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Review: NCISLA “A Bloody Brilliant Plan” (S11E06)

This week’s NCIS: Los Angeles episode “A Bloody Brilliant Plan” gave us a solid team outing in the guise of a Guy Ritchie film. The look of the show, directed by Terence Nightingall, played well off of the Brit-heavy script, with the teleplay by Frank Military and story by Nightingall, Kate D. Martin, and Military.

An Homage to Its Guests

The episode’s standout element was its deliberate shift from the show’s usual style. We saw quick panning combined with slow motion, and lots of split screens. Partnered with the British underworld element, how could we not think of movies like Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels that featured the same elements? The relatively light tone throughout, and the fabulous dress-up scene at the house/casino, also called to mind the Ocean’s 11 franchise.

Given that the episode’s guest star was Vinnie Jones, who starred in those two Ritchie films, it was clear the showrunners had set out to make an episode different from all others. While I could see how some might find this disconcerting, for me it largely worked. I enjoyed the tone, the British-American on-screen translations, and especially seeing the team try to their hands at their own British accents. The tone was set right from the start and Nightingall maintained it well throughout, with an assist from editor Eric J. Lucas. Deeks’ efforts at a Cockney accent took me straight back to the rooftop bar scene in “Lone Wolf” where he described his accent as a cross between Mary Poppins and Jack Sparrow. I’d credit the writers for the continuity here but I kinda suspect the Poppins reference is all Eric Christian Olsen’s doing. Either way it made me laugh.

Fathers and Children

Jones and his guest co-star Steve Valentine, who played Frankie, were quite effective, with Jones providing some of the episode’s heart as he worried about his daughter, and Valentine providing no end of comic relief with his happy-go-lucky take on, well, everything. I enjoyed them both and wouldn’t mind seeing them again, although I’m not sure it would make sense to do another full-on Guy Ritchie style episode.

The other touching moments came courtesy of everyone’s favorite ex-North Korean spy, Jennifer Kim, AKA Own Granger’s daughter. Just seeing Miguel Ferrer in the “previously on” made me wistful, and the scene at the end with Callen worked well. For a moment I thought we were heading into uncomfortable territory with Callen chatting up his latest love interest, which wouldn’t have worked for me primarily because of their age difference. But instead I think we got a big brother little sister talk and it was a lovely way to keep Granger’s (and Miguel’s) memory alive. And unlike in “Yellow Jack“, where Kensi’s talk with the USAMRIID lady about her grandchild felt a little forced, a little too convenient, here the parallels between Jennifer and Ricky and his daughter reinforced the episode’s theme in a natural way.

Ocean’s 4

While this wasn’t a Densi-heavy episode, it did feature the duo looking spectacular in their undercover garments. I also liked the moment during the final confrontation where Deeks expressed doubt about his ability to shoot from long range. I appreciate that he’s not afraid to show weakness. And then I was proud of him when he took down two of the baddies. His technique did seem to leave a lot to be desired, as he moved around quite a bit compared to completely still Kensi, but then again, he’s always said that he aims better when he’s on the move.

I also enjoyed the whole gang getting into the fun of taunting poor Sam about his coulrophobia. I can totally picture Callen dressing up as a clown for Halloween just to annoy his partner. He and Deeks were pretty adorable sitting together in their red noses.

The only moment that struck a sour note for me was the suggestion of using a dentist’s drill to get a bad guy to talk. At the time, I said out loud, “Really, Frank Military?” I couldn’t believe that the man who wrote “Descent” and “Ascension” would throw the idea out there almost as a joke. ‘Cause it wasn’t a good one, and it detracted from the lighthearted tone.

Still, overall it was a great episode in terms of seeing the team working together. I can’t remember the last time we had an episode with quite so many scenes involving all four of the field agents, all having a pretty good time mocking Sam, faking accents, looking hot, and taking down the bad guys.

Memorable Moments

  • By the way, according to Wikipedia, the term “teleplay” is used in situations where one person writes the actual “shooting” script, and someone else writes the “story.” Typically both are done by the same person, who is credited as the “writer.” And “Story by” doesn’t just mean you had a general idea for the story. It involves some actual writing “representing a contribution distinct from screenplay and consisting of basic narrative, idea, theme or outline indicating character development.”
  • While I appreciated the light tone throughout, it didn’t work for me in the opening shots of the coffins they were using to smuggle the gold. It was the only other false note besides the drilling comment.
  • I loved Sam sharing his hatred of rhyming, of all things. That’s gotta rank up there in terms of meta remarks with Sam’s offer to Callen (ex-Robin Chris O’Donnell) in “Plan B” to get him a sidecar.

Who would have guessed Frank Military’s first two writing efforts this season would be about as far from his signature dark style as “Hail Mary” and “A Bloody Brilliant Plan”? I enjoyed both, but I wouldn’t mind a return to some of that darkness as well. While we wait, tell us what you thought of this week’s episode. Did the style shift work for you?

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.

9 Comments on Review: NCISLA “A Bloody Brilliant Plan” (S11E06)

  1. Thank you Karen for your review. You always have insights that I don’t see until you mention them. I thought the episode was entertaining except for the dentist drill. Eco and Dani looked hot in the casino scene. I would like to see explosions and car chases. I don’t know if the writers are taking the show in a different direction. It was good to see the team working together.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Karen for your thoughtful review. This episode was certainly a departure from the usual format, and while it was enjoyable, I wouldn’t like it as a steady diet. I was not a fan of the split screen, but I suppose it was the most efficient way of showing the team’s transformation into some of her majesty’s subjects. I loved the use of “Green Onions.” I have to agree with Sam on the accents and rhyming; while amusing at first, it quickly got old. The dental drill line did elicit a groan from me, but I did chuckle at the team teasing the usually unflappable Sam with the clown noses. And what a bittersweet moment seeing Miguel Ferrer in the “previously on.” I am happy that the producers continue to keep his memory alive. I liked how they worked Jennifer Kim into the storyline, and her scene with Callen in the bar was very effective. I suspect that we may be seeing her again.

    While I am familiar with the wonderful Steve Valentine, I had never seen Vinnie Jones before. He was very convincing as a crook and as a man desperate to find his daughter. His everything must be “awfentic” line cracked me up. I loved seeing the core four working together again. And didn’t our team look spectacular all duded up? And yes, I have to say that ECO needs a visit with a good hair stylist, as he is looking a bit haggard. I am worried that he will get whiplash from continually tossing his head to keep the hair out of his eyes. Do you think he was once frightened by a hairbrush at some point, lol? It was great seeing Deeks in his new role as an uneasy sniper while Kensi was cool, calm and focused. And, yay, he took out two bad guys with his new found skill. Do you think Mr. & Mrs. Deeks practice sniping on the weekends, lol?

    All in all, an enjoyable episode, and quite a departure for Mr. Military.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for your amazing review Karen.
    I hadn’t seen any spoilers (I didn’t know Jennifer Kim would appear in this episode) so that “previously on…” with Granger really shocked me.
    I didn’t hate this episode, but the style they used in this episode isn’t really my cup of tea and that dentist’s drill talk really bothered me too. I liked the second half of this episode a lot more than the first half and I really liked Jennifer Kim in this episode.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Karen, thanks for a really good review. I enjoyed the episode. It was a good team episode, lots of all four agents working together. I thoroughly enjoyed all four of them undercover and I thought Deeks and Kensi looked spectacular. I did miss Hetty and Nell but was really happy to see Jennifer Kim. It is wonderful to recall Granger and Jennifer is an interesting character played by a very good actress. Hope they bring her back again. I wholeheartedly agree with your comment about the dentist drill, just really inappropriate. Overall it was good, I am still hoping though that we get a story arc this season that has a touch of darkness.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Debra Gillespie // November 7, 2019 at 2:14 AM // Reply

    Thanks for the excellent review, Karen. After this episode aired, I kept following the fan social media sites on how others liked this, and there seemed to be little middle ground…people either loved it, or were bored or disliked it. I was in the first camp….I really enjoyed it, even more when I went back and watched it again. A lot of comments were that it was a watered down version of Snatch (I’ve never seen this one…will have to watch it sometime) or Ocean’s Eleven. But since I’m a baby boomer, the multi screens and the 60’s instrumental Green Onions made me think immediately of the original “The Thomas Crown Affair” with Steve McQueen (another blond, blue-eyed actor that was very easy on the eye). True, this type of caper has been filmed numerous times, but for me this was a refreshing change for this series.
    Loved the “clown” opening sequence, with a short but rare pairing of Deeks and Callen, and Sam’s rhyming comment was for me one of the best inside jokes in the series. I noticed ECO rolled his eyes a little when LL Cool J made that comment…perhaps trying his best not to laugh?
    Besides bringing back Granger’s daughter, I thought it certainly was a mini-tribute to Miguel by also having Steve Valentine, who worked with Ferrer in Crossing Jordan. I wouldn’t mind if he and Vinnie Jones come back sometime; they were very entertaining, especially in the first boatshed scene. By deciding not to go into Witness Protection, it keeps the door open for the Jennifer Kim character for perhaps another appearance….and it looks like Callen has gotten over how she roughed him up in Cancel Christmas.
    I also shuddered over the dentist drill reference, but really liked seeing the field team all undercover at once for a change. It’s too bad that Eric or Nell weren’t in this episode….I would have liked to hear how their cockney accents would have compared to the others.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Karen for another great review. It was bloody brilliant episode for me. Being great fan of Guy Ritchie and English (black) humour, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Script, camera, editing, directing, acting were excellent with superfun and supercool guest starts. I loved that episode looked differently and I find it good to change the regular scheme from time to time . To paraphrase Kenzo Takada television is like eating, you shouldn’t stick to the same menu.
    The appearance of Granger and his daughter was another great surprise that I appreciated very much. I also appreciated very much our team dressed up to the nines with Deeks’ hair still going strong ( what can I say, as shallow as it may sound I love his longer hair).
    The dental drill reference was odd at the first, but being mentioned by English former criminal who is/was certainly no stranger to it and dismissed immediately by Sam who didn’t find it amusing at all, didn’t rub me the wrong way.
    As I always see Deeks’ readiness to show his insecurities and emotions as the proof of his selfconfidence and (general) abilities, the sniper scene was another memorable moment for me.
    All in all strong television hour and one of my favourite episodes ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks, Karen, for your great review.
    Like many of you here, I enjoyed this episode, it was good to see our team undercover and how spectacular they all looked. What I realize I’m really missing this season, though, is a little more consistent story-arc that may be developed in multiple episodes. I know that sometimes such arcs were a bit of a letdown in the past (like the mole), but most of the times they were very exciting. I hope there will be something similar soon, but it seems the show hasn’t been planning anything very long-term for ages and it’s a pity.


  8. Great review! Thank you!

    Well, much like this season so far, I could take or leave this episode. My feeling is that they’re approaching this season as if it were their last and they’re going around the writers’ room and requesting ideas of what they want to play with. So this episode was their homage to those caper movies even though it may not have any connection to anything else. Wish fulfillment.


  9. We are just hours away from Season 12 and I am looking forward to all your reviews and comments. Meanwhile I am half way through Season 11. I recently watched ‘A Bloody Brilliant Plan’.
    As a Brit, more specifically English, I was always intrigued by this episode, and looked forward to it. I wasn’t disappointed. I was pleased the team hooked up with the London underworld rather than M.I.5 or 6. I enjoyed the team poking fun at Sam’s clown issues.
    Vinnie Jones followed in the footsteps of Bill Goldberg and Shane McMahon as a sportsman turned actor. He was a well known footballer, apparently represented Wales. I think he brought a depth to the character. I didn’t have a problem with the dentist’s drill remark, I heard it as a cack-handed compliment. Frankie considered himself a hard man and thought it would take an even harder man to withstand the drill. He wouldn’t have seen the Season 4 finale and would have been impressed that Deeks didn’t give in.
    I liked the fact that the English guys managed fool Callen and Sam, and I enjoyed the banter in the Boat Shed. I think the British humour travelled quite well. The only thing I’m not sure about, the accents. Not that there was anything wrong with the accents as such, but why they felt they had to speak with a ‘British accent’. I’ll let Deeks off, as he always does accents. It’s just that we have so many accents, we don’t all speak like the Queen, nor with Cockney accents. You don’t all speak like Joe Biden. Fair enough, Fatima’s ‘Top of the morning’ sounded more Irish. I do accept that Cockney is one of the more recognisable, and possibly intelligible accents. Equally I think the accents were in jest, I like to think with affection. Might be making a fuss about nothing, I did enjoy the episode.


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