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Review: NCISLA “Code of Conduct” (S11E22)


It’s hard to believe Season 11 of NCIS: Los Angeles is already over. It felt like it never really got started. Still, such is the world we’re currently living in that this week we ended an abbreviated NCIS:LA season with “Code of Conduct,” written and directed by Frank Military. I always feel like I’m in good hands when I see Mr. Military’s name flashing across the sceen not just as writer, but as director. In this case we got the serious and entertaining hour of television we’ve come to expect from the show’s longtime contributor.

A Welcome Return to Darkness (and Lightness)

The episode functioned almost like a palate cleanser after the prior two episodes, where so much had felt out of character and out of balance. The showrunners made a great decision to end the season by swapping the order of this episode with last week’s “Murder of Crows,” which was originally due to run after “Code of Conduct.”

Military made it look easy with his opening bullpen banter between Sam and Callen. After two really strained and odd weeks, here was a bullpen scene that simply felt right. And that made it so very refreshing. The idea of Callen getting a salad spinner made me laugh out loud. This is the kind of teasing we’ve wanted to see from Sam, giving his partner a hard time about his new domesticated lifestyle, but not in an aggressive, nasty way. We could feel Sam’s love and happiness for his partner’s relationship and it reassured me that these two are gonna be OK.

While the episode entertained throughout, and the plot more than held my interest, I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve seen this story before. Maybe several times before. NCIS:LA, with its heavy military content, has often explored aspects of the military code of conduct, along with what can sometimes be an opposing code of silence.

Unfortunately the theme of Sam reactively wanting to defend a SEAL accused of wrongdoing did not feel like a fresh take. I believe it was even on the old NCIS:LA bingo cards that some used to play with on Tumblr (my favorite square was something like, “Callen looks like he’s swallowed a bee”). Just as in earlier episodes, I’m not sure they were always on the side of truth, as when Callen gave Sam a chance to bury the investigation before they’d even attempted to find out what had really happened, but to Sam’s credit – and to Devin’s – they pushed ahead and did their job. Didn’t one of the earlier episodes along these lines have them letting a whole team off the hook because they had an important mission? (I may be misremembering but I’m sure you all will fill in my faulty memory.)

Argento made for a decent enough bad guy and I wouldn’t mind him coming back for revenge. Military does seem to enjoy a good serial killer, and the idea that one would be operating in the military’s ranks, taking advantage of his war-torn environment – and could be set loose to wreak more havoc later on – made for an interesting set-up. If we do bring back any serial killers next season, I would have to vote to bring back the gang of Frankenstein-making serial killers from “Monster” first to get them off the streets. Seriously, who wants to think about them roaming the country dismantling more people?

More Potential from the Newbie

For me, Devin showed more promise as a character this week. I liked that he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind (“If the truth is what matters…”). His humor was well placed (“Afghanistan, Afghanistan?”) and not over the top, even if he told one too many jokes about paperwork. It felt natural, used as an outlet for the stressful situation, even reminiscent of how Deeks uses humor. And Devin’s heart is in the right place, wanting to make a contribution and unafraid of the unknown. Yeah, he screwed up by chasing after the witness, but hopefully he learned from it. Oh, did I mention that he’s a fast runner? I’m kind of picking up on that as one of his defining characteristics. Don’t know if you noticed? Well, I guess with an aging team, it would be a useful skill.

Where I think the showrunners erred when establishing Devin’s character was making him an undercover FBI agent. I would assume that to do undercover assignments like the one he was on when he met the team, a certain level of experience is required. It’s why his whole newbie vibe feels frustrating, because I’d expect him to be a bit more skilled given his prior experience. If they’d portrayed him as a green, suit-wearing FBI agent, then all his mistakes thus far would make sense (but then they wouldn’t have had reason to recruit him, so I do see Gemmill’s conundrum).

Action and Inaction

Military showed why he’s not just the show’s best writer, but possibly its best director, with his well shot chase scene through the Kandahar streets. But the episode’s showstopping sequence, with a huge shout-out to editor Eric J. Lucas, was the recounting of the killing that set the whole plot in motion. The way multiple characters alternated their way through the story was powerful and showed us how truthful all the witnesses were, as well as how many people had been affected by Argento’s actions.

The other element I appreciated throughout the hour was the seriousness with which Kensi and Deeks approached their less glamorous tasks. Daniela Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen had no opportunity to engage in any of the banter we love, but their somber reactions to unfolding events reinforced the episode’s dramatic aspects well.

And while we got a fair bit of action during the episode, my one quibble was that all the main characters gave off a passive vibe. Kensi and Deeks didn’t have much to do except talk, with the good guys no less, and then worry about their friends thousands of miles away. And Sam, Callen and Devin were literally tied up for a long chunk of the episode. I will say that the Kandahar set and hearing the Pashto(?) being spoken absolutely gave me flashbacks to “Spoils of War.” Just imagine how this episode could have been turned upside down (in a world where Sam and Callen aren’t on the DVD covers) by having Kensi and Deeks return there. Still, it more than held my interest throughout because the story was well told and the performances of the main and guest cast were all excellent.

It’s about Family

How did you like Callen almost claiming ownership of the “nice little bar in L.A.” that “we” have? Deeks would have loved it. That bar has become everything he envisioned, and even if I didn’t think it made sense at the time, I’m happy for the guy. He has a place to bring his family so even if one day he’s not in the field with them, he’ll still be able to stay in touch. Military drove home the idea of family even more with the final conversation between Sam, Callen and Devin, when they offered him a full-time gig but made it clear that he wouldn’t start off as “immediate family.”

Devin’s decision wasn’t made – he doesn’t take “joining a family” too lightly. That uncertainty should give the showrunners lots of flexibility in casting for next season. They now have Devin who’s on the fence, Fatima who’s burned out at a very young age, and even Mac possibly making more appearances next year. Am I psyched about any of those options? Of course I’d rather things stay as they’ve always been, but that’s just not a realistic expectation so I will hope for the best in (fingers crossed) a Season 12.

I’m not gonna pretend that Season 11 was a stand-out, although for many reasons, “Mother” will always be on my list of all-time favorite episodes. There were other highlights as well, but here’s hoping for an improved Season 12 with a better plan for handling cast absences and some good reasons for us to bond with any new team members.

I wanted to say a couple of thank you’s to wrap up the season. First thank you to @typingtess on Tumblr for her wonderful posts tiptoeing through each episode’s guest cast. They’ve been a constant reference that I’ve depended on. And of course a huge thanks to all of you who’ve read these posts over the course of the season, and especially to those who took the time to share your own thoughts. I’ve loved reading your varying opinions on all things Deeks, Densi and NCIS: Los Angeles. Thanks for joining our little wikiDeeks family, and stay safe over the summer.

But before you go, tell us your thoughts on “Code of Conduct,” Season 11, and your hopes for the show’s future!

***A final thank you from The Editor***

Season 11 has come to an end and although we hope there will be a season 12, nothing is certain at this point for many reasons.  Even though it was a quiet year, we are grateful to Eric Christian Olsen for sitting down with us for another insightful interview and thank him for his time and support of this website. A shoutout to all the wikiDeeks contributors who make this site a reality. But most of all we want to thank YOU all for your support and love as well.  We are here because we love this character and we know you do too.  With a little luck and the grace of God there will be a season 12.  Until that time,  stay positive and please stay well.  All the best,  Diane

 

 

About Karen P (221 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.

27 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Code of Conduct” (S11E22)

  1. Nice review.
    I thought the whole episode was meh. There was literally no excuse to NOT have Hetty in this episode (her boys were in trouble, she had a right to know what was going on!!). Mac is really nice (I’m a JAG fan myself), but she belongs in a JAG reboot.
    Devin IS NOT a good fit for the team! His impulsiveness got them captured, if I was Sam, I would’ve slapped him and told him to go back to the FBI and stay there!! and I can’t be the only Deeks fan who was a bit irritated by the fact they’re so willing to accept him off the bat while it took them till Season 5 to accept Deeks?!!
    OK, I usually don’t mind the political jabs, but this time, I minded.
    All in all, the Season 5 finale was better then this.

    Like

  2. Thoughts on the season overall (it ain’t gonna be pretty):
    When this season started, I was really excited. plus, I had just recently started my Tumblr blog. The premeire was amazing. The ending gave me hope for a great season that proved to be a ‘fresh start’ from the disaster that was Season 10. those hopes were dashed the very next episode. I kept hoping each episode afterwards would just be a fluke, but they weren’t. When episode 9 finally came (when Hetty and Eric would return), I thought, ‘Let things go back to normal!’. Well, the ending dashed any hopes of that for sure! I was actually really on edge for the 250th cuz I was actually worried about Hetty! and the so called ‘Christmas’ episode only made me miserable. (you’re willing to answer those relationship questions but NOT ONE single Hetty related question?!! yeah, that’s extremely low!!) I hoped the 2nd half would be better then this.
    Well, the 2nd half proved to be way worse then the 1st. (save for Callanna sweetness). Questions related to Hetty continued to pile up, #wrapgift being a massive pain in the butt (as for whether or not it actually meant Renee, well, who knows if that’s even the right answer now!), My issues with this show’s fandom increasing more and more, me being miserable with each episode. Well, there is just no way this season was thought out well, just no way. Should’ve been rewritten from the very second episode. The only great highlights of this season are the 250th and Callanna’s evolution.

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  3. Last thing: Last night, I found an article on TV Guide (that had a title that a couple of weeks ago would’ve definitely made go CRAZY!!), Military says we’ll see more of Hetty next season. (I’m excited, but as I’ve said in a thoughts post on my blog, I’m also being cautious) So, maybe there’s hope for Season 12 after all. My Season 12 wish list (it’s a whole page on my blog, can’t miss it!) is already 16 wishes long (yes, two of those is for ‘Deeks M’ and for more ECO written episodes). And my biggest wish has a possibility of happening. I really hope it dosn’t turn out to be a lie in the end. Other then that, enjoy the hiatus!

    Like

  4. Thank you Karen for another great review..love hearing what you think…I have to say this episode kept me watching from beginning to end. It felt more normal. Would I love to see more married banter between kensi and Deeks. Sure I would..but it was great to see them together and Sam and callen bantering in the beginning..love the show and hoping to see a season 12… ( and really hope they do more in what we are used to with kensi and Deeks) and Sam, callen and eric…hope to see hetty , but time will tell..😘😷

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Martina Pruett // April 30, 2020 at 8:01 AM // Reply

    I LOVED this episode! I do agree about the storyline being replayed over and over, though.
    That episode you talked about was in Season 3 called “Vengence”. Didn’t like that one at all because of the way Sam reacted throughout. He was so sure about the character of Navy Seals it blinds him to the fact that these men are HUMAN first and foremost. It’s like in Season 7×2 “Citadel”, he tells Callen, “I’m so glad you feel comfortable being human” I always expect him to add, “I’m not” to that sentence. Anyway, sorry for off subject. I did love this episode. I like Roundtree ( though not all the time) I think he would be a nice addition to the team. I don’t like Mac. (Sorry, JAG fans I never watched the show). Loved Densi being back out together again. Although, why did Deeks walk leisurely into that room instead of slowly walking and checking to see if it was clear first? The guy didn’t show and they had no idea what happened to him. They should have been on alert, guns in hand, but they weren’t. Why? Anyway, that’s jmo…👍☺

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I do not like Rountree. He should have some skills but he doesn’t. Sam should have berated him for what he did and he should have been kicked out. Deeks had more skills but was t excepted for a long time (S5). It was good to see Deeks and Kensi together. Fatima was were she belongs-in ops. Overall Miltary gave us a solid episode. This year has been very disappointing. ECOs episode is the exception. I don’t know if I want him to write more episodes because it reduces his screen. He is an excellent writer. Thank you for this website. I really appreciate everyone’s opinions and Diane’s hard work.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. While this episode was better than the ones before it, I still didn’t like it. The plot was too similar to several other episodes, a political jab was still thrown in (though slightly covered up if I recall the episode correctly), and the newbies still there. I may get flack for this, but I don’t really like Fatima and Roundtree is still too green to be joining an “elite secret ops” group of the ncis. I noticed the difference between when Deeks joined the group and when Roundtree came along. Roundtree got the mostly lighthearted teasing from Sam and Called but to Sam, Deeks could do little right when he joined.

    Overall, this has been a rather disappointing season, which is sad because if not for a few decisions the powers that be made, it really could have shined.

    In any case, thank you for taking the time to review.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you, Karen for a season full of amazing reviews. This was no exception. Frank Military is the best. Even though we’ve seen something similar in previous seasons, I was impressed that they were brave enough to tackle the subject of a rogue SEAL operator indiscriminately killing people. It was literally ripped from the headlines, although I was surprised they mentioned Eddie Galliger by name, the real SEAL who was court-martialed for similar actions. Not sure I spelled his name right, but I’m sure he was the inspiration for this ep. It was a good story to end on. I only hope they revisit it next season. Fingers crossed on that one. Although it’s been a so so year, I always enjoy some part of every episode, especially if it involves Deeks. He’s like comfort food for me. I feel myself physically relax whenever he smiles, runs down a bad guy, or teases his new wife. Their kisses always make me smile.

    Thanks to all the contributors here at WikiDeeks, especially Di, Karen P, and Colleen. The team that makes the dream work. A special shout out and thank you to Eric Christian Olsen for his generosity in sharing videos with us. Now for reruns.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. To add onto my last statement, I do congratulate ECO on his upcoming role: Daddy of 3 kids.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Thanks, WikiDeeks, for a whole season of amazing reviews. It wasn’t possible for me to write comments on some of the last episodes (life got in the way), but I never missed your reviews.
    I do hope there will be Season 12 as much as I hope we will see more episodes by ECO.
    I would have really liked to see the “great big cliffhanger” (quoting Daniela’s words from one of her replies to an IG comment) that the showrunners were forced to postpone because of the pandemic. I am wondering if it had to do with Deeks or Kensi, or both, if it had to do with their pregnancy announcement or not, I am just too curious knowing that the script was already there and the cast knows!! Who can we bribe? 🙂 just kidding, I only hope NCIS:LA will be renewed and we will have more quality episodes (the actors are great and committed to their characters whenever they are given the right opportunity and scripts).
    All the best to each of you. Always stay positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It was a well written episode, which I have come to expect from Military, but it was nothing special. I like Roundtree. Nothing else to really say about the episode for me.
    As for this season, it was a big disappointment. I will not be buying the dvd this year (didn’t buy season 9 either). I hope they self correct for next year. The strength of this show is the team. The team has been so disjointed and off this season. I don’t feel the heart in the team anymore. Every other episode had some member of the team absent or lamenting about the job. The main four didn’t work together a lot either and they don’t even do many fun undercover ops anymore. I wonder what the cast and crew felt about the season.

    I do appreciate this website though. Thanks for the great discussions about the show and Deeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for your reviews all season. Honestly, I didn’t find the episode very interesting and thought there was a lot about it that didn’t measure up to most Military episodes. I’m tired of the the question about whether or not Sam is willing to investigate SEALS. He was asked that in “Vengeance” (another Military SEAL story). If Sam isn’t willing to do that, he should quit NCIS and work for an agency that doesn’t investigate the Navy.

    The opening conversation between Callen and Sam was better but still not quite right. Have to admit I’m not a big fan of Devin. Like others, he makes so many mistakes it’s not humorous; it’s frustrating, and I couldn’t believe they took him to Afghanistan. And the suggestion that Callen–any of the team–would ever sweep a possible murder by someone in the Navy under the rug was insulting, especially when no one one on the team or someone they cared about was implicated.

    I liked the scenes in L.A. better than the scenes in Afghanistan (everyone did a terrific job), but there wasn’t a lot of action and not a lot of tension.And I don’t like it when the guest actors have more action/dramatic scenes than the regular cast. Once Argento located our guys, I was never worried about them getting out alive. Yes, it was better than the most “Murder of Crows” and “Knock Down,” but those two were pretty awful.

    Here’s hoping season 12 is better!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Debra Gillespie // May 1, 2020 at 2:12 AM // Reply

    Thanks for your wonderful review as usual, Karen. You brought up a lot of thoughts that I certainly agree with you on. Since the “Monster” episode ran a couple of years ago, I have also been so hoping that they’d both resolve that case and perhaps have an appearance from FBI Agent Rand, who I’ve always liked. Your opinion of the finale as a palate cleanser I thought was spot on – this Military episode definitely brought back a lot of the old vibes, and things looked more familiar in the NCIS LA universe.. I was surprised to hear that “Murder of Crows” was originally going to be the last episode; thank heaven TPTB switched them around or I would have fallen into a darker mood that probably would have lasted the summer.
    I enjoyed Fatima much more in ops than in the field here. And I’m sorry….Roundtree nearly getting killed with that car bomb by being impulsive was one thing, but then being impulsive again in that chase in Afghanistan….and Sam and Callen still want him to be on the team? How has he survived as an undercover FBI agent so far? Sam I’m sure would be a good teacher but boy it looks like he might have his hands full with him.
    If written well, the Argento character could make a very interesting multiple episode storyline for (hopefully) season 12.({Perhaps a JAG trial in the mix?) It’s way too early to know of course, but he could be the worst enemy that Sam particularly has faced since Tahir Khaled, who got his wife Michelle killed. I had a weird thought watching Argento, especially in that intense scene when he was ready to kill Sam. I’m sure a lot of you long time fans have made a mental picture of what Gordon John Brandel looked like; when looking at Argento, I couldn’t help but realize that with shorter hair and without facial hair, to me he looked like what I pictured Deek’s dad to look like years ago. Rather an eerie thought.
    Here’s to all the Wikideeks admin and all the contributors to the site staying safe and healthy over the summer. Assuming of course there’s a season 12, hopefully filming will start in July as what I last heard TPTB were aiming for.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you, Karen, for a season of great of reviews. I’ve been scarce here this season because of work and by the time I’ve seen the episode and read the review it’s usually too late to post a reply. But since I’ve been in quarantine for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been current. Although I will always watch this show, this season has been a little rough. Any NCISLA is better than no NCISLA but really, sometimes I wonder what the frontrunners and EPs are thinking. I’m not a fan of either of the two newbies. I don’t think either are suited for undercover work. I find Fatima totally unbelievable in the field–I’ll just leave it at that, and Roundtree–well, I agree with those who point out that he is already accepted by Callen and Sam (even with his bonehead moves) and it took five years for Deeks to be accepted. I think Roundtree can fit in but it’s like do it realistically considering this team. Like many of us, I need and want more Densi. I am not interested in girl-bonding with Fatima and Military returned Densi to some form of normality after some of the more recent episodes. Obviously, high on my list of what I want to see in Season 12 is more ECO and more Densi, and I wouldn’t mind another episode penned by him. On another note, Lindy, I love your fan fiction and your latest is making me relive my hippie days. Thanks to everyone who keeps WikiDeeks going.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ivelina Plamena Georgievi // May 1, 2020 at 10:17 PM // Reply

      Totally agree
      We need more Densi moments

      Like

    • Hey, Mistri. Thanks for referencing my story. It’s been fun to dredge up old memories about the sixties. I’ve been listening to all the great music from those days and laughing about how during this quarantine people are complaining about needing haircuts. I still love long hair. It’s one of the reasons I’ve loved Deeks’ look from the beginning.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Season 12 is official now!

    Like

  16. Good news .Now hire some better writers and please do NOT destroy the densi relationship.Let them work together and let their marriage be strong.And for God sake stop Kensi from talking badly and acting badly behind her husband back.Bring Back Hetty and the DENSI!!!!

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  17. Stong end to a strong season of reviews, Karen! Thanks for all of your hard work.
    You nailed what bothers me about Devin–he’s been presented to us as someone with at least enough experience in the FBI to go undercover, but they write him like a newbie to dangerous fieldwork.

    I also agree with many of the commenters who pointed out that Devin has been accepted by Sam almost immediately (and after two major mistakes that almost got him and others killed) while Deeks didn’t get that kind of respect from him for four years (and he came with really solid skills). The only things I can think are that Sam automatically respects people more who have the same training he’s had (SEALs, FLETC) and so Deeks was fighting an uphill battle until he could (repeatedly) prove himself to Sam. I think the fact that Deeks was actually good at the job and really needed no training (unlike Devin) pissed Sam off because a) he only had LAPD training; b) he pushed back at Sam with humor, which Sam didn’t appreciate; and c) his hair. All of those made Sam automatically think Deeks was not worthy of being on the team. Also, now that Sam’s ready to take on more of a trainer/mentor role, he’s looking for people who have room to learn (and become mini-Sams); he clearly didn’t have that mindset a decade ago.

    I loved Callen’s comment about the bar “we have” and really appreciated your take on that, Karen; how that reflects on Deeks and his dream for the place didn’t occur to me initially.

    I hope everyone has a safe and healthy (if longer than usual) hiatus!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great thoughts on Devin’s smooth acceptance contra Deeks’ painfull and long struggle to be accepted by the team and Sam especially. I would like to add also the whole situation with Dom missing at that time and his ultimate death short before Deeks has joined them. It was hard for everybody to accept new team member while other team member is missing.
      Working with Deeks everyday, Kensi rather soon figured out all his qualities and skills and accepted him as her partner, Callen was always more or less indifferent. But once he was sure that Deeks could keep his own as well as keep Kensi safe he was ok with him. But Sam had issues with Deeks for much longer time; issues that you explained excellently above.
      I wish all safe and healthy summer.
      P.s. we are almost back to normal life in Europe. Hope it will soon be the case in US and the rest of the world.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Devin really bugs me too. I really hope it dosn’t show up much. or at all.

    Like

  19. what I heard now is more trying to have a baby trouble and problems with the duo being partners at their job. So basically breaking up densi on the job and giving them problems in their relationship because the writers are too lazy to write a good marriage that is fun and exciting.The writers need to realize married people still laugh flirt and have fun just look at eric and sarah.lol.

    Like

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