If I watched NCIS: Los Angeles for the case of the week, this week’s episode, written by Jordana Lewis Jaffe and directed by James Whitmore, Jr., would have been a fine (and funny) hour of television. Unfortunately for me, I primarily tune in to see what’s happening with Marty Deeks and his ladybird, and there just wasn’t enough of them to satisfy me.
Arkady Kolchek, played so wonderfully by Vyto Ruginis, is a treasure. So much so that I’m willing to tolerate his daughter Anna’s presence if it means we can enjoy more of the silliness and hilarity he brings. He lights up every scene he’s in, from telling Callen his nearly furniture-free house has an “interesting design concept,” to his towel-clad attempts to charm Mosley at the boatshed (“Do not thank me- it is my absolute wondrous pleasure”), to cutting the tension with humor at the hotel (“Is it just me, or is it extremely uncomfortable in here?”), he makes me laugh out loud. My favorite was his response to Mosley’s doubting the need for NCIS involvement, saying “Well when you say it in that tone…” Oh, Arkady, you have no idea- we’ve been listening to that exact same tone for the entire season!
And just like Eric Christian Olsen, Ruginis has great chemistry with everyone. Linda Hunt seemed to be having a marvelous time shielding her eyes from the sight of the towel-clad Arkady. Knowing that he has a thing for her, would it be wrong of me to ship the two? Arketty, anyone? And he has a little bit of a love-hate relationship with Sam. Heck, he even brings out the best in Anna, making her seem less one-dimensional.
I don’t think I’ll ever really buy Eric as an undercover operative. He brings plenty of humor to the situation, like when he discusses his choice of caffeinated beverages with Sam and Callen, but he struggles in the actual case, losing track of Leigha, unable to find a way to evacuate the building, and hesitating before shooting a bad guy. I find his lack of competence in keeping with his lack of experience, but I don’t like the way it’s played for humor. He could easily have gotten himself or someone else killed when he hesitated at the end. I liked him more before he became capable of shooting bad guys at all, before he became “cool” “Bulletproof Beale.” Like the Beale from “Rocket Man,” who nearly gets frelted- sweet and vulnerable and oh so good at his tech job.
Speaking of awkward, we did get one good Densi scene when the two went to the restaurant where Vladlena had sent her text message:
Kensi: Have you been here before?
Deeks: No I have not been here before.
Deeks: Oh, god.
Hostess: It is so great to see you again.
Hostess: And you must be Kensi.
Kensi: Agent Blye, actually.
Hostess: You were right, she is all business.
Kensi: [to hostess] Excuse me?
Deeks: You have no idea.
Kensi: [to Deeks] Excuse me?
Deeks: Alright, listen. I have been here before…
Deeks: …but it’s not what you think.
Hostess: He came for dinner, but stayed for dessert.
Deeks: See, I came for- what?
Kensi: Did you now?
Deeks: That doesn’t sound good… OK, just, here’s the deal. I’ve been here before because I was scoping out a potential venue for our wedding.
Kensi: Yeah – what?
Deeks: Our wedding. Oh my god you have the spiraling circle of death face. I literally just melted your brain. Your brain broke, you’ve gotta do a hard restart.
Both ECO and Daniela Ruah were quite funny here. Her “spiraling circle of death face” was perfect and it made me think of all the times we’ve seen ECO comment about Daniela’s fantastic reactions to his improvisations. But… the whole discussion felt unnecessarily awkward to me. I’d have preferred to see a little bit of a grin on Kensi’s face as she watched Deeks struggle with the situation. It would have implied that she of course trusts him and wasn’t worried about why he had been there before. Instead she looked genuinely annoyed that he had kept something from her, so the scene felt more tense than I would have liked. And then we never got a resolution. Has he been privately scoping out wedding venues for some time? And why? Why does he feel the need to wedding plan in secret? I don’t get it and I really disliked that we didn’t hear any follow-up that would explain this and resolve things between the two of them. Perhaps there’s a nice deleted scene that we might see in the DVD. Also, while we’re on the subject of wedding plans, it almost feels like wedding discussions are the only thing Densi can now do. I’d love to see a silly, flirty, totally meaningless but totally fun scene between these two. It would be a nice reminder of old times.
I’m happy for Eric Christian Olsen to have been able to negotiate so much time away from set this season. He no doubt needs the rest, wants to spend time with his family, and has other projects to pursue. Unfortunately for us, however, I think his absences have really taken a toll on my enjoyment of the season. I can only assume he was away for part of this episode’s filming, given the relative lack of screen time that he and Daniela Ruah had. Of course, it could have just been the Arkady/Anna focus of the storyline that kept him and Kensi off-screen. Regardless, the lack of Deeks does not make for a happy wikiDeeks reviewer. I even pulled an “Ed”, to reference one of our frequent wikiDeeks commenters, and tallied up ECO’s screen time. He was present for seven of the episode’s approximately 42 minutes, and for a chunk of that, he was just a wingman hanging out at the boatshed with Leigha. And while I’ll keep tuning in to see any small amount of Deeks, this trend is just not conducive to satisfactory storylines for our favorite character.
- I didn’t love how goofy they made Anna’s partner Gary. I’d have liked to see him a little smarter. (“Oh, snap. You guys are good.”) He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy Anna would go for, assuming that’s what we’re to believe happened? At least he was good in a firefight.
- I wasn’t a fan of the wide angle lens used to shoot the scene with Eric and Leigha in front of Leigha’s office building. It did show off the colorful architecture, but it gave the scene a kind of off-kilter feel that I didn’t think matched the conversation.
- Nice job stirring up trouble, Sam, by putting Callen and Anna together at the spa. Speaking of which, is that the same spa as the one in “Wanted”? There can’t be too many spas in Los Angeles frequented by Russian gangsters, right? On the other hand, the exterior didn’t feel like it matched- the “Wanted” scene where Deeks shakes himself dry felt more like they were in downtown L.A.
- And I know that cemetery has been used in multiple episodes, I just can’t name them off the top of my head.
- Wow, was that proper operational procedure for Callen to chase after Anna rather than stay and back up his team? Perhaps. It did make an intriguing twist to have Anna shoot an unarmed Sokolov. Will Callen cover for her? Was it done out of anger because he kidnapped her father, or was it a legitimate mistake since he appeared to be reaching for a weapon? And did anyone else immediately channel “The Debt” when Callen asked, “Where’s his gun?”
That’s all I have to talk about. What did you think of “Vendetta”? Were you satisfied with Deeks’ scenes? Was Arkady’s presence enough to compensate for Anna’s? Let us know in the Comments. And don’t forget to come back later this week for Deeks’ Surf Log, Kensi’s Journal, and the Drabble of the Week.