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Review: NCISLA “Commitment Issues” (S11E14)

After a lengthy awards-season hiatus, NCIS: Los Angeles returned this week with “Commitment Issues,” written by Jordana Lewis Jaffe and directed by James Hanlon. It featured returning characters showing us different sides of themselves, and an interesting, if low-key, mystery for the Scoobies to solve.

The Omnipresent Insurance Maven 

Katherine Casillas, played by Moon Bloodgood, has now appeared in four NCIS:LA episodes this season, so it’s apparent the showrunners have big plans for her character. Her confidence as a successful businesswoman and the small signs that she has a good heart have won me over and convinced me she’d be a worthy love interest for Sam.

This week we saw a very different Katherine, one who behaved much more like a bad guy or, more likely, a spy. First, her presence on the board of a tech start-up seemed a little out of her wheelhouse, but then we found out she was the creative mind behind the company’s effort to sell China on a faulty search engine. Now that’s definitely far afield from insuring luxury vehicles and questionable pieces of art!

That she refused to share what she knew served as a fairly obvious way to introduce conflict between her and Sam (and extend the episode to its full length), but I did enjoy seeing their relationship shift to an adversarial one. I still felt the chemistry between them, and I’m glad she’s confident enough to directly ask Sam out, or at least to instruct Sam on how to ask her out.

What I’m a little concerned about is that we have a new Joelle situation going on. Either the writers have just run out of insurance-related excuses to keep her popping up as Sam’s romantic interest, or she has got to be working for the CIA. I’m hoping for the former, as Callen has more than covered the whole is-my-girlfriend-a-spy storyline.

The San Diego NCIS Connection

We also got to see more of NCIS Special Agent Nicole DeChamps, played by Marsha Thomason, making her seventh appearance on the show. DeChamps has always provided solid support to the team, often when they’ve been down a member. She’s always shown herself to be capable and smart, if a little serious and soft-spoken. At least, that’s how I’ve always thought of her. This week it felt like a very different DeChamps, a more outgoing and happy-go-lucky version than I remember. Maybe it’s just my faulty memory, but she didn’t feel like the same person, teasing Sam and Callen throughout and just being so downright excited to be working with the team.

I still liked her though. In fact, she seemed more interesting, more charismatic, than before. So if this is the showrunners’ way of setting her up to become a permanent part of the team in the future, I could see this updated version as a good fit, able to hold her own with the bantering.

The Effortless Charm

Deeks and Kensi had plenty of screen time this week, but their scenes felt a little subdued. Deeks himself actually seemed sort of lacking in the excitement that DeChamps provided in her scenes. Sure, he still bantered with the odd but interesting bookstore lady, and he flirted with Kensi, but I never got the sense he was happy to be at work. I’m not sure if that was Eric Christian Olsen’s intentional choice, if it was part of the script, or maybe it’s just my interpretation. Don’t get me wrong, he was still plenty charming. I’d just describe it as an effortless, low-key charm compared to his usual more enthusiastic self. As for the flirting, what was happening with Bossy Kensi? Please fan fic writers, can we see the post-ep version of these two? (You go cut your hair and shave indeed.)

Unfortunately, the action this episode disappointed, coming a bit too late and lacking any real tension. That ECO and Daniela Ruah were so clearly in front of a green screen on their car chase took away any suspense I might have felt. And in the final confrontation, the way the bad guys fought back almost as an afterthought, after they’d already been out-positioned and were nearly in cuffs, didn’t ever have me worrying for the team’s safety.

Memorable Moments

  • Yes, Eric, social cues are hard. Don’t worry, I’m saving you all from another of my rants about the state of Eric Beale’s character, who in my mind has become a caricature who doesn’t behave like a mature human, let alone an equal partner for Nell, who frequently has to speak to him like he’s a child. Sigh.
  • I will say that I’ve always seen more chemistry between Callen and Nell than Beale and Nell, or between Callen and any of his other love interests. It sure would be fun to see that play out on the screen. (Sorry Neric shippers!)
  • If Daisy had been at the bookstore with her boyfriend when he was killed, wouldn’t she have stayed to give a statement to the police? Oh, but then I guess we wouldn’t have gotten that funny scene with Densi and the bookstore lady.

Sorry this review is a short one! Once more I trust that you fine people will pick up the slack for me. Tell us what you thought of “Commitment Issues” in the comments below! What was your take on Katherine and Nicole, and on Beale and Deeks?

About Karen P (275 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.

24 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Commitment Issues” (S11E14)

  1. Valentina Vella // February 18, 2020 at 7:04 AM // Reply

    Thanks karen for the review, I agree with you about Eric character, I think they transformed him in a ridiculous human.. and I would love to see him mature and a real ncis member like in the episode of the undercover mission with Nell as a couple! Do you remember that kind of Eric??
    I don’t fell Callen and Nell together.. I hope Eric will be more mature in the future to reconnect with her.
    Bye 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great review! Nice to see another SamKat (that’s my ship name for them) supporter here!
    I thought the episode was ok, JLJ is really underrated. (hey, unlike some, I like the humor episodes, being serious all the time gets stale at some point!!)
    I was actually too focused on my liveblog to really pay much attention to the case.
    I feel like Nell wasn’t being very supportive of Eric.
    Next week, Anna and Hetty are back!! (loved seeing both of them in the promo!)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, and I don’t dislike Eric, as someone who is actually a bit shy outside of here, I get that social cues can be difficult. and it looks like what happened in episode 9 really got to him.


  4. Thanks for the great review!

    You’re spot on with a lot of things here. DeChamps was definitely different. She’s been so serious and hunch-shouldered in the past. This version was playful and I liked her a lot. I would welcome her to the team. (Unpopular opinion alert: I would welcome her more as a regular cast member than Agent Fatima who recently become a regular. They haven’t figured out what to do with Fatima other than stand around in Ops. DeChamps at least is a productive member in the field.)

    Katherine I was liking a lot until this episode was threatening to turn her into another Joelle. Yes, I suppose she is CIA now. Sigh Can’t Sam just have a nice, flirty, independently wealthy, exotic girlfriend? I still like her but, come on, writers.

    Nell was in a freaking bad mood most of the episode. Snarky is fun … this wasn’t. I miss the intelligent, fun Nell of the first few seasons not this cranky, anxiety-prone, judgmental, reactionary version.

    Beale. Another eye roll. Where’s the competent guy from seasons 1-3? He’s been gone for a loooooong time and got old very very fast.

    Sadly, the show is losing me lately and I hate that.

    Side note, looks like not only did Dani get a major haircut but ECO got a trim too.

    Side note two regarding next week: Die, Anna, die.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Question about next week: So, anyone got a theory on how Anna is tied in with Darius?
    My theory: Anna knows about Darius going after Callen, and is back to save him. and that Hetty has been trying to find Anna because she knows she’s the right one for Callen.


  6. Thank you Karen for your review. I am in total agreement that this was a lackluster episode. The case of the week was boring (at least to me). I watched it twice, and I am still having trouble remembering what it was about. Your remarks about Densi and the green screen were my thoughts exactly. While I was mildly amused with Deeks and the bookstore lady (I swear ECO would have chemistry with a cantaloupe), there was nothing else there. I must have missed Deeks flirting with Kensi. I felt like the actors were just phoning it in this week, which is really distressing for me. Maybe they are just as disillusioned with the writing as I am. This season has been so hit or miss, which makes me sad.

    I can’t state this any other way, I hate, hate, hate what they have done to the character of Eric Beale. They have turned this once brilliant character into a babbling buffoon, who now apparently has to be shamed into doing his job. Please writers, fix this ASAP.

    I have not been able to warm up to De Champs so far, she is a little dry for me, but I do admit she seemed a bit different here. I really don’t care if she comes or goes. Same goes for Agent Namazi, meh. I don’t know what to think about Katherine. She has a definite chemistry with Sam, but I can’t see how she will fit in. I would like to see Sam happy.

    Looking forward to seeing Hetty next week. Her presence elevates every episode she is in. Hopefully, she can rein in Mr. Beale, and set him on the right path, lol. One thing I am not happy about is the return of Anna, whom I have disliked from day one. I am with peakae; die Anna, die.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Karen, thank you for the review. I agree that it felt like Deeks was rather low key and I thought not very enthusiastic in this episode which probably colored my opinion into thinking it was a rather mediocre episode. I also agree on Beale, it is just sad who they have turned his character into.

    I did like your comment about Nell and Callen, as I recall fan fiction flourished on them as a couple after “Kill House”. I do think Nell certainly has chemistry with Callen .

    I thought Marsha Thomason was wonderful in this episode , she is a really good actress with a long list of credentials. If they are so anxious to find a love interest for Callen, I thought she would be really good. She had a lot of chemistry with both Sam and Callen in this episode and she is a good addition to the show.

    I would much rather watch another episode with DeChamps or Katherine than having to watch the return of Anna. I have little interest in Anna and even less interest in the endless Callen/Anna saga. Please can Callen just move on.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I loved the bookstore lady and DeChamps. Next week looks to be a snooze, but I’ll give it a chance.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Great review. I agree the episode was “off”, which was incredibly disappointing considering the long layoff. Based on your thoughts and that of the others that have commented, I can’t really say the actors mailed it in or were dis-interested(they can only do so much with the what is written for them). Deeks definitely seemed quieter, almost distracted about something else for most of the episode, maybe that will come up in future episodes. As far as the shipping of other characters….I kinda lost interest once Kensi and Deeks got married, sorry. Although before Katherine, I thought maybe DeChamps and Sam woulda been a nice pairing. Eric and Nell both just kinda annoyed me lately. And Callen….eh idk. I am hoping that the next couple episodes come out better, which has been an odd pattern this year. Not so great followed by a couple good ones, then a great one, then back to kinda blah. Maybe its just me. Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. michelle mcnally // February 18, 2020 at 3:45 PM // Reply

    i agree with most of the comments. i will watch usually just to see deeks but he did seem to be distracted. i actually turned the show off about 10 minutes in, that really makes me sad. i did steam it monday and i hadn’t missed anything. i am glad i have my dvds, which i never get tired of watching. just kind of bummed .

    Liked by 2 people

  11. As always Karen thanks for a very concise review. My favourite scenes as always include Deeks, the flirty one with Kensi in the gym giving Beale a gee up and his banter with Carla in the bookshop, priceless. I thought the storyline was weak and did not hold my interest, which is a rare thing for me, I usually watch the new episodes twice initially but not this one.
    Now Katherine, the high end insurance agent who talks in millions, is now trying to save the world. I don’t get this turn around in priorities, ANOTHER JOELLE METHINKS !!.
    On the romantic front, I believe she is playing Sam, who is flattered that she has shown an interest in him, I’m actually surprised that the writers have decided to go this road. She is definitely from a different planet to him. I thought De Champs was brilliant with her comeback to Katherine, and believe she would be a far better love interest for him.
    Now what is going on with Mr Beale, gone from Senior Operations and part-time agent to a blubbering mess and clown like!!!! The writers need to make up their mind what road he is taking. Barret Foa is a great actor, and deserves some sort of permanent role, not flitting from one to another.
    I love this show and want it to get better and better and continue on forever, so I get frustrated when I see these different characters introduced who add nothing to the show.
    As an afterthought, we are coming up to Densi’s 1st wedding anniversary, will it be celebrated on the show??

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Aussie Mate! I too was hoping on some sort of little romantic celebration of Densi’s first wedding anniversary, but sadly, that week they are going to show a rerun.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you so much Karen for your great review.
    It was nice to see a new episode after the break, but I agree with the comments that the episode was a bit “off”.
    I, too, really liked De Champs and it was nice to see more of her personality in this episode, I like her chemistry with the team. I agree with the comments about Beale, I really like Barret Foa, but I wish they would bring the competent Beale back.
    It is interesting to see what they have planned for Katherine’s character, I like her character ,even though I am not really a fan of the romantic relationship between her Sam. I hope the writers and producers have planned a good storyline for her character, something new and interesting that we haven’t seen before.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I do not usually comment since I am just not the writer everyone else is. Karen, I really appreciate your reviews. You frequently point out things I miss. I felt like the case didn’t have enough to it to fill the time for the episode. There needed to be more facets to it. So they added other things to it to fill the time which made the episode drag. I didn’t perceive Denis as being subdued but instead felt there wasn’t much material (writing) to work with for their scenes. Usually there is more action earlier in an episode which helps to increase the pace of the show. It looks like the writers are trying to take the show in a different direction-possibly cheaper production costs.
    I agree with everyone’s comments about Eric. Again, I think they were using him as filler. He isn’t believable as an agent or tech support with the way he is being played.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thanks everyone for all the great comments! I really liked hearing your takes on the “offness” of the episode, and I especially enjoyed the Beale discussion since I had held back on a rant of my own. Oh, and thanks dar33033 for commenting! You made a number of excellent observations and I hope we’ll hear more from you.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thanks, Karen, for your great review. Unfortunately I didn’t like this episode so much, never been a fan of JLJ scripts and this week’s was no exception. I agree that everything seemed quite “off”. Deeks didn’t seem very interested in anything and Beale was a parallel universe version of the competent and smart character we had got used to.
    I hope the quality of the rest of the season will improve. I really miss some NCIS:LA arcs and storylines with more depth and emotions.

    Liked by 2 people

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