This week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, written by Chad Mazero and R. Scott Gemmill and directed by James Hanlon, brought an end to a multi-ep arc featuring Callen, his love triangle, and a whole lot of Russians. Or did it?
A boiling stew of Russian operatives
It appears that Anna is safely back in Callen’s life, thanks to the team rescuing her before Katya could have her shipped back to Russia. Mazero and Gemmill pointed out some interesting parallels between Anna’s upbringing and Callen’s. Of course, Hetty’s interventions weren’t nearly so structured to be considered a secret spy school, and were much more well-meaning, but it’s not hard to see how such unconventional childhoods might have produced the two flawed individuals we saw last night.
Hetty has certainly impacted many young lives, not always for the better (“Mother” provides maybe the best example). The assessment of the schoolgirls as either “invaluable operatives” or “ticking time bombs” could actually apply to both groups of young people. As we’ve seen in flashbacks in prior episodes, Hetty definitely influenced Callen at key times in his life. For example, this season we saw him with a chance to choose safety and the possibility of joining a happy, functional family, only to be drawn into Hetty’s world of spies and secrets in a quest for his own family.
Other than the interesting backstory for both characters, the episode couldn’t help but feel a bit repetitive. First, it was the end of a long, multi-episode storyline and second, how many times have we seen some of these conversations, particularly around Callen’s decisions to go rogue and Sam’s frustration with said rogue-going? If I sensed genuine chemistry between Callen and Anna, I might have been more invested in saving her, but it seemed that even the showrunners aren’t so sure, giving us a puzzling ending where Callen tells Anna she can come home (I assumed to his apartment?) but where he ends up sleeping at Joelle’s hospital bedside.
The other repetitive portion of the story was Nell struggling with a job she doesn’t really want. This is another area I’d like to see resolved one way or the other. However, watching her straighten out Sam’s bad attitude (I think he just needed a good nap) was highly enjoyable: “Careful Sam. I haven’t slept in over 24 hours. Kilbride is breathing down my neck, I am knee deep in operatives. Anna is missing, Joelle has been dismembered. Callen is out there trying to go rogue and now you’re in here taking your anger over that out on me. So, what I need is for you to get on my team right now. What I need is for us to do this together.” This might be my favorite Nell scene ever.
And even if this particular arc is finished for a few episodes at least, there are so many dangling threads that it’s clear we’ll be revisiting it at some point in the future. The love triangle aspect will need to be addressed, as will the fact that Katya is still out there. In fact, they made no progress in capturing her, meaning the entire arc could be repeated again in the future. Or, perhaps Joelle and Callen will team up to go rogue together to put an end to Katya’s trouble-making? I wish any of these ideas excited me, but I’m afraid they don’t. I’d love to hear if you Callen fans out there are enjoying this story.
It shouldn’t end like this
Sadly, the episode brought an end to one of our favorite recurring guests, Ravil Isyanov’s Anatoli Kirkin. Isyanov’s portrayal had only become more fun over time, as his infatuation with – or dare I say love for – our favorite detective grew stronger. Unfortunately, Deeks will not have any more fashion shows in his future because Kirkin died saving his life.
Before we say adieu, let’s take a moment to celebrate the comedy gold that was the Kirkin-Deeks duo. I couldn’t make out his opening lines in the park but thought I heard a reference to “honey crisp locks,” and I laughed at his “Oh, Kensi, you’re here too” dismissal as all his attentions went to the object of his affection. We at wikiDeeks can’t blame him, and nodded as we laughed at his assessment of Deeks’ appearance: “This life has made you both so hard. And by the look of it, being an Investigator has done the same for your body, Martin.” Then Kirkin topped it off by enjoying the view as Deeks walked away. At the container yard, he seemed to sense Deeks’ presence by smell alone. The way his eyes lit up at the idea of Deeks handcuffing him was perfect, and generated the perfect reaction from Eric Christian Olsen’s Deeks. These two clearly had a connection, and it was great fun while it lasted.
Tragically, we will never get to enjoy their banter and chemistry again, for Kirkin took a bullet to save the man he loved. It’s unfortunate that the showrunners felt they had to make this decision and I wish it hadn’t come to this, but it’s a fitting – dare I say romantic – way for this character to end his NCIS:LA run. The event was completely shocking and I uttered a gasp and a loud “No!” when it happened. Then near episode’s end, we got this sad scene with Deeks and Kensi:
Kensi: You did all you could.
Deeks: He pushed me out of the way… Why would he, why would he do that?
Kensi: Same reason you would’ve, you care.
Deeks: What’s crazy is he was trying to put this life behind him. Shouldn’t end like this.
Kensi: No. It really shouldn’t.
My heart went out to Deeks. He’s had at least three key characters bleeding on the ground in front of him (including Thapa and Whiting), with two of them dying, and this had to be traumatic for him. We know how quick he is to blame himself for things that aren’t his fault, so Kirkin stepping in front of a bullet for him, his failure to protect him, is going to eat away at his conscience. (Can I get some post ep comfort fics please?)
As usual, ECO killed the scene. During all the small pauses in his lines, we could practically see Deeks’ mind trying to process what had happened. And he showed us Deeks’ despair in the way he wrapped his arms around the edges of his vest as if to give himself a hug. Thank goodness Kensi was there to offer love and support. With apologies to the Callen fans out there, this short scene carried more emotion than the Callanna reunion and the Joelle talk combined.
The dialog also hinted at Deeks’ past desire to put his dangerous life behind him before it could end in tragedy. While there’s certainly no reason to fear this is some sort of foreshadowing, I do wonder if Deeks’ mindset might return to his previous desire to find a safer life for himself and Kensi. The writers this season have done a clear 180-degree turn to Deeks being thankful to have his job, but with Kessler lurking out there, the stress must be weighing on him.
For now, let’s celebrate Anatoli Kirkin, who brought not just comedy, but moments of real joy to the show over the years. Ravil Isyanov, you’ll be missed.
- Was this the first time this season we had an episode without a single age joke?
- I guess now that he’s a bazillionaire, Eric doesn’t need to worry about Hetty’s rules for food in Ops, or maybe Nell went ahead and changed them. Regardless, his Bay Cities sub made me so hungry. If you’re ever in Santa Monica, I couldn’t recommend the place highly enough.
- It was actually great to see Beale and Nell in Ops working together. Like old times.
- I also enjoyed hearing Deeks introduce himself as “Investigator Deeks” even though I will always be bitter about the whole FLETC storyline.
- I always love seeing Deeks draw his gun, and here he deftly switched from one weapon to the other. Nicely done.
- If the writers were on their game, Deeks would inherit some money from Kirkin to save the bar.
That’s all I have for this week. Be sure to return later this week for new editions of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal.
In the meantime, what did you think of the Russian stew? Are you happy it’s over? Do you think it’s over? Will it ever be over? More importantly, what’s your all-time favorite Kirkin scene? Tell us all about it in the Comments.