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Review: NCISLA “Red Rover, Red Rover” (S12E13)

The Russian saga continued on this week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. “Red Rover, Red Rover,” written by Andrew Bartels and directed by Terrence O’Hara, delivered a nicely balanced episode filled with humor and angst, plus plenty of action.

Red rover red rover send Anna on over

The episode began with intensity as the team pushed to save Joelle and rushed to make sure Arkady was safe. At Arkady’s house, Deeks’ repeated warnings of “Easy” to his partner conveyed how seriously he took the situation and how dangerous it might be. O’Hara moved the entire episode at the perfect pace. There was lots of action and even an unexpected boom from the exploding van, but Bartels also gave us time to catch our breath with some serious (and silly) conversations. The whole episode felt like a suitable payoff for several weeks of set-up, even as there’s still more to come next week. It will be interesting to see how – or if – that episode finally ties all these plot threads together.

I don’t feel qualified to really comment on the Callen-centric storyline, or on whether Anna or Joelle are his destiny. Bartels worked hard to redeem Joelle. She began with slightly over the top snark to her captor that sounded as clichéd as the severed finger whose clichéd origins she herself noted. But later, her banter with Sam with a bomb strapped around her chest painted both characters in a positive light, with Joelle frustrated by Sam’s “insufferable” drive to be the hero and Sam refusing to give up on saving her.

Anna’s mysterious comments about Callen not knowing everything about her certainly leave lots of room to take her character in different directions. It sure doesn’t feel like the showrunners are quite ready to give Callen a happy ending in the romance department, and it almost felt as if they are setting up a love triangle. We’ll have to wait and see. 

Arkady is king of the hill

With apologies to Kirkin, Arkady Kolcheck, played by Vito Ruginis, is everyone’s favorite Russian recurring character. Here he provided both a healthy dose of humor as well as a good case of angst, both via his talk with Deeks and Kensi. Before we address that amazing conversation, let’s also praise Deeks’ hilarious warning to his teammates storming the house that, “If Arkady pops out in full latex bondage gear you should probably avert your eyes because there’s some things that can’t be unseen.”

Bartels then gifted us with a topic of conversation some of us have longed to hear: evidence of a relationship of some sort between Roberta and Arkady. A year ago I proposed that Arkady could join my often-mentioned sitcom featuring Deeks, Kensi, and Roberta at the bar. Others have shared this desire to see these two characters together. Just check out Vyto’s Instagram feed from this week, where he reposted my wikiDeeks colleague Lyssa:

Indeed Vyto, #Kolcheeks forever. Roberta and Arkady together would be comedy gold, and it’s delightful to hear the show even hinting that we might someday witness such fun. I mean, Bertie would totally be happy sharing those cases of vodka in the panic room, right? Eric Christian Olsen played Deeks’ horror at the idea so well. Somehow he kept a straight face and made me believe that Deeks was about to pull his gun to protect his momma from Mr. Kolcheck. We’ve seen his over-protectiveness before, when preparing to meet one of Roberta’s new boyfriends. Its source, from Deeks’ traumatic childhood, gives that small moment resonance, even in a scene played for humor.

Deeks: I’m having flashbacks of trying to teach my mom how to Zoom.
Arkady: You taught her very well. She’s very good at it. Never forgets to unmute.
Deeks: I’m sorry, what did you just say? What did he just say? What am I hearing, you Zoom, you Zoom with my mom?
Arkady: What? I miss the bar. Human interaction, heavy pours and her sharp tongue. Thank goodness she had to cancel on me last night, although panic room is built for company.
Deeks: Oh my god, he said that out loud, I’m gonna kill him.
Kensi: Stop.
Deeks: I’m gonna shoot him, you’re kidding right? Tell me you’re kidding.

Once the horror and shock had worn off (or Kensi had at least succeeded in changing the subject), Deeks went ahead and promised Arkady that the team would keep his daughter safe. Didn’t you just know immediately that was a mistake? I flashed back to “Black Wind” where Deeks promised Alejandro he’d be reunited with his grandson.

Sure enough, by episode’s end, Deeks’ promise had been broken, and he felt terrible about it. ECO played this scene well too, showing us Deeks’ remorse and anger at the team’s failure. Of course, since this is Deeks we’re talking about, he was quick to take on the full blame himself. Moments like this show why Deeks would actually make a great team leader and I hope he gets a chance to play more of leadership role with the newbies.

Playing hide and seek with Kessler

The episode’s most important Densi scene occurred in the car outside of the mission, as Kensi expressed her desire to put an end to Kessler…

Deeks: You OK?
Kensi: Yeah.
Deeks: You’re not having a reaction to the injections?
Kensi: No. No, honestly I’m not… I was just thinking, uh, part of me doesn’t blame Anna for doing what she did.
Deeks: Partnering up with Russian operatives to kill a sociopath that wants her dead?
Kensi: Well either that, or spend her whole life looking over her shoulder wondering when everything’s gonna come crashing down.
Deeks: Right. Yeah, no, I…
Kensi: I hate to admit it but, uh, Kessler’s right. He’s in my head. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wonder if I should just drop everything and put an end to him.
Deeks: I’m in. [Of course- where Kensi goes, Deeks goes.]
Kensi: I was, I was only partly serious.
Deeks: Why? I mean, think about it. This guy has been hanging over our lives for months now. He said he wants to find you and to torture you but the truth is he doesn’t have to find you to torture you ‘cause he’s doing it right now…. I love you, and we’re trying to conceive, and you need your rest, and your body is constantly in fight or flight. So screw that and screw him. Let’s hunt him down and let’s drag him back to prison.
Kensi: I love you so much.
Deeks: I love you. You wanna go right now?
Kensi: [Laughs.]
Deeks: I’ll go with you right now.
Kensi: No. Well actually your plan has a little hiccup.
Deeks: What’s that hiccup, because I’ve thought this through?
Kensi: When it comes to dragging him back to prison… he’s been pardoned?
Deeks: Yeah I wasn’t actually talking about US prisons, I was talking about my friends in North Korea, they have prisons, and then Singapore-
Kensi: Yeah-
Deeks: -It’s pretty dingy there. And then Ozkaban.
Kensi: [corrects pronunciation] Azkaban.
Deeks: It may be fictional, but I feel like it-
Kensi: -Would be really bad?

This scene was so well done by everyone involved. First, the direction, with its handheld cameras in the backseat, gave the scene a lovely sense of intimacy. It was different from most car scenes that are shot head on from the front with cameras outside the vehicle. The whole thing was nicely written, with Bartels letting Deeks show his support and determination, and then end with what he’s best at, using humor to alleviate tension.

ECO and Daniela Ruah were great, too. Reading the words on the page, it’s easy to imagine this conversation getting loud and dramatic- “Screw that and screw him! Let’s hunt him down and let’s drag him back to prison!” But they both played it in a subdued way that didn’t take it over the top. It was just two people who love each other having a rational conversation about how to handle an awful situation. Their hushed tones gave it a different kind of intensity that made me listen more closely than if they’d been strident and emotional.

This scene also made me appreciate the fact that Kessler has been out there lurking off screen, giving us something to think about and giving a sense of suspense a chance to build. This show has too often killed off its interesting bad guys sooner than necessary (Sidorov for example). Having charismatic evildoers around to torment the team adds interest (or maybe that’s just my devious mind talking).

Memorable moments

  • Once again, we couldn’t escape the age jokes. This time it was Arkady struggling with technology. I did laugh even though I am officially done with this line of humor.
  • Arkady said he missed the bar. Does that mean it’s been sold? Or closed? So sad.
  • I know Rountree is a speedy guy. The show has made that one of his defining features. But faster than motorized vehicles, really? He wasn’t even cutting through the park, he was going along streets. It was a stretch that the show didn’t need (plus, he didn’t even look like he was sprinting).
  • Rountree is also a supportive partner. I appreciated his thoughtfulness offering Fatima coffee, donuts, or a trip to Hawaii, even if it did sound like a conversation Deeks and Kensi must have had multiple times. (But if the show is trying to put these two characters together romantically, I’m not feeling it.)
  • Nell and Kensi shared a great conversation, with Hetty getting an accurate appraisal from both (“Look at all the crap that happened under her watch” from Kensi and “She just manipulated me into taking [her job] anyway because that’s what she always does” from Nell). The small touch of Nell declining Kensi’s pep talk and Kensi backing away gracefully showed just how in tune with one another these two are.

We’ve got at least one more week of Russians coming our way. I must admit to a negative reaction to the promo (spoiler alert) at seeing yet another female character locked up in a container waiting for the (mostly) men to come rescue her. I really hope this theme gets completely upended when it comes to how the Kessler storyline plays out.

In the meantime, come back later this week for new editions of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, plus a new preview for next week’s episode. Before you go, tell us what you thought of “Red Rover, Red Rover.” Were you caught up in Callen’s girlfriends’ plights? Did you enjoy the Densi scenes? And most importantly, wouldn’t Arkady make a great stepfather for Deeks?

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.

43 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Red Rover, Red Rover” (S12E13)

  1. Felt nice to have an episode that felt like a mini movie of sorts (it’s how the old Seasons felt).

    Don’t really have much to say on this episode, other then I felt awful for Callen, and that I hate Nell at the moment. (yeah I know everyone on here will defend her because no one else on here wants to really try to defend Hetty but it is what it is.) Here’s what needs to happen next Season: Either she and Hetty patch things up for good, or Nell just leaves for good. Being in charge or working at NCIS isn’t for whiny, ungrateful, rude and disrespect wimps who suddenly can’t stand 1 thing that their bosses sometimes have to do to get the job when they’ve known that person for literal YEARS! (stupid writing. #DoBetter) (also, everyone else on the team has kept secrets and manipulated someone at some point, why is it that when Hetty does it, it’s suddenly a vicious crime against humanity?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, and I have literal no interest in the stalker arc potentially coming back in the finale. Sounds like a predictable snooze fest to me.


    • And if this sounds too harsh, I get defensive whenever Hetty is unfairly judged, and I’m not just mad at what Nell said, but also because whoever wrote this episode thought it was a good idea to once again throw a stupid wench in a mother/daughter like relationship that I not only love, but was also fixed last season, and now it might just be damaged for good!!


    • What I tend to object to is the way they’ve morphed Hetty into an almost Mosley-like character. You can see the changes over the years, and it’s really sad how they seem to have lost some of the things that made Hetty such a great character. Truth be told, I liked her best when Granger was there. They could balance each other.

      Nell (at least to me) has never been a good ‘fit’ for a Hetty replacement. She’s technically brilliant, and has never seemed very good at thinking two (or more) moves ahead when people are involved. I still think if they want a team leader in the semi-Hetty mode, Deeks is the best choice. He’s got the ability to see moves ahead, can be hard when he needs to be, but always has that underlying humanity that used to be a major part of Hetty’s character (I agree with you…bad writing at this point).

      And Joelle (again) and Anna? Give me break. Can’t stand either one. Never have been able to. Joelle in particular needs to be sent to the bin of discarded characters. And of the Russians, I prefer Kirkin (not a popular choice, perhaps).


      • Hetty has never been a truly likable figure imo. She’s extremely manipulative and uses people–even children–for her own ends. I like her character that way because her position rs or risking equires someone who’s willing to make tough choices, and sometimes that means taking risk others for the mission or the agency. As for Deeks being the leader of the team, no way. Honestly, Deeks doesn’t have the self-control to do that or the training. He’s lost his cool so many times when Kensi’s been in danger, he’d just put the rest of the team in danger by doing something rash. Callen has been a great leader for the team even with his personal issues.


        • Callen freezes at very inopportune moments (Mexico, anyone?) and is often overcome by his own personal agenda. Dangle mention of his family in front of him and he’s off like a shot. He also never questioned Mosley’s motives about Mexico, which put both the team and the agency in jeopardy. Sam never questioned it, either. Deeks actually has pretty high self-control…he’s put up with the crap the rest of the team has given him for years. And entire episode arcs have been framed about Sam running off to save his family or someone he lured to the country under false pretenses.


          • Callen was the one who came up with the plan to rescue Kensi while Deeks would have simply gone in with guns blazing and gotten both Kensi and himself killed. Callen never wanted the team to go; he said repeatedly that no one from NCIS should be involved, and Callen told Sam they were basically parachuting into a custody battle to try to keep him from going. I’m not a big fan of the “family in danger” arcs for Sam, but Deeks killed his partner because his CI was threatened–not in eminent danger–and then lied about it for years, and he was a cop AND a lawyer. So much for following the law. I like all the characters, but to pretend that Deeks doesn’t go off half-cocked when he gets upset is to ignore what he’s done in the past. None of the team members are perfect, including Callen and Deeks.


            • This isn’t really my argument but……if keeping part of your team in the dark and going rogue at every opportunity makes a good leader then Callen is well qualified. He may be the most experienced agent but his leadership skills are not great.


            • We will simply disagree here. If Callen was a great leader, he wouldn’t have let Mosley push him into the whole fiasco in the first place (or run off after family members…he learned the lone wolf thing a bit too well from Hetty). And as I recall Deeks’ CI WAS in eminent danger. I would also simply say Deeks has evolved over the course of the show, while Callen has remained more or less exactly the same. I don’t pretend Deeks is perfect. He has flaws. But I’d say Callen’s flaws outweigh his strengths when it comes to leadership positions. If the mantra is “the mission, the men, and me” (to borrow from a SOF:D officer’s book title), Callen’s would be closer to “me, the mission, the men.” Sam’s is likely an odd blending of “the unit/me (to account for his strong identification as a SEAL), the mission, the men,” and Deeks would come closer to “the men, the mission, me.” None of them really put the mission first, but I would say Deeks is the only one who puts himself last in that traid.
              I’m not ignoring Kensi, but she’s harder to define along those lines because of writer decisions. I’d say she might be the only one who puts the mission first, but the other two elements blur depending on the situation.


              • None of the team members are perfect, but Callen didn’t let Mosely “push” him into the mission to rescue her son–it’s called “empathy.” Having been abandoned as a child himself, Callen has a natural desire to help children the same way Deeks has a natural desire to protect women because of his experience. And when Callen runs off “lone wolf” style, he usually does his best to NOT involve the team members (like In “Active Measures”). Also, Tiffany wasn’t even present when Deeks shot Boyle according to both Tiffany and Deeks because she’d left the motel after being beat up by him. As for Deeks caring about the “men” on his team, he does but no more so than any other team member does. (He was the only team member who hedged about helping Callen try to rescue Nikita in “Warrior.”) No character’s perfect and it’s better when they’re not, but it’s silly to conflate one character’s flaws and minimize another’s imo.


              • I am with you my friend, but I come from a different direction. I think a good leader has the the welfare and wellbeing of their team at heart. Callen cares for Sam but absolutely nobody else on the team. He is selective with who he cares about. In NCIS Gibbs killed somebody in cold blood, but that is okay. He cares for his team 100% and that is good. Hetty is flawed, horribly so, but she cares for her team in her way. Who else tried to help Deeks when he lost his job? Certainly not Callen. As far as we know Callen is still sponging off Deeks, living rent free over the bar. Early on he was living with Sam, then Hetty bought a house on his behalf. He didn’t want to sort himself out. Does that make a good leader? It seems he can source vast sums to rescue Anna, but Deeks can sort his own money troubles out.. Whatever.

                They all have their own agendas. Sam has prestigious skills and certainly cares for his family. As an operative Callen may be second to none but as team leader, not really. Deeks just wants to make sure the bad guys don’t win, while looking out for Kensi. I don’t see anything wrong with that.


                • This was obviously replying to RobbieC, but I took too long to send it. Certainly the whole team have their flaws, they also have their strengths. I don’t think leading the team is Callens strongpoint. Deeks has his flaws, that’s for sure. We don’t know for certain what happened when he shot Boyle, keeping quiet about it wasn’t good, but my goodness they all keep their secrets.


                • I don’t mind different opinions, but I don’t get how anyone who’s watched the show can say that Callen–that any of the team members–don’t care for each other. Callen was the one willing to follow the Taliban group that had Kensi when Granger wasn’t and risked their lives to keep them from reaching Afghanistan. He likely knows about Deeks’ past with Boyle but has never said anything to the others. As for helping Deeks when he lost his job, if you mean when Mosley fired him, Deeks pretty much got himself fired for what he said, and Callen was the one who demanded that Mosley bring Deeks back to the team in the very first episode of that season. (Why do so many people forget that?) If you mean when Deeks was fired this season, that was LAPD, and nobody at NCIS could help that. Callen didn’t ask to live rent-free; Deeks offered it in exchange for services. And Hetty did NOT buy Callen a house; she arranged for him to buy it at a good price, but Callen used his own money. He also offered his own money to rescue Hetty, and I’m sure Deeks would offer everything to rescue Kensi. As for Deeks’ money troubles, no one on the team may know about them, but he has Kensi and Roberta to help him. And nobody wants the bad guys to win. I don’t understand why some people see a “competition” between Callen and Deeks about which is “better” when they’re both on the same team.


                  • We should have different opinions, we all see things differently. I thought all of them were willing to rescue Kensi, Deeks was ordered to stay behind with the cleric. Callen may or may not have known about Deeks past with Boyle, but he certainly didn’t trust him. I wasn’t thinking about Mosely firing Deeks, but are we saying Mosely was in the right? Okay she was the boss, but Callen never disagrees with his boss, does he. Apart from Hunter, Granger even Hetty. Deeks did defend Callen just before Mosely fired him. Would Callen have bothered about getting Deeks back when Mosely first fired him if Sam hadn’t been absent.?

                    Nobody could have prevented Deeks being without a job this season, but they could have offered moral support. Deeks offered Callen accommodation rent free in return for ‘bouncing on a weekend’. If there was no trade, there was nothing for Callen to do. He could have moved out to allow Deeks to rent out the accommodation, and help with his obvious cash flow problem. Maybe he did offer to pay some rent and we don’t know about it. If Callen wasn’t aware of it, well it beggars belief. No job, no trade, no money.

                    I agree Hetty arranged the purchase of a house on Callen’s behalf, rather than buying it for him. Callen was happy to keep living with Sam regardless of the toll it was taking on his friend. I was thinking of the money it seems he can source to save Anna, perhaps it isn’t his, perhaps he didn’t save his rent money. Most people without a job have money troubles, or didn’t the team know Deeks had been furloughed? True Deeks could rely on Kensi’s income, one income instead of two, but how do we know Roberta could help? I’m sure she would if she could.

                    There’s no real competition between Callen and Deeks. Nobody is going to take over as team leader. I just don’t think that is Callen area of expertise.


                    • NutterButter // April 2, 2021 at 7:37 PM //

                      This site is bringing so much enjoyment and fun to me on an everyday basis and I thank you all for all your hard work and efforts in making this site truly excellent.
                      So about the debate around Deeks and Callen ,I’ve to agree with Patricia Abbott & RobbieC for me they’re porteraying Callen’s character over the top honestly he doesn’t fit to be a team leader maybe be Sam would be more responsible for me but Callen is so self absorbed, he loses his temper , lousy in tradecraft as his house is always compromised and he always goes rouge and he rarely was there for his team when they need him or even takes responsibility for his action sorry Bliss but I’ be to disagree with you he is the least character out of the four that showed any development he wasn’t there for Sam when Mo died because he was occupied by his search for family, he wasn’t there for Kensi when she was sent to afghanistan or even asked about her before or after the rescue (FYI Deeks was the one to save the day not Callen as you’ve mentioned)and when she’s stuck under the plan he was making jokes and john cusack references even when she got kidnapped by the CIA he didn’t care about his teammate as much he was the one who got tricks or played by his girlfriend ,in “Silo” he also didn’t care about her wellbeing under the circumstances and do nothing.
                      and don’t get me to start on how he treats Deeks he is always taking the offensive with him he never support him or encourage him even with words when he was under investigation or when Kensi was in a coma after Sidorov he allowed Sam to carry on the job but not Deeks he asked him to leave and when Deeks loses his job both times ( Despite in the first time he was the one who asked Deeks&Kensi to follow Moseley) he never showed any empathy or support isn’t that the rule of the team leader to be there for his teammates and support them even only with words and assure their fairs and take responsibility for their actions not blaming it on someone else (I remember what happened to Hidoko) that’s why I appreciate how Deeks stays true to his values and isn’t afraid to stand up to those in authority when he’s given questionable orders and for me it’s a very admirable and appealing quality.
                      He’s the one on the team with the most consistently realistic and human response to what they’re facing or experience in my opinion and this is maybe one of the reasons why he’s my favorite character, but to be honest, I can’t see him as Hetty’s replacement maybe Chegwidden, Kilbride, Ochoa or even John Rogers but that doesn’t mean anything because I’m a biased fan and would love him in any position


                  • There’s 1 part of your comment that I agree with: Callen and Deeks are both good guys. Heck, if you really try to think about it, EVERYONE on the team are more or less the same: They’re all flawed in their own ways, they all keep secrets, and they all care about getting the job done and not letting the bad guys win, and they also all care about each other, even if they don’t come out and say the words, and when 1 of them are in big trouble with a bad guy, they’ll drop everything to help that individual.
                    They’re all 1 big happy, chaotic, dysfunctional family, and I love that about this show.

                    And, Happy 76th birthday Linda! (Hetty)


  2. Hi Karen, I really enjoyed Red rover,Red rover it ended to quickly…loved the conversation between Eric and Dani, (kensi and Deeks) they make it so real and comfortable..enjoyed the back and forth at Arcady house, with Deeks mom and zoom..funny…not sure about callen and joelle,or even him and Anna..a lot of drama in that story…still worried about Kessler and what havoc he will bring to kensi and Deeks lives…it will be a cliffhanger I bet for next season..time will tell..again enjoyed and can’t wait for next week…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Arkady and Roberta, that would be the couple of the show, lol. The Deeks and Kensi scene in the car was so realistic in how couples share their problems. Callen, Anna and Joelle, nothing there. Joelle defended Callen against Katyas allegations of him being a Russian agent yet the DOJ didn’t believe her. She paid the maximum price. There is much that Callen doesn’t know about Anna. But being Arkadys daughter, she probably knows more about Callen than he thinks. During lockdown they had to discuss their or his past. But since Arkady has never been fully truthful with Callen about Callen’s past (leaving bits and pieces out and listing them would take a full page), he would be with Anna. Since Joyride, the look Arkady gave Callen when looking through the window at hospital and then when in Callens apartment when he was going to tell Arkady about his proposal plans, it’s as if Arkady knew it and disagreed with Callen about them being the marrying type. Arkady likes Callen as a friend but I don’t think he wants him to marry his daughter and may do just about anything to stop it. That is unless Anna keeps up her lying. Really wish someone new would come into Callens life, he deserves better.


  4. I have never been clear on the relationship between Anna and Katya. Did they become lovers at some point? Is Katya jealous of Joelle? She must be or why take her to get to Anna in the first place? I’ve never been Anna’s biggest fan, but she has grown on me over time. However, they have stretched out her relationship with Callen for so long, that I’m getting confused by all the twists and turns. I think Callen is too. Which leaves us with a battered Joelle who loses a leg and almost her life. I think that part of the story was the most confusing of all, with Callen in the middle trying to decide whether to track down Anna or sit by Joelle’s bedside. Poor guy. He can’t get a break. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Joelle is Russian too. If he’s undecided who to choose why have all this happen to her in the first place? Anybody got any answers?

    Deeks’ scenes were the only thing that I had to hold onto. ECO was solid as usual, especially with Arkady zooming with his mom. We have to see more of that. He wanted to kill Arkady and then later wanted to hunt down Kessler and kill him, or take him to jail in the worst country for human rights he could find. Kensi is his anchor, and she’s the one in danger. A lovely scene.

    All in all, I liked the episode, but agree with you, Karen, that watching Roundtree running was weird and getting to be his only attribute. I really, really hope they wrap up this storyline next week. But, I am left to wonder…who were the two women who confronted Anna at the end? So many questions…like whatever happened to Deeks, M???


  5. I like how Deeks is like, where you go, I’ll go. This is a really great episode and this is very great.


  6. I thoroughly enjoyed Red Rover, Red Rover. There was angst, drama, fear, humor, and more. I think NCISLA got their groove back. The hour sure went by fast. Arkady and Bertie, I can’t really see it but it would be a hoot. Planning to watch it again. So many great tidbits in this episode.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nutterbutter // March 30, 2021 at 3:37 PM // Reply

    Thanks Karen for the review for me The pacing of this episode just felt more lacking enthusiasm and determination than urgent under the circumstances it felt like Too much drama and not enough plot last night.
    First off I liked Joelle before the whole spy arch but Anna annoys me from the start. However, I don’t believe Callen and Anna should be together anymore, not after the stunt she pulled. But to be honest to me Anna is fake and joelle is to into herself so neither of the characters are trustworthy and there were a lot of that doesn’t add up for me like Why take Joelle rather than someone important to Anna, such as Arkady or Callen? Or Her two academy mates, whom she didn’t recognize, showing up where she was being held near the episode’s end really came out of the blue. hope that after the next episode the topic of Russia and Anna will finally be off the table and hope will the the last storyline of this kind Anna gets so we don’t get to go down this same spiral every season or two It’s getting boring.

    As For Deeks & Kensi the Densi talking about Kessler got me so emotional again, the way Deeks looks at Kensi. It’s not often we get the opportunity to see Kensi get so emotional. She’s usually so focused on being professional, so it added another facet to the story for the audience to see her so emotionally invested. Deeks is always like that when protecting his partner (Emotionally ,Mentally,or physically ), but ECO always seems to play it so that Deeks is more focused on Kensi as a person instead of just being a part of the job, like he does for everyone else. He was back in the game being the rock being the guy who will back your play the guy who gives you hope when you need it. Those two are my favorites Super actors they play so good, that I feel every pain, every joy and this love what they have. Bravo!

    Arkady& Deeks scene probably the funniest scenes of the whole episode and Deeks heartbreak of not keeping his promise to Arkady as a man who is trying to be a parent himself that must have killed Deeks knowing he couldn’t deliver Arkady his daughter.

    Loved that we got to see so much of the team working together; the only thing missing was Eric there backing up Nell.
    All in all, this wasn’t a horrible episode, or a great one. It was a middle of the ground episode that was made a tad frustrating by the lack of answers and by the focus on Joelle, who I’m sorry to say I care not one iota about. Hopefully next week we put this storyline to rest, and we can finally pick up the other loose ends in this season, like the guy after Kensi or as Lindy D said where is the Deeks.M We only have 5 more episodes.


  8. Karen, Thanks for your great review! In thinking about the part where Arkady said he missed the bar, I wondered if he was having to stay home because he was on high alert for security.

    Liked by 1 person

    • COVID closures, anyone? Sometimes the most obvious answer is the right one. It may be their way of alluding to what everyone’s had to deal with.
      Personally I think it would be hilarious if Kirkin saved the bar by buying it through about six shell companies and then gave it to his precious Martin… Arkady? Not so much. He’d probably start using it as a front for something or another and then disappear when things went south. I trust Arkady about as much as I trust Joelle, Anna, or Sabatino…


      • I’ve had the same thought about Kirkin buying the bar for Deeks. And I agree that while Arkady wouldn’t buy it (or buy into it) for Deeks, he might do so for Bertie now!


  9. Terry McQueen // March 31, 2021 at 2:52 AM // Reply

    Why are the show runners continuing to play good-bad-guys with traitorous CIA officers Sabatino and Joelle? They have conveniently forgotten both were part of the extended arc of the NCIS mole(s).
    In Season 8 episode ‘Under Seige’, Sabatino was part of the rogue CIA team sent to murder Hetty. In ‘Payback’ Joelle alleged she was kidnapped and drugged (like Kensi) but was directly involved with Kensi’s kidnapping, by Ferris/Sullivan.
    The show runners keep trying to redeem Sabatino and Joelle as good-bad-guys, despite the characters’ previous story arcs making them completely irredeemable. Kill them off – permanently. Please?
    Callen’s love life? Well, Callen is a bit of a cold fish, a lone wolf who has learnt to act as part of a team, but has pathological trust issues. Romantic choice for him of either Joelle or the-much- too-young- for- him Anna? I’m totally apathetic. Neither character inspires sympathy or appeal. Both untrustworthy.


    • Why do some folks think Sabatino was ever a bad guy? He’s helped the team lots of times, and when he joined the “rogue” CIA group, it was to try to discover what was going on. As for Joelle, the writers can’t seem to figure out who she is, and at this point, I don’t care. I wish she’d get lost. Callen is anything but a “cold fish,” imo. He doesn’t show his emotions the way Deeks does, but neither does Sam, and when he does, you know exactly how he’s feeling. Some people prefer characters who aren’t as emotional as Deeks. I like Deeks, but he’d drive me crazy as a partner. I’d much prefer to work with someone who can keep their cool, like Callen.


    • I have to somewhat agree with you on Callens trust issues. But, not when it comes to his girlfriends. He definitely seems to trust them too much, not checking out Joelle and not checking out Anna who was an FSB agent and being Arkadys daughter too, should have been a billboard screaming CHECK HER OUT 🙂


  10. Another great review Karen, thank you. I’m enjoying these upbeat reviews. A year ago I considered not buying the DVDs for Season 11. This year I am really looking forward to buying them, and seeing what I’ve missed.

    I can’t comment on the whole episode, I’ve only seen clips. I really like the thought of Roberta and Arkady getting together. Did the writers come up with the idea on their own or do they read fanfiction? I remember reading a story where Deeks finds them in the bar a long time ago. It made me laugh. I think Deeks being overprotective of his mother would be another good way into ‘Deeks M’.

    I liked the Kessler conversation, I would expect Deeks would want to take action. Not sure about the fertility issues but Deeks does seem to be pretty clued up on what it takes. An excellent point about Kensi being in fight or flight mode.

    I don’t know what to make of the Anna/Joelle thing, like Terry, neither character inspire me. With Callen’s family issues, I wonder if he is aware Joelle didn’t return to her family when it was safe to do so in ‘The Prince’ Season 10. Does she still have a son who thinks his mother is dead?

    I totally agree with RobbieC, Deeks is best equipped to lead the team, although I can’t see it happening. He cares for, and is protective of, everyone, not just a select few. He is streetwise and to use his own words he has ‘seen the worst’. Like a lot of people I would like to see the Hetty situation sorted. I think it’s great they kept her safe by filming her in her driveway. The downside was that it made her even more remote. It is the interaction of characters that make the show and it’s so much harder if it’s all done by Zoom and phone calls.


    • I thought Sabatino was sort of involved unawares, like he didn’t know what he was actually agreeing to do. Joelle… yeah, I got nothing. Like in what universe is that woman not, at the very least, fired?! And likely in prison. But I got over that plot hole and she kind of grew on me this episode. Not for Callen— never for Callen. Not Anna for him either. Callen is only attracted to women who mirror the very worst parts of himself, the lone Wolf, operates-in-the-very-gray-area version of Callen. Clearly the reason he and Sam have been such a great combo as partners is because of how stable and grounded Sam typically is— Callen needs a romantic partner with those same attributes.


  11. Thanks again for your great analysis and observations, Karen!

    I can’t say much about the Callen storyline because I am done with the Anna/Katya/Joelle arc and I hope the show will be soon too.

    Loved the Densi conversaton about Kessler–both that Kensi admitted she wouldn’t be opposed to huniting him down and killing him and that Deeks was so quick to offer to go with her (at least to hunt him down). I can’t see them going with Kensi’s plan because while I have no doubt Kensi would do it, I think she wouldn’t want to put Deeks in that situation (again). She knows what similar actions have cost him in the past and I’d like to think she wouldn’t want to add to his burden.

    Loved loved LOVED the reveal that Arkady and Mama B have been “zooming” together! Now I just want to SEE it! How much fun would Vyto Ruginis, Pamela Reed, and ECO have in a scene together? C’mom Eric, you know you want to–talk to TPTB and make it happen!


    • Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention that I literally laughed out loud about (aside from learning of the existence of Kolcheeks): Callen tells Kensi and Deeks to find the signal jammer in Arkady’s house and “disable it” (amidst the dark lighting and tense music). Kensi finds it and flips the power switch off.

      (Describing it seems so much less amusing than it was at the time….)


  12. Thanks for the review, but I wouldn’t call this a Callen-centric episode or even a Callanna-centric episode. They weren’t involved in most of the action and had almost no time together. My favorite scene was the scene in the car between them. That was painful to watch and listen to, and both did amazing work. I know I’m in the minority, but the Arkady-Kensi_Deeks scene didn’t work for me at all. It was funny, but it was so silly and out of place. As another reviewer pointed out, how logical was it that the entire team would spend the night at a house that had been compromised, with the target of the attack and at least 4 dead bodies just to review a few seconds of security camera footage? And while the scene between Joelle and Sam in the park was good, why didn’t Sam ask her for details about her captors or where she’d been held? There was a lot of action in the second half but a lot didn’t make sense, and Nell’s whining is annoying.


  13. Debra Gillespie // April 2, 2021 at 1:47 AM // Reply

    Excellent review as always, Karen. Thanks for printing out the dialogue from the Arkady/Densi scene where Deeks and Kensi find out about Arkady’s and Roberta’s budding relationship. There were a couple of words in Arkady’s Russian accent that I just couldn’t figure out even when replaying the scene several times.
    Since I read writeallnight’s funny fan fic story “Beer Run” a couple of years back – that’s probably the story Patricia Abbott was referring to – I’ve been wishing that Bertie and Arkady would get together. When he appeared late in season 11 at the bar wanting “wodka” I got hopeful. So when seemingly out of the blue Arkady admitted his relationship with Bertie, and Kensi’s and Deek’s reaction, I frankly was tickled beyond words. I nearly fell off my sofa, actually. I so hope there’ll be a Densi/Bertie/Arkady storyline in the future; as you said Karen, it would be comedy gold.
    I’m still somewhat interested in the Russia storyline, mainly since I feel it’s been well executed so far. (Two explosions in one episode – hooray, we haven’t seen that in a while!) But I do hope as several has mentioned, that it will be wrapped up soon. I keep wondering in a “normal” season if this arc would be condensed into three episodes instead of four at least. I did like the callback with Sam in the park on how Joelle first knew Sam because of Kam. The way it looked like the writers are trying to redeem her, and the guilt Callen might be feeling because of her loss of a finger and part of a leg, makes me wonder if they will be trying for a Callen/Joelle/Anna triangle. If so – please. don’t. think. about. it. And since we’ve haven’t seen Katya in the flesh, I’m really starting to wonder if she’s being used as a smokescreen and isn’t the one behind all this.I still have my doubts about Agent Carlson being truly on the team’s side.
    After being mentioned in passing off and on since episode 5, the discussion of the elephant in the room – the continued threat of Kessler to Kensi and no doubt Deeks also – was such a great Densi conversation. Quite a rational talk and subdued, but in a way that made it more intense. When the Russian storyline is concluded, I’m looking forward to the spotlight on the Kessler storyline. Perhaps a two episode arc to finsh the season? That would be great.


  14. I try not to, but I been looking at spoilers for ‘Noble Maidens’. Looks like we’re going to find out more about Anna’s history. Personally I’m more interested in Deeks backstory. Just saying……


  15. Debra Gillespie // April 2, 2021 at 3:27 AM // Reply

    I’m more interested in Deek’s story also, but the next episode has Kirkin, Arkady and Kilbride…a great recurring character trifecta. I’m looking forward to it.


  16. I don’t feel comfortable talking about those topics, but here’s wikideeks and we’re here for him so if anyone doubts his skills I can’t keep silent, and I’m on the same side as Robbie C and others other than about Nell. Before that I’ll start with another idea about team management. There is no substitute for Hetty and Granger, but if Nell becomes the director and Deeks becomes the assistant director, I would love to see it. Only Eric can share Nell’s private issue, but Nell and Deeks can share the responsibilities for operations and fields(Perhaps Showrunner wants to do it with Nell and Kensi). I always want the scene of Deeks and Hetty, so don’t take I’m trying to push Hetty away with this term. Nell can always technically assist Fatima and contact Eric if they need it, then Deeks is the only person who cares for everyone and jumps out of the taco truck like a bull if necessary situation. These two are smart, fair, empathetic, and sociable person in the show, so I think they can achieve effective teamwork. Having said that, I don’t expect this will happen as I’ve learned in the last few years that they don’t want to make him anything special at his job as usual. It’s a pity.
    This is fiction, so whether I’m convinced or not, it doesn’t matter if the semper fi or The standards for leadership in the show are different too far away from my theory. IMHO The theory of some characters’s skill constantly feels got ahead of us, and Deeks makes me believe in his potential equal to or beyond writing. He can be serves as foil to someone, and then he doesn’t need a foil by someone and he is a person who can define and prove himself. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t want him to do the latter two option. This production’s top priority is to find a family for just one character and the second priority is to make only two men stand out, unlike NCIS mothership. No matter how many other fandoms grow up, it’s so obvious that they never show the whole team in their cover art. Listening to “Team,” “Friends,” and especially “Family” like a Gibbs team sounds a bit awkward to me, but that’s okay. We can only choose to keep watching or not. The last two seasons haven’t been so much fun to me, but I still cross my fingers and take only what I want to see mostly for our guy. I’m always put up with the treatment of him because he is not the protagonist, but sometimes reading the above comment makes me feel a little better. I’m okay not to be a true fan of the show and I just want to talk here about how his magic is amazing and how they’re wasting it.
    BTW, I’ve never been so interested in Arkady, but now I’ve become a fan of him because he said he miss the bar and if he and Roberta go well together I’ll soon be a big fan of Kolcheeks. I bet it makes Kilkin jealous.Lol What will happen if Gordon came back when Deeks was finally happy with the his beloved mother and geezer stepfather. Isn’t there a possibility of a great Deeks.M episode? I can spend a year just thinking about it. Thanks to the writer for developing a lot of fun despite the short scene.


    • Nell and Deeks would be a good command pairing for the reasons you mention. They compliment each other quite well.


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