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Review: NCISLA “Kill Beale Vol. 1” (S11E09)


This week’s NCIS: Los Angeles episode “Kill Beale Vol. 1” brought us the return of two long absent stars, Linda Hunt and Barrett Foa, although the star we at wikiDeeks care most about, Eric Christian Olsen, was completely absent. Written by showrunner R. Scott Gemmill and Samantha Chasse with her first NCIS:LA script, it reminded us what we love – and maybe don’t – about both Beale and Hetty. It also likely works as a set-up to next week’s 250th episode, “Mother.”

Bulletproof Is Back

Of all the show’s main characters, for me Eric Beale has had the least satisfying arc from Season 1 until now. The best part of that arc has been the growth of his relationship with Nell, which has by and large progressed with great fidelity to both characters. I truly believe they belong together. The aspect of Eric’s character development that’s always confused me is the way he’s morphed from confident geek, to over the top silly, to competent enough to be a field agent, to whatever we got with this episode. Oftentimes his silliness does provide a welcome dose of levity to the show, much as the humor provided by Deeks brings. But whereas Deeks becomes super serious and super competent the second bullets start flying, Beale has never been able to rise to the occasion quite so gracefully. It would be fine if the show kept him in Ops, but having him try to become an agent, and then take on a dangerous undercover assignment, hasn’t felt believable (I know, nothing on the show is believable, but you know what I mean, right?). At times it’s even felt out and out negligible to put him at risk in the field.

In this week’s return, we got a silly Beale addled by tranquilizer darts, caffeine, and truth serum. R. Scott Gemmill has always seemed to enjoy portraying Beale for comic effect, so the fact that we got him faking vomit and running around a playground in an effort to escape the bad guys felt, unfortunately for me, about what we’d expect. While I admire the way Nell values Eric’s childlike outlook on the world, I just wish it was only his outlook, and not his behavior, that was quite so childlike.

The Duchess of Deception Returns

The part of the episode that worked best for me happened on the Nell side. She was appropriately worried, even before she knew what had happened. Her vulnerability when telling Kensi about the Neric lack of communication felt very real, and Kensi provided excellent support. Kensi’s vague reference to her time in Afghanistan provided a perfect backdrop for Nell’s anger at Hetty later, a reference to another time when she failed to give her team useful, potential life-saving intel.

The highlight of the episode though was Nell confronting Hetty. I’ve always loved scenes where characters challenge Hetty. For example, there was Kensi yelling at her to get Deeks out of jail in “Internal Affairs,” and my favorite to date, Deeks taking her on in “Payback,” shortly after he memorably hurled a chair across the interrogation room and tried to break Sabatino’s face. Here, Nell was perfectly justified in everything she said. I’m sure it was my imagination, but it felt almost as if Gemmill was deflecting fan criticism about turning Beale into an agent by blaming it all on Hetty. And you know what? She totally deserves it. Her willingness to put agents’ lives in danger is part of her job, but her consistent refusal to share pertinent case details with them, and with the rest of the team, has frequently led to trouble that might otherwise have been avoided. (Don’t even get me started on the whole White Ghost debacle.) While it’s always frustrated me about her character, I credit the showrunners for keeping her bad judgment such a consistent flaw throughout the years.

Even if we didn’t get clear indications about Eric’s and Nell’s futures, they were discussed (and it sounds like we will hear more in the upcoming “Answers”). The references to Beale trying to become an agent made it sound like perhaps that idea is in the past? (I hate seeing him in the opening credits every week with a gun instead of a computer, sigh.) And Nell has come to the conclusion that she wants nothing more to do with becoming the new Hetty. I can’t be you and I don’t think I wanna be! While I think Nell could do Hetty’s job, potentially better than Hetty, I don’t see it making her happy. Hopefully these two will retreat back up to Ops and go back to their adorable meerkat ways. They seemed off to the perfect start with that final shot of Nell watching Eric dance around, back where he belongs.

Stay Tuned for Next Week’s Episode

The episode as a whole had a weird vibe, as if the nighttime shooting somehow drained everyone of their energy. I didn’t feel the usual sense of urgency from Sam or Callen, or Kensi either. Sam and Callen even seemed to be walking slowly as they approached the think tank office. It made for a bit of a jarring contrast when juxtaposed against Beale’s over the top energy in his scenes. And it also really made me miss Deeks. He provides the show with much needed energy and lightness, and an episode without him just reminded us all of what this show would have been like if he’d never run into them on that MMA assignment.

It also made me appreciate how most of the time, when Eric Christian Olsen has taken an episode off, they’ve at least managed to work in a single opening or closing scene with him. But it would appear that this time, he was too busy getting ready to shoot episode 250, “Mother,” which he co-wrote. “Kill Beale Vol. 1” sure felt like it was setting up a number of themes we might see continue in “Mother.”

For example, there’s idea that Callen is growing into a “real boy.” His growing closer to people, having a family, has been touched on several times this season already. His thinking that it’s time to move on, to return to his lone wolf roots, is one way to deal with his feelings. Another might be to take on Hetty’s role as puppetmaster. Is it something he could do, now that he cares about these people so much? Is it something he’d want to do? He has grown from early season Callen, and I liked the way the episode ended with him seemingly pondering these questions.

And what exactly does Hetty’s future hold? We’ve seen so little of Linda Hunt this season that it wouldn’t seem like she’s destined to stick around NCIS for much longer. She sure was quick to write off Nell and turn to Callen, wasn’t she? That turn showed Hetty’s cold and calculating side. I can’t wait to see what develops next week.

Memorable Moments

  • I do love the show’s long-running gag of Eric’s pajama selections. Always good for a laugh.
  • Aww, how adorable is Kensi’s wedding photo on Deeks’ phone image? I so wanted her to call him, just to hear his voice for a few minutes.
  • How could Eric Beale of all people allow his technology to monitor him? I hope Sam gives him a strong lecture about spycraft.
  • The whole Beale undercover operation was so thinly developed that it felt like an afterthought to tell us at the end what the Chinese were up to. Will we find out next week how the fake agents knew so much about Hetty? And why did they ask such odd, general questions about her to someone who’d been in San Francisco and out of touch for months? Wouldn’t they have been better off kidnapping Nell?

What did you think of “Kill Beale Vol. 1”? How much did you miss Deeks? Did you enjoy Nell giving Hetty a piece of her mind? Tell us what you thought in the Comments below. And to everyone celebrating, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

About Karen P (209 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 “Kill Beale Vol. 1” (S11E09)

  1. Bluenet13 (Jess) // November 27, 2019 at 7:29 AM // Reply

    Hi Karen, happy early Thanksgiving and thanks for another great review. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this episode. It’s hard to explain but the best idea that comes to mind is that I liked the content of the scenes but didn’t like the demeanor of the characters while playing them and overall vibe of the episode. For example, I liked Callen wondering if their constant teasing of Eric is what pushed him into the dangerous job, and Sam stating that Eric wouldn’t do well if questioned under duress. But I didn’t like how unconcerned they seemed on those scenes. Like Eric’s life wasn’t really in danger so they could just continue moving in what seemed like slow motion and calmly discuss their thoughts.

    Thinking back to the previous times team members have been in trouble, this one didn’t have any of the intensity and threat of danger that I loved on those other episodes. Nell is the only one that seemed to be worried and she was the highlight of the episode for me. I loved both her scenes with Hetty and Kensi. And speaking of Kensi, is it smart to send her to question a suspect alone? I get that ECO couldn’t be there but, for me, it was a weird contrast to see Kensi running for her life while Sallen calmly went about their business in SF. As for Hetty, I have disagreed with a lot of her past decisions but I have still always loved her character. But on this ep, she just made me sad. And it truly feels like she just doesn’t wanna be there anymore and is willing to get anyone to take her place so she can get the hell out of NCIS. I miss the times of Hetty and Owen sharing a scotch during one of their talks.

    And now onto Deeke, I understand that the themes of this episode might somehow be connected to Mother, but I wouldn’t have aired them in consecutive weeks if it meant ECO would have to miss Kill Beale. Deeks’ presence would have made the ep better and I just think that for an episode that involves the abduction of a team member, all remaining members should have been there. Now I’m curious to see ECO’s episode and I hope that, as an actor in the show, he gets what the other writers are missing cause I still believe the show has all the potential in the world and the right cast to do it, and that the problems with it most often than not fall into the writing. If the basketball sneak peek is any indication, I think I will love Mother, cause that brief scene felt like the old LA that I love and miss.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Definitely a bummer that we have to endure another Deeksless episode (even if we know the reasons are good ones!), but it is good to see the band coming back together (since we know Deeks really isn’t too far away, unlike the other two who resurfaced). I’m just really surprised the show hasn’t hinted more as to eat might come this season, especially after they started so many threads in the past two that just fell away (tho, now that I type that, maybe that means they’re learning, lol).
    I didn’t notice the lack of urgency until you mentioned it, but now that you have, it IS pretty glaringly obvious, and will probably bug me in the future lol. I do have a response for the question you posited: I think that the software spying is what got Eric’s attention in the first place that this company wasn’t what it seemed. It seemed like he was up there for a (temporary, but long-ish term) consulting gig (when Nell mentioned it a few episodes ago at least that’s how I took it), but I’m guessing he noticed the digital monitoring and in doing some super secret reverse hacking, figured out who was behind it and that’s what started the case. In doing so, he’d have to leave the monitoring up and “active” as to not tip them off that he was onto them.

    Anyway, all I’ve left to say is: IS IT SUNDAY YET?!?! I want it now! Heehee!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy almost Thanksgiving! Great review as you pretty much nailed what I was thinking. No Deeks, even for a brief moment was definitely disappointing. Along with that thought of sending Kensi on her own, it was kind of a letdown not seeing backup arrive and get her and the suspect out of the panic room. Come back from commercial and just like that, they are at the boatshed and she’s giving him a cup of tea as if they weren’t just surrounded and grossly out gunned. The lack of urgency to help Beale was surprising indeed. Hopefully with “Mother” and the episode after that, which I hear is pretty good, they get back to more of what we have grown accustomed to over the years.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The reason I started watching NCIS Los Angeles all those years ago was Linda Hunt. She brought the gravitas to the show from the very beginning, bringing one of the greatest characters on television to life. Hetty was and remains mysterious. We all have our own version of her in our minds. Is she the fairy godmother? Is she the one who dispenses tough love? Is she always watching for good or bad reasons? She is all those things, but her true nature is always kept behind the curtain. She is not the kind mother we want her to be, even though she cares deeply for all of them. She lived a deceptive life of a spy, and broke the rules when it suited her purposes. She keeps her agents off balance and us as well. Let’s face it…she uses people and sends them into harms way to get the job done. They all believe she cares for them and protects them, and she does both, but first and foremost is the job at hand. Eric was the “victim” this time, although despite all the craziness and silliness, he managed to evade the two bad people.

    Lots of holes in this one, but I think this is the beginning of the arc I’ve been waiting for. I think ECO’s “Mother” will reveal some of what Hetty has kept behind that dark curtain of her past dealings. Like the moment she shocked Deeks in Impact by popping out from behind the curtains in his living room, I’m hoping to find out more about her dark side. I’m anxious to see the other characters’ reaction to the revelations. If this is the last season, I want a strong ending…a no holds barred look at all the characters and what changes this job has fostered in them.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jennifer McPherson // November 27, 2019 at 1:34 PM // Reply

    Great review Karen. Not sure what to say about this one except, maybe, ‘Go Nell’! And without Deeks ‘what else is there’? Beal out of Ops just doesn’t cut it for me. Bring on “Mother”.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you so much for your great review Karen.
    I, too, am a little bit disappointed in this episode, mainly because of how Beale as a character and the storyline were written (I totally agree with what Karen wrote about Beale and the character development) and of course I missed Deeks too. One of my favorite episodes is “Personal” and I wish this episode had same kind of suspense and plot twists.
    Even though I am a bit disappointed it was nice to see Hetty and Beale back and I did enjoy some moments, there were some great Kensi/Nell scenes and that Hetty/Callen scene at the end made me really curious about the future.
    Happy Thanksgiving !

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I was a bit disappointed with this episode for many reasons, some of which might be unpopular here. First off, I am never happy when Deeks is absent, but I will forgive this time, as I know ECO was in full preparation mode for “Mother.” I also took issue with the lack of urgency in the team’s efforts to find Beale, and with Kensi going alone to question a suspect, getting in a gun battle, and then seemingly magically appearing in the boat shed serving coffee. While I was happy to have Mr. Foa back on set, I just have to say that I hate what the writers have done to his character, turning his once brilliant, competent and a little quirky technical operator into a goofy, apoplectic, 40 year old grown ass man in kiddie pajamas. He can barely complete a coherent sentence, so how can we believe that Hetty would send him undercover to spy on the Chinese? I know that most fans find Beale’s childlike behavior endearing; I don’t. I sincerely hope that they quit putting Neric in the field as agents. I prefer them as brilliantly effective tech operators. The team couldn’t survive without them. This brings me to Hetty, the major manipulator. I have always had a love/hate relationship with this character, so brilliantly played by Linda Hunt. Sadly, I don’t think we will be seeing much of her after “Mother” next week. Like Hetty, I don’t think Linda’s heart is really in it anymore. They both deserve to sail into the sunset if that is what they wish. I will miss them both. Now here comes the part where I feel most fans will take issue with me. Nell. While I think Nell was totally justified in tearing Hetty a new one, and I agree that she is not really cut out to do what Hetty has done, which is mostly deceiving people under her care, my problem was with RFS. She is lovely and sweet, interacting with Beale, and spouting technical jargon, and doing light comedy, but (and please don’t kill me), I think she has her limits as a dramatic actress. In the past, all of the crying over her mother’s illness with running mascara tears, and this weeks rant at Hetty, demonstrated her limitations, (at least to me anyway). I felt she was totally out of her depth here.

    I did like Kensi’s attempt to calm and encourage Nell. I like that Callen is becoming more introspective, and developing some human feelings. I liked the ending scene with Callen and Hetty. I like the life discussions that have been taking place between Sam and G., although Sam didn’t have much else to do this episode.

    I wonder if either Sam or Callen might eventually consider being operations manager. They both have the leadership qualities, and the vast experience needed to do the job, and let’s face it, how much longer will they physically be able to perform as field agents? I do recall though, that Sam told Callen to shoot him if he ever gets a desk job, lol. I do think that OPS needs to have someone calling the shots during Hetty’s absences.

    Does anyone else feel as if the producers are preparing to wind things up? I have a sinking feeling that this is the last season, and I am feeling a bit sad about it. I know that all good things come to an end, but I so love these characters. I have watched them since day one, and they are now like part of my family. And I adore ECO! I can’t wait to see “Mother.”

    I would like to wish my fellow fans, and everyone at Wikideeks a joyous and peaceful Thanksgiving. And as always, thank you Karen for your thoughtful review.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I decided to ask my son what he thought of this episode because I had mixed reviews. He felt the same has I did about Deeks being absent.Deeks really does make the show.Beale as an agent just doesn’t work. The break in scene at the beginning and Beale doesn’t know how to defend himself. We both really miss the old NCIS LA which included car chases, explosions, and plenty of action. Instead we are seeing over the top acting or silliness. I have high hopes for ECO’s script but the director still controls the acting. I very much feel like the producers are not invested in this show.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. michelle mcnally // November 28, 2019 at 3:06 PM // Reply

    an episode without deeks is always lacking. i agree with other comments that he could have brought the emotion and compassion to beall missing. he makes the show. hetty made me sad too. no matter what the decision she was confident and trusted her heart. in this episode she was defeated. i love her character and like others miss granger and hetty and her talks. i agree about the lact of feeling except for nell and kesi, it was almost like a comedy where his situation was not taken seriously. bealls excitement on being back and hid dance were adorable and nell was good too. i understand her emotions but she should not have hit hetty when she was down. i am very excited by mother, eco is amazing. i agree about the lousy writting and that makes me sad because this show is so special. i will watch as long as deeks is there and i love and pray for linda hunt, thank you karen for an awesome review ❤ hope your thanksgiving was great

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Another wonderful review, Karen!

    I think I’m the odd woman out here when I say that I thought Beale’s fumbling escapes and silly rambling (especially on tranqs and caffiene) were perfectly in-character for him. He does not have the same training as the rest of the team (though we know Sam has been working with him and he has had some time out in the field), so he did what he had to do (including faking vomiting) to stay alive. To me, that part worked. What didn’t work was the fact that Beale suspected something was going on at that company but didn’t take more precautions with his home electronics? I get that it was needed for the plot, but really?

    I agree with what many said about Sam and Callen not seeming to be all that concerned that Eric’s life was in danger. And Kensi going into what ended up being a very dangerous situation without backup (seriously, she shouldn’t have just casually offered Nell the opportunity to go; it should have been more like “I’m going to question a possible witness and need back-up, come on”)? Let’s just hope Kensi’s experience without Deeks this week and whatever they witness/experience next week helps Kensi come to a conclusion about when to leave the job and start the baby-making.

    On that topic, I don’t forsee Kensi and Deeks actually having a family until they are out of the field, which realistically means the end of the show (at least as far as I’m concerned). Do I think that’s coming this season? I think no one knows yet, including TPTB, but I think they’re setting things up for that possibiility. I believe they started setting things up last year for that possibility as well, and will continue to do so until the show does in fact get cancelled or the PTB decide to end it (which I hope is still several years away).

    Good points about Callen’s character growth, Karen. It was definitely an interesting turn of events when Hetty asked him if he wanted to replace her as Operations Manager (and you are correct, she sure did give up on Nell pretty damned quickly). As the show winds down (hopefully not this season), it will also be interesting find out (or more likely speculate on) what happens to these characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lyssa (Phnxgirl) // November 30, 2019 at 9:45 AM // Reply

    So, I left a review under my other email addy on like Monday, and it never showed up, did it get lost in cyberspace? (Just checking before I try to recall all my thoughts again)

    Like

  12. Thanks for this amazing review.
    Too disappointed Deeks wasn’t in any scene, not even a short one, to completely enjoy this episode. I get ECO might have been busy getting all things ready for “Mother”, but I wonder why they didn’t film an opening or closing scene with him. He must have been really unavailable and this gives me hope the next episode will be memorable if Eric needed so much time off. I am glad we could see his (gorgeous) face at least some seconds in Kensi’s phone image: what a nice way to let us see Kensi misses her husband and perfect reminder of her time in Afghanistan when she also missed him so much and kept on looking at his pictures on her phone. Luckily now things are very different and they are married!
    I am also glad Eric Beale was rescued because I think he is great in OPS and I missed him a lot, but just there, not in the field where I have never liked him so much (because of how the authors have always written the action sequences he was in).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for the always insightful comments everyone! I enjoyed reading them all. Fingers crossed that tonight’s episode lives up to expectations.

    Like

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