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Review: NCISLA “Murder of Crows” (S11E21)

As we near the end of NCIS: Los Angeles‘ eleventh season amidst a world in turmoil, it feels like some of that turmoil has managed to worm its way into the show. With “Murder of Crows,” written by Chad Mazero and directed by Suzanne Salz, we got a team out of balance, focused more on their futures than the current case. Full disclosure, a lack of time had me debating about turning this post into a non-review discussion, so I’m keeping things on the abbreviated side this week. Think of it as the first comment in our discussion thread.

The Newbies

We continued from last week with a budding Fatima-Kensi partnership. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about that, and about Fatima, but she’s yet to win me over. In this week’s episode, she came off almost as a whiny teenager. I do want to see flaws, and yes, she’s been through a lot, but feeling tired and poo pooing all Kensi’s suggestions didn’t help me warm up to her. She did attempt a few jokes, but when Kensi told her “You’re funny. You’re very funny,” I found myself disagreeing.

Their scenes together felt forced. Kensi was so perky and positive – not necessarily out of character but heading in that direction – that it seemed as if she (or Daniela Ruah) was overcompensating in an effort to increase the scenes’ collective energy level. In a way, it was sweet that she was almost channeling her absent husband, but it didn’t save the scenes from falling flat.

The big confrontation with the bad guys at the end also demonstrated a real physical difference between Fatima and Kensi. Fatima seems so slight that, like Nell, it’s hard to believe she could take down a bad guy twice her size. In this episode, she couldn’t. Kensi, on the other hand, has a couple extra inches and a significant amount of muscle that lets us believe it when she tackles bad guys without breaking a sweat.

The other newbie last night was guest actress Anna Akana, who played an ex-NCIS tech-slash-undercover operator named Rhea Moretti. Rhea provided us with almost the exact opposite vibe of Fatima. While I didn’t find either of them funny, Akana did bring a ton of energy to her scenes. I never for a minute believed she was actually any kind of undercover operator, although I suppose she might be believable as a tech operator. I found myself wondering if she’s yet another potential new recruit. While I enjoyed her energy, she reminded me of so many past snarky, young, mostly Asian female guest actors who – with the exception of Jennifer Kim – have never felt like real people. If she could demonstrate more maturity, maybe there’d be some potential there, but for now, she felt too over the top to fit in.

The Densi Deeks Deale?

Because Akana brought so much energy, her scenes with Deeks at least held my interest. They should have been better than that given the wonderful set-up that Deeks did in fact invent the art of deflection with comedy, but Rhea just wasn’t believable enough for me. As for the rest of the Deeks scenes, well, we may have been missing the Densi banter, but Eric Christian Olsen didn’t lose a beat (he may have picked up an extra gear, actually) with his banter-filled interactions with Deeks’ tender lover Eric Beale. Eric even patted him on the chest at the end just like Kensi might have. The ending scene was even better. Overall, I felt like I got my standard dose of Deeks banter and both scenes put a smile on my face.

Obviously this was another week where ECO was largely unavailable for filming except for a few quick scenes shot on the Paramount lot. While I felt happy with the amount and quality of the Deeksness, there were three missed opportunities that emphasized how unfortunate it is for NCIS:LA fans that ECO has such a successful production company. First, Deeks interviewing the abused wife would have added a whole other layer of emotion to the scene, and to an episode largely devoid of such emotion. Second, the same could be said for the scene where Sam and Callen found the tortured man bound to a chair. And lastly, the fact that Deeks had to let Kensi and Fatima race off to save the woman in jeopardy while he hung out at the boatshed felt so wrong because he’d always want to have Kensi’s back in a dangerous situation if he could, and because he’s hard-wired to protect any woman in jeopardy, particularly an abused woman. Again, missed opportunities that we may just need to accept given that ECO’s involvement in the show is likely to continue to include these regularly ECO-minimized eps.

The DVD Cover Boys

The interactions between Sam and Callen continued to feel off this week. Again, what is going on with Sam? He wasn’t cruel like last week, but he seemed downright depressed. Was the rainy weather getting him down? It set his interactions with Callen off-balance, even though Callen was his consistent, normal self. He even seemed OK with Anna’s desire to pursue the American dream, even if to me it felt out of character. Maybe they should just move into Arkady’s giant mansion? They could have a whole wing to themselves.

Memorable Moments

  • I’m sorry, does Deeks have something against church that I can’t remember hearing about? Or is it Presbyterians specifically? What exactly would make him “burst into flames”?
  • That was a cool transition from the ops big screen photo of the house to the live shot of Callen and Sam pulling up in front of it, but it felt a little distracting since they only managed to use the technique that single time. Perhaps they should make it a regular occurrence.
  • It’s nice to hear Kensi tell Fatima that she could use a cooking class. Deeks would have enjoyed her admission.
  • I wasn’t thrilled to hear Deeks say that “Marriages are hard work.” What’s that about? Should we read anything into it? Maybe he did overhear Kensi dissing him last week. (No, I still haven’t gotten over that.)
  • I didn’t enjoy the ditzy church lady. That whole scene felt like it played out in slow motion, and the woman, again, didn’t feel like a real person.

For me the biggest flaw with this week and last, as with much of Season 11, has been a sense of imbalance. Something is disrupting the force. The core partnerships that have made this show the success it is have been tampered with. The reasons may be valid, but the result is disorienting. Fingers crossed that Frank Military can restore the balance in next week’s season finale.

What did you think of “Murder of Crows”? Tell us all your thoughts in the Comments below!

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.

29 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Murder of Crows” (S11E21)

  1. This will be the only comment I’ll post on here about the penultimate episode because I’m very tired of this very irritable fandom right now.
    Thoughts: TV Guide article said there would be more Deeks and Eric scenes, and they were nice. (Eric is really lost without Nell)
    I love Kensi being a big sister to Fatima. No, I didn’t detect any ‘whining’, more like ‘struggling’.
    That ‘comedian?’ I only see her being a one time thing.
    Sallen was more chummy, which was nice. (and the Callanna mention was really disappointing)
    My finale predictions:
    Nothing really earth shattering happens
    Cliffhanger of sorts
    No one leaves (kind of already confirmed)
    Some emotional gut punchers
    No Hetty (I’d be REALLY shook if she’s actually in the episode!)
    Again, this’ll be the only time I’ll talk in this thread because I don’t want to go through another round of how the end of the world is here because of the lack of Densi scenes, and how Fatima is apparently responsible for all of it, (She’s not, you ALL need to chill the ell out!!!!!)
    See ya either later this week in a new Kensi’s Journal or Deeks Surf Log, or next week in the finale review.


  2. I totally agree with you Karen, I miss a lot of the interactions that we are all so used too..I also hope that the writers are not putting problems with kensi and Deeks, they are supposed to still be in there honeymoon stage…Sam and callen, miss their old banter..miss the opening scenes when all 4 were in the bullpen ..that’s always started the show off great..really hoping for a 12 th season for sure..and hoping they can work around eric olson busy schedule to see him and kensi in more scenes together..Fatima should stay in ops with eric Beale..hope to see nell and hetty back….thanks for listening

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Bluenet13 (Jess) // April 21, 2020 at 7:20 AM // Reply

    Thanks Karen for another great review and taking the time to write it even when you are short on time. I don’t really have anything new to add to your comments and I agree with everything you said. The last two episodes have felt too unbalanced and unfamiliar and maybe that’s just a reflection of our real world problems.

    Sam and Callen still feel off and I wonder if it’s a conscious decision by the writers and there’s an end game to it or if it’s just bad writing. As for the new partnerships, I feel the show is trying too hard and it mostly feels forced. But while Eric and Deeks together manages to be funny and feel genuine because it has been developing over time, Fatima and Kensi don’t really click, and to me it feels completely forced and unnatural. Speaking of Fatima individually, it feels strange that she seems so tired and burnout when she just joined the team. It happened to Nell after 10 years, but it feels rushed to also have Fatima complaining about the job and sounding as if she wants to leave already when she just got here. Maybe she should just stay in ops, I like her a lot more with Beale than Kensi. As for Kensi, I’m not her biggest fan these last two weeks. Her church comment made no sense based on what we know of Deeks and, like last week, it just felt like another instance of Kensi making unnecessary fun of Deeks. It bothers me especially because Deeks wasn’t present in either scene, so it felt mean rather than familiarly teasing. I also wonder if Barrett could work around his schedule to be able to shoot with ECO during his brief availability, couldn’t the show had tried to bring in Dani for a quick scene with ECO. Instead of the forced and overly enthusiastic ending scene between Fatima and Kensi, one with Densi would have been much better and could have restored some of the balance and familiarity we’re missing.

    I was also so disappointed by those missed opportunities you mentioned. Ever since I discovered and binged this show, I have wanted to see Deeks confront his past through a case, and here we had a tortured man bound to a chair and abused women, and none of the scenes had anything to do with him. Deeks could have bonded with the lady in the boatshed better than anyone, and it would have been great to see his reaction upon seeing the tortured man and then him racing to action to save another woman in danger like he’s wired to do and like we have seen him do so many times. Of course, I’m happy ECO is doing so well in his individual projects, but I can’t help but also be sad because of results like this one. Though I also wonder if the show made the connection at all and if they would have connected the case and scenes to Deeks if ECO had been available.

    Anyhow, as I said on Tumblr after I had some time to think of the ep. Honestly, I’m just glad we still have a show, even if it’s not what it was before. I still get to see these characters that I love every week and, sometimes they might not act like themselves or have reduced parts, but at least they’re on my tv screen every Sunday night. As for these last 2 eps, I will try to be optimistic and just blame real life for making them a little bit unfamiliar, weird and unbalanced. Hope we get a renewal soon and some more of the old show we all love next season, with Nell back and hopefully some appearances from Hetty while she’s still on the show. Hetty might have made questionable decisions in the past, but I’ll always love her and consider her an anchor for the show.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m with you re: being tired of hearing Fatima complain of burn-out. I think I might have said (oaky, yelled) to the scream something like, “So find another job, already, before you get someone killed!” Kensi, not everyone loves and is made for this job like you are, stop trying t o convince people to stay when they clearly want to leave.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t have anything to add. It has all been said. I do think they could have Densi scenes if they wanted to even with ECO’s limited filming. Like everyone else I am not a fan of Fatima. She doesn’t look like a field agent(neither did Neil) and there is no chemistry with kensi.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Less detailed review from me this week.

    1) I found the Kensi and Fatima scenes cringy. I tried to keep an open mind about Fatima but she has yet to and by this time, likely won’t win me over. It’s NOT just because of her replacing Deeks in scenes, she’s becoming a rather Mary-Sueish character. Also when they are teamed up, I don’t even neccessarily like Kensi, that is related to Deeks but in a meta sense. Kensi seems to feel the need to make fun of Deeks when he isn’t there. That isn’t cute and funny, but rather mean. He’s not there to defend himself.

    2) Piggybacking off of the last statement, since when does Deeks have an issue going inside a church? He’s never shown that inclination before in the series, so it made no sense for Kensi to say it. It seemed like just another unnessary dig at her husband.

    3) This is a weird point but something that caught my attention: In the boatshed, Deeks was sarcastically asked or was stated about (I remember the gist, but not if it was a question or a statement) “you look like you’re going to a Hanson reunion concert!” For it to be a reunion concert/ tour, it would mean the band broke up and is back together again. I grew up listening to their music, as I am one year younger than the middle brother (Taylor) and a year older than the youngest (Zac), they were up my alley so to speak. They are very much still a band, still cranking out new music and touring. A friend did mention that Deeks resembles present-day Taylor, so that coud be the connection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ^ and yes, they are still my favorite band. :geek but I don’t care: lol 🙂


    • Yes I agree with your assessment of Kensi when she is with Fatima. Her energy and character is all off. The way she just went off with her to the Eagles concert without an even second thought about Deeks was bizarre. Like she was single again. That bothered me. If this is what Deeks is dealing with no wonder he muses about how hard marriage can be.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I also don’t like kensi’s attitude toward Deeks, when she is with Fatima. Her character is just plain off.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Plain and simple, they continue to break my heart and have pushed the throttle a little more in putting the boat on the rocks.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. sassyzazzi // April 21, 2020 at 1:49 PM // Reply

    Karen, thank you for taking the time to write a great review. You really wrote what I was thinking about this episode.

    I certainly see Fatima the same way you do , I cannot get enthusiastic about her character. It seems as though in the last few seasons when they bring in a new character instead of writing the character in a positive/interesting way so the fans like them , they take a main character we already like , like Kensi and basically since Kensi likes this person and as a fan I like Kensi so therefore I am supposed to like the new person. It does not work. They need to write a character that is interesting on her own. In this case I agree with bluenet13, the character just got here and she is already unhappy in the job. You would think that she spent a lot of time in training , so she would know what the job was.

    As everyone has said I am disappointed with the lack of Deeks and Densi. I am also annoyed how they are writing Kensi, just not realistically. She gets asked by Fatima to a concert, and she just goes, she does not say to Fatima I need to check with Deeks to see if he planned something tonight , see if needs me at the bar, give him a call to tell him where I am going, even old married couples do that .

    As a fan who really loves this show, but loves it because of Deeks/Densi, I think it needs a reset. In the old days , really early season, we would get mostly Sam and Callen as the main stars of an episode but we would get some episodes with Deeks and Kensi where they had the lead in a case, and Callen and Sam were secondary. It seems at this point in time all the characters have outside interests now, not just ECO, so maybe one episode a month, Deeks and Kensi are front and center, in a team episode, then two episodes a month Sam and Callen are front and center in a team episode and then they do one with all these extra folks front and center. These are smart people who write these shows, they ought to be able to figure out how to do this.

    I also wonder if they are bringing in Mac to replace Hetty. She probably works better than Callen as a Hetty replacement and it leaves Sam and Callen in the field together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra Gillespie // April 21, 2020 at 3:00 PM // Reply

      I also was wondering if Mac would be a replacement for Hetty, but frankly I think Mac would be better in the assistant director position once held by Granger/Mosely. If there’s any small silver lining during this lockdown, it’s the writers and PTB have more time to regroup for a season 12 and get their creative juices flowing during the isolation.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I like the way you think sassyzazzi, you are spot on, pray for a season 12 and hopefully some one is paying attention in the writing department and figure it out..

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Good review, Karen, for a ho-hum episode. No spark, and honestly, terrible writing. I am not going to blame the actors or the characters for a really awful script. A couple of thoughts about newbies. They are working very hard to make us like Fatima and it isn’t working. I didn’t mind when she was in Ops, but in the field…not so much. I’ve always thought if they needed a new person to pair with the existing characters, why not bring in Arlo Turk? No one will question his gravitas, and he is a great fit with Deeks, if they are looking to split up Densi. Not sure why they would want to do this, but the way things are going it doesn’t look good. We need some homebody snuggles between those two. I’m tired of Deeks spending so much time comforting Beale. And if they are hinting at trouble at home, why not give us a scene where they argue? Every couple argues. Show us the tension. Give us something to get our teeth into. So far this season has been completely blah, except for Mother. More Frank Military next season, and another script by ECO. If there is a Season 12.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Agreed with what most people are saying. Since I didn’t watch the entire episode (I tried) I have a question: Why does this show have such trouble developing a new characters, especially females? And the ones that the audience seem to like get burned in a bag in a bag (Hidoko) or they dIsappear for long periods of time ( DeChamps)?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Donna l Hartle // April 21, 2020 at 8:25 PM // Reply

    I think the reason we are seeing Kensi and Fatima together so much is to set the character of Fatima. After all she has just been added as a regular. Once she is set then we will get to see Deeks and Kensi together more(if ECO ever comes back full time).
    Also since I have been married for 25 years, the comment about marriage being hard work didn’t bother me. You still have to make an effort if you are going to love and live with someone in marriage for any amount of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Another great review Karen. If anybody knows how to write them, it is you my dear. Thank you!
    You so nicely vocalized all my thoughts and sentiments about this episode that there is not much to add, except that marriage is hard work. I have been married for 20 years and although I love my husband truly and deeply there are times when I asked myself what was I thinking when I got married (not to him, more generally speaking).
    Stay healthy and safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful review as always, Karen. Sadly, you seemed to have missed the subtle humor, or meta humor or whatever one may call it: The fact that Kensi found Fatima funny is funny (and very in character) because of Kensi’s notoriously bad sense of humor. 😉

    Also I didn’t take Deeks’ comment about marriage as a sign of anything other than the truth.

    As for the rest, I think you were spot-on!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for the great comments everybody! I’m so glad to see that even when the episode disappoints, you all are still here to generate a great discussion.


  15. ECO didn’t twit live from what i hear is he hasn’t sign his contract.Hence the possible new agentplayed by caleb castile.Someone should of ask dani where he was or if it true or not?But she seems to pulling for the new guy.


  16. michelle mcnally // April 27, 2020 at 10:11 AM // Reply

    i didn’t watch. i love deeks and i don’t like fatima and i really don’t like kensi’s attitude toward deeks, it’s not becoming. by the way the name of the site is wikideeks. mac will never replace hetty. to get my deeks fix and the love story and granger and hetty, i will watch fri and sunday and my dvds. it used to be the best show. kensi you got too big for your britches and the writing is bad.


  17. If the plan is to break up Deeks and Kensi because they can not have a baby.then they might as well cancel it imho.Makes me sad the way the writers have written densi no hugs no kisses nothing.If I hadn’t watch ll the past seasons I wouldn’t even know they were in love much less married.Hate what the writers have done to them and their relationship.Why do that to the densi fans.Why add more agents when you can’t write for the ones you have,Need better writers/storylines.Frank is only decent one left and Eric.What has happened to our show.Miss Hetty miss densi.


  18. What going on between Dani and Eric?


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