Greetings, wikiDeeks readers! It’s been awhile since I took on the NCIS: Los Angeles reviewing duties, thanks to my colleagues Brenda and Jericho. I must admit to not looking forward to this week’s episode – at all – given its Anna-focused storyline. But “The One that Got Away,” written by Andrew Bartels and Erin Broadhurst and directed by Eric A. Pot, provided one of Season 11’s most pleasant surprises. Its seriousness drew me in, and its humor and emotion kept me involved.
The episode marked the long-anticipated (or should I say, long-dreaded?) return of Callen’s sometime love interest Anna Kolcheck. She’d been sent off to prison back in Season 9 for shooting an unarmed man, with no thanks to Callen, who testified against her. Still, we all knew there was more going on, right? When she showed up in the hospital after a brutal fight, telling Callen, “For me to survive these years, I have to become someone else,” it sure sounded like she was trying to tell him she was undercover.
It turns out that Anna has actually been on a long-term mission to find Callen’s dad. At this point, it’s a bit unclear how the details of her prison term aligned with said mission. For example, why did she start out in federal prison just before Kate was even arrested? Did they know Kate would eventually be taken into custody? Or was Anna’s sentence legitimate, and perhaps Hetty came up with the scheme as a way to get Anna released early? Either way, the slight confusion didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. I liked how the episode slowly revealed her very personal agenda.
What also remains unknown is the extent to which Hetty’s disappearance might be linked to Anna’s mission. Given the goal of finding Callen’s dad, you’d have to imagine that Hetty might be the one who offered Anna the assignment. Also intriguing is the psychologist Anna was seeing. It was reminiscent of Season 2’s “Lockup,” where Hetty installed Nate in the prison to act as a contact for an undercover Sam. Did Hetty pull Nate in here as well? Or did she use the same playbook with another agent so she could keep in contact with Anna?
The episode’s humor came primarily in the form of one Arkady Kolcheck, who really is the gift that keeps on giving to this show. His funny lines one after another made it feel as if a stand-up comic had entered the scene. Like any proud father (not!), he gushes about his daughter’s ability to evade the authorities: “My Anna is clever girl, quick and cunning. You think you can catch her? Hah! I tell you, she is already gone.” He holds a hand in front of his face in a childlike way as he assures the Marshalls that they’ll never know he’s there, as if he can make himself invisible. He tells Deeks and the others, “If it walks like vodka and talks like vodka, it’s Russkiy shpion (spy).” He delightfully banters with Deeks and Kensi:
Arkady (to Densi): Good, you are here! We have work to do.
Deeks: No we don’t.
Kensi: What are you doing here?
Arkady: Callen tell me go home, be good boy. Do I look like good boy?
Deeks: Please don’t make me answer that.
Arkady: Personally I have not been victim of such tactic (compromat). I am not easily shamed.
Deeks: Oh, I know! We’ve seen you in a towel.
Arkady: Kensi, Deeks! We are friends!
Deeks and Kensi together: No we’re not.
Vyto Ruginis, who plays Arkady, has the same talent as Eric Christian Olsen in the way he achieves spectacular chemistry with everyone. I can imagine the whole cast would fight over a chance to play scenes with him, even if they’re playing the straight man (or woman) to Arkady’s zaniness.
Props also must go to Peter Jacobson, who plays Special Prosecutor John Rogers:
Carmona: I have unusual tastes when it comes to, well, in the bedroom if you know what I mean.
Rogers: I don’t, and I would prefer you save those details for the grand jury.
Here’s a character who was likely planned to make a quick exit after hounding the team for a few episodes. That’s what special prosecutors do, right? They don’t stick around for a year to supervise the team they’re supposedly investigating. But I guess that’s what happens when stock “annoying DC higher up” characters are given just a little more dimension, and then imbued with quite a bit of humor. Rogers is easily my vote over the too-serious (i.e., dull) Ochoa or the horrible-for-many-reasons Mosley. Here’s hoping we get to see him interact with Hetty.
Unlike some other NCIS:LA episodes, “The One that Got Away” managed to mix in a lot of humor while successfully communicating the overall seriousness of the story. Right from the start, I was unexpectedly drawn in to worrying about Anna simply because of the way Kensi, Deeks and the others talked about her as their friend. If they cared, that made me care too. The suspense ramped up further when Kate nonchalantly shot her handler in the head, communicating to us exactly how precarious Anna’s situation was, above and beyond all the rogue cops and U.S. Marshalls hunting for her.
I’m afraid though that Callen’s emotional plight throughout the episode failed to really affect me. I felt so much more genuine emotion coming from Arkady, and even the rest of the team, than I did from Callen. But maybe that’s just me and my failure to ever really connect with this aloof character. I did appreciate his steadfast belief that something more was going on, that Anna wouldn’t simply flee because she couldn’t survive behind bars, as Sam suggested. Callen’s faith in her was actually romantic: “Deputy Long, I know Anna. She is resilient and strong, and she was fully prepared to serve her time. So for this to happen, she had to have had a damn good reason.”
At any rate, the same person who brought the funny this week also brought the major feels, which can’t have been an easy feat. Kudos to Ruginis, Bartels and Broadhurst for striking such a winning balance. Arkady’s initial deployment of his charm (AKA the funny) to worm his way into the investigation made me laugh, but early on Ruginis also conveyed his degree of concern for his daughter. It compounded the concern expressed by the team and kept me hooked into the story.
But it was the later juxtaposition of Arkady’s description of his mother’s kindness, which carried through into his daughter, with the slow-motion moments of the final car chase, that really got to me. Seeing such a tough character express true vulnerability – along with some great direction and editing – made for compelling television. Learning about how he sees his daughter made me appreciate her through his eyes. And it made me root for Anna even though I’ve never cared about her before.
The Deeks and the Densi
Sorry, I’ve got nothing. I think we will need to enjoy reflecting back on all the wedding planning and the glorious wedding itself to get us through the rest of the season. And I’m OK with that.
- Was I the only one surprised by Beale saying that “obviously” Callen wouldn’t have helped Anna escape? I mean, this whole team has broken out of jail, some of them on multiple occasions. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see it happen again. (And in fact, Hetty may have aided and abetted.)
On a shallow note, I found Anna’s pink lipstick rather distracting – did she decide to bring it along with her on her escape?
When Sam and Callen made their stand at the airport, I had to wonder whether standing in front of the car was the smart move? I mean, wouldn’t it be safer to take refuge behind the car door? I guess that wouldn’t look as cool though.
In the end, the lengths Anna went to to find Callen’s dad felt incredibly romantic. Of course, she may have had little choice if it was the only way she could reduce or commute her sentence. But if the rest of this storyline is pulled off well (something that doesn’t always happen- see “Smokescreen, Part II” for a recent example), it just might bring me around on this character and whether she should become a permanent part of Callen’s life. In fact, it might just make me a Callanna (is that what they call it?) shipper. But don’t worry, I won’t go so far as to invite her back onto the team!
Come back later this week for new editions of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal. In the meantime, what did you think of “The One that Got Away”? Was the lack of Deeks and Densi a downer? Did your feelings about Anna change at all? Do you love Arkady and Rogers as much as I do? Tell us all about it in the Comments below.