This week’s NCIS: Los Angeles was neither too dark nor too light, delivering a mostly just right case of the week for us to relax and enjoy. Written by Chad Mazero and energetically directed by Eric A. Pot, the episode gave every team member a chance to shine. Well, except for one who may be starting to wear out his welcome. Let’s discuss!
Not a Silverlake preschool
The episode’s tone was set in the cold open, with its jaunty score, fun camera work, a funny hearse-themed license plate (“DRLY DPT”), and Kensi and Callen’s apparent lack of concern over being surrounded by four armed men with automatic weapons. It communicated right from the start that the stakes this week wouldn’t be too high. (“This is awkward. I never thought I would die in a hearse.”) It would have been a fitting way to start the season, as I assume was originally intended, given it was the first Season 13 episode filmed.
Much like Mazero’s “High Society,” a highlight here was the witty banter. Everyone got in on the fun, from Rountree’s reactions to Sam’s “life lessons” and Fatima’s asking about a dead suspect’s apartment, to the core four’s playfulness. Some of the best lines belonged to Callen, replying to the idea of his future Viking funeral with, “Only if I get to use Sam’s boat,” and to Deeks, who dryly threw Kensi’s earlier criticism of his meddling into the neighbor’s affairs back at her when he popped up in the hearse, telling her and Callen that he’d remained silent, “Because I don’t just insert myself in other people’s business.”
At this point it sounds like the newbies are getting what Deeks likely received after he got shot in “Personal,” a big dose of mentoring courtesy of Sam Hanna. I like knowing that it’s happening, given it’s the role Sam wanted to play with the newer agents. Rountree seems to be taking it in stride, and feeling more comfortable overall working with Sam. Perhaps their funniest exchange was a physical one, with Rountree patting Sam on the shoulder as he reassured him he could help Sam communicate with much younger college students, and Sam returning the “pat” in a way that made Rountree wince. That’s definitely something that must have happened to Deeks at some point.
Fatima also seems to be handling Sam’s mentorship gracefullly, although her continuing self-absorption is not endearing. Ignoring new cases because she’s desperate to move out of her parents’ home and then boring an obviously uninterested Kilbride with her problem was annoying, even if she did have a funny line or two.
I enjoyed Deeks and Kensi discussing how much involvement to have in their neighbors’ lives, and the absence of baby talk was again, refreshing. And for the record, Deeks absolutely does have “an innate ability to bond with people very quickly” and it is one of the things that makes him so very good at his job.
Pot always seems to bring something a little new and different to the director’s chair. The action throughout was well filmed and I really enjoyed the slow motion fight scene with Sam and Rountree. The technique gave us a few extra seconds to appreciate the choreography and stuntwork involved, to admire Sam and Rountree’s skills, and to see how much of the work LL Cool J and Caleb Castille did themselves. But my favorite part was the look of disdain on Sam’s face at the bad guys who dared to think they could take him down. It was perfectly in character and made me laugh, especially at the obviously inept truck driver.
I know I’m a broken record, but the continuing age jokes are feeling very, well, old at this point, whether they’re from Kilbride, Fatima or Rountree. But here, the one character who really rubbed me the wrong way was Kilbride. His actual yelling of so many of his lines was completely over the top, particularly given the relatively low stakes of the case, and especially when the team had done nothing wrong. He’d be so much more likeable – and interesting – if he could tone things down a little bit and show more dimension, and way less outright hostility. No one made him take this job and move to Los Angeles. Here’s hoping that this episode, meant as the first to air, was intended to show Kilbride at his worst, and that he’ll continue to behave more and more like an actual human and not this caricature of a cranky old man yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.
Definitely not the pool boy
The episode’s most enjoyable conversations were played between Deeks and Miriam Sivac, played by Isabella Hofmann. It’s rare for us to see Deeks out in the field on his own, and it definitely lent his three scenes with Sivac a different vibe. It toned down his humor just a touch and allowed us to appreciate the investigator at work (see below for more about said “investigator”). In other words, it gave us a lovely helping of Competent Deeks.
Of course, there was humor, particularly when he was first mistaken for the pool boy, and Sivac came on to him by sharing that, “Even mothers have needs, Investigator Deeks.” Hofmann gave a strong performance and matched up well with Eric Christian Olsen.
The last scene in the boatshed was beautifully lit and provided a nice twist, revealing that Miriam was responsible for her stepson’s death. I also appreciated the reference to Deeks’ love of theater. One of the reasons these scenes worked so well in their ever so slightly more serious tone was that they gave us a break from some of the more over the top performances, particularly from Kilbride and the tiresome Corey the Coroner, who felt more like a Saturday Night Live character than a real human, even though Daniela Ruah’s and Chris O’Donnell’s reactions to him were amusing.
One other source of consternation centered around the multiple references to Deeks’ new title. First Kensi felt the need to correct him when he joked about being a “Special Investigator.” Then Kilbride chimed in to make it clear that he doesn’t “run his office like a Silverlake preschool” so Deeks would have to do something to get a better title (as if he hasn’t already more than earned it). And finally, it came up in the last scene when Deeks corrected Miriam after she referred to him as a detective, telling her he’s “an investigator, just an investigator.”
After last season’s painful FLETC storyline that ended with Deeks’ new title, I would have hoped that the showrunners might display a little sensitivity to what many of us perceive as yet another slight against Deeks, who was apparently not considered worthy of being named a Special Agent like the rest of the team (newbies, Nell and I think even Eric included). To raise it here as a source of humor, as a way for Kensi to tease him and for Kilbride to mock him, really threw me.
What seemed particularly sad was how Deeks himself was the one who brought it into the conversation each time. He’s clearly sensitive about this difference and perceives it as a lesser title, even if we aren’t entirely sure that it is. Heck, he’s even throwing his middle name into the mix as a way to give the whole thing more weight. And while I love hearing him use Atticus, I hate seeing him feel bad about himself – it’s sadly one of the things he’s good at. I can only hope that it was introduced because someday the showrunners actually plan to give him the title he deserves, but I’m not holding my breath.
No forgetting about Russia
Quite surprisingly, the episode managed to mix in a totally separate storyline, as Callen attempted to get Katya’s ex-girlfriend to help him find her. Even more surprisingly, the scenes between Callen and Angela were nicely written and didn’t detract from the zaniness of the main story. In fact, out of the entire Katya-Joelle-Russia storyline, they were easily my favorite scenes to date.
Both COD and Yssa Mei Panganiban, who played Angela, did well. We learned enough about Angela to actually care what happens to her, and to worry about whether she’ll actually end up better off by helping Callen in his quest. Can she trust him? I’m not so sure. It’s not that he’d deliberately hurt her, it’s just that she could get caught in the proverbial (or literal) crossfire. At least Sam and Callen got to ride off into the sunset together, the perfect way to end the episode.
- With another nice acknowledgement of the past, Michelle’s school was starting a scholarship in her name. A nice opportunity to remember her, even if we didn’t spend much time on it. And it was sweet to see Callen keeping Sam company on what is sure to be an emotional trip.
- And we finally got to see the shot of Deeks that’s being used in this season’s opening credits, with his arm bandaged while shooting at the bad guys. My favorite part of that sequence, other than Deeks’ great line in the hearse, was seeing how worried Kensi was. She’d heard him being attacked and she was obviously torn about whether to go track him down or to follow Callen. A sweet partner/wifie moment.
Be sure to come back later this week for new entries in Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, and this weekend for Lyssa’s preview of “Divided We Fall.” In the meantime, what did you think of “Sorry for Your Loss”? Tell us all about it in the Comments below!