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.