, although funny, left me with the feeling of missed opportunity.
On a positive note the opening scene reminded me of Kensi and Deeks from the earlier seasons while they were not together. Namely, I have always had feeling that Deeks was Kensi’s “soft spot” from the very beginning (although she was trying hard to hide it) and that he was very manipulative when he wanted to get something from her. I am trying right now to remember any such situation when she didn’t cave in (maybe only scene in the park with yoga bunnies).
Once again thanks for the excellent review Karen.
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I agree with your review 100%.
I like Hidoko. I am so very grateful they cast her and didn’t have Anna become a team member (die, Anna, die!). And it makes more sense for her to be in the field than Nell when Nell is much more useful in Ops. But she is taking screentime from our team. I wish she’d shown up in earlier seasons, I like her so much. I’m torn.
Mosely. Oh, Mosely. If the actress could just deliver lines better, in particular declarative statements of which she has a lot. She just doesn’t know what to do with them except say it the same flat way every time. It’s like she thinks her voice can go deeper at the end of each statement but it doesn’t so it keeps coming out badly.
I have wondered if the screentime they’re giving to Mosely, Hidoko, even Beale (hit and miss on the humor IMHO, I want Beale to be smart and competent not goofy/stupid), is because in this 9th season, the regulars are requesting more time off or somehow have in their contracts an easing of their commitments therefore the writers HAVE to come up with more screentime with others. Heck, Linda Hunt has been completely GONE for many episodes without our team going bonkers like they have in the past. And I get that. But our main four — feels almost disconnected and scattered. Just a random thought.
I’m selfish. I want complex, tactical, all-four-team-members storylines every time. Blow my mind, writers. Y’all are so talented and such great production team — if you’re going to go out in this season or next, go out amazing.
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Really good revieuw, Karen! I am from Belgium, so english is not my language. I can read and understand it clearly. I agree fully what you are thinking about this “Forasteira”.👍👍👍
Another amazing review, thank you Karen and thank you everyone for your great comments.
I totally agree with what Karen wrote in her review, I did miss Deeks too and I kind of missed Hetty and her storyline too. Peakae mentioned the team being almost a bit disconnected and I agree (for me personally Nell and Beale feel a bit disconnected too), I really miss those opening scenes with team banter and them working together. I love the girl power Karen mentioned and that is something I have really liked this season (compared to season 8), although Mosley’s character has been a bit disappointing.
I am really looking forward to the Christmas episode and I hope it is a great one, especially after , in my opinion, a disappointing Christmas episode in season 8.
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What Kensi said to Deeks was that “she was hungry; let’s eat pizza”
I’m sorry for my english.
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Thanks Lara! That’s so perfectly Kensi.
Karen, thanks for an excellent review , you really captured how I felt about this episode. To answer your question you were not being too hard on “Forasteira”and you have not lost your sense of humor.
I do want to say, I do appreciate TPTB giving us some Eric Christian Olsen scenes even though he was not there for many of the filming days. I appreciate that they recognize that fans want to see him in episodes.
I also appreciate that TPTB did not make Harley, super Harley in this one, she could not get to Kensi to back her up, that was very realistic. In the same situation in “Expiration Date” Deeks found an axe, and was able to physically get through a chained door to Kensi and given his physique that is very believable , it never would have worked for Harley, she does not have the body strength to do that, so I was as glad they played it the way they did.
I agree with what you said about Deeks that he would have shown more remorse about not backing Kensi up. I think a lot of us long term fans are trying to “figure” out what feels different/off about this season, and I think this is one of the main things for me. It is hard for me to believe that the Deeks I have come to love would take a day to go look for a laptop and leave Kensi without him backing her up in the field, without even knowing what the case of the day was, how dangerous it was and who would back her up.This does not even have anything to do with the fact that they are a romantic couple. Since season 3, I have felt that this show very accurately portrayed elite teams, you train with a partner and you begin to think alike, and you know each others moves, it is what keeps you both alive. In an effort to give both the new people screen time it feels like to me like the emotional attachments for protection in the field each partner had to their partner is somehow missing.
As far as Densi as a romantic couple ,it almost seems like TPTB said fine you want an engaged couple, they are engaged, we gave you an engaged Densi so now we can separate them and partner them with other people and give them different plot lines, missing the point that the reason I wanted them as couple was not because I wanted to watch a romance novel, it is because I love seeing them work together and because they have great chemistry with each other.
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After watching this episode, I immediately wondered how you would review it, Karen. I usually immediately watch an episode a second time, but this one, although the case was good, left me blah, especially the Deeks scenes. I agree with you about the annoying habit the writers have gotten into about Mama Deeks’ sex life. Referencing it once I can deal with, but now I just find it distasteful and am left wondering why they are hammering on that particular part of her life. It’s kind of sleazy. And Deeks reaction to the situation is the same each time…no growth…not even a warning to the man he obviously doesn’t like. Deeks is a detective, yet he doesn’t interrogate the man about who he is or what his long term plans might be with his mother. He is uncomfortable with the relationship and his reaction in turn makes me uncomfortable too. It simply isn’t fun to watch. Missed opportunities abound here, sadly so.
I feel as if the writers have regressed in how they are portraying Deeks this season, with the exception of Silo. As you and others point out, Deeks’ reaction to a badly bruised Kensi didn’t seem like him at all. This was definitely not an episode I will revisit a second time.
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(because yes, I’m 12) Hammering about Bertie’s sex life….hee!!
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Thanks for your review, Karen.
My main concern with this show this season is I find almost all the humor in all the episodes forced and I don’t find such scenes as hilarious as they used to be. I have realized that the more some scenes are supposed to be funny and are written with the purpose to be hilarious, the less I enjoy them.
Something does seem off to me, but I’m quite tired of trying to analyze the season and the possible reasons many things seem so odd. I would like to go on enjoying the episodes as I used to, but I can’t, because many ingredients are so different that the final result is almost unrecognizable.
Mama Deeks and Guy are starting to be annoying, and Deeks’ reaction to them too (is he worried? jealous? upset? annoyed? biased? just uncomfortable? I honestly can’t tell).
I understand we can’t have an emotional and heartfelt ending like in The Silo every time, but some consistence would be appreciated: this week, Deeks’ behavior when he saw Kensi bruised and battered at the end was completely OOC. Not only was he absent all day doing something unnecessary (the plot twist of the stolen laptop was very weak), but he arrived and showed almost no sign of worry or concern or remorse he hadn’t been the one to watch her back. I thought he would have liked to know more. Then suddenly they only cared for pizza and art and Roberta as Rose from Titanic.
If we had accepted and digested Mama Deeks appearing out of nowhere in Season 7, I wonder how we can deal with the kind of character the authors have decided she has to be this season.
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Terrific review, Karen! I too loved the Kensi moments and do appreciate the strong female characters the show gives us. I don’t mind Densi being apart if we get Kensi and Deeks goodness out of it (see below for the not so good). I saw the shades of Blye, K., but did anyone else flash back to Michelle in “Ascension” when Kensi nearly got choked out by Pietra? Despite the fact that it turned out okay for her in the end, Kensi had a really crappy day: by rights, she should have been killed, her phone was taken by the baddie, and she had a tracker unknowlingly placed on her that lead the baddie to the boatshed and nearly got their protectee killed. If I were her, I’d definitely be wondering if maybe it’s time to hang up my holster.
I agree that it was disappointing to see Deeks only used for laughs in this one (the not so good). While I do love it normally, and ECO’s great at the comedic aspects as well, it doesn’t sit well with me when that’s ALL he’s used for in an ep. Yes, I get it, ECO was off for much of the shooting schedule. But I agree, I would like to see something more serious with the Guy storyline. It really makes me wonder why TPTB are harping on this Bertie’s-doing-the-dirty-and-Deeks-knows-it-and-it’s-making-him-uncomfortable storyline. I’m hoping there’s a point to it in the end. I liked that Deeks was concerned but didn’t over-react to Kensi’s injuries at the end. I think he would probably get the details about what happened on the way home, but it’s a good point about him not being shown feeling bad about not being there, and instead being more concerned about what’s in the sketch book (epsecially given where he was and what he was doing – being comedically horrified about his mother’s sex life). Again, I hope all this build up with Guy leads to something more significant.
Nice catch re: no one caring that Callen was in the car being reminiscent of no one asking about Deeks in “Borderline.” And I liked the way Sam especially took care of Kensi. Not just bandaging her up, but assuring her that she would have won a fight with Pietra most of the time.
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Thanks for all the fantastic comments. You all gave me a lot more to think about.