We’re back! Welcome to Season 11 of NCIS: Los Angeles, and Season 7 of wikiDeeks. The cast, the crew, and your loyal wikiDeeks correspondents may all be looking a bit older and grayer (or using more hair dye), but we’re all still plugging away. That was evident on this week’s premiere, “Let Fate Decide.” Written by Kyle Harimoto and directed by Christine Moore, it continued a story line begun at the end of Season 10.
1st The Plot (+ the JAG)
I will admit that I failed as your diligent wikiDeeks reviewer by not going back to re-watch Season 10’s final two episodes to reacquaint myself with the plot. What can I say, they weren’t that interesting and I had a lot of other things to do. As far as I remember, “Let Fate Decide” did a fine job of wrapping up loose ends. I liked how they brought back the Saudi prince from the early Season 10 episode “The Prince,” although I couldn’t help but think about real Saudi princes who’ve been in the news for their less than upstanding behavior. It did strike me as odd that 1) the team was the only group in the whole world who could stop the retaliatory strikes, and 2) they had so much time to travel to see their contacts in person. I’d have assumed that others with pre-existing relationships would have been able to get on the phone ASAP (you know, ambassadors, or the whole State Department), and that finding the proof would be the only challenge. (But if that were the case, Sam and Callen wouldn’t have had anything to do!)
I was not surprised that the two big guest stars, Catherine Bell and David James Elliott, had more screen time than in the prior two episodes. Their scenes together were well written, but as someone who never watched JAG, I didn’t really care where they ended up. I credit Harimoto for not tying things up for them into too neat of a package. Let’s hope this is the last spin-off idea the showrunners pursue for a while. For me story lines like this and like those from the “Red” episodes merely take crucial screen time away from the characters we tune in to watch each week.
Happy Hetty = Happy Fans
The highlight of the episode for me was seeing Linda Hunt back and clearly enjoying herself. Hetty seemed unnaturally happy throughout the episode, to the point that I’d have thought she’d been partaking in some of her favorite whiskey. Perhaps it was Linda herself who was happy to be back at work, and it bled into her performance (and I’m sure no whisky was involved). It made me happy too, to see her having such a good time. Let’s hope it’s a sign that she’ll appear on a regular basis this year.
Bantering Deeks – Competent Deeks = Less Happy Fans
Deeks and Kensi ended Season 10 with heartfelt “I love you’s” as they took fire from the bad guys. Their story line quickly moved from intense drama back to random banter, but I enjoyed seeing them together. And Deeks and Sabatino were another of the episode’s highlights. I don’t remember these two sharing too many prior conversations, other than of course Deeks’ memorable chair throwing incident in the boatshed. Remembering how Sabatino almost got Kensi killed put a definite edge to their interplay here, but it was all pretty funny. Erik Palladino may have never had so many one-liners on an acting gig. I liked Deeks educating Sabatino about Patagonia’s ambassadors, and I particularly enjoyed Deeks’ concerns about the wolves, jackals, and “Persian leopards,” which called to mind prior incidents with chucacabra and “wild boar,” and looking out for bears in the woods. It’s great when the writers do apparently remember back to earlier conversations that show us who these characters are. I also liked Deeks’ swearing off the desert, something that took us all the way back to Season 2 Episode 3’s “Borderline.” Well done Mr. Harimoto.
On the other hand, Deeks’ banter seemed to come a bit at the cost of his competence. We didn’t see him contribute much to the group’s safety or progress; rather, he acted like more of a passenger along for the ride (while loudly fretting the entire time). He claimed ignorance of truffles for goodness sake; I thought he and Kensi had enjoyed the white truffle menu at Giorgio Baldi’s? At least this time Kensi didn’t side against her hubby, unlike a similarly banter-filled “Blame It on Rio.” The show usually strikes a fine balance between humor and drama, between danger and cutting the tension with a joke. But sometimes that balance doesn’t quite happen. Here we got some entertaining dialog, but I never worried the team was really in any jeopardy, and Deeks didn’t get to show his smarts or his detective skills. Whether that’s due to the writing or the directing is difficult to say.
Season 11 Continues…
As you can see, wikiDeeks is still here, and looking forward to covering all things Deeks. But real life has also impinged a bit on our ability to offer you our usual thorough coverage. So the best we can promise is a space each week where we can get together to discuss the week’s episode. There may not always be a review attached, or the review may take an extra day or so to get to you. On weeks without a review, we’ll run an episode-specific Discussion post on Monday. If you don’t see it, that means the review will be out later in the week. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate you all sticking with us for all these years and we look forward to continuing to discuss our favorite character with you.
I am happy to tell you to check back later this week for a new entry in Kensi’s Journal. In the meantime, what did you think of “Let Fate Decide”? Tell us your thoughts in the Comments below.