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Review: NCISLA “Best Seller” (S14E11)

This weekʻs NCIS: Los Angeles episode, written by Kyle Harimoto and directed by James Hanlon, gave us a slew of recurring characters in an effort to distract from the fact that Sam, Callen, and Deeks were all away on assignment. It mostly worked, even if I might have preferred an episode that followed the boys on their “undercover sting operation.”

Familiar Faces

The reinforcements arrived in droves. First we had Mr. Ruah, David Paul Olsen, back as Sam’s SEAL buddy Tom Olsen. He’d become a best-selling author since we saw him last, and that notoriety allowed his enemies to find him and try to kill him, providing us with the events that set the story in motion. These were the first scenes we’ve gotten between Daniela Ruah and her husband. I didn’t feel a whole lot of chemistry, but that was appropriate given their characters’ relationship. (I assume they’d met before but weren’t at all close.) I enjoyed Kensi gushing about Tom’s writing, and could definitely see (in another universe) Kensi and Tom having a lot in common, right down to knowledge about tracking and wilderness survival. Whether Tom would have had the heart and determination and charm to get close to her, who knows? But what stood out most to me was Kensi describing one of Tom’s characters as “the moral compass of the whole series,” even though he wasn’t the main character. I’d argue that sounds a lot like Deeks, in a meta sense, and even in his role on the team. 

Overall, the story was simple (in a good way) and easy to follow, while still keeping up a decent sense of momentum. The team got help from wrestler DOJ Agent Lance Hamilton, played by Bill Goldberg, and from CIA Agent Special Deputy U.S. Marshal Vostanik Sabatino (Erik Palladino). They also got key intel from everyone’s favorite baker/ex-weapons dealer Nina Barnes (Lesley Boone). Besides actually backing up the team in the field, some of these characters also provided the humor that Deeks might otherwise have given the episode. Sabatino and Fatima actually had good chemistry, even if their conversation consisted almost entirely of generational complaints/jokes. I will spare you all another rant about that recurring conversational theme. Nina also provided her usual dose of directness that puts the team on their heels in an entertaining way. (Although, is it really OK to ask someone about their ethnic heritage? Especially if you’re going to criticize their appearance as regards said heritage?)

If having an episode like this, filled with recurring characters, gives us an extra episode or two where Sam and Callen are partnered together, or where Deeks gets to play off of the duo in some way, it’s a trade-off that makes sense. It’s just a shame that Eric Christian Olsen missed out on any scenes with his brother.

Family Ties

There were a few moments of heart in the midst of the case. Rosa (Natalia del Riego) and Kensi’s day of quality time got canceled because of the case, but we still got a short scene in the boatshed between the two. I still feel like Kensi is trying way too hard, that she’s overly anxious to make everything perfect for Rosa. No wonder she’s exhausted all the time! It’s been a nicely consistent characterization that I think fits her perfectionistic character well. (Also perfectly in character is Kensi dispensing survival gear, complete with knife, to her daughter.) I hope we’ll see her settling into her role as mother more in the future. I’d also like to see Rosa be a little less well-adjusted. She seems to have settled into her new life without any road bumps at all, which doesn’t feel totally realistic.

En route to Utah, Kensi and, of all people, Lance, had a heart to heart of sorts, discussing Lance’s readiness to date again after the loss of his wife. Kensi’s reactions were interesting here. Could she have been putting herself in Lance’s shoes, wondering if she’d ever be able to date again if she lost Deeks? (Perish the very thought!)

The end of the episode showed us Kilbride looking after Rosa. (Seriously, isn’t she old enough to be home alone for a few hours? Or are they still worried about the prices put on their collective heads in the last episode?) When Kensi thanked him, he replied, “Why must everything be about you, Agent Blye?” It seemed an odd thing to say, and felt a little mean given Kensi’s reaction. But the final shot of Kilbride and Rosa made me think that perhaps he was helping out for his own selfish causes, because he actually enjoyed looking after one of the team’s loved ones.

Memorable Moments

  • For those of us who are happy with the developing friendship between Rountree and Fatima and aren’t anxious for more, it was heartening to hear Rountree express interest in Fatima’s attractive veterinarian friend.
  • But that shirt of Rountree’s… I know nothing about style, but all I could think about were my dad’s pajamas. (And why can’t Rountree store extra clothes in a locker like the rest of the team?)
  • I loved hearing Kensi’s defense of Deeks’ “golden locks.” He’d be so pleased to have overheard it, even if she did give away styling secrets that went beyond his pillow.
  • Whoa, that’s quite the weapons cache descending from the boatshed ceiling! A significant budget expenditure for Kilbride, but also for the show. I’d rather they put the money towards paying ECO for an extra appearance.
  • The jaggedy (is that a word?) handheld camera work in the climactic scenes almost made me sick to my stomach. I found it makes it hard to follow the actual action. It’s like the director wants to communicate that there is action happening without making the actual action strong enough to stand on its own.

That’s it from me on this Deeksless episode. I’m not sure when the next episode airs, but until then, check back later this week for new editions of Kensi’s Journal and the Drabble of the Week. We’ll also have another Decade of Deeks Re-Post soon. In the meantime, how did the Deeks-free “Best Seller” work for you? Tell us all about it 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.

20 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Best Seller” (S14E11)

  1. “The moral compass of the whole series,” I thought that this quote was said by the young man who had stirred up trouble at a book signing, not Kensi. I also found Kilbride’s comment to Kensi interesting at the end, I think he was enjoying his time with Rosa (making up for all the time he didn’t take to be with his son). I think it was his way of saying he wasn’t staying with Rosa just so Kensi wouldn’t worry, but he was staying with her for his own enjoyment, something he missed with his own son.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good review in spite of missing Deeks. I actually liked this episode a lot more than I thought I would. ECO’s brother was a great stand in for him, and though his character seemed to lack a sense of humor, I was all into what he was dealing with. I agree it would have been fun watching the two brothers play off of each other. Might make for a good fan fiction story. David did an impressive job. He looked like a superhero. Probably was when he was with the teams.

    I find it hard to like Sabatino, and I keep wondering why he keeps that mustache. It’s awful. Didn’t like any of the scenes he was in with Fatima, although I did like his interactions with the gun runner lady. She is funny. No one would ever guess what she used to do or still does. As for Roundtree…I feel as if they aren’t quite sure what to do with him. Something isn’t working there.

    Looking forward to a Deeks episode.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just finished watching the episode. Since the main characters have to miss four episodes, I am only happy that Deeks and maybe the others have already missed 3, giving us a half of year with only one episode absence to contend with.
    A couple observations regarding the written word.
    1. The fan boy’s anger at Tom Olsen regarding how Tom treated the “moral compass” of his books. Could that be a reference to how the fans feel about the treatment of their favorite characters in a story.
    2. Nina’s comments about Sabatino’s heritage, which Sabatino’s answered and then bought Armenian food for Fatima and Roundtree, but when Sabatino asked about why Fatima didn’t drink (especially after Fatima said he could ask anything), both Fatima and Roundtree were seriously going to send him to HR. I thought it was an interesting comment on how different generations view such questions. Nina’s questions were “harsher than Sabatino’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joleej, that’s an interesting observation about the fanboy. Perhaps that is how Harimoto sees us… Overly invested in fictional characters, or more charitably, passionate defenders of our favorite characters.


      • Pat11345, because I saw no other reactions from Fatima and Roundtree, except for serious faces, i was taken aback that perhaps they were not kidding.

        Karen P. I like to think of the fanboy as a homage to us. Fanboy wasn’t written as delusional but as someone invested in the story.


    • I maybe wrong, but I thought Fatima and Rountree were just kidding about going to HR to scare Sabatino.
      Also regarding the fan boy’s anger at Tom Olsen for killing off one of his characters reminded me that years ago on the original NCIS, they did an episode about a fan of one of Tim McGee’s characters in the book he wrote, got so upset about a character either being killed off or he wasn’t going to marry the character that was mirrored on Abby, the fan actually tried to kill Abby Scuito (sp?).


  4. I do not think that Lance and even Sabatino are not good enough actors to
    fill in for the other three missing stars for NCIS LA. It is a real shame that Sam had to miss this episode!
    Why did we have had an EP of Olsen, T. before one of Deeks, M.?

    What ever became of the adaption of Pilar from 13X20, wasn’t she in danger of being sent back, too?
    How would Kensi and Deeks handle having to care for two young women and do their jobs?
    Just wondering.

    Season 14 missed episodes by:
    Callen – 2 (3, 11)
    Sam – 3 (2, 9, 11)
    Deeks – 3 (4, 6, 11)
    Kensi – 3 (4, 7, 8)


  5. amusement345 // January 17, 2023 at 2:22 PM // Reply

    Thanks for a good review of a Deeks-less episode, Karen. I was able to watch this one in real time, and was a bit underwhelmed. I thought it was an odd choice to have Sam missing for an episode in which it is his good friend who is in peril—cost us some of the drama, and maybe a chance to go deeper on their shared past. Maybe it was the heavy reliance on recurring characters, but it felt like at least half of the episode consisted of dialogue-delivered exposition, at the cost of the usual character-driven relationships. I do enjoy Sabatino (absent the mustache), and I think his scenes were my favorites. I agree that Rosa could have stayed home on her own, but am tickled by Kilbride’s growing fondness for her. In truth, the entirety of the Rosa storyline is odd to me. Instead of focusing on her cultural adaptation and helping her deal with her significant losses, it seems focused on the parenting concerns related to preschoolers. Just odd.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just think if they had Pilar to worry about, too! I commented on her since it is like she disappeared from everyones radar and wonder if they just forgot about her being in danger of being sent back or what?


  6. I’ve been wondering about Pilar, too. Absolutely nothing has been mentioned about her since the start of Season 14.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Found this from NCIS LA 13X20 – Densi – Talk about Pilar from script
      “Look, they’re both at risk at being sent back.
      I know.
      Pilar, probably at a greater risk than Rosa.”
      So not so much at risk?


      • I think that was probably the last time they talked about Pilar. Deeks mentioned both Pilar and Rosa when they rec’d the $20,000 gift from Eric – suggesting that they buy SatPhones (sp.) for both girls so they could keep in touch with relatives from their home countries. That was in the episode that Eric Olsen wrote and Danielle directed. I think that was the last time Pilar was mentioned.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, it was about the $20,000 check in 13X19 “Live Free or Die Standing but in 13X20 it was about the break into attempt at military base that was written by Eric and directed by Danielle. They were on the hilside overlooking the groups hideout and discussed the second adaption of Pilar.
          Nice catch.


  7. Hi Karen I was very disappointed with this episode, for me it was a waste of a valuable 40 minutes. The storyline was weak and a total mystery to me, just what had Tom said in his book that warranted all these people wanting to kill him? I also thought the scene where he used a sophisticated bow and arrow, by the time he loaded the arrow, that bad guy with his automatic gun could have shot 2 or 3 of them? Lance (Bill Goldberg ex WWE wrestler?) is a terrible actor and I find it embarrassing to watch him. Deeks, Callen and Sam were surely missed, it’s not NCISLA without any one of them(especially Deeks) I’m sorry that I really couldn’t find anything positive about this episode , I think the ratings show that. Kathleen

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ivelina Plamena Georgievi // January 18, 2023 at 9:49 AM // Reply

    Fans need Densi!!!!!!!!
    And Deeks.M episode!!!!!
    And Densi kisses!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You can”t have Densi kisses or even hugs if the producers/writers don’t write Eric and Dani in the same episode.WTH is going on. For Densi imho season 14 has been a BIg Dissappointment!!! Gemmill sucks.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have been an avid fan from day one but as the series progressed it is obvious that the writing has been hit and miss. It definitely has diminished in both the main characters development and plots. We have watched our heroes grow and mature and were given insights into their personal lives but let’s be honest, there just isn’t anything to get excited about anymore!
    I would defend this show until hell freezes over because of the characters and the wonderful family they have become but now it is disjointed and the storylines are trite. That goes to the writers. If they were burned out then new blood should have been brought in with the understanding that they are required to view all of the past seasons so they know and understand these characters well. There have been too many discrepancies in the series because some of the writers have not done their homework on their characters. It is too late for this to happen now since CBS has cancelled the show. Too little too late! I am hoping and believe Mr. Gemmill will give this show and its characters the warm and tender ending it so much deserves. 😞

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I also have been an avid fan from the beginning, and I, too agree with Jane – the writing has been hit & miss. Not really fair to the actors or the story lines. I realize Covid certainly played apart, but I sometimes found the fact that the writers didn’t seem to know what had happened in earlier episodes (and since Mr. Gemmill has been one of the writers for years, I don’t understand why he wouldn’t have noticed) it was aggravating, not really fair to the actors or the story lines. I love the characters and the actors who play them – I will miss watching them very much. They are all not only fine actors, but fine and decent family oriented people. Rare for actors I think.

    Liked by 1 person

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