Review: “Better Angels” (S10E13)
As we’ve discussed many times, Frank Military is the NCIS: Los Angeles writer to turn to for dark stories. But as has become increasingly clear, he’s also the writer to turn to for prime Deeks, Kensi, and Densi moments. This week’s “Better Angels” was no exception. And it may have been the purest version yet of the Military ethos that it’s in our darkest moments when love shines the brightest. With that, let me go get another tissue…
The entire episode reminded me of some of the things Eric Christian Olsen said about Military in our pre-Season 10 interview: “Even when he goes incredibly dark, I think it’s a reflection on finding the human element in that darkness. So even when it’s kinda too much to handle, it’s usually some sort of reflection of finding love in those places, or hope, or relationships. It’s not dark for dark’s sake… Frank is searching for beauty in there. And I think that’s interesting, because there is enough chaos and pain and suffering in the world, that to find something beautiful in the midst of that is an important story to probably tell.”
Doing Good without a Gun
Guest actor Eyas Younis was outstanding as David, the target of the Military darkness, trapped behind a car that kept him alive only so long as it wasn’t moved. He brought vulnerability, humanity, and strength to the part and made a wonderful scene partner for Daniela Ruah, who was amazing throughout. Seriously, did she basically spend the whole week of filming in tears? Impressive.
Military almost seemed a bit too enthusiastic to motivate Dani. His use of her son’s name River just had to have made the scene where David talks about his son utterly heartbreaking to play. I would certainly assume he cleared that little motivational idea with Dani ahead of time.
No matter how it was accomplished on the writer and actress’ part, it was refreshing to see how vulnerable Kensi allowed herself to be throughout the whole ordeal. She normally tries so hard to be strong, understandably so given her line of work. But here she shared her emotions with David, with Elmslie, and most clearly with Deeks. To me it’s a positive sign of how secure Kensi feels in her role with the team, how confident she is in herself, that she’d let her guard down so thoroughly. It felt like she’s come a long way from “Praesidium,” where she chastised herself for allowing tears to fall, for not being tough enough to stop them. And that was in a private moment with Deeks. She’s showing more maturity and wisdom here.
One of the few slightly false notes of the episode was forcing Kensi be the one to tell David he was going to die. He’d been pinned there for hours and hours- he had to have asked first responders why they weren’t taking him to a hospital long before Kensi even arrived on the scene. Thank goodness we were spared from watching his actual death. I can remember one other television show using a similar plot device, although it wouldn’t surprise me if there are others out there. It was an episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets (yes I am old) where a man was trapped between a subway car and the platform. I can still picture some of the more gruesome aspects, and it’s actually the only episode of that program I remember at all.
Being There in Every Way
“Better Angels” had many strong scenes, but the one that stood out for me was the Densi conversation about Kensi’s dilemma:
Kensi: I have a problem.
Deeks: Talk to me.
Kensi: Elmslie wants me to be the one to tell David that he’s going to die.
Deeks: What? Nobody told him?
Kensi: No. I think they’re waiting for his wife to get on the phone with him or something, but… I… don’t know what to do.
Deeks: I mean, deep down inside, he’s gotta know he’s dying. And if he knows that, and his wife can’t be here, then you’re the person he wants to be with. Because you’re his connection to life. Baby, your kindness, your humanity, your beauty.
Kensi: It’s not how I saw my day going when I woke up this morning.
Deeks: Some days we put bad guys in jail, right? And those are the good days.
Deeks: And days like today- the tough days? If you wanna help, if you wanna do some good in this world?
Kensi: I should be the one to tell him.
Deeks: Baby you’re all he’s got. And that means he got pretty lucky today.
I liked Military’s small touch of repeating the idea of connections with others, just as David had mentioned when describing the meaning of River’s name, which meant “…the flow of life. That’s what he was for me and my wife.”
Military also cleverly built this scene off the earlier comedic one where Deeks struggled with his “ordinary” vows (and Beale was spectacularly well prepared!). Deeks’ words of support here to Kensi could obviously serve as a stand-in for those vows. And yet at the same time his amazing and heartfelt words were the very embodiment of his written vow “to always be there for you in every way that you might need.” I love scenes like this because they’re incredibly romantic, giving us such a supportive and loving Densi. Plus they show us how much their communication skills really have improved.
I also have to take a minute to talk about the way Eric delivered that last line, the way his voice broke. He imbued Deeks’ words with so much emotion that it was easy to picture him standing on the beach as the sun set, delivering almost identical lines. Sorry R. Scott Gemmill, but maybe Military should write that wedding episode? Much like the way Dani/Kensi got so emotional over the discussion of little River, here his reaction felt so genuine, it almost felt like it was Eric was responding to how emotional Dani was rather than Deeks responding to Kensi. Or, if Eric just planned that little moment, then I applaud his acting skills even more than usual.
A Budding Bromance?
Then we got a big dose of Arlo Turk (Max Martini), which was fine by me (although in part because all his scenes were with Deeks).
Deeks: So what, no good-byes?
Turk: You wanted a hug? (Anyone else reminded of Deeks harassing Kensi in Hand-to-Hand?)
Deeks: I mean, detectives have feelings too.
Turk: I’ll buy you some flowers later.
Deeks: Great, I love petunias. (Petunias, Deeks, really?)…
Deeks: You don’t have to do this. He’s not worth your career.
Turk: There’s career, and then there’s living with yourself.
Deeks: I get that.
Turk: No you don’t.
Deeks: I do.
Turk: No. You don’t.
I thought this scene where Turk revealed his motivation for revenge was beautifully underplayed by both actors. Turk was intense, set on his mission, but not out of control. And even here, Military wove through the same themes of love and heartbreak as Turk described his friend’s wife’s suffering. Deeks tried to connect with him, tried to talk him down, but again without being overly emotional. In the end, it seemed that his words maybe did eventually connect with Turk, seeing as he did the right thing. Of course, it nearly came at the expense of Deeks’ life (grrrrr). I would love a follow-up fan fic between these two where Turk can apologize and Deeks can explain why he understood Turk’s intentions.
Deeks: Yo what up?
Turk: Hey is that you?
Deeks: Yeah it’s me, Raggedy Ann. You mind telling them to stop firing so we can have a nice little conversation?
Turk: I don’t think they’ll listen.
Deeks: Then we should shut them up.
Turk: I’d love to…
Deeks: What’s up there Carrot Top? Looks like that lifesaving’s officially paid back.
Turk: You got this?
Deeks: What do you mean, do I got this? What’re you talking about?
Turk: You’re doing great. Confidence is high. [Runs away]
Deeks: Wait! Turk!
The shoot-out from director Diana C. Valentine was nicely done (although Turk’s fight scene was a little dark). That look on Deeks face when he was out of ammo was so upsetting, I just wanted to punch Arlo for causing it. And I thought that Arlo’s beatdown of the bad guy went on for a bit too long. It painted him in a much more negative light since he was clearly in no hurry to help Deeks despite the continued gunfire in the background. Had it been edited into a shorter confrontation, I think it would have made me feel in a lot more forgiving mood about this character’s actions.
Turk seems to be well positioned as a back-up/potential new regular should any of the current regulars depart, with Agent DeChamps similarly available. I suppose that’s not a bad strategy. Even though he deserved a punch in the nose from Deeks for abandoning him to die (thank goodness for more world record driving times from Pasadena to Inglewood from Callen and Sam- seriously, could LAPD not have been called in for back-up?), I still find him intriguing. And I could easily see Deeks and Turk teaming up in their own buddy movie. It’s just example number 994 of how Eric Christian Olsen has great chemistry with everyone he works with. I wanted more of this pair.
All that Matters
The ending was another Frank Military beauty (a la “The Job,” “Spoils of War,” “The Seventh Child,” “The Silo,” and “To Live and Die in Mexico”). The man can really write a Densi closing scene!
Deeks: Is he-? Hey, you OK?
Deeks: Oh, baby. Kens, look at me. You did good today. You did good.
Kensi: I love you.
Deeks: I love you too.
Kensi: It’s all that matters.
I’d like to be mad at Military for not giving us a surprise wedding, or even a clear advance in thinking over the last time these two had a heart to heart at the end of “To Live and Die in Mexico.” Nothing new was communicated. And yes that was disappointing. I so wanted to hear Kensi express some change in her overall outlook on what her future should hold. But alas, we are left to infer what changes may have occurred, what realizations she may have made. What do we think her “Love is all that matters” reference really means to her? I’d like to hope we’ll actually get a real conversation about the future from these two, but I’m no longer holding my breath that it will happen. I’m just gonna look forward to the wedding (and try to keep my expectations low).
And yet I can’t be angry for such a beautiful ending, and a beautiful episode. I think “Better Angels” is likely to stay with me for some time, mostly for the powerful message it contained. David’s words about love spoken about his son, to his wife, and especially later to Kensi, rang so true and felt so universal. They felt almost too obvious, except that I don’t think we take enough time from our crazy everyday chaos to step back and appreciate the sentiment they expressed.
And clearly Kensi needed to hear them. Seeing someone who had gone through something she seems to fear- being unable to protect her child- and to still leave the world feeling blessed to have experienced that love, even if for only a short time, hopefully provided Kensi with a fresh perspective on her choices. Seeing someone who could have taken solace in his apparent accomplishments, thinking that he had saved so many lives and ended a war, but instead just holding in his heart the love he’d experienced over the course of his life, again hopefully gave her some things to think about. I would have liked to think she’d have learned this lesson after almost losing Deeks in the season premiere, but it would appear that she’s a slow learner on such matters.
And then there’s the fact that Kensi “did good” without shooting any bad guys. Instead she offered emotional support to someone in pain. It must have been horribly traumatic, but could the fact that Elmslie and Deeks both pointed it out be a sign that Kensi could see herself “doing good” in a less dangerous job than one where her fiancé had to go one-on-five against automatic weapon-wielding bad guys? We’ll see what kind of re-evaluation this triggers (if any).
Eric also talked about “Better Angels” in his #askECO video of the week. He said, “In true Frank Military fashion, he rips open your chest and takes our hearts into his hands and he seduces it with something that can only be referred to as the human element, which is just struggling to find identity in our actions and what it is that we do, and what it is we commit our life to doing. And in true Frank Military fashion, it’s not about our failures, it’s not about our accomplishments, at the end of the day the only thing that really matters is love.” Well said Eric! Here’s hoping that Kensi gets the message.
The Best Version
In our pre-Season 10 interview, Eric had described the season premiere as “the best version of our show.” In many ways, this week’s episode played out like my fantasy version of the show, the one where Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah are the stars on the DVD cover, and where everyone else is a supporting player.
Despite the disappointment at not getting the ending I wanted, this episode gave me my money’s worth overall. It felt so Deeks heavy, and with so many varieties too. We got a little of Counselor Deeks during the video statement, Action! Deeks in the shoot-out, Funny Deeks with Beale and the vows, and Romantic Deeks in his support of Kensi. I can’t really ask for more than that. I can just say thank you, yet again, Frank Military, for showing us how great this show can be.
I can’t wait to hear what you all thought. Am I being too enthusiastic? Does my love for Frank Military color my thinking? How did you feel about Turk’s actions? And the big question- what did you make of the ending?
Thank you , thank you for your truly inspired review. You nailed all that was supposed to be nailed and I agree with all your thoughts and findings. I was so impressed by Densi’s interaction throughout the whole episode, especially when Deeks told to Kensi that David “got pretty lucky” to have her “today”. my mind went immediately to ordinary and somehow lime wows from the beginning of the episode thinking “dude just repeat what you just told her”. It was indeed heart breaking and intense and dark episode but I immensely enjoyed it.
I was also completely taken by surprise how Turk left Deeks on his own against at least 5 “bad guys” who really surrounded him and found that completely selfish and inexcusable on Turk’s part. But then, it was excellent way for Frank Military to stress out how much Turk wanted his revenge for the fallen partner and for how long he has harboured and lived with that thought.
I was not particularly disappointed with the ending as not all the things need to be said aloud. Kensi seems to be a slow learner but I am sure she will get there when time comes.
Thank you once again for this review.
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This review was terrific. Thank you.
You’re right, this type of situation HAS been used before. The other that comes to mind is from the movie Signs by M. Night Shyamalan. That’s how Mel Gibson’s wife died and the really good scene with the female sheriff.
So well done by Dani. And yes having the one dying named David (her real life husband’s name) AND the son’s name meaning River …. difficult but also probably made it easier to pull out those horrible emotions for a week’s filming over and over again for different angles, etc.
Good sequence with Deeks holding off against big odds, literally cornered, and running out ammo. But we also knew Sam/Callen would save the day. But as you say, the way they travel around at the speed of light 🙂
Of course the best of all was the ending. Kensi saw Deeks in silhouette walking toward her. She says his name like that was the solution to her pain. Fantastic.
Frank Military for the majority of episodes, please.
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Thanks peakae! And OMG I have to admit it didn’t even dawn on me that the character’s name David matched her husband’s. It’s so much more common than River that I guess it didn’t sink in. I’m now wondering if maybe Military and Dani talked about ways to help her stay so emotional throughout the week of filming. I suppose it’s not impossible to think that it was even Dani’s idea.
Thank you Karen for your review. I enjoy seeing that some people still appreciate the show, and it made me realize I am not there anymore. This will probably be my last comment on wikideeks as I do not want to ruin the show for other people. However, with decreasing viewership, I would like to give you an insight on what may be putting away old viewers.
For me, this episode, as all episodes this season (except 10×01 of course) fell completely flat. But this one is harder to swallow because it was supposed to be a good one.
Deeks throwing out “you did good” to everyone like a condescending wisdom master is killing my appreciation of the character. So much of the show was about the inversion of stereotype roles for men/women. Just watching this episode, you would never guess that NCISLA used to be about that, as it is strongly reinforcing the female-sensitive-caring-doing no action versus the male – re comforting – killing bad guys – even torturing if needed stereotypes. I have seen some comments online that the show is too liberal, I personally now find it way too conservative in its morals (pro death penalty, pro torture, lgbt don’t ask don’t tell). Back to this episode, the plot was easy, the moral was easy, the acting was not bad but not enough stretched into new territory by this simple scenario (far from 9×23-9×24 performances for example).
Typical of this season as well, all characters have to be super-something. The super Syrian saving the day, super Turk doing super strong stuff (still not sure what is the point that character). Even Nell and Eric, went from normal nerds to super dorky super agents. I miss the simple characters (agents and guests), none of the current ones rings true.
Finally, not sure if it is just me but I have also been bothered a lot by the loud stupid yells from Deeks during action scene. It appeared last season or early this season I think, is this due to a change of backstage sound crew? It is very distracting.
Too much disappointment on my side. I hope for the sake of cast and crew, that the show will keep on appealing to others, but sometimes it is better to stop before too much damage is done.
Wow. Yep, probably time for you to move on to something else. Falling out with a show happens.
Frost I get what it feels like to be frustrated and disappointed in a show. I’m sorry your disappointment has risen to such a high level. Thanks a lot for all your comments on the site!
BTW, I had a different take on the male-female stereotypes in this episode, I think more because of how Kensi has been portrayed over the years, and how Densi has too. To me Kensi has always seemed much more in touch with her (stereotypically male) warrior side than her (stereotypically female) caregiver side, although she’s clearly capable of both. I really liked seeing her so in touch with and unfearing of showing her emotions because to me it signaled positive growth.
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Dear Karen, what a remarkably sensitive exploration of one of the best episodes of the series. I found it almost perfect. It showcased just how much Dani has grown as an actress. So powerful, and so emotionally revealing, drawing me in with her compassionate tears. I had never seen the actor who played opposite her, and I think that added to the experience for me. He was extraordinary. He made us care and we needed to care as much as Kensi. Their scenes together gave me chills.
I’m always thankful when we get a Deeks centric episode, and this one had the added benefit of having Turk return. I loved the wariness and slightly rough edges of their interaction. I also appreciated that they didn’t have Deeks fall back on boyish humor when he confronted Turk over his betrayal. He remained a smart ass, but there was a sharp edge to his remarks as well as in his expression. Only complaint was petunias being Deeks’ favorite flower. It threw me off balance for a minute. Simply weird. But, their relationship was interesting, and so different from Deeks and the guys, but maybe that’s because it’s so new. I realized that Turk doesn’t know much about Deeks or his life, so I am looking forward to additional meeting between these two, once I forgive him for leaving Deeks at the mercy of five bad guys. Even though I was pretty sure they wouldn’t kill Deeks, I was afraid for him. That close up of him out of ammunition and realizing he was about to die, was striking. It took me a moment to realize that he had pulled his small knife, which emphasized just how desperate his situation was. I want to believe he had contacted Callen and Sam before he entered the building and that they hadn’t gotten all the way to Pasadena before heading back to Inglewood. Couldn’t Military have picked someplace a little closer? For us Californians, it was a stretch.
That final scene, played in the dark with all those flashing emergency lights will remain one of my favorites. It echoed back to the rooftop scene in Silo. That she rushed to him as he came to find her was one of the most romantic things we’ve ever been given. Thank you Frank Military for such an excellent script, and to Diane Valentine for being such a sensitive Director.
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Just a comment regarding Deeks’ comment about Petunias being his favorite flower: I believe this is an ECO improv moment and the word “petunia” is used actually as a funny sounding word. He was going for the joke, not that it is the character’s favorite.
Thanks Lindy! I love your observations. You’re so right about the way Kensi ran into his arms. It makes me wonder if that’s what she wanted to do at the end of “The Silo” only Deeks wasn’t ready to turn and embrace her. At any rate it was definitely incredibly romantic.
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Completely loved this episode. My feelings about Frank Military mirror yours. I was hoping Kensi’s last lines would have been, “I’m ready to have a baby Deeks.” I don’t think they have to necessarily get out of their jobs to explore that road. I was hoping David’s stories made Kensi see that even though they put themselves in harms way, they could have less dangerous jobs and have something still happen, so for the show purpose, I think this could be a start to address that so we don’t lose our beloved characters. Thank you for all your contributions!
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Karen thank you for a great review. This was an all around outstanding dramatic episode. It was well written , the acting by the entire cast was just superb, and it was perfectly balanced with emotion, action , and character and relationship development. Although it was terribly sad, Frank Military outdid himself in this one.
Although I really miss Linda Hunt, I much prefer these episodes without a real boss, just the team working on their own, over what we got in season 9. Callen is good at being in charge as the team lead , Nell as the lead in the ops center, and the rest of the team mature, experienced and competent, and able to make field decisions on their own. It really works for them since they have operated as a team for so long.
Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah were really wonderful in scenes apart from each other as well as their emotional scenes together. The embrace and dialog in the closing scene with Deeks and Kensi was perfect and demonstrated their incredible chemistry as a couple. I thought the ending was perfect. The love these two characters have for each other was demonstrated beautifully by both of them with the embrace and the words.. For me anything beyond what was said, would not have worked . In this episode the way Deeks was written was totally supportive for Kensi. If she had said anything about the wedding or changing what is important to her, the Deeks in this episode would have had to say, this is not the time to talk about this, this is too fresh , and for me in the audience , that would not have been as good an ending as we got.
Turk is developing into a very interesting character, however, I was certainly angry and anxious when Turk left Deeks on his own so I also think we need a fan fiction .I was thinking more along romantic angst myself , with what was going through Deeks head as he thought he would not survive to see Kensi again.
For me, this was a perfect episode, I hope Frank Military writes a lot more of the remaining episodes, he writes a marvelous Deeks which allows ECO to be at his best .
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Thanks sassyzazzi. I think you’re very right that a longer conversation in that moment just wouldn’t have worked. I guess I just need all the post-ep fan fics where they do talk more. 🙂
I also agree that the team doesn’t need a boss. Of course I do want Hetty back, but they do seem to be getting by just fine and it does give all the leads just that much more screen time.
Karen read this review was a great pleasure! It was really emotional like the episode, you are really good at exploring all the components of the story and at highlight some meanings and details. Really thank you! I loved the episode for letting us think and appreciate what we have in this frenetic life.. I loved the dialogs between Deek and Turk and I think that his actions were understandable, and in the end he stopped… he’s one of the good men, a bit wild. I loved Daniela acting that was superlative, she transmit me all the emotions she felt, and Densi interactions were perfect. Only one think, I expected a longer talk between kensi and Deeks at the end about their life and future, but maybe sometimes it’s better to express emotions without words. Great Frank Military!
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Thank you Karen for your great review.
Frank Military is an amazing writer and like peakae I ,too, kind of wish I could watch majority of season (or even a whole season) with episodes written by him (it would be really interesting to see what he would and could do), not sure if my heart could handle it though.
I especially love the way Military writes Deeks and Kensi and the depthness he gives to their characters and the way he gives actors chance to really show their talent.
Turk seems like a very interesting character and kind of reminded me a little bit of Sabatino in the sense that he is kind enigmatic character and as a viewer I am not sure what to think about him and are there more secrets to be revealed.
The ending was beautiful and heartbreaking, I just hope that what happened in this episode brings Densi even closer together, instead of bringing back the drama about their future and work.
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Thanks Anne. And sign me up for a full season of Military episodes. I wish they’d demote him from Executive Producer back to writer so he’d have time for more than a couple of episodes a season!
Your review was superb, Karen, as this episode was. Something like this doesn’t happen every week, can’t happen every week and it’s its peculiarity and emotional side to make it so unique.
It seems like a contradiction in itself, to love such a heart-wrenching, touching, poignant episode, but I think this is also the beauty of this show that has managed, over the years, to bless us viewers with little gems, and this doesn’t mean only when they are full of action, explosions or shootings, but mostly when they are full of real human emotions and feelings. Who didn’t identify for at least a moment with David, who didn’t sympathise with Kensi and what she herself was going through all day? I think no one did, and that is the strength of such episodes, to make the emotions so realistic and relatable.
I have recently read somewhere online a beautiful quote: “Life is just a series of traumas and triumphs”. I think the moving ending and the Densi hug beautifully summed it up: everything terrible they both have to face in their job can’t make them forget the depth of their love and that at the end of the day what matters is they are there for each other.
At first I was a little disappointed Deeks and Kensi were not allowed some more time to talk at the end, but after watching their final scene over and over again, now I think it was just perfect the way it was and I wouldn’t change it (Eric and Daniela were amazing!).
After this episode, maybe even more than before, I want to trust (beg) the authors will write an outstanding Densi wedding episode. I guess I have needed it since the moment I saw Tracy and Jason together!
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*It was supposed to be “I think everyone did”
Thanks Cladani! You’re so right about loving the emotions and feelings. The banter and booms are entertaining but what’s always better- more involving- is when our favorite characters are personally affected by events.
Great review, Karen, and a great episode. You’ve covered nearly everything I would say, much better than I would say it. I do think that it might have been more realistic, and equally as dramatic and devastating (or more so), if there had actually been an effort to save David’s life. Crush syndrome is real, but it can sometimes be survived with treatment at the scene. It would have helped me hold on to the premise a little bit better.
While I did think it was unrealistic that Kensi would have had to break the news to David, I loved the opportunity for Deeks to show his confidence in her. He could have tried to protect her by getting them to have someone else inform David, but he has such trust in and respect for Kensi that he knew she had the strength, and the empathy, to do it. (Although I thought she was way too abrupt, but maybe NCIS agents don’t get training in delivering bad news.) That told me a little bit about why he loves her so much. I, too, loved the quaver in Deeks’ voice as he encouraged her.
The gunfight went on for a loooong time. I kept wondering how bad these guys were at shooting that they couldn’t hit a lone, poorly-armed, subject standing in a shallow alcove. But I got the point. I do wish we’d had an extra beat on Deeks’ face, or maybe a vocalization, to drive the point home that, while the woman he loved was comforting another dying man, her fiance was also in immediate, and likely, danger of dying, without her.
Loved the various versions of Deeks we saw in this episode. Loved what looks like a real maturing of the relationship between him and Kensi. There might not have been all that much Densi this season, but I do think that the scenes we’ve gotten (To Live and Die in Mexico, Pro Se) have shown the relationship to be developing deep roots.
Finally—it’s both a blessing (in writing) and a curse (in listening) to be an amateur grammarian. Kensi did ‘good’ (noun, a good deed), but she did it ‘well’ (adverb). Makes me crazy, but I get it.
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Thanks amusement! I loved your observation that the conversation about telling David revealed Deeks’ confidence in Kensi. It’s always been one of the things I’ve loved about them, that Deeks respects her abilities in so much (except for driving, cooking and cleaning).
I know what you mean about the grammar. I chose to interpret it as Deeks said it earlier in the episode, about wanting to “do some good.” So it’s not that she did well at telling him, it’s that she did [some] good by supporting him. Does that help? 😉
This show hasn’t made me cry in a long time. And I cried a lot. I agree it will last with me for a long time to come. So many things to love including all the reasons why I fell in love with this character ten years ago. I could watch this Deeks non-stop. It was a beautiful episode for so many reasons. Bravo.
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I think I cried more in this episode than in any previous one. Here’s hoping the wedding episode will have us all pulling out the tissues for the tears of joy.
Wow! Great Review! We had so many of the same thoughts. I too was wondering if the writers named the character David and his son River on purpose. I’m sure they did.
I love the scene where Kensi tells Deeks she has a problem. So much of the time we see her teasing him or giving him a hard time. This scene really showcases how much she values his opinion and advice, just as he values hers. I thought the scene was the definition of a supportive partnership. It kind of reminded me of the scene where he is nervous about calling Whiting, and she gives him advice and support.
I was so mad when Turk left Deeks. I’m still having a hard time forgiving him for that. I’m not sure if Deeks would punch him over it, but I am sure Kensi would.
The ending was such a beautiful scene. I think even Deeks was surprised how deeply David’s death and the case affected Kensi, only because they see people die all the time and she is so strong. I definitely believe this case and meeting David will create some type of permanent shift in Kensi’s views, whether it be finding less of her purpose in her job and more of it in her relationships, or letting go of whatever fears or doubts she has about having children.
Wonderfully written and acted episode. It is one I could watch again and again.
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Kaytie! I smiled, not at all surprised to know it was you who had the same thought that I did about Kensi wanting to punch Turk. Have you started writing it yet? 🙂 I did, but it’s slow-going…can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Thanks Kaytie! I like your comparison with the Whiting scene. And hah! You are so right that Kensi would take on Turk. I would so love to see that! Glad there’s some discussion about getting that into a fan fic!
Great review, Karen. I agree with you on almost everything. My only complaint was the gunfight. I thought it totally unbelievable that all of those guys were shooting at Deeks without hitting their target once(not that I wanted that). Reminded me of a scene I saw once where the character said “you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of an effin boat.”
I hated that Deeks was all but abandoned by Arlo Turk. I’m still not sure if I like that character or not.
I am of the opinion that this show is floundering. Could it be that Frank Military would be a better show runner than Gemmill? Just a thought.
That being said, I think “Better Angels” was beautifully written and beautifully acted. Kudos to Military, Ruah, and ECO. I hope that the characters will discuss their feelings about this day in a future episode, but I am not getting my hopes up. Have a great day, everyone.
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Well I’m really glad I did not get this one to review.
I realize most of you enjoyed the episode and I really debated whether I say something or not. Regular readers of wikiDeeks know I love this show and the people who make it, but I honestly never finished watching this ep – tapped out 43 minutes in. (Only 2 other episodes I haven’t watched). I rarely disagree with you Karen, but Kensi being the one to break the news to David that he was dying was not “slightly false” – it was absurd, not just because of the blatant violation of privacy laws but because of the absolute insult to health care providers. There is no way in heaven, hell, or any other universe that a health care provider deflects discussion of medical information with a patient – particularly a terminal prognosis – to law enforcement. NEVER. We also stopped withholding negative prognostic information from patients decades ago. There is no way everyone else knows the guy is dying before he does and then debates who’s going to tell him. That sort of situation is literally what every health care professional is trained to do and what we do every day with total strangers who trust us with their lives. Cops catch bad guys, we take care of sick and hurt people. And there is actual research, theory and clinical expertise that informs such discussions and situations. We study it, we simulate it with actors playing patients before we do it with real patients, and we do it daily in practice. No cops or special agents involved. Kensi telling him he’s dying is not dramatic license – dramatic license is flying through California traffic in ridiculously short time or getting DNA matches in an hour. That scenario was as bizarre as if they would have invented a fairy godmother to tell him he was dying and then had the entire team proceed as if fairies exist.
Never mind performing blood and plasma transfusions in a parking lot, transfusing a patient who it was already determined could not survive, the tired tropes of females as inherently destined for caring functions and a ‘good heart’ as more critical to caregiving work than education and intelligence…. etc. etc. Guys, they messed up the medical content as bad as the worst Grey’s Anatomy episode and this episode is destined for first-year classes on “media misrepresentations of health care.” Hard to watch good people embarrass themselves like that.
That being said – Canada received more than 25,000 refugees from Syria and I have heard some of their stories first-hand and appreciate that at least that part of the story was accurate and well-done (in the portion that I watched).
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Oh Brenda, I’m so sorry you reacted so strongly to the episode. Ironically your passionate comment took me back to one of the first exchanges we ever had, where you took me to task for an off-hand comment I made about nurses. You set me straight and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 🙂
Yeah, I actually thought of our initial exchange too, and the generally respectful tone here, which is why I figured people could handle a dissenting voice. I have strong opinions, but not for the purpose of bashing cast/crew/other commenters so I hoped people would receive it in the manner intended. No one has flamed me, so I’m hoping that’s the case.
I realized later I probably should have also said that for a number of years I facilitated a seminar on breaking bad news, hence my “ARRGGHH!!!” response. We hire actors to help us learn to do our jobs properly, but they don’t seem to hire health care professionals to ensure reasonable accuracy in their work. I may have to stop offering my consulting services on here and send them an actual job application. Heck, I don’t even need pay – would be satisfied just not to have to try to unsee stuff like that. How much better of a deal could they get! 🙂
Thanks for your reply!
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Your comment got me to thinking about how we each are sensitive to the topic areas with which we’re most familiar. For me it’s miraculous passages through long distances in LA traffic and shooting a scene in what is obviously Long Beach but pretending it’s Venice. For you and perhaps for amusement345, it’s medical issues. For Jericho Steele, it’s the military. I can only imagine what real NCIS agents think of the show!
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So true – and precisely why I don’t watch medical shows. The only one I ever really appreciated was ER. They had the miraculous CPR survival rates that all TV shows do, but mostly very well done and didn’t just focus on doctors, but on the whole team it takes to make a place run. I can’t imagine watch law enforcement shows if that’s what you did – I’m sure there are also glaring differences that are hard to watch.
I’ve never been to LA so don’t recognize locations. Interesting that they do that. I did have a friend who lived in NOLA for years so have been there lots and still recognize parts of the city. I can’t recall a situation on NCIS:NOLA where they didn’t seem to be where the scene was set. However, there are a lot of Christmas movies shot here (not surprising – guaranteed snow/cold for a long stretch of the year) and it was very distracting in my Hallmark marathon to see places I recognized locally and from other parts of Canada standing in as American cities. You’re right, it’s weird.
As always – love chatting with you my friend. Hoping for a better episode tomorrow!
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As mentioned by several of the previous comments here, terrific review Karen. Even if most of this Military episode had been so-so,(which rarely ever occurs), the final emotional Densi scene would have totally worth the rest of the 42 minutes, what with having pretty much a drought of them since the premiere. Kudos for Military, director Valentine, and the crew and cast..particularly Dani and ECO.. for a tremendous episode.
So glad you went into detail about the “Alamo” gun battle and Turk leaving Deeks on the lurch. I really have mixed feelings about the Arlo Turk character now; I liked him from the start in season 9 – he came across as a “still waters run deep” guy – and got to like him more after he saved the team in Mexico and in later episodes. His rage and wanting revenge for his late partner was perfectly understandable, but how he got payback at the expense of nearly getting Deeks killed reeeeealy bothered me. I honestly don’t know what I think of Turk now. I assume at the last scene that Kensi didn’t know the details of that gun fight; I would love it if there was a scene or two in a later episode between her, Deeks and Turk, with a conversation and reaction about the gun battle. But I figure it will probably be instead an assignment for our great fan fiction writers out there to tackle. One thing for sure, Military can sure write claustrophobic, intense gun fight scenes; I kept thinking of the ones from “A Line in the Sand” and “Spoils of War” when watching this. And I thought I caught hints of “Human Traffic”, with Deek’s flippant remark of “I nearly had this” and Turk beating up instead of shooting the bad guy that caused the death of a partner.
I can’t resist…Lindy D’s comment about the trip from Pasadena to Inglewood triggered a memory. Several years ago a friend (an LA native) and I went to Hollywood Park race track in Inglewood to see the horse racing there before it closed for good. Right after that she drove me to Santa Anita Park at Arcadia near Pasadena….she did it in 30 minutes in moderate LA traffic. The way she zoomed down the interstate and manuevered around slower cars in her sedan could have made Sam Hanna proud, but it scared the cr*p out of me.
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Thanks Debra. I agree about the excitement of the gunfight. And wow- I am impressed with your friend. When I first moved to California I found myself impressed with how assertively my friends drove on what I found to be overwhelmingly busy freeways. I have tried to learn from them but I don’t think I could pull off that 30-minute run!
Another vote for a great review, Karen, another great Densi episode from Frank Military, and fantastic acting all around! I read all this on Tuesday but haven’t had the opportunity to leave a comment, so this won’t be as detailed as I would have liked, but between the review and the other comments, I think most of what I would have said already has been.
As much as I hated Turk leaving Deeks to fend for himself in a very dangerous situation, the end result was an intense shoot-out that actually made me wonder if Deeks was going to be hurt. That scene is now one of my two favorite shoot-outs of the series (the other being Kensi’s in “Come Back”).
I agree with whoever it was (please excuse me for nto taking the time to give proper credit–Karen, was it you?) that noted it was great to see Kensi asking Deeks for his advice when she was troubled and Deeks supporting her as we knew he would. Hopefully Deeks realizes that what he said to her woould work really well as the basis for his wedding vows.
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Thanks Psyched. You’re right, that “Come Back” shoot-out was fantastic, as were the examples mentioned above by Debra. Hmmm, perhaps we need a poll to determine the best one?
I thought during the gun fight, when Deeks was down to his last resort (the knife), he gave me the impression he was thinking that this wasn’t going to end well. I think a better ending to the gun battle would have been Deeks throwing his knife over the barrel and into the chest of the guy that was shooting at him from the corner of the building, and Turk, hearing the gun fire die down and the guy he was beating up laying on the floor, he would go back to Deeks and shoot the guy overhead and at the other guy in second doorway. To me that would have been more believable than Callen and Sam showing up at the last minute.
I think, Kensi letting down her guard, is because of her current relationship with Deeks. If he was still only her partner she would have acted differently in front of him.