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Review: NCISLA “The Guardian” (S10E23)

This week’s NCIS: Los Angeles episode “The Guardian” marked the beginning of the end of Season 10 with an episode penned by showrunner R. Scott Gemmill and directed by long-time NCIS:LA director (and producer) John Peter Kousakis. Largely a set-up for next week’s season finale, “The Guardian” worked hard to set the stage for a two parter that’s likely to leave us in a Frank Military-induced state of worry and limbo for the summer. But before we start worrying about next week, lets’ discuss “The Guardian.”

Thanks for Your Support

Let’s start with some of the key supporting players. First there was Eric Beale. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Field Agent Beale, who always seems over his head and an actual danger to himself and others. But Gemmill seems to be a big proponent. I think it goes along with his tendency to embrace humor over drama, kind of the opposite of Frank Military. But here he used Field Agent Beale well, and seriously (for the most part at least).

One of the reasons Beale can be effective comic relief in the field, for those who enjoy him there, is that he’s a fish out of water, completely out of place in that environment. In “The Guardian” Gemmill channeled that unfamiliarity with fieldwork into Beale’s reaction to the dead body at the crime scene. His sadness reminded us – and Callen – to think about the victim in a way that a hardened agent (and we hardened NCIS:LA viewers) don’t always do.

Another actor who brought a lot of emotion to his role was guest actor Rene Moran, who played widower Calvin Sims, grappling with his wife’s post-deployment problems and their impact on her death. His scene was important in conveying his wife’s backstory, and he accomplished that with heart and believability.

In contrast, we had an oddly uneventful return from the DEA agent many of us love to hate, Talia del Campo, played by Mercedes Mason. Normally Talia is nothing if not full of life and unpredictability. Here she was oddly used merely to provide exposition. It felt almost beneath her character to be underused that way, although it is always nice to have continuing characters reappear.

Finally, we had David James Elliott playing Captain Harm Rabb, Jr. I probably watched three episodes of JAG, so I didn’t get any joy from his appearance. I was pleased though that Rabb didn’t completely take over the episode, like the Red Team did when they descended to waste two hours of Season 4. Of course, there’s still plenty of time for his character to take over, so it’s a definite concern for next week (and the Season 11 premiere).

A Budding Bromance

As I often say, Eric Christian Olsen has great chemistry with everyone, and Peter Jacobson, who plays Special Prosecutor John Rogers, is no exception. He wasn’t even physically present, yet the very mention of him brought a smile to my face. “A waffle stack is cheaper than therapy,” reported Deeks about his new breakfast buddy. I need more of these two together, like, a lot more. Please let that be a thing in Season 11. Or perhaps Rogers can have a recurring role on my long-dreamed about sitcom set at the bar with Roberta.

Even though we didn’t get to witness the budding bromance in action, it did trigger that best Densi banter of the episode:

Deeks: Had my breakfast with Rogers.
Kensi: Oh yeah. When did that become a thing?
Deeks: It’s not a thing. It’s just two men, breaking up a waffle, like Lady and the Tramp.
Kensi: With Rogers?
Deeks: Yeah, he’s like my Yoda.
Kensi: I’m sure he would like you to refrain from calling him that.
Deeks: Why? Yoda’s cool.
Kensi: Is he though? I mean-
Deeks: [in Yoda voice] Judge me by my size, do you?
Kensi: Is that Gollum?
Deeks: Oh my god how dare you.
Kensi: What? The only difference is like the ears and one of them sounds like Grover.
Deeks: Divorce! I want a divorce.

Punching Ghosts

What can we expect from next week’s finale, and did Gemmill provide any clues? The plot was well developed and made sense, but I’m not sure where things will lead (except to something intense). The paranoid among us may worry over lines like Callen’s “It’s not the best time to break up the team.” With Callen and Sam shipping out of the country, we can only hope we didn’t witness the last time the core cast had a moment together.

It’s become such a rarity to see them together as it is, and this episode was no different, with only Beale and Callen around to start things off. It’s become somewhat common to have episodes where Deeks is called away, but here we were missing Kensi and Sam as well, along with Hetty and Nell. Gone seem to be the days when the episode would begin with a banter-filled bullpen. Ah, those were the days.

My other (over-?) reading of the script came from widow Sims. He talked at length about what his wife went through when she left her intense job in the military, and I couldn’t help but think of how applicable his description might be to Kensi:

Ellie had a difficult time adapting back to civilian life… She missed feeling like she was doing something important… PTSD, maybe the rush. I don’t know. It was probably a lot of things. She was a stud over there [in Afghanistan]…. She was a signals expert and spoke three Middle Eastern languages so she was always in the thick of it… front line, everywhere the teams went. I used to tell her that she was my bodyguard… She tried a few different things after she came back but she hated being inside. She even slept on our balcony.

We’ve gotten so little follow up from the apparently life-changing season opener that I can’t really see a lot of change in these two characters’ outlook on their future. They seem to be in about the same place they started. Could Ellie’s experience, or other events in the finale, trigger a significant follow-up conversation between Deeks and Kensi? Or could it actually trigger an actual change in outlook? The main reason to be hopeful here is that Frank Military usually takes good care of Deeks and Densi, providing them with some of their very best, most emotional, scenes. Let’s just hope he’s not too busy giving Harm and Mac a bunch of screen time.

Memorable Moments

  • That park ranger sure needs more training on what to do if being stalked by a mountain lion. Rule #1 – don’t run. Other rules – back away slowly, talk to it, make eye contact, throw things, wave a jacket or stick. She’s lucky she didn’t get eaten!
  • Sam telling Callen so bluntly “You’re very damaged” was hilarious in its shocking directness, but you sure can’t argue with the man.
  • Even though I expected the shed to explode, if only because it seemed like a recreation of the shed from “Backstopped”, it still shocked me. Nicely done boom and an intriguing plot twist to have Baird apparently kill himself.
  • Even though Deeks ought to be able to drive Sam’s Challenger any old time he wants, seeing as how he saved Sam’s and Michelle’s lives and all, I did like his childlike attempt to get dad’s permission. It reminded me of old times.
  •  “This is some serious hink.” Yes it is, and I love seeing Deeks get to be the smart one who gets to the bottom of said hink. He has often played devil’s advocate on this team, and this was no different as he pointed out holes in the team’s working theories. I’ve always loved how he’s not afraid to question people, authority, or theories. It may be the quality that sometimes makes him open to crazy ideas, but it’s also invaluable for a detective who detects.

While “The Guardian” was a solid set-up episode, I think it would have played better as the first hour of a two-hour finale. What remains for us to see is what Frank Military will bring to hour two next week. The plot is shaping up almost as a Red/Deep Trouble combo, which sounds horrible. Yet I have confidence that Military will manage to give us strong moments for every character, and hopefully a thrilling conclusion that will leave us talking all summer. Fingers crossed everyone!

In the meantime, what did you think of “The Guardian”? Did field Beale work for you? How about there-for-the-exposition Talia? What do you expect – and what do you hope for – next week? Tell us your thoughts in the Comments below?

About Karen (287 Articles)
wikiDeeks Writer & Assistant Editor. I never wrote for fun before... until my ECO-obsession. Now I love to analyze any and all aspects of the best character on television.

19 Comments on Review: NCISLA “The Guardian” (S10E23)

  1. michelle mcnally // May 14, 2019 at 6:57 AM // Reply

    i am obsessed with eco as well karen and he is the best character on television.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. michelle mcnally // May 14, 2019 at 6:58 AM // Reply

    what did you mean by the beginning of the end, we know there will be a season 11, right?


  3. Ryan Collins // May 14, 2019 at 8:36 AM // Reply

    The finale is actually part 2 of 3. Kyle Harimoto posted a bts pic on his instastories on Sunday. It was Harm, Sam, and Callen. Harimoto described the episode as part 1 of a 3 parter. Much like 3×23/3×24/4×01 or 9×23/9×24/10×01

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sassyzazzi // May 14, 2019 at 9:29 AM // Reply

    Karen, thanks for the review. I like you was worried we would get a “JAG” takeover , like we did with “Red”. I was happy part 1 of the season 10 finale was about the NCIS LA team and not the “JAG” personnel .I thought this it was a really good, solid, team episode , from my perspective, the best we have seen since the wedding .

    I enjoyed how they portrayed the characters in this episode. Callen and Sam were great. I liked that Nell and Eric had some together time and also some individual time with the team.I thought the Kensi and Deeks scenes were great, very well done, they were professional, yet the characters I fell in love with. I also love it it when Deeks is very competent and sees the big picture and figures it out. It was also fun when Deeks was telling Sam he would drive his car and Sam kept saying no.

    I was very happy Talia had a minimal scene and she was dressed and acted professionally. Serious note alert so please ignore if I offend you. My complaining about the character has never been about her being a threat to Densi, I never thought she was. I did not like her character because she modeled the behavior that is often used to prevent women from being in male dominated high risk jobs.

    On a lighter note, as a Californian, I had the same reaction to the park ranger as you, I could not believe she turned her back and ran. I guess the writers never go to a state park , or at least do not read the signs.

    I am really looking forward to the season finale now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for taking time to write another excellent review Karen.
    I liked this episode a lot, even though I did expect it to maybe have a bit more drama and action (I am sure Frank Military will deliver more than enough in the next episode though).
    I agree with what Karen wrote about Beale’s character in this episode and also Callen and Beale haven’t had that many scenes together and I really enjoyed those scenes. I really liked how the plot and storyline was written, it felt really natural how the story progressed and I personally love episodes where the focus is on just one case.
    I wish we had seen more Deeks and Kensi, we haven’t seen that much of them since their wedding, I hope Frank Military will give us some great Deeks and Kensi scenes in the next episode.
    I am really curious about part two: will Talia’s character have a bigger role in part two, what will happen to Nell and her mom, will Beale get more help in OPS and what will happen with the case.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the review! Good job!

    I also knew the shed was going to blow up. This show hates sheds. They ALWAYS blow them up. And it was very telegraphed when the walk up to it was soooo sllooooowww to give it time to blow up.

    I agree Talia was wasted here. Any DEA agent could have done this exposition. It would have been a better scene if there was some flirty-for-fun stuff with Callen. Heck, even Sam now that Deeks of off the market.

    And I guess that’s my overall assessment — there was really not much life in this episode. No pizazz for a second to last of a season ep and especially one that’s the first of three for a season cliffhanger. No build up of the pace. Going through the motions. What is going on in the writers’ room?

    Oh and hey, did anyone pick up that Nell’s mom is sick and that Nell is upset about it? FERGOODNESSSAKES, writers!! We GET it. The actress is taking a leave of absence. One mention is enough. Twenty is too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks, Karen, for this great review. I quite enjoyed the episode, especially Deeks, he was so professional, smart and competent, obviously gorgeous too, which is always a bonus. The scenes he had with Kensi were good. I could perfectly picture Deeks’ breakfast with Rogers and it made me smile even without seeing it at all, that’s why I would like to see Rogers in next season too, and more with Deeks (ECO is perfect with anyone!).
    I think the episode was quite an excellent first part of whatever arc the writers have in mind.
    I did wonder why Talia had such a short and almost unecessary scene, though. I doubt it was just to let the viewers know she had been invited to Deeks and Kensi’s wedding but she had missed it. Could it only be a way to re-introduce her character in the story (for casual viewers who don’t know or can’t remember who Talia was) and see her more next season? I think (but no spoilers here) she is not filming The rookie anymore, so she may have become available to play Talia again. I hope not in many episodes, though, since I have never liked her character, or better, I have never understood why the writers had to write her like that.
    Now I am very curious to see what they have in store for us in the finale, but at the same time I am nervous we might spend another summer wondering who is going to “survive” or who is going to “quit” and why. But this is part of the game.
    Thanks again, WikiDeeks, for this amazing place!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. reebelle4 // May 14, 2019 at 4:01 PM // Reply

    Enjoyed your review Karen, and I agree on many points. Thankfully Beale was written this week to be the professional that we all know he can be, and not the the goofy guy we have been seeing most of season 10. Like you, I am not a fan of Field Agent Beale. Also, I am quickly tiring of Nell’s sick mother storyline. By the way, Smith’s wardrobe, hair and makeup were much better this week. If Smith and Foa depart, Scott Grimes and Medalion Rahimi would be good replacements in OPS in my humble opinion. I also wondered why they brought in Mercedes Mason for that throwaway scene. I like Talia, but this was totally unnecessary. I have been seeing her on social media asking for donations to her GoFundMe page, for a short film she is making. Maybe the producers were helping by throwing a few dollars her way. I agree that the actor playing Calvin Sims was very good. I was so happy to see Deeks using his brilliant mind to figure out what everyone else was missing. I think that he has the most analytical capabilities of the core four. I hope that next season we will get our agents working together a little more, as opposed to them going separate ways on separate cases, but I think the way the actors have structured their individual filming schedules may preclude that. We haven’t gotten a whole lot of Densi since the wedding episode. I miss their charming scenes together. I did love Deeks telling Kensi how heartbroken he would be if she ever had an affair. I love how much he loves her, sigh. As for the JAG story, I am thrilled that it didn’t overtake the entire episode, but I am sure it will come to the forefront in the next two episodes. I am looking forward to seeing what Frank Military has in store for us next week. I am sad that there is only one show left this season, and we have so long to wait for the season 11 opener.

    Thank you WIKIDEEKS for your devotion to all things Deeks/ECO.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ‘I couldn’t help but think of how applicable his description might be to Kens’

    I immediately was drawing the parallel to Kensi too, Karen, and I could be reading into it, but Kensi steps forward at one point when they’re talking to the guy, so she’s noticeably in the foreground while Deeks is in the background of the shot, which only enhanced that parallel. But the show is usually pretty explicit with their parallels/motifs and drawing focus where they want you to see meaning, and this one was very implicit which makes me think that I was reading into it.

    They really are in the same place they started though. As much as some people are speculating that we’re going to get a pregnancy reveal in the finale, I just don’t see that happening when looking at how the show has been presenting Kensi’s current mind frame/outlook – if anything she’s growing increasingly more devoted and enthusiastic about the work that they do. Deeks loves the work that they do too but not to the same degree that Kensi does, and I think Mexico solidified for him that he couldn’t leave while she stayed in. But we’re going through the motions as though the fact that they could both die, the fact that they both want kids, isn’t really an issue.

    Thank you for this review though! I appreciate the effort you all make with providing wonderful content for this site.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Nell is taking leave of abcence? Did I miss something?


  11. Thank you for another great review Karen. I actually liked episode more than I expected. I suppose it is due to getting more Densi than I expected. Also having Deeks being smart as he is, was additional bonus. I can see (not for the first time) why he was a good lawyer and I would like to see him going back to practice law once this great serial would come to an end (hopefully not any time soon).
    Very good episode, one of the best of this season. And I find this season to be one of the best ever – maybe it is due to the fantastic opening, great team episodes throughout the whole season, Densi wedding or just lack of Mosley character. Must also admit that few episodes aired after Densi wedding left me with longing for more Deeks and Kensi, but I assumed that the actors were on their holidays.
    I didn’t know what to expect from this episode, but I expected to see less of Densi team working together and I was so happy and pleasantly surprised that they were back in the groove, with great chemistry and love. Gemmill expertly inserted unexpected but totally awesome and romantic moment amidst conversation about terrible murder that just fortifies my opinion that Gemmill is not out of the perfect moments too. I was totally surprised to see that Deeks went on breakfast with Rogers but then, as you mentioned, they had excellent chemistry from the very beginning and maybe Rogers uses their time together to get Deeks to tell him why he is still LAPD. Or being both lawyers they have lots in common. Whatever it is, I expect that we will see more of Rogers.
    Russians are always formidable opponents and I hope the next two episodes will do them and the story/plot itself justice. As far as JAG characters are concerned I am also happy they haven’t taken over the episode and I hope it will stay that way (although I kinda followed them back in the day).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Debra Gillespie // May 15, 2019 at 3:15 AM // Reply

    Great review as usual, Karen. It would be interesting what Rogers and Deeks discussed over waffles…lawyer talk, I wonder? I hope Rogers continues to make appearances in the next season. Loved the Densi banter of this episode, and Deeks being a devil’s advocate and using his deductive reasoning in this case. Kensi might call him “Judge Judy” but at least she is open to his train of thought, unlike an uncontrollable, inflexible person like Mosley, just a year ago.
    Enjoyed the older brother/whiny younger brother exchange between Sam and Deeks in trying to get to drive Sam’s car while he was away, and chuckled when Deeks tried to open the door the “old fashioned way”. Guess he’d better leave the old school method to Sam.
    Unlike some here I like Talia, so I was disappointed in her “blink and you’ll miss it” scene here. I agree with Cladani that since Mercedes Mason’s character on The Rookie was killed off, Talia might show up next season in an episode or two. If written well her character, especially since she’s involved in a task force against the Mexican cartels, could be interesting next season. (I keep wondering if General Vasquez might show up again at least for revenge, as Sam did kill his son in that Mexican hospital). But that’s for next season…on to the finale!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. candi12301 // May 19, 2019 at 3:40 PM // Reply

    Thank you once again for a great review. I Loved the banter between Kensi and her husband Deeks. I am with you in wanting to see Deeks with rogers. I Loved Eric being in the field. I was hoping Talia would have had more Scenes and some with Kensi and Deeks. I loved seeing David James Elliott on my screen and I can not wait for the Season 10 finale.


  14. Tom Jolitz // May 20, 2019 at 7:25 AM // Reply

    Did the writers forget why Harmon Rabb became a JAG officer? Answer, he lost his piloting career, due to night blindness, when he crashes his fighter on the deck of an aircraft carrier. How does he now get introduced on this episode? He lands a fighter on the deck of an aircraft carrier and is the carrier’s XO. Does anyone else see a problem with this?


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