Review: NCISLA “Angry Karen” (S12E03)
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes of NCIS: Los Angeles this season: shooting limitations due to COVID, Eric Christian Olsen taking some time off to bond with his new baby girl, and overall changes in the cast. This week’s episode, “Angry Karen,” written by R. Scott Gemmill and directed by Dennis Smith, continued Season 12’s rather unique vibe. And since it was relatively short on the Deeksness, this review will be on the short side too.
Present Day Challenges
I’ve settled into the very different shooting approach, and have accepted the heavier reliance on the Paramount lot and the plethora of scenes of agents working solo. One element that seems to be helping these scenes feel more normal is the frequent inclusion of phone conversations. Having Nell keeping such a close eye on the team, almost as if she’s still in Ops, works to give these solo operators someone to talk to when they’re not touching base with one another. These scenes must be difficult to film, since I think each actor may only be filming his or her side of the conversation without the other person to play off of, but it’s all being pulled together seamlessly by the editors.
In keeping with the NCIS:LA‘s long tradition of action, the showrunners have also managed to give us several chase scenes that ended with the suspect apprehended, all while maintaining some level of social distance. We had Rountree last episode chasing his man into a pool, and here we got the gnome taking the brunt of the impact so Kensi could keep her distance, plus Rountree using a hospital bed to maintain six full feet of space. Very creative use of found objects on the part of the writers and directors.
So far this season, every character has managed to get enough screen time to keep me somewhat satisfied. However, a concern that’s bubbled up to the surface is the fact that we have been missing two, and in this episode, really three, main characters. What happens when everyone’s back? How will there be enough screen time to keep each characters’ fans happy? It seems to pose a big challenge for the showrunners, although hopefully if they’re able to reduce the solo time and go back to more pairings, that will help give each character a bit more time on screen.
A Future in Doubt
There appear to be big changes in the works for Deeks. The exact change discussed this week confused me a bit. I took it that the LAPD temporarily canceled all liaison positions during their public safety review. But I didn’t take it that Deeks is out of a job entirely. I’d have expected him to spend the day with Bates at LAPD. At any rate, the couple’s conversation went in a different direction than I’d have expected given the last few years of discussions about getting out of law enforcement. Kensi blithely suggesting that Deeks could just join NCIS – something many of us have wanted for years – seemed to completely ignore any possibility that the duo might use this event as an impetus for larger changes in their lives. It felt puzzling coming from Kensi but even more so from Deeks, who appeared fine with the idea save for the lack of control he might have in his assignment location. Are we to assume that Deeks has resigned himself to a life of crime-fighting unless Kensi someday becomes pregnant?
Of course, coming events may change Deeks’ motivations, as he may realize how difficult it is to not be able to watch Kensi’s back every day. We got a little taste of his angst in his request to her to “Be careful,” with its faint echo of Kensi asking Deeks to promise not to get himself killed in “Wanted.”
Bringing the Funny
So Kensi spent the bulk of the episode working solo, and just like last season, we got to see her compensate for Deeks’ absence by making more than her usual share of the (bad) jokes. “Bed Bath & Burglary”? “The gnome violence solution,” really? It reminded me of the scene from “Empty Quiver” where the bartender tells Deeks that, “She’s cute, but her sense of humor needs work.” And while Deeks still clearly needs to continue his efforts to improve Kensi’s humor, it’s wonderful to see the influence he has had on her. Season 1 Kensi never approached her work with such a carefree attitude, and certainly never made so many jokes, let alone showed so much pride in her own efforts. Her character has grown so much over the years and with Deeks’ influence.
- We seem to have a trend this year of episodes being named after a piece of military hardware. Kind of odd but sure, why not? However, as a pretty Mellow Karen myself, I have to profess my fatigue with the Angry Karen meme. Most of us Karens are a pretty nice lot so it’s tiresome to see our name used with such a negative connotation.
- Have we ever heard Sam Hanna curse like he did in the opening sequence? “Son of a bitch tried to run me over.” “Are you OK?” “No, I’m pissed.” Salty!
- Didn’t Deeks also tell Kensi to tell someone (Nell I think) that he said hi when Kensi took a call in the season opener? Is this a new Eric Christian Olsen bit?
- I liked the big brother aspects of Sam and Callen providing Nell with some positive reinforcement, even if I found her lack of confidence a bit disappointing.
- The newbies sure do seem whiny at times. This time it was Rountree bored and hungry at the hospital, and then annoyed at being asked to drive to Oxnard (yes, it’s far, but it’s a lovely drive if you take PCH). I’d like to see them whine at the hazing by the senior agents, but since they’re all separated most of the time, we aren’t getting a lot of that.
- The episode’s highlight for me was Callen and Sam reuniting to take down lizard guy – I mean human directional. Their humor was, well, so much funnier than Kensi’s, and they seemed to be having so much fun with the job. Their jokes sounded like classic R. Scott Gemmill.
Like I said, short and sweet this week. I’m looking forward to some more Deeks-centered content soon. In the meantime, tell us what you thought of “Angry Karen” in the Comments below. And if you’re in the U.S., have a lovely – and safe – Thanksgiving.
This was definitely a better episode. (always good to enter a 2 week hiatus on a peaceful note.).
I loved Sallen’s humor. (Gemmill has a good sense of humor).
Deeks will eventually sign those paper, it’s eniavitable.
Nell is doing the best she can, and she did get one thing right: She’s not Hetty. Being in charge is a lot more then just phone calls, and I doubt Nell can handle it all. (if anything, she looks like she would much rather be back in OPS instead of behind that desk!) I like that she’s in conversation with Hetty from time to time. (and I really couldn’t stand Sam’s conversation with Nell at the start of this. Sure, Hetty’s ways can be a bit unorthodox, but she cares! And she’ll eventually be back AND behind that desk again!!)
Oh, there will be 2 new episodes airing in 2 weeks, and they both sound great! (and if you want slight spoilers, you have to ask.)
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I agree with your assessment and I will add one more which I know is pandemic centric. There were moments during Kensi/Deeks conversation that Kensi would have reached out to either touch/hug/kiss her husband. That was a huge void. I get the pandemic situation but ECO and Dani have been hanging together. Pictures from summer vacation and more recently the beach etc. would seem to suggest that they are comfortable with each other and I think relationship touching, except for kissing would be permissible. But otherwise, the show is doing an above average job of making things work.
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I agree with a little more between Eric and Dani, they still do spend a lot of off time it seems together, so show a little closeness with the kissing. Just a thought..I am just glad NCIS la is on during the COVID. So glad to see the team somewhat together..still not used to the 2 new actor/actress that are now on show. We shall see. Miss hetty and eric, but certainly understand..
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I know we r in a pandemic but it shouldn’t affect the writing,bad writing is still bad writing and so far we got alot.Kensi was trying to get laughs, my first thought was Deeks has really got to work on her humor some more.Good thing Kensi laughs at herself cause no one in my house did.It just made us want more Deeks. Hopeful the next eps will be better.Frank M. is their best writer and we get to see him act too.Should be entertaining and i love the movie Silence of the Lamb and there appears to be shades of this in the next eps.Do have a question why does Kensi talk behind her husband back to Nell or the new female agent.Does the lady writer not like Deek character or what?At least she didn’t have Deeks hit in the jewels this ep.Enjoy this site greatly.
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I’m actually starting to enjoy the spare look of the show…either that or I’m finally adjusting to the changes in our world. Above all, I want all the people making my favorite show to be safe. If that means I have to adjust my attitude and accept that this is the way it has to be, then I will find a way to appreciate what they give us.
I enjoyed this episode. And I liked hearing Sam curse. Come on. The guy was a Navy SEAL. Don’t tell me they don’t swear once in a while. I agree that the phone conversations between the team members was a nice thread that kept me feeling the connection. I also agree, Karen, that Nell’s lack of confidence is a little disconcerting. She has always been, quite literally, the smartest person in the room. Maybe losing her mother has shaken her confidence, or they are doing a story arc that leads to her assuming Hetty’s position after a few trials and tribulations. I think if they just unceremoniously plopped her into Hetty’s chair, it wouldn’t seem right. She has to grow into it. It will be a sad day if Hetty doesn’t return, but I can see the story possibilities. I do miss Hetty, though. She’s the reason I started watching this show from the beginning.
Now to our Deeks. He seemed so depressed in that first scene. So for me, the storylines are endless. I just hope we get a few that focus on what he’s going through emotionally. Kensi almost seems a little too cheery for me. It’s as if she doesn’t understand what this whole call back to LAPD is doing to him. Another great storyline…with maybe a few arguments. I kind of miss those. It’s a weird season, but I do love having it to look forward to every week. It’s my comfort food in times like these.
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Just a few random thoughts….I liked this episode more than the first two, and for some reason I didn’t notice the social distancing per Covid 19 rules as much in this episode. That’s rather strange as I’ve heard that some of the first scenes filmed after the hiatus were for “Angry Karen”. If that were so, perhaps the Densi bar scenes were in that first, possibly tentative filming which would explain the lack of touching, hugging, etc. between Kensi and Deeks.
The fight between Sam and the guy in the lizard costume to me was quite humorous, but Kensi’s bad puns as an attempt in humor fell flat, although I’m glad to see that she seems to have lost the end cackle that she had in earlier seasons. It reminded me of the joking attempts of the team sans Deeks in season 4’s “The Gold Standard”. And although her hitting the runner with a garden gnome was a funny touch, I’ll always first think of the garden gnome that was a “Hetty Cam” in season 5’s “Impact”.
I figured Kensi’s being a little too optimistic about Deek’s being recalled to LAPD was partly because she remembered that he had been fired three times from his liaison position – one that was used as a ruse (The Debt) and twice, by Mosely. He had come back each time, and she blithely figured it would happen again, once Hetty made an appearance. But I agree with Sweet Lu that this recall could bring up some great angst and storylines, especially so after we see the upcoming Frank Military episode in a couple of weeks.
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It seems that the writers have finally acknowledged the elephant in the room, Deeks is not an agent. Many people feel he should have made the move a long time ago. Not going to disagree with that, but perhaps I can just sit here on the fence and throw out some ideas that have been rattling around in my head.
Why is Deeks still a cop? I think, in reality it makes life easier for the writers when ECO is unavailable. They just ship him back to LAPD. If they made him an agent they would have to be more creative to explain his absence. No bad thing if it gives Deeks better storylines. In the story I always felt if Deeks wanted to be an agent, he would be one. I guess he still wants to stay a cop. Can we ask John Rogers? He asked Deeks the question in Season 10, we didn’t hear the answer.
Just before they went off to Romania Hetty gave him the paperwork to become an agent, which was her plan from the start. He declined because ‘being a cop was who he was’. Certainly in the early seasons he was barely tolerated, why would he want to change? It wasn’t till ‘Ascension’, the start of Season 5, when Sam said he would made a good agent, that there was any hint of encouragement. That would have been the ideal time to change, yet he didn’t. Did it just drift, or was it a conscious decision to remain a cop?
Certainly Kensi thinks it’s straightforward for Deeks to become an agent. Maybe so, but they have got two new agents in LA, will they want a third, perhaps Deeks is right. Certainly he has been fired before, as Debra says, the first was just a ruse. The two times Moseley fired him, he went back to LAPD. This time the problem is with LAPD, if they are defunded then he may lose his job. That hurts because he still wants to be a cop, I’m not sure Kensi sees that. Of course he wants to be her cop, and protect her. Deeks is seeing the bigger picture, Kensi not so much.
It is going to be interesting to see how it all pans out, I would be happy for Deeks to remain a cop, but I would like to see more LAPD side of things, despite the fact that NCIS routinely run roughshod over LAPD. He is the Liaison Officer, I would love to see him liaise. I would be happy for Deeks to become an agent if it gives him more screen time and better storylines.
Just need more Deeks really.
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According To an interview with DR Deeks is to old to go to FLETC and cannot become a agent.
I have just read that too. It also tells us why he couldn’t go back to LAPD.
Yeah it looks like ECO is going to get his wish by not playing a LEO anymore because R. Scott is about to defund the Deeks.
Great review and lots to think about as always Karen! My asssumption regarding the whole trying-to-get pregnant storyline is basically what you said: they’ll keep working in the field while working on making a baby. Seems like as good a compromise as any: Kensi gets to keep working and Deeks gets to try to knock her up (his words, not mine). So to me, Kensi’s response is in-character (especially since they haven’t gotten pregnant yet and Kensi is concerned about that).
But I agree that Deeks’ response is curious. When their jobs were at risk in “High Value Target” he was all about them finding something else to do. Why not now? (And now that I’m on the topic, one of the things I’d like to see Deeks do with his time away from NCIS is figure out what the hell he wants to do next, career wise. I mean, doesn’t it seem a little irresponsible to repeatedly say you want to leave your job but give no thought to what you want to do for work instead?) I also totally agree that I thought he’d be back to work with LAPD and not being all depressed at the bar.
I also completely agree that Kensi’s attempts at humor can be traced back to Deeks’ influence on her. I also LOVE that Kensi’s jokes are still so bad, that she is so proud of herself, and that she can’t wait to tell Deeks about it. Watching her laugh at her own humor was amusing to no end.
Yes, Deeks did indeed ask Kensi to tell Nell he said Hi in the premiere. I think it’s cute, wether it’s an ECO thing or a PTB thing–I do that with my hubby all the time, so it rings as very married to me.
I actually was glad to see Nell’s lack of confidence. While it is a role she’s been groomed for for quite some time now, has she ever really “run” the team before the way she did in this ep? She knows she has big shoes to fill (shoes she decided she didn’t want to fill and certainly didn’t expect to when this was thrust upon her in the premiere) and knows he is doing things a little differently than Hetty has. I think it makes sense that she’s a little insecure about how the team will respond to her in this new/different role. Callen and Sam seemed to understand too, which is why they were so supportive of her (I was actually kind of surprised by Sam throwing Hetty under the bus by pointing out that Hetty pretty much threw Nell under the bus, but then realized I shouldn’t be because Sam has a habit of throwing people under the bus himself.)
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Some good points there, Psyched, I thought Deeks would be working with LAPD, too. It looks like Deeks will have to think about his future soon. My thinking is that his problem with a future career is Kensi. While Kensi is doing a dangerous job, he wants to be there to protect her. It seems Kensi’s heart is totally in her job and Deeks heart is in Kensi. The last conversation about both of them leaving the field didn’t end well. Independent Deeks would be good.
You do realize Deeks is not an agent because the producers/writers haven’t written a story that makes him one.Why not ask the producers or writers?They r the ones hold him back.IMHO they should have made him an agent seasons ago n then the lose the new boring agents.
In my comment November 27th I said ‘In reality I think it makes life easier for the writers when ECO is unavailable’. He could still have decent storylines as a cop. In fact it could bring a new dimension. If making him an agent gets him better stories, okay lets do it. Maybe they should have done it already, but they chose not to.
I must act controversialyl here if only to open the floor for possible debate. I think ECO/Deeks hasn’t actively participate on a continuous weekly episodes basis since S9. He pops in and out to keep us Deeks/Densi/Keeks fans interested in the show. OK so he is now S12 supposed to be returned to LAPD and apparently furloughed because of financial cutbacks.
If ECO wants to bond with his new daughter, great. Send Deeks to FLETC in Glynco, Georgia for three/four months and have other characters mention they have received emails or spoken to him on the phone. That should give ECO plenty of time. Other fathers who are just average Joes seem to do just as well, without so much timeoff.
If ECO is as indecisive as Marty Deeks about his LA future, then allow TPTB make the decision for him. He’s like the proverbial dog in the butcher’s shop doorway. In and out. In and out.
Just sort it!
Deeks contibutes so little to the storyline/plot these days that he’s become a spare tool. Why not kill him off? For example killing him off screen during an extended LAPD undercover?
Then Kensi can return to being the best and hottest first date in the city, return to being the manbait of earlier seasons, and allow all of the other characters to move forward. We now have Rountree and Fatima capable of being Kensi’s new partner; so why not?
Kindest regards from a frustrated viewer of NCISLA.
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Brave of you to say that, I must admit for the most part I agree. Deeks has been reduced to eye candy and comic relief for a long time. He does both very well but he is so much more. We have to accept NCIS LA is basically the adventures of Sam and Callen. They are on the DVD covers, do the ‘previously on’ etc etc. That’s okay, but for me the best episodes have been Deeks centric and we haven’t had one for a while. Even ‘Pro Se’ was hijacked by Sam and Callen.
The only thing I disagree with is blaming ECO. Granted in the past he has had time away with his Production Company, but even when he was available he was still an also ran. It is the writers who write the stories, I’m not sure who works out the storylines, but I’d rather they gave him decent storylines than kill him off. There is a reason why wikiDeeks has campaigned for a ‘Deeks M’ episode. Somewhere I said how they used Deeks, was like creating a fine malt whisky and just using it to clean your paintbrushes. I still stand by that, I’d rather savour Deeks than throw him away. I wish the writers felt the same.
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He can’t go to FLETC cause he is to old. Maybe its time to defund the Deeks?