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Review: NCISLA “Hail Mary” (S11E03)

As Deeks would say, now that’s what I’m talking about. After a slow start to Season 11, writers R. Scott Gemmill and Frank Military along with the perfectly named Benny Boom teamed up this week for the year’s first stellar episode, “Hail Mary.” It may have had a few plot holes, but that was beside the point. The point was to make us laugh with one of the funniest episodes I can remember, and even more importantly, one where the whole team (sans Hetty) worked together to take down the bad guys.

Babysitting Advice, Cowboys, and Weekend at Bernie’s

I haven’t laughed so hard at an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles since maybe “SEAL Hunter” or even “Wanted,” written by Military and Gemmill, respectively. Right from the start, the humor just worked. Line after line landed, from each and every character, and worked to keep the episode’s tone decidedly light. The funniest lines by far came from Deeks and Kilbride.

Gerald McRaney is, to use an expression he would be familiar with, a hoot. His non-stop exasperation provided a great foil for Deeks’ sarcasm or Beale’s goofiness, and his rants against what he sees as spoiled Millennial whippersnappers were perfectly in character. Kilbride a video game champion? Don’t be an idiot – of course not, I’m an adult…

And oh my goodness Eric Christian Olsen played stand-up comedian all the way through, and yet his performance never felt over the top. Every situation really just seemed to call out for a joke from Deeks. Right from the start, with his deadpan comment about being sold a timeshare by the guys in suits, his sarcasm and silliness set the episode’s tone. And he never stopped. It’s episodes like this that make me think this show could almost morph into a sitcom. That’s great writing, probably accompanied by some great improv, along with capable directing and editing choices too.

Here are just a few of the awesome funnies:

  • That doesn’t seem like the best babysitting advice I’ve ever gotten.
  • Callen is a good cowboy name.
  • Just to clarify, we can order room service then?
  • I really hope this is work related.
  • I think he just called me a whore.
  • (Conklin) I can’t swim.  (Speaking of cowboys, Deeks channeling Butch Cassidy) Don’t worry, the fall will probably kill you.
  • (Callen) Well we do have one thing they don’t have.  (Deeks) Friendship?  (Awww, Deeks you are the sweetest even when you’re being snarky.)
  • (Conklin) You threw me off a hotel balcony.  (Deeks) One time. Get over it.
  • You ever consider writing for Hallmark?

It wasn’t just that Deeks was so funny, it was that he was funny without being incompetent. He was the jokester, not the butt of everyone else’s jokes. Just how is it that one week we can have an episode where the humor seems strained and not in character – or at the expense of a character, and then turn around and get this gem? It really goes to show why Gemmill and Military are the show’s best writers. Although I sometimes call him the Prince of Darkness, Military has written very funny episodes in the past. “SEAL Hunter” is one of my guilty pleasures for that reason, but I also enjoyed the Callen-in-a-mental-hospital silliness that was “Crazy Train.” And I’ve long thought of Gemmill as the show’s funniest writer. He utterly dominated my lists of Top 3 Funniest Episodes and Top 3 Funniest Scenes. Can we demote them from their showrunner and executive producer jobs so they can write more?

The Team is Back

After two episodes where we rarely saw more than two characters together in a scene, how fun was it to see the whole gang (almost anyway) together throughout the episode? It felt as if balance had been restored to the universe. This is what we want to see. These characters we love, working together, solving crimes and killing bad guys. We watch the show because we love the characters, and when they’re together, their chemistry is truly special. Sadly, Hetty was absent. This episode was filmed at the end of Season 10, so hopefully we’ll be seeing Linda Hunt more regularly going forward. Let’s just hope Season 11 brings us even more episodes where the whole cast is on set together.

Memorable Moments

  • I couldn’t figure out why Conklin couldn’t take off the duct tape himself. His hands were bound, like, right by his head. And surely Kensi and Deeks had at least one knife apiece, so why they didn’t just cut his zip ties off is beyond me. I guess it was a choice for silly over logical, and I’m OK with that. Who cares how silly the plot is when there is so much laughter and teamwork to be enjoyed throughout?
  • I also had issues with the random death of Adnan. Since when do bad guys drop dead without an explanation? Did they not want to at least check the video feed to see what happened?
  • It’s too bad they couldn’t have aired this episode before Beale went off on his secret assignment. It was odd to see him suddenly back with no explanation. Really odd. You’d think if they were so anxious to give Callen a new love interest, they could have just brought the Israeli agent from the premiere back with them to L.A. to chase some Israeli bad guys in week 3.
  • What an excellent little scene of Deeks and Artie providing cover for the retreating team, and Kensi backing him up and calling him Baby. I love it when they get to show their Mr. and Mrs. Smith side.
  • So the bar is called The Squid and the Dagger. I like it. I assume sea-loving Deeks is the squid and deadly, knife-loving Kensi is the dagger? By the way, google has some cool images of tattoos of squids and daggers in case you’re looking for inspiration.

Oh, and in honor of Homeless Deeks’ short but memorable appearance, wikiDeeks has donated $150 to the charity he inspired, Pets of the Homeless. This great organization provides food and veterinary care to the animals that sometimes provide a homeless person’s one source of love and companionship. It brings the total we’ve raised to date to $4380. If you are so inspired, check out the link in our Pets of the Homeless article.

Next week’s episode looks promising. I’m assuming it’s the one Gemmill referred to as the “second” of the season (the second filmed?), where an incident affects Kensi and Deeks. Fingers crossed for some intensity. As much as I loved the humor of “Hail Mary,” you know I love the angst even more. I just wish next week’s episode was handled by Military, but hopefully Andrew Bartels can bring us some strong Densi moments. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, what did you think of “Hail Mary”? Did you laugh out loud as much as I did, or did the humor feel over the top? Did you enjoy seeing the whole team together? What were your favorite lines? Tell us all 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.

16 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Hail Mary” (S11E03)

  1. Excellent review!

    It was a better written episode. And on Twitter, I let NCISLA know, but I also assigned them to binge watch seasons 3 through 5 to refresh their memories on what “good” looks like. I really did and I’m not sorry. 🙂

    Gerald McRaney is a gift to any show he guests on. Love the crankiness on this one and his gruff doctor role on This Is Us. I would love it if he became a regular on this show but I imagine he’s having too much fun playing different characters.

    As you mentioned, great lines. Yes, I think my favorite was Callen being a great cowboy name and Callen agreeing.

    And, yes, the plot holes were HUGE. A young man just DIES in custody? The other guy didn’t even say anything in alarm? It’s already been established he freaks out easily yet he didn’t say anything when the man slumped down dead? There’s no one watching the monitors? They mentioned stroke or heart attack … and the young man himself just slumped in his chair? I could go on but seriously.

    And the father was a horrible man but also seriously, they’re ok with giving him back a dead body of his son? That’s cold, people. At least say something like, look, he died in our custody but we can give you the body back that would be important enough to trade, too.

    And now timeline logic, they’ve messed up with inserting this one with Beale there. Who’s in charge over there?

    I WANT THEM TO DO BETTER, DAMMIT. We know they can do it because they’ve done it before but it’s like they don’t care anymore when we still do and that is hurtful and so frustrating to me. I don’t want to not care how well the show is doing. Not yet. Either do the best show you can each episode (recognizing what an amazing opportunity they’re in) or don’t do it at all. Walk away and leave us with memories of better times.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Even just a casual line about the guy having a fake tooth with poison in it would be more acceptable than what they did ….


  2. I loved your review, Karen. It made me want to go back and rewatch it. I didn’t laugh out loud like you did, but I did enjoy it. I read somewhere that this ep was filmed at the end of last year, which is the reason Beale is there, but the sequence was weird. As for plot holes, the biggest one for me was…how did an obnoxious, lightweight twit like Adnan find and kidnap a Navy Intelligence analyst? Or even know who and where she was? I guess his father was behind it all, but they should have given us more background on that to make it clear. His father had to know he was squirrelly…so he puts him in charge of this whole thing? Not believable, but it was funny. I did laugh at the “Weekend at Bernie” bit. It didn’t surprise me that the movie was one of Deeks’ favorites. And it was good to see Artie again.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It was definitely refreshing compared to the first 2. Yeah, holes aside it was enjoyable and had a great pace to it. Loved Kilbride And as far as next weeks incident effecting Kensi and Deeks, while I am not expecting boring, I am wondering exactly how much more trauma(short of death) these two have to go through….whose turn is it for the long term hospital stay? If anyone can get through it tho, its them! We shall see!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you as always Karen, for your thoughtful review. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this episode as much as you. While I was glad to see the team working together (at least in the same room together) I was furious (and a little insulted, really) at the lack of continuity in the storytelling. After all the angst from a tearful Nell in last weeks episode about not knowing what Beale is up to, not being able to communicate with him, never hearing from him even when they are in the same city except for cryptic messages on an obscure cosplay web site, there he was, big as life, working side by side with his lady love. Something has gone really, really wrong here. Do they just not care anymore? Maybe after 10 years they are burned out and don’t feel like making an effort at their former greatness. Also, was it just me, or did anyone else feel like that whole scene in the firing range with Callen, Sam and Beale was fake; shot separately and then patched together? Sloppy editing.

    As for the comedic aspects of this episode, I admit, there were some witty one liners here, but I for one, do not want this show to morph into a sitcom. While I appreciate a lighter touch as much as the next guy, it was waaaay over the top here. That “are we safe, no we are not safe with you, yes, we are safe,” bit was decidedly not funny. And why couldn’t garter-guy just pull the duct tape from his mouth, as his hands were right by his face? I found the scene with the increasingly apoplectic Beale and the Admiral brain numbingly stupid. The way that they are writing Beale, how are we ever to believe that he is capable of conducting some important, covert undercover assignment? He can barely complete a sentence these days. I hate what they have done to this character.

    I didn’t buy this “Adnan kid” just dropping dead, unnoticed, in the interrogation room, with not a peep from Conklin, and how the death was handled by a sort of shrug of the shoulders. And the whole Weekend at Bernie’s thing? Give me one large, personal break. The bad guys in this go-round seemed like caricatures.

    Despite the fact that I didn’t think that this was Military/Gemmill ‘s best effort, there were some things I did like. I was happy to see our beloved agents together again. I thought Gerald McRaney’s irascible Admiral was a hoot, and I hope we see more of him in the future. He would make a great foil for Hetty. Deeks was cute as a button in his gardeners hat.

    I am convinced that we are seeing the last season of NCIS LA. I agree with the above poster who implored the writers to go back and look at seasons 3-8, when the writing was solid, the stories made sense, the team worked together, and the producers were not just phoning it in. Here’s hoping.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you for your great review Karen.
    I especially liked the way this episode felt more team-centered (missed Hetty a lot though) and I really like Kilbride as a guest character.
    ECO is a great actor (acting was amazing), but I have to admit that for me personally the humor did feel a bit over the top, I think it was the amount of humor that was too much for me and I wish there had been more balance between seriousness and comedy. The plot holes annoyed me too, but overall I enjoyed this episode more than the previous two.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Karen, thanks for the wonderful review. I was totally entertained by this episode. I re-watched last night and it was even funner the second time. Since I knew the storyline, I could focus on the lines, and as you said Deeks and Kilbride had the funniest lines. I thought Eric Christian Olsen was really amazing , he was so funny and his timing just perfect.

    The story had plot holes, and certainly was out of order in the scheme of this season but it still showed why this is a great acting team to watch. It was an episode with all four of the team together, being a team, and really playing off each other. In some ways it felt like the wedding episode, in that all of them interacted playfully but also respectfully of the others. Everyone was competent and the humor was not at anyone’s expense, except the bad guys. It felt like the actors, were having a good time, and not phoning their part in while they were doing something else.

    I hope we get more episodes with our team and they can bring back Kilbride anytime.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s great to have wikiDeeks back!

    I was so thrown off by the lack of continuity that it made it hard to really focus on the story. To me it felt more like pre-wedding episode than end of last season. I’ll have to watch it again. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more the second time around.

    Great review, Karen!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks Karen for the great review, I always look forward to them, so well written and articulate. I really enjoyed this episode, it made me laugh so much I cried and if that happens, its a great episode. Deeks was his usual self, lots of one liners, some funnier than others, but then its hard to get the balance right every time. The flirty scene in the bathrobe was priceless, would like to see more of them in the future.
    I love Gerald McRaney, for me he made this episode, his banter and old fashioned thinking (just like Hetty) was hilarious, especially the scene with Adnan and his very large gun. I really hope he pops up again in this season, he is such a great actor.
    I am a critic like every fan, and I would love every episode to bring me everything I would like, but that is never going to happen.
    We are blessed that this show is now into Season 11 and I hope that it continues for another 11.
    I love this cast and its’ characters ( of course I am Deeks biased).
    Looking forward to Episode 8, the 250th, which Eric has written about Hetty’s backstory, with his gift with words, know it will be magic
    Thanks again Karen

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for your review, Karen. I enjoyed this episode more than the first two, but still not my favorite. What I especially liked was to see the team together again after the very disappointing start of the season and some scenes and moments were quite funny. I think ECO did a great job here and luckily Deeks was never incompetent. Sometimes it just takes a little effort to write characters…in character.
    After seeing the amazing celebration for NCIS:LA’s 250th episode, I am really looking forward to see what ECO has penned for us. He does seem to have a gift with words and I can’t wait to watch “Mother”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree! I can’t wait to see what ECO has in store for us in “Mother.”

      And I would like to congratulate the excellent cast and crew of NCIS LA on the completion of their 250th episode. What a wonderful achievement from these talented people. It is no easy task keeping the viewers so engaged for so long. They are wonderful storytellers, who have given us excitement, suspense, humor, camaraderie, horror, grief, sadness and loss, and beautiful, spectacular romance (sometimes all in one episode!). Long may they run!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Debra Gillespie // October 16, 2019 at 3:49 PM // Reply

    Great review as usual, Karen. I agree with a lot of the comments already written…the plot holes as noted seemed almost as wide as a cathedral door, but with the great one-liners and the humorous banter, like the wedding episode I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
    I agree that Kilbride was a hoot…. McRaney certainly channeled his “inner curmudgeon”. When
    he or Arcady show up, I don’t mind a Hetty-less episode so badly.. (While I was watching this, I kept wondering if they’ve ever thought of putting both Kilbride and Arcady in the same episode – I wager that one would really be a hoot).
    So glad to see most of the team in a bullpen session, I miss those…and yea, wonderful to see Artie again. Callen in “Active Measures” put on a gardener hat and looked pretty good, but have to admit I think Deeks looked a bit better. And I’m sure both ECO and COD, being avid golfers, enjoyed the golf course scenes, they probably got in a round or two before or after filming.
    The major complaint is the same as several of you mentioned…Nell missing Eric in the episode before, and then he pops up seemingly out of nowhere in this one. If I hadn’t known “Hail Mary” was filmed at the tail end of season 10, I would be pretty confused…I know from reading other fan social media sites that a lot of fans, both new and regular, were wondering what the heck was going on,,,wasn’t Beale supposed to be absent on a mission, or what?…was the thing a lot of people were wondering. This episode was pretty self-contained; I can’t figure out why it wasn’t placed before “Decoy” or even kept out of the mix until later in the season. Looking forward to “Yellow Jack”…looks like it will be interesting, and to see Navid from “Allegiance” in season 5 again.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Great review Karen, I really enjoyed seeing the team back together, hope we see more of that…I love seeing the banter between Kensi and Deeks, I just wish we would see a hug or kiss, like when they were going together…..can only hope..I love NCIS LA, and congratulations on 250 Episodes…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I think this was the best episode of the season so far and I agree this was the funniest. We often complain about an episode, but we shouldn’t place the blame on the actors, as the words come from the writers. You mentioned “Wanted’ as one of the funniest which was directed by Chris O’Donnell, but it was also famous for another line spoken by Kensi to Sabatino in the library when she said, “Deeks was barely a good partner”. For some reason, it annoyed the hell out of me. That being said I loved your review, Karen. You’re the best. wikiDeeks forever.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thanks for your wonderful review, Karen. And thanks to you and everyone else for pointing out the plot holes and/or oddities that I missed. I was kind of stunned that Kensi and Deeks toosed Conklin from the balcony with his hands and feet still bound, especially after he claimed he couldn’t swim. I agree with all the WTH sentiments about Adnan’s death and will add mine: why did no one seem remotely bothered by it? I mean a young man died in their custody and Kilbride and Sam seem more inconvenienced and pissed than anything else. And the rest didn’t seem to care much, if at all either.

    Not sure why TPTB couldn’t have switched this ep and the last one in terms of Beale’s. This way we could have Nell missing him after he was last seen for a while. I don’t recall enough about the first two eps to decide if there was a reason why they couldn’t (says a lot, doesn’t that, PTB?)

    Other than that, I really did enjoy the ep; it was an entertaining hour (or 43 minutes) of TV.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Wow, I thought this episode was awful. There were so many plot holes it was like my colander. The entire hotel scene was silly, why the admiral couldn’t tell them anything was ridiculous, Deeks dressing up–not my thing, Conklin undressed because? Also, pushing a grown man who doesn’t swim and is trussed up like a turkey off a balcony into a pool doesn’t seem the best decision Kensi and Deeks have ever made. The death was “convenience” –and no one was watching the interrogation room. Why Kensi didn’t shoot the woman on the golf course immediately made no sense. After all, she was holding a gun on the intelligence officer. The entire episode was laughable and not in a good way.

    Liked by 1 person

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