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Review: NCISLA “Let It Burn” (S14E08)

Written by Indira Gibson Wilson and directed by Rick Tunell, this week’s NCIS: Los Angeles gave us a run of the mill case of the week amidst mostly lighthearted team hijinks. Kilbride even managed to chastise people without raising his voice.

A caregiver prioritizes

It was another Kensi-less week, as Agent Blye was off chaperoning a school field trip to Washington, D.C. Knowing that each actor will miss four episodes means that probably more than a third of the season will be spent without any Densi at all. It’s the price we have to pay to see our favorite show continue. I have to say that as much as I’ve truly enjoyed watching Deeks (and Eric Christian Olsen) stretch his wings and play more with the other characters, I too am missing seeing Deeks and Kensi together. Hopefully we’ll get more of them in the season’s second half.

Kensi’s absence left Deeks on his own to savor his pre-parenthood morning routine and to eventually partner up with Sam. Before that he got a nice offer from Kilbride to attend an NCIS conference in Costa Rica (our taxpayer dollars at work). Was this week’s Kilbride trying to make up for last week’s Kilbride? Or was it just another writer’s slightly different version of him? For what it’s worth, I like this version better. The way Deeks’ eyes lit up at the idea of a paid trip to surf (and attend conference sessions of course) made me really want him to get the chance to go, but his reasons for staying in L.A. were relatable. 

As always, watching Deeks partner up with Sam was enjoyable. There was such a wonderful relaxed quality to their interactions here. Sam wasn’t annoyed, Deeks wasn’t trying too hard to impress. Deeks asked Sam for advice about prioritizing family, and he took that advice at the end of the day. The whole episode showed exactly what their relationship should be after so many years of working together and having each others’ back.

Isn’t this a pickle?

Another element everyone has missed this season is the classic bullpen opener with the whole team, but I’ve really settled into the pacing around getting each day started with how the team spend their personal time before they get to work. This week we had quite the razzing of poor Rountree, caught using borrowed swim trunks and having his privacy invaded over an ex-girlfriend’s reappearance. Gibson captured the team repartee in all these scenes. Among my favorite things were Callen warning Rountree about poor McMurty’s apparent shark-caused demise, and Sam’s downright glee over Rountree’s love life. His grin at the end when he commented, “Agent Morehurst, you’re still here,” was hilarious. Fatima showed herself to be very nosy, eavesdropping on Rountree and Morehurst. Is that a general character trait, or might we be seeing signs of some sort of ship on the horizon? Either way, I doubt Rountree would appreciate her telling Kilbride all the juicy details. That’s not the way to have your partner’s back. At least she got the nice version of Kilbride who didn’t give her a lecture or scream in her face about her lack of professionalism.

Overall the developments provided a lot of humor, though it never felt mean-spirited in the way some of the early hazing of Deeks felt. It took him a lot longer to work himself into the family. I wonder if Deeks’ presence there now has made the path easier for the newbies; we’ve only seen him behave in a supportive way towards them.

Ethically and morally questionable

Kilbride summoned Callen to his office, where Callen complained about the partner-swapping. This felt odd after so many episodes (and seasons) where the partnerships have been scrambled. Then, in an act that really seemed to go against everything we’ve seen so far, Kilbride turned over files to Callen, files that he hadn’t just pulled out of Hetty’s office, but that he’d gone to some effort to acquire. The whole thing felt like an excuse to cut back on Chris O’Donnell’s screen time, just as I think we’ve seen similar excuses for LL Cool J. I laughed out loud when Callen said, “My personal time has never impacted my work in the office.” 

The conversation at the end was more interesting, although nothing new. I’m glad that Callen is questioning Hetty’s role in his life, for of course he should. I didn’t care for Kilbride’s knee-jerk defense of Hetty’s actions, a classic “ends justify the means” argument. The most compelling moment was Callen asking, “Am I a mistake or a dark, ugly thing she has to carry to the grave?” It totally called to mind “Mother,” and “devil born” Ahkos’ words to Callen: “I am you when the days drop. Once the favorite son, now a fallen angel.” I feel terrible for Callen and all the other children Hetty manipulated, but I do miss Linda Hunt and the darkness her character brings to the show. A volatile Kilbride just can’t quite substitute for her.

A family that arsons together…

What didn’t work great for me was this week’s case. Normally if there’s enough suspense or action, my attention can be diverted away from plot holes or other such issues, but here I found myself consistently questioning the bad guys’ intelligence. For example, if you know the feds are after you, do you not watch enough TV to know to ditch your phone (or turn it off and remove the battery) so you can’t be followed back to your house? And for goodness sake, don’t just answer the door when a “delivery man” comes bearing free food! Also, why was Summer so gung ho to arrest Denise after they tailed her to a potential rendezvous with Perez. They followed her for a reason, right? And was Denise really so protective of her brother she was willing to kill an NCIS agent? Well, her niece had some pretty twisted motivations so maybe it ran in the family. Also, the only thing more convenient than another powered up, non-password protected laptop with easy-to-find clues (see last week’s review) was that fire extinguisher Sam used to douse the less-than-impressive flames.

Memorable moments

  • Nice detecting, Inspector Deeks with the exploding footprints! Or is it Agent Deeks, as Kilbride referred to him? Sigh.
  • Why do I think that Deeks knew exactly what Fatima meant with her rom com references?
  • Can someone get poor Agent Castor a chair so he doesn’t have to stand all day long outside the interrogation room?
  • Thanks to Lyssa’s episode preview, I knew that Justin Huen, who played Randall Perez, is the same actor who shot Deeks at the beginning of “Personal.” I’m pretty sure I’d never have realized it otherwise.
  • I reject that Deeks had more than a passing interest in becoming a fireman, but I guarantee you that Kensi would be more than happy to have a calendar with picks from Deeks’ days as an exotic dancer. And I’m pretty certain that Kirkin actually made himself a calendar from all the pictures he took of Deeks modeling his “fashions.

That’s it from me. Tune in later this week for new editions of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, plus a new Drabble of the Week. Have a wonderful holiday season and I’ll see you back here in 2023! Before you go, let us know what you thought of “Let It Burn.” I always enjoy reading other opinions on the episode, even if I rarely have time to discuss. Tell us your thoughts in the Comments below!

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.

5 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Let It Burn” (S14E08)

  1. Karen,
    I tried to keep this short but I did not, SORRY.
    Like you I am missing not only the Kensi and Deeks partnership
    but also, the Sam and Callen one.

    By my calculations we are about 36% (8 divided by 22 = 0.363636…) into this season
    and the only good thing (?) is that Kensi has already missed 3 ep 14X4, 7 & 8 and
    Deeks 2 ep 14X4 & 6. So that leaves us with 3 episodes that Densi have left to miss.

    At least as you stated “Agent Blye was off chaperoning a school field trip to Washington, D.C.”
    there was an explanation for her not on this episode.

    The offer by Kilbride “to attend an NCIS conference in Costa Rica” I would
    think that it might be an opportunity for the 3 of them to make a family vacation
    out of the trip. I for one have been sent on a boondoggle (Fatima’s words?)
    for work and had family on “my dime” accompany me.

    My thoughts on the 4 missing episodes for the main characters is due to budget constraints.
    Live viewing has been going down since season 11. Low numbers also means that sponsors are not willing to pay for their products to be advertised.
    If you look the above chart and see that revenue based on the low numbers
    Is what is causing the show to cut back not only on the cast but on what made it a top 10
    show in seasons 1-5.

    Great job as usual and I hope that you get to do this for Season 15.

    Not a fan of the Kilbride,
    as I have had bosses that behaved just like his character does and I did not enjoy working with/for them.


  2. NCIS LA was alive and well when it followed NCIS onTuesday nights until CBS started to switch things around! They had a strong audience – so what lead them to switch can only be attributed to their desire to appeal to the younger generation to mix things up.The runoff from late Sunday night football is a killer for this great series. Its followers know how great and loyal the actors are as a team and as a family. The writing this year ( except for the season opener) has really improved. It has worked well having them mix up the partnerships. I don’t mind that at all but I do miss the bantering amongst the four of them. We are dwindling away at their individual “time offs” so maybe Season 14 will end strong with all of them present to enjoy the bantering in the bullppen, Callens wedding, Hetty, and more touching moments with Densi – maybe even Kilbride seeing his son after 10 years. As far as Kessler – you can just let him vanish as far as I am concerned unless Mr. Military had his mind made up to write another dark episode using Deeks as bait to get to Kensi!
    All in all I think they might even squeeze out a Season 15! We were all surprised with Season 14 announcement and the ratings have them hanging in there so – wouldn’t that be a great gift for everyone! 😀


    • Christine, I so want Military to write a Kessler episode. He has written some of the most beautiful Deeks’s (though heart wrenching). He does take care to show the bravery and soul of Deeks.


  3. Loved your review, Karen. No need for me to add anything other than my happiness at spending an hour watching Deeks, especially in tactical gear. I do, however, think that Deeks and Kilbride have “a thing” going. And I’m liking it. Everyone on the team gets along so well that its nice to have a little tension. Deeks doesn’t seem sure how to act around him and Kilbride doesn’t quite know what to think of Deeks. I hope the writers continue to explore their relationship.


  4. I fully agree with your review, Karen.
    When I first watched the episode, I didn’t care for it. The second time I watched it, I liked it more.
    Besides all of the things you mentioned, I would like to add a few others.

    I didn’t care for Agent Summer Morehurst. She wasn’t interesting.

    Kilbride says “poor devil” when telling Callen that Sam is partnered with Deeks. Sam didn’t seem to mind.

    My favorite gesture moment was when Roundtree, Morehurst, Sam and Deeks are outside the empty factory. Sam bumps Deeks’ arm with his elbow (it’s almost like Densi kisses), indicating they are on the move. I was always impressed with the precision that the team worked with each other when going into harms way. The little elbow bump gesture brought back those memories.

    Best Kilbride comment: the past is a place to learn from, not live in.

    Now an unimportant comment:
    The real reason I didn’t care for the episode when I first saw it was because I am a hurt and comfort (H/C) fan. Therefore, I like to see my hero in jeopardy and others concerned with his safety. My hero, of course, still always saves the day.
    When a preview for the episode showed Deeks being offered the opportunity to go to Costa Rica, I envisioned him going and being abducted. The NCIS crossover would be saving Deeks ( I realize I would have to get Deeks somehow from Costa Rica to Hawaii, but sometimes details are forgotten in fantasies). To compound this fantasy, I read “Bringing up Brandel” which fed my H/C addiction. So, when the episode had nothing to do with my scenario, I was disappointed. Once I calmed down, I was able to appreciate the episode as written.


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