Happy 2019 to all our wikiDeeks readers!
In this week’s episode the team investigates a possible terror threat after the chief of logistics for a naval weapons station collapses on the job while Kensi and Deeks research different honeymoon locations. This episode was written by Joe Sachs, who has written prior episodes such as “From Havana with Love” where Daniela Ruah got to show off her dancing skills, as well as last season’s finale “Ninguna Salida.” It was directed by Terence Nightingall, whose prior directing credits include “Warrior of Peace” and “Expiration Date” – both favorites of mine.
After a steady diet of Hallmark Christmas movies for the past several weeks (don’t judge me), I realized how much I had missed our favorite crew when the opening credits rolled. I thought this episode was a great way to start off the new year, although the case was maybe a little predictable. I had the culprit pegged from his first time on screen (although I have also gotten really good at figuring out which couple will end up together in a Christmas movie, so it may just have been my well-honed detective skills at work). Despite that, I enjoyed the episode because of the quality Densi and team interactions. My criteria for overall episode assessment are really quite simple – little or no quality Densi interactions means the case better be airtight, not predictable from the first 5 minutes, and there must be some sort of a plausible reason why Densi isn’t there (like when Daniela was on maternity leave). If I get enough quality Densi (and/or team) scenes, I’m a lot more forgiving about the plausibility and predictability of the case. And that’s where I was at with this week’s episode.
Case of the Week
Commander Valerie Torres (played by guest cast Roxana Brusso) is conducting a meeting at Seal Beach, develops tinnitus, vertigo and then loss of consciousness. Because of the news items earlier this year about Canadian and American diplomats who had to be sent home from Cuba because of unexplained central nervous system symptoms, I immediately wondered if there was a similarity to the case of the week, and so did our team.
I’m normally really critical of how medical issues are portrayed on screen, whether TV or movies, and I started out skeptical of the premise that one individual in a room could be more affected than others by a microwave device. Can they be that precisely targeted? I also couldn’t help but wonder how the people using the microwave could escape unscathed and how quickly the team recovered when the device was neutralized. However, upon reflection, the reality is that there has actually been very little public discussion of the situation of the diplomats in Cuba – either because of a lack of consensus on the medical side or because of the sensitive nature of the concern. The symptoms they referenced and the tests they ran were appropriate for the general description of the problem. Although I doubt that a laceration requiring 12 sutures could result from that sort of fall – I gave them a pass on that. Absent any published medical evidence to the contrary, I actually ended up concluding that the writers did a plausible job of translating recent news events into a plotline. That might sound like muted praise but is really a serious compliment given my usual views on the dramatization of health story lines, so good job Joe Sachs!!
Besides the way the nature of the attack on the commander and team was written, the way the scenes were shot in order to portray the symptoms was also elegant and convincing. I’ve had tinnitus in the past and they recreated the sound of it so accurately it almost made me wince. The camera work that portrayed the vertigo was also better than any I’ve seen in the past. I was impressed.
Given the many things I liked about the episode, I won’t complain too much about how obvious the weak link was from the outset, the ease with which a high-security clearance individual was blackmailed, or how seemingly effortlessly and rapidly a cruise missile was obtained. I’m not even going to go on about how the bad guys driving the truck were killed by an explosion much smaller than the one the team survived in Mexico (though I may have shouted “see – THAT’S what happens with that kind of explosion” at the TV while watching). However, I would like to go on record to say that while I have always enjoyed Nell and Eric as characters, the way the Neric relationship storyline is unfolding is seriously starting to annoy me. They’re fighting because she forgot the sandwiches??? NO. Just NO. I honestly could not care less.
Honeymoon decisions! I am so glad we have moved beyond cake, caterers and Tiffanies!! The honeymoon discussions felt much more authentic (and less annoying) than the prior wedding planning. Did your ears perk up to the honeymoon being in TWO MONTHS during Spring Break week?!? I’m probably too jaded, since ECO has said a wedding is happening this season, but I’m still not getting my hopes up too much until it actually happens. But I do really, really, really hope it is happening as soon as this suggests.
It was fun to listen to their process of elimination of various locales. And I was glad this was threaded through the entire episode, instead of just being a brief opening discussion that evaporated as the case unfolded. Their ultimate “pick from a hat” to narrow down the continent and then the decision to engage in a humanitarian cause for their honeymoon seemed entirely consistent with the kind of people they are. The professional caregiver side of my head might be tempted to tell them that they are allowed to take a relaxing vacation and don’t always have to be looking out for others. However, the impulse to be grateful and give back flows very naturally from their childhood stories as well as the challenges they have survived and overcome together since the start of the series. They seemed so content and settled with the decision in a way that was really sweet.
ECO ad lib. Can you scoot back a little bit? I can’t see past the bangs in your fancy new haircut. I often mention lines where I suspect an ECO ad lib, but the bangs line in the car is one I’m willing to bet on as an ad lib. His grin is so devilish and her expression in return was mildly exasperated, suggesting something other than a scripted situation. I tried finding the order the episodes were filmed in without success. Her bangs are not new at this point, so I wondered if this was filmed out of order or if the bangs are some kind of running joke between those two. Either way, too funny!
Car scenes. They have had so many good scenes in the car over the years and I really enjoyed this week’s stakeout as well. There was nothing really earth-shattering about it but I just liked seeing them sitting there together eating fries so comfortably. I guess it made me happy because it’s what I was envisioning as I was one of the fans griping about them not being together in seasons past when we were still in the “will they or won’t they” phase. I often complained about how we didn’t need graphic scenes of them together each episode and that there were other ways to handle their relationship that didn’t make it the focus while allowing fans the satisfaction of seeing them together. I think the fries scene was a good example of that. While not in any way sexual, there was a comfortable closeness, an unspoken intimacy, about them sharing some cold disgusting hospital cafeteria fries that hints at the depth of their relationship and togetherness. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not opposed to their more overtly loving moments, but there was something about the fries in the car that got me in the feels.
- Callen “bullying” Deeks. I had to chuckle when Callen sends Deeks and Kensi to the hospital instead of to the beach. Deeks’ comment about keeping him from surfing being “bullying adjacent” made me smile. Such a far cry from the early years when Callen had some actions that were truly bullying adjacent. While depriving Deeks of beach and surf was just a tad mean, it gave us the great car scenes I’ve already mentioned, so no complaints here.
- Roberta Deeks. Bertie is such a weird and hilarious addition, although I know not everyone feels that way. She does a great job in tormenting and embarrassing her son as only as mother can. “Don’t come back pregnant”?! LOL. Um… they’ve been together for a while Bertie. Pretty sure they’ve got the birth control angle figured out. I was still chuckling over her unnecessary mothering when the “belt & suspenders”/”rubbers and a raincoat” comment dropped. Providing reproductive/sexual health care is part of my day job, but I have to confess that is a euphemism I’ve never heard before. Took me a sec and I had to rewind to get what she said because I was still chuckling from the prior comment. Anyway, I love that the writers have found a way to torment Deeks and draw on ECO’s comedic skills in a way that doesn’t involve the other team members making him the butt of jokes like in the early seasons. Definitely a better way to get a laugh by having his Mom embarrass him in a very well-meaning but totally cringy way.
- The bar. I know many of us don’t love it, but I’m not going to gripe about it if it gives us great team scenes like the end of this episode. I still worry about the security of them being there together at the end of the day, and about Callen’s living situation being compromised again. And it doesn’t sound anywhere close to successful at this point. It’s not even named. But seeing them there, all together at the end of the day with happy, relaxed smiles is much more satisfying than just hearing them make plans to go out together after work while leaving their desks. They’ve all been to hell and back multiple times over – individually and together – and it’s so nice to see them happy and together outside of the workplace.
- Callen’s unused vacation. I had to chuckle at Callen’s not so subtle “mathlete” dig at Sam in response to the probing questions about his unused vacation. I was more intrigued though by Callen’s later hint that he might spend some of that time in Russia, which Sam thought sounded more like work than vacation. Was that some kind of foreshadowing? Will we see Callen try to find his father again in a future episode? I wouldn’t mind a happy resolution to that storyline.
Well folks, that’s all I’ve got. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the Comment section.