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Review: NCISLA “Fortune Favors the Brave” (S11E19)

With “Fortune Favors the Brave,” writer R. Scott Gemmill and director Eric A. Pot gave NCIS: Los Angeles viewers an introduction to a new team member and a team in the midst of transitions, with all the turmoil transition can bring.

Introducing the New Guy

FBI Special Agent Devin Roundtree, played by Caleb Castille, made a return appearance this week, only this time he joined the team instead of running away from them. He may be regretting that decision. Sam and Callen appeared to be trying him on for size, assessing whether he would make a good addition to the team, and he was no doubt assessing whether he’d even want to join a team that doesn’t even blink in the face of bullets and booms. As a viewer, I found myself conducting a similar assessment, trying to determine if I could envision Devin sticking around as a permanent addition.

He did have an easy chemistry with Eric Christian Olsen, but let’s keep in mind that ECO has amazing chemistry with literally everyone. Seeing Devin holding himself back from laughing at Deeks’ handyman joke made me like him, and the distress it clearly caused Sam made me laugh out loud. LL Cool J plays Sam as the straight man so well. It reminded me of when he was undercover with Sven in “Allegiance“, and how serious he managed to stay through Deeks’ whole ridiculous charade. It’s what made that scene work, and it was the highlight here too. It happened again at episode’s end with Deeks’ and Devin’s cute wordplay. Devin has potential, but he’ll have to prove himself.

His 20-word answer to Deeks’ question would have provided a clever way to introduce some details about him, but unfortunately we didn’t get to hear it. (But Deeks, seriously? Cop, Surfer, Lawyer, California Native and The Dude? How about Husband? Or maybe the most perfect word for him, Partner?)

Fun fact: Caleb Castille won two NCAA football championships at cornerback for the Alabama Crimson Tide before pursuing acting. No wonder he was so good at all the running in “Watch Over Me.” He looks small for a football player but I see he’s listed as 5’11”, an inch taller than Chris O’Donnell. The big question for me is whether Castille has the acting chops, the gravitas, the range, to bring depth to his roll. Devin was supposedly overwhelmed by the situation, which could bring an interesting and fresh dynamic to the show that we haven’t seen since Dom. I’m good with Devin being overwhelmed, I just don’t want Castille to be. Can he hold the screen opposite Linda Hunt? It remains to be seen.

Change is Hard

Besides introducing Devin, this episode was very much focused on transitions and mentors. All the characters seem to be struggling with, or at least focusing on, transitions. Hetty worried that a recent transition, Anna’s exoneration, was done for dubious reasons, setting up what feels like the subject of the season finale. Callen struggled with finally being able to enjoy his relationship with Anna, seemingly hesitant to move forward. Sam encouraged him though, pushing him out the door while he spent the episode focused on the the next new addition to the team.

Of course the episode’s largest transition was Nell’s apparent decision to leave NCIS. She’s been struggling with her role there for quite awhile, so it wasn’t a surprise to hear her express it. Of course, she seemed to fall for Hetty’s vacation gambit, which makes me think she’ll take some time off and then reconsider her decision. If she were really leaving, I would hope for a better send-off than a vague will-she-won’t-she return situation. Only time will tell.

Surprisingly, the person having the most trouble with Nell’s decision wasn’t Hetty but Kensi. I suppose we need to keep in mind that Kensi hasn’t been privy to all Nell’s soul-searching moments that we viewers have witnessed for so long. She seemed to have a hard time relating to Nell’s feelings that the job was just too hard. It felt a bit over-reactive, and if I were Nell I might have felt less support than I would have hoped from my friend, but I guess I’ll chalk it up to how much Kensi loves her job – so much that she still doesn’t really seem capable of imagining a different job for herself, or I guess anyone else – even as she’s apparently trying for her own transition to motherhood.

Mentoring Is Hard

The other theme that ran throughout the episode was mentoring. Kensi’s never really been a mentor to Nell, more of a supportive friend, only here she was more combative. When Nell told her, “Some days now I don’t even want to get out of bed” and Kensi replied, “None of us do,” it didn’t feel super supportive (although it did sum up how I think a lot of us feel at the moment). She wasn’t really selling the job all that well. But then she tried to make up for it by offering up her mentoring/big sister/experienced agent advice to Fatima. That’s gotta be helpful to Fatima and hopefully we’ll see her take Kensi up on the offer in the future. It would let us see more vulnerability from her character, and show us how much Kensi has grown and learned over the years.

Devin was also the recipient of some mentoring, first with Hetty advising him “Don’t get yourself or anyone else killed.” Can’t argue with that, I suppose. I loved Linda Hunt’s delivery. Classic Hetty.

Deeks has always done a great job as mentor, whether it was with Nell when she first went into the field, or Hidoko, whom he tried to get to know, or even with Ehsan in “Allegiance.” Sadly for Deeks, he seemed to take more blame than I think he deserved for his mentee Devin nearly getting blown up. He did try to warn him, after all. I hated seeing Sam (and even Kensi) apparently holding him responsible, and even worse was seeing how hard he took what happened. But of course he would beat himself up over it. It’s what he’s good at, right? It reminded me not just of that line from “Personal,” but of his supposed failing to keep an eye on the Ghurka in “The Frozen Lake,” where things also didn’t really seem like his fault.

Deeks took his failed mentoring so hard that I couldn’t tell if he was shaken simply because he almost got the new guy killed, or because he almost got himself killed too. His conversation with Kensi almost started to take on a bit of the same tone as the end of “The Silo,” where Deeks’ desire to stop putting his life in danger was made very apparent (and think how long ago that was (November 2017)- this poor guy has been ready to retire for more than two and half years! Again here, Kensi’s reaction felt less supportive than I’d have liked, less understanding, like she really doesn’t get how Deeks can’t just “shake it off” like she always has and seems able to continue to do. It was like she was thinking, “What’s wrong with all these people I work with? Why can’t they just buck up and deal with things?” Of course, I often struggle to understand Kensi, so I’m really looking forward to hearing how you all interpreted her actions and words in this scene.

Kensi: How you doing?
Deeks: Well, I almost got that kid killed, so… that’s not great.
Kensi: Well first of all, he’s not a kid. Second of all, you almost got both of you killed.
Deeks: Yeah, that is exactly my point. It doesn’t matter how much training you have, it doesn’t matter if you do it by the book, ’cause you can always get your ass handed to you.
Kensi: Yeah but you didn’t. You both survived that, so… Unfortunately, this is not over so just do me a favor?
Deeks: Yeah?
Kensi: Keep your head in the game – for you, for him… for me… Yeah?
Deeks: Yeah, no, I’m in it.
Kensi: Now shake it off, dude, shake it off. You don’t want those firemen to see you cry. Love ya.

Standout Action

While I still don’t understand why people would put a bomb like that in an abandoned car, the explosion involved a very cool stunt where both actors appeared to do the bulk of their own stuntwork. Including that shot of Deeks in the foreground of the boom, and the poor bomb guy (was that David Paul Olsen?) taking the brunt of the explosion made it even more interesting. It may not have been at all realistic, but it was very nicely filmed with touches of slow motion so we could enjoy all the details and really see the actors themselves, and all those different shots were nicely edited together. One of the more interesting booms we’ve had in awhile.

Then we got that amazing solo shoot-out where Deeks took down two bad guys. That was thrilling because he was alone without back-up and outnumbered. He didn’t let that stop him from charging into danger to protect the women in the other car (women in danger are his trigger for superhero tendencies). He may want out ASAP and he may be tired of nearly dying, but I love how he’s not going to let that stop him from keeping the bad guys from hurting people. As he once said, he is at his best when moving and shooting (and yelling “LAPD!”), and that was some very impressive moving and shooting. Again, the use of slow motion was employed well to capture the action and make us feel like we were right there on scene with him. Afterwards though, when I realized how scary the situation had been, I felt anger at Sam for leaving him alone without a partner.

Memorable Moments

  • Anna may be less than a hundred pounds, Sam, but she can still kick ass. (I can’t believe I’m defending her!)
  • It’s never a good sign when Deeks doesn’t make his first appearance until after the first commercial break.
  • I do like it when Sam gets a chance to be in charge when Callen’s away.
  • What was Hetty burning?
  • “Yo Beale you blonde bombshell,” says Deeks. The tender loving continues and it’s glorious.
  • Ouch, Devin’s too young to have seen The Big Lebowski. Kids these days have so many entertainment options, I fear they aren’t taking the time to watch the classics.
  • The episode’s plot was barely there. We hardly even saw the bad guys. But I guess that gave us time for all these new team members.

For me the big question is, to what extent was this a glimpse of the show’s future? Will we continue to see episodes where major characters disappear for time away and we get random pairings and temporary partnerships, with the older agents mentoring the newer ones? I think there’s a learning curve to this mentoring thing, which could be interesting to explore. It could all work, but it’ll take some getting used to. I think the biggest hurdle is the shifting partnerships. This show is what it is because of the three special pairings (four if you count Hetty-Granger) that have stayed so consistent for so long. If they’re all thrown away in favor of a larger team effort each week, the show may lose what made it special. Whether it gains something new to compensate remains to be seen.

OK, that’s all I have time for. Tell us what you thought of “Fortune Favors the Brave” in the Comments below. Did you like Devin? How did you interpret Kensi’s reactions throughout? And how are you feeling about all the potential transitions looming ahead?

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.

22 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Fortune Favors the Brave” (S11E19)

  1. Mark D. Spremulli // April 1, 2020 at 10:56 AM // Reply

    I think the reason Kensi seemed so uncomcerned is she was in shock at Nell’s decision. Kensi strikes me as the type to not like change. With everyone new coming in and Nell leaving her security blanket is being ripped away. Also with new people coming in ahe is nearing the end of her career. She is not ready for it to be over. She wants it over at her decision.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great review Karen, I am on the fence about the new guy, I know they want to go in the direction of mentoring new agents, but it is so hard for me..don’t want give up on Neil, or Deeks..I saw somewhere, that Eric will be working with deeks, the last two episodes..I guess I want it like it was for 10 years, and can’t even imagine it without kensi and Deeks , working together..I watch earlier episodes and they have such a natural relationship. Why didn’t Deeks say love you back to kensi..I really hoping for another season, and hoping all will be back..not sure if that is realistic. Love them all but mainly a kensi and Deeks is hoping🙏😘

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ryan Collins // April 1, 2020 at 11:35 AM // Reply

    I think Kensi would have liked to be more supportive but in that moment they were in the middle of a case unlike the emotional DENSI moments in “The Silo” & “Better Angels”. Deeks can’t afford to be distracted by guilt. That distraction really could get him killed. Now for her pointing out he nearly got both them killed, that was more a reminder that his death would matter just as much as Devin’s.

    I didn’t see Sam’s actions as blame but more like he knew Deeks needed a break to refocus so he sent him back to ops to regroup mentally and emotionally.

    It’s in my opinion that Kensi’s reaction to Deeks at crime scene was akin to Granger’s opinion in “The 3rd Choir” after Nell made her first kill.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Excellent review!
    I was really stressed about this episode until the week before this aired. Optimism really helps!
    Renee is writing a network pilot with her boyfriend, which explains the absence.
    I think the new guy COULD grow on me. (but my personal rule of not liking anyone who only comes on the show to replace someone who leaves afterwards still stands.)
    Kensi was really sweet in this episode.
    Wish Hetty didn’t look miserable half the time. (I have a couple of ideas as to why she COULD be sad, they all involve a potential heartbreak situation. yeah, I’m a bit silly.) she really needs a confidence boost from one of the team members!!
    Finally seeing the mother/daughter relationship I love near the end of the episode, it was so amazing! So glad Netty is back on good terms!
    Next episode will air on Easter.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, and a very special someone has a birthday tomorrow! (I’m sure you can guess who it is!)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Bluenet13 (Jess) // April 1, 2020 at 1:49 PM // Reply

    Finally, all I’ve wanted since the episode aired is for someone to talk about how Sam acted with Deeks after the whole bomb deal. He seemed to completely and unfairly hold him responsible for what happened and it pissed me off when he left Deeks with no backup (even before he got in a firefight without a partner), practically punishing him for something that wasn’t his fault. I hated Sam in that moment and it brought me back to the pre-Sidorov Sam that wouldn’t trust Deeks and basically blamed him for just being him. Deeks didn’t sit in the car and he tried to stop Devin, so maybe Sam should worry instead about the natural abilities and intuition of the guy he’s eyeing for the team. That being said, I do like Devin and could see him fitting in with the team, but not if he’s here to replace Deeks. Especially because he won’t ever be able to. I also think both Devin and Caleb would benefit from working alongside ECO more often.

    Moving into Kensi, I think she doesn’t deal well with change. Especially knowing her history and how she lost her father out of nowhere, then losing her fiance also unexpectedly. She might have felt a little blindsided by Nell’s admission that she wants to leave NCIS. Especially as she hasn’t dealt with all of Nell’s problems the same way Eric or the audience has. I also think Nell wanting to leave, might have reminded Kensi that Deeks could soon follow. And she’s not ready for that. Then it was all made worse by another near death experience so maybe she was just trying to be supportive enough, while also trying to be light and funny so Deeks wouldn’t start that whole talk again. I don’t think she tried to be purposely unsupportive, but unfortunately it came across that way. I just think the whole bomb thing happened too soon after the talk with Nell and before Kensi had time to process that new knowledge. Kensi might even be concerned Devin might be a replacement for Deeks if he eventually decides to leave. Maybe, we aren’t the only ones worried about that possibility. I did like Kensi reminding Deeks that he almost died too, and his death would have mattered as much as the young guy, especially to her.

    As for what this all might mean for the future, I have already said it before, but I don’t do well with change. Every time they bring back the will-they-won’t-they leave the team, it hinders my enjoyment of the show. But the world and real life is too messed up right now, so I’ll just try not to worry about that, and just be optimistic and hope that even if changes do come, that the core of the show will remain the same and we will all continue to love it as much as we do now. Also hope that if Nell does leave, she gets a better sendoff than this episode.

    Whoops, sorry for another monologue! And thank you Karen for an awesome review and for that fun fact about Caleb. As an NCAA fan, I enjoyed and appreciated the information. Hope everyone is staying safe, healthy and sane.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I have mixed reactions to change. (it mainly depends on what the change is.)
      You’re right in one thing: the world is too messed up right now. and I just hate all the cast change rumors so much. the same BS happened last season and nothing happened. why would it be any different this time around??! Just wish these so called ‘great’ writers would come up with something good instead of all this crap. (We know 1 part of Densi can’t leave otherwise the shipping fandom will explode, we know Hetty can’t leave because the show would die with her. We know Callen can’t leave because he and Sam are the main focus on the DVD’S and the show’s promotion. Seriously, this is all too ridiculous!!!) sigh. there’s a better way to prepare for contract renewals then scaring the fandom into believing red herrings from a season ago.
      And really, someone needs to give Hetty a confidence boost or even a hug already!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bluenet13 (Jess) // April 1, 2020 at 9:52 PM // Reply

        Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work that way. And as much as we might love these characters and just want them to be Callen, Sam, Kensi, Deeks, Nell, Eric and Hetty, the reality is they are not. They’re COD, LL, Dani, ECO, Renee, Barrett and Linda and that’s what really matters. If they want a change in life, or a new professional pursuit, they won’t care that Densi needs to stay together and that the fandom might explode if they don’t, or that Hetty is the anchor of the show or that someone needs to be the focus of a dvd, and they’re allowed to do that. They have already dedicated 10+ years of their lives to a show that I assume makes everyone on this page immensely happy, but they don’t owe us anything else.

        I’m not trying to go against your hope for the future of the show or imply that any one character is leaving. All I’m trying to say is that none of those arguments is a guarantee that they won’t leave and there’s really a possibility that any of them might, and we can’t do anything about it, just respect their personal decisions and not be bitter about it. For my part, I will continue wishing for a renewal with no major cast changes, and if that’s not meant to be, I just hope we get enough notice so I can be sad and say goodbye because they might be fictional but they still mean a great deal to me. As I said before, the world is too messed up right now, and I prefer to focus on Deeks gracefully running with his gun drawn and golden locks flowing with the wind and not get stuck on the will-they-won’t-they game.

        Liked by 3 people

    • You raised excellent questions Jess. I was also unbelievably pissed with not only Sam’s but with everyone’s reaction to Deeks after the bomb. Even Deeks was unfair against himself. Why on earth would be all that happened his fault? The whole ordeal just showed that Devin is really rookie and cannot be left to do a single thing alone. i already said that his first appearance on the show left me totally indifferent, now I just find him totally misplaced as possible NCIS agent. If FBI is happy with him let them have him back. How he can make the team “even better (than existing one)” (quoting Sam) is huge enigma to me at this moment.
      Kensi didn’t appear to me as unsupportive, but I was baffled that she didn’t correct Deeks that what happened was not his fault. I agree with you that Kensi was still shocked from conversation with Nell and was truly scared if something happened to Deeks. She did try to lighten up everything and tried to make Deeks feel better. I am just not sure that the reason to do so was her wish to distract Deeks from talk about leaving, as he was not aware at that moment about her conversation with Nell. I think that Kensi genuinely wanted to somehow comfort Deeks.

      I do not know what to think about ECO leaving NCIS LA. I don’t think that it is going to be the case as he mentioned season 12 in the last interview for WikiDeeks. But things changed and if ECO would leave I would be sad as there will be (for me) one serial less to follow.

      Not to forget, another great review Karen! Thanks.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I miss the densi scenes.To a outsider you would not even know Deeks and Kensi are friends/partners much less partners. I hated that Kensi had more compassion for the new girl than her own husband.And if Sam is so interested in mentoring the new guy why did he send him off with Deeks to begin with.I try you why so the writers could blame new guys mistakes on Deeks not Sam.I hate that the writers split of Kensi and Deeks.It seems to me that the writers have not respect for ECO or the deeks character and even less respect for densi.Almost like they which he was gone.Wish Shane would come back as showrunner if there is a new season and bring back some better writers.ECO imho wrote the best ep this season and since then densi scences have been nonexistent. Writers where is the densi love????

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Unrelated to this review:
    Happy 75th b-day to the queen of NCIS LA!! 🎂❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can’t begin to describe how annoyed I was watching this episode unfold. If Sam is supposed to be mentoring and evaluating Roundtree, why did he send him to work with Deeks? And then to have Sam AND Kensi place the blame for his (Rountree’s) major error on Deeks, really fried me. Why would any FBI agent just jump right into a suspicious vehicle without checking it out first? Instead of blaming Deeks, both Sam and Deeks should’ve chewed his ass for such a stupid mistake. It was actually Roundtree that put Deeks’ life in jeopardy, and not the other way around. And then for Kensi to say that “you almost got the both of you killed.” Way to go Kensi. How to not cheer up the man you love. Seems to be a running theme that she doesn’t always have his back, i.e. when Mosley fired him, when Thapa took off, etc., etc. I love Kensi, and I adore the Densi love story, but that she is always quick to dismiss Deeks has always bothered me.
    Random thoughts:
    I loved the slo-mo gunfight with Deeks all by his lonesome. OMG, those aviators and his pursed lips. So freakin hot. Gimme more of that, please.
    I know from reading different fan sites, that everyone loved the exploding car stunt with Sam and Devin, so I am sure that I am probably alone in thinking they jumped the shark here. There was no other way except Sam bungee jumping off of an overpass to yank Devin out of there? Come on, lol.
    Hetty was really weirder than usual.
    I like RFS. I like her in OPS, spouting techie speak. When she is whining and crying, not so much. I am sure she is not resigning. (actually RSF requested time off to write a new project).
    Why is Fatima allowed to have a motorcycle, but Deeks isn’t? And was she drinking beer thru a straw?
    I missed Callen. Didn’t miss Anna one bit.
    I like when Sam is in charge.

    I wish they would get some of the old writers back (Kalstein, Wilson). I hope there is a season 12. I wish they would stop mixing up the teams. Let Fatima work with Rountree. Bring back the flirty, affectionate Kensi and Deeks. I am sure changes are coming; I am expecting the worst, but hoping for the best.

    Thank you Karen for the great review, as always. Hope everyone is healthy and safe. God bless you all.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Great comments people! It is a small sign of how crazy life is at the moment that I failed to comment on the motorcycle. It was at the top of my notes with a string of curse words, LOL. How dare Hetty allow that? Outrageous!

    I also really appreciate the interpretations of Kensi’s behavior and am glad to see I wasn’t the only one rubbed the wrong way.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Another thing that rubbed me the wrong way was how Kensi took all the credit for the bar.THe bar was Deek’s dream/idea.He the one that remodel it brought it and everything else.The only think Kensi did was complain about it saying it was draining all their savings.Wish for once they would let Deeks get the credit for things instead of using him as a skategoat.Any agent new or not doesn’t sit on evidence.Sam and Kensi blaming Deeks was so wrong.Deeks deserves better from the writers.


    • Hetty deserves more respect as well


    • Ryan Collins // April 4, 2020 at 8:57 AM // Reply

      How did she take “all” of the credit? She stated a fact that’s she’s a co-owner. That was Deeks’s plan when he bought the bar, for them to run it together. And since she’s familiar with the bar’s finances it’s only logical that she contributed to fixing up the place. It wasn’t ready when he showed her (and the team) the place in “Where everyone knows your name”. As for saying that she’s the brains of the operation, she was clearly kidding with him because Deeks replied that he was more like the pancreas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly!
        BTW, your tweet on how fans should stop thinking that Densi are not on good terms every time there’s a partner swap? COMPLETELY agree!! Partner swaps have happened multiple times throughout the seasons, it means completely nothing relationship wise!!


  12. Thank you reebelle, I was hoping I wasn’t the only one who thought Devin should have known better. As a (new) FBI agent, if he thinks of nothing else seeing that car, he should be realizing it’s full of forensic evidence and so he should NOT sit in it!

    Great review, as always, Karen.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ryan Collins // April 4, 2020 at 9:17 AM // Reply

    While Devin’s mistake wasn’t literally Deeks’s fault, as the senior officer Deeks is responsible. Deeks isn’t incompetent by any means but he could have checked the car himself before letting the less experienced rookie do it. But they’ve survived, learned from their mistakes, and Deeks can’t dwell on it in the middle of a case. If he hadn’t went back to ops and got refocused like Kensi asked him to, that shootout scene could have ended with Deeks in the hospital or worse.

    Now if he needed to talk to Kensi more about his day, I’m sure they did. She promised him in “Yellow Jack” that he’s not going to lose her by talking to her, even if the topic is uncomfortable for her.

    To be fair she was still in shock from Nell’s revelation and then adding to seeing a car explosion and not knowing where Deeks is, she was probably trying to keep herself from freaking out. So when she gets to her talk with Fatima, she’s thinking something like if “I can help it I’m going to make sure that Fatima (or any other young agent) never feels burned out like Nell and Deeks (and sometimes herself to an extent)”

    Liked by 2 people

  14. From the little I have heard Scott Gemmill trying to end the Densi team from working together.Not good for densi fans or the show inho.


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