This week’s NCIS: Los Angeles episode “High Society,” written by Chad Mazero and directed by John Peter Kousakis, brought with it a few coincidences, a classic partner swap, some sweet exchanges, and more than its fair share of zany humor. I may not be able to accurately recap the plot, but I can tell you that I laughed throughout at references to caged birds, pigeons, whippets, grumpy cats, wildcats, and mountain lions, among other things.
The plot this week played second fiddle to the humor and interactions between the characters. There was so much random goofiness that I found it hard to organize my notes into any sort of coherent text. I’ll just start with the episode’s strongest feature, its humor. I have to compliment Mazero on his sense of humor, and also Eric Christian Olsen for what must have been a lot of improvisations. I mean, there’s no way Mazero wrote Deeks saying, “Beale, my tender lover,” right?
The funny hit right from the start with the whiny yoga instructor and her corpse pose, and it rarely stopped. We had the dry humor of pregnant FBI Agent Rush, worried about having to start rhyming. We had a goofy new coroner who wanted desperately to be part of the team (I miss Rose). There was Katherine’s odd assistant (I might have left her fired but perhaps she’s good at her job). There was a bad guy from a previous case named Victor who joked about whippets, and to whom Deeks called out, “Now who’s a good boy?” There were mathlete jokes and a graphically named motel.
As always, the humor highlight was seeing Roberta and Deeks together, again making it crystal clear that they need to star in a spin-off sitcom. Roberta is one of the few characters (Arkady, Kirkin and Bates also come to mind) who have as much on-screen energy and can command the screen as well as ECO, and it’s always fun to see them bounce their crazy ideas off one another. Pamela Reed is a joy to watch and she’s been missed through the first half of this season.
Roberta: This is the new Roberta Deeks. I think it, I say it.
Deeks: As opposed to the old Roberta Deeks who thought it and then put it on Facebook under a picture of a fat grumpy cat?
Roberta: I can’t help it if my followers wanna know why this caged bird sings.
Deeks: Mama I still don’t understand why you’re training for a 5K. You hate competition.
Roberta: Don’t be dramatic. I don’t hate anything.
Roberta: Rats with wings.
Deeks: Cargo shorts.
Roberta: Anything over four pockets is just greedy.
Deeks: Street performers.
Roberta: The last time I financially supported a clown I was married to your father.
Deeks: Touche. Why don’t you just tell me what this is really all about.
Roberta: Marty, I’m daring greatly.
Deeks: I’m following minimally.
Nearly all the jokes made me chuckle, and definitely communicated that this was going to be a lighthearted hour. Kudos to Mazero on maintaining such a fun tone throughout.
Regrets & Lost Loves
If the episode had an over-arching theme, it was that of regret. Mama D brought it up indirectly in her opening scene, and then more directly at episode’s end. She’s worried about having less to look forward to than to look back on. Didn’t you want Kensi to tell her right then and there that she was going to be a grandmother? Sigh, I keep read too much into little things that could make Kensi out to be pregnant, but it seems highly unlikely at this point in the season. Would she spend the next 11 episodes in Ops? On a separate note, was this the first time we got confirmation that Mama D was definitely married to Gordon John Brandel? I can’t remember for sure.
Deeks very directly asked Callen about regrets, specifically as they related to Anna. Did I miss something- was his question prompted by anything specific? It felt just a little pushy, even for Deeks. I was surprised Callen didn’t push back with a nosy question of his own as a way to shut Deeks down. Still, Anna lovers and Anna haters, it does appear that she’s fated to reappear someday. Brace yourselves. Aside from the Direct Deeks in that scene, I enjoyed the partner swappage. Kensi and Sam together are a little stiff, but it’s always fun to see Deeks/ECO try to loosen up Callen/COD, and we so rarely get a chance to see them together. This time around felt more natural than previous swaps ordered by the higher ups.
Perhaps most movingly, Sam advised his suspect about living a life regretting a lost love. Kensi was clearly moved, thinking no doubt about both Michelle and about nearly losing Deeks so recently. The good news for Sam though is that Katherine seems to be popping up everywhere. How many “high society” cases are they going to come up with this season to give her an excuse to make another appearance? She’s won me over and I’m happy for Sam, I just don’t need to see her sitting around identifying rich people in any more episodes.
- I love it when the cold open includes the team. I also love it when the plot starts us in the middle of case, which we kind of got here as the team thought they were wrapping things up with their dead suspect.
- I also love hearing Kensi refer to Deeks as her “husband.” Never gonna get tired of that.
- It’s not easy living as a wildcat in the big city, but Los Angeles really does have a small population of mountain lions in its midst (none numbered 87 yet). Check out this National Park Service profile.
- I have to quibble with the bad lighting on Sam in the morgue, and with the oddly quiet fashion show. There’s no way we should have been able to hear the models’ footsteps on the runway. (Doesn’t anyone watch Project Runway? I bet Kensi does.) In fact, the whole episode seemed oddly unpopulated, including the mission, and the apparently closed Squid and Dagger both morning and night.
- Of course Sam knows all about Indonesian naming conventions and war cries.
- So Deeks went abroad during his college days? Prague in 1999 surprised me, as we’ve assumed he would have lacked the means to travel. It’s not necessarily against canon, but it had the feel of something that was written for Deeks to joke about (or improvised by ECO) more than because it fit his backstory.
I’m heading out of town for a couple of days so had to keep this short. I trust that you fine people will pick up the slack for me. Tell us what you thought of “High Society” in the comments below!