Review: NCISLA “Shame” (S14E14)
This week’s NCIS: Los Angeles episode, “Shame,” was penned by Sam Block & Jamil Akim O’Quinn, two production assistants writing their first-ever episode of network television. Congrats to them on the achievement. They, along with director Daniela Ruah, gave us some strong moments of humor and a thought-provoking story.
Deeks still freaks me out
A fair amount of humor was sprinkled through the episode, and for me, almost everyone was in character. The teasing throughout showed us people who are family, who love to give one another a hard time. I loved Rountree, happily learning from his “boss,” wise Sam, while still giving him a hard time too: “Here it comes. A Sam Hanna lesson.” Sam is a great mentor, throwing out pearls like “No comfort in greatness.” In a subsequent scene, we saw a similar dynamic, but with the elder agent Kensi teasing the younger Fatima about her apparently nicely developing relationship with Akhil. The episode ended on a similar note, with Rountree taking a page from Deeks’ cut-the-tension-with-humor playbook and giving Deeks a hard time. It feels like a trait that Rountree has actually learned from Deeks, which somehow makes me happy to think about.
The funniest scene, one that made me laugh out loud at times, was seeing Callen and Anna at the wedding planner’s office. My favorite line was Callen’s “Saying no to champagne is like saying no to life… It’s from The Deer Hunter.” (If you haven’t seen it, The Deer Hunter is a dark movie about Vietnam vets whose most famous scene is of characters playing Russian roulette. It is not a frothy romance.) Also hilarious was his rejoinder when Anna criticized his desire for a venue with good security: “You weren’t at Kensi and Deeks’ wedding.” I think a touché was actually in order there, Anna.
However, the whole scene also somehow felt vaguely disturbing because of the fanciness of the setting and the tension between the two. It did make sense that the setting would be high-end since Fatima had referred them, but it didn’t really feel like it suited either of them. I could see why there was tension in that Anna did at least want to make some progress with the planning, while Callen just looked like he wanted to run away as quickly as possible. By the time the two were rolling around on the furniture, the scene had acquired what I can only describe as a Gemmillesque tone, as if character had definitely been ignored in favor of humor.
Sometimes the hardest people to talk to are family
The episode also tackled a far heavier topic, that of LGBTQ servicepeople who had come of age during a time when their identity was considered, as the episode’s title suggested, shameful. The aftereffects of that time – and their continuing relevance even today – did give me something to think about, although it all had just a tiny flavor of “after school special” to it. The most successful part of this storyline was Sam and Kam’s scenes. I could just feel Sam’s sadness that Michelle wasn’t there to help him navigate such a sensitive topic with his little girl, but he did great all on his own.
The season so far
The episode continued several patterns that have really affected the show over time. First, the characters appeared mostly isolated in pairs in settings with relatively few people. It was also incredibly light on the action. We saw some impressive running from Rountree, but nothing more. As has become a frequent occurrence, no one was ever in real jeopardy. We also had people popping out and back in at random, with Sam taking time off but then covering for Deeks and a last-minute deposition. Whether COVID- or budget-induced (or maybe both), all these trends have sadly affected the show’s overall energy level.
It also feels like the showrunners had no ambitious plans this season to add new story arcs for these characters. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great scenes, for Deeks especially. But no new obstacles or challenges have popped up for anyone. Sam navigated one small challenge in this episode, but otherwise is just continuing to deal with his dad. Callen and Anna are continuing to plan their wedding. (Spoiler alert: Callen will be looping back to confront Pembroke, based on a scene I watched being filmed in San Pedro (or as Shyla would say, “San Pedro, California”).) Deeks and Kensi are continuing to work through the challenges of parenthood. Fatima is continuing to date a man she met last season. And Rountree… I’m not sure what he’s got going on, actually. It feels like the showrunners might have had some inkling about the season being the last one, so purposely set out not to introduce new plot lines they wouldn’t be able to resolve. It’s totally understandable, but also has contributed to a feeling of sameness throughout the season’s episodes.
- Another hilarious moment was the idea of Sam’s dad playing pickleball with Arkady. It’s a fabulous image. And can we all vote now to endorse the idea of Arkady performing the wedding ceremony?
- It is always interesting to see just how grumpy each new writer decides to write Kilbride. But it would be nice if he could at least be mature enough to acknowledge when he’s in the wrong for yelling at someone. This time, Kensi was the recipient of unnecessary grumpage. (Also, I’m finding it harder and harder to picture him without that raincoat!)
- Kensi’s overreaction to Adebayo confused me, but I was happy to see her feel secure enough to apologize. Kilbride could learn a thing or two from her.
- Oh, Deeks. Or should I say ECO. That “Then this just became a murder investigation,” line to close out an act was classic Eric Christian Olsen.
- I know we’re getting an MMA/Sam-focused storyline in a few weeks, one where we’re all hoping they’ll give us some sort of mention/throwback to Deeks’ first appearance on the show in “Hand-to-hand.” But in this week’s episode, I found myself insulted on Deeks’ (and Rountree’s) behalf at the idea that the two of them couldn’t handle talking to an MMA fighter without big, strong Sam to come back them up. This problem could have been averted by introducing Deeks’ last-minute deposition as the reason Sam was needed. Instead, we got another instance of his skills being belittled, and I hate the idea that he (and Rountree) were told they needed to wait for Sam to come protect them.
- The heartwarming scene with Sam and Kam was sweet, but I always think of that background music as belonging to Densi.
That’s it for now. Come back later this week for new editions of Deeks’ Surf Log and Kensi’s Journal, plus the Drabble of the Week.
In the meantime, what did you think of “Shame”? How about the season so far? And most importantly, what “theme” do you think works for Callanna? I’m picturing an Avengers theme- not the comic book characters, but the old British spy show featuring a debonair John Steed and super hot badass Emma Peel (she was amazing).
Good review, Karen…Congratulations Dani on directing, so talented in all she does…conflicted on the show, love NCIS la, still would like to see Deeks and kensi as partners, know it’s hard when Dani doing double duty..I thought it was silly that Sam had to be there, like Deeks and roundtree couldn’t handle it..who do they fight weekly , the bad guys of Los Angeles, and in one of Deeks first time on ncis la, Deeks came to sams rescue at a gym and handled things..interesting callen attitude at wedding venue, and anna just seemed aggravated at everything..I know they ended with Sam talking to his daughter, but I still would rather see kensi , Deeks, Sam and callen coming together and walking out of building, joking, bantering..
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I agree on wanting more Deeks and Kensi but if Dani is doing double duty and can still work with Fatima, then she could work with Deeks just the same? Also, as stated by pat11345, Kilbride is just way to mean and nasty toward everyone! If I had worked for him, would have quit my job after talking to HR. Not happy about the ending of this series and what they are planning to spring on us for the remainder of the season.
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I’m glad to hear that someone feels the same as I do about Kilbride’s mean, nasty mouth to his agents – and even stating at the end to Deeks that what he was saying was not an apology when that’s exactly what he owed Deeks – if he’d listened to Deek’s explanation, the whole thing would have been more realistic – just my opinion.
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Really good review, KP. I actually liked this episode somewhat. Didn’t expect to like the wedding venue scene, but found myself laughing, especially at the woman trying to sell them their services. She reminded me of the woman in the funeral home when Nate pretended to be Hetty’s son. She was perfectly over the top. I would have liked to see Callen’s reactions as she went through her pitch, with maybe a reference to what Deeks might say in the situation. All in all it was quite funny, especially his reaction to Arkady marrying them. Now that would be perfect. As always I wanted more Deeks, and thought he was a bit subdued in this one. I expected a comeback when Roundtree teased him in the bullpen.
I think I’m going through the many stages of grief at this stage. I’m sad, for sure, but also angry that these fine characters are passing from our lives. I get angry when I see ads for the Hawaii show. Not sure why. I know it’s not their fault. Still trying to figure out how to deal with no Deeks after all these years.
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Good review. Wedding scenes with G and Anna reminded me of Deeks and Kensi did Callen not learn anything from those two.lol. I will miss Densi like crazy but i’ll just pretend that Deeks kensi Rosa and any miracle kids are driving around the county in a rv and home schooling while in the mean time praying for a few NCIS LA tv movies and eventually a Densi spinoff. lol. Just call me in denial…. ps thanks you for this website and all the hard work that goes into it.
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Speaking of “episode continued several patterns that have really affected the show over time. First, the characters appeared mostly isolated in pairs in settings with relatively few people.” What I have really noticed is that OPS does not have many people manning the multitude of screens for any potential problems, are they on AUTOPILOT or what? It used to take Nell, Eric and a whole crew of minions to work cases in order to complete the mission. Now Kilbride can run the whole OPS by himself, what’s up with that? Plus all of the ancillary people, like HR, wardrobe and various back office personnel are not anywhere. Big budget cuts must be affecting everything?
Glad I was able to enjoy your contributions over the years. Thanks, and good luck.
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I look forward to your reviews, Karen. I appreciate the honesty of your reviews and your knowledge of the characters and show.
That you knew that Callan’s champagne line came from “The Deer Hunter” and from scene not so pleasant was a great bit of trivia and made me appreciate the writers.
I liked the episode. The interaction between Sam/Roundtree and Kensi/Fatima was a good way to integrate the newbys into the family and should have been done sooner (maybe a Covid issue).
I am not a Callan/Anna fan but the wedding planner scene was great. I didn’t mind Callan being uneasy because this a social activity, which isn’t exactly Callan’s MO. I didn’t really like Callen and Anna jumping each other at the end of the scene and agree with your assessment.
Deeks seems sad. I wasn’t happy when Roundtree teased Deeks at the end and Deeks said way to kill the mood. I don’t think Roundtree’s comment was appropriate at the moment and Deeks was sad that that is what they think we would say.
Since the show will probably go with a Callan/Anna weeding and the fans do deserve that, I thought about what I would like to see. It can’t be normal or anything like Deeks and Kensi’s wedding. How about a traditional Russian wedding.
I looked it up and the several of the traditions would be great.
1. The first bride-to-be’s earring is put on the bridge by a married friend. The second earring is put on by the friend’s husband. I nice sweet Kensi and Deeks moment.
2. The Ransom (copied from Nabilah Luxury Beach Wedding website)
There are many versions to realize this very comical and funny tradition.
Normally, the parents of the bride-to-be hide her before the ceremony and challenge the groom with many proofs before revealing how to find her. If a challenge cannot be achieved, he has to pay a compensation also to the bridesmaids, for example cash, flowers or chocolate.
In another version of the ransom, the groom goes at the bride-to be house and he offers money or even jewels to her parents to “have” the bride. The parents bring out a woman or a man dressed up like the bride and covered with a veil. The groom keeps offering more and more until when the ransom is satisfying. Then, the family gives away the bride to her love.
Plus the wedding could last two days to a week. Callen would love that.
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Youe review was right on – especially your comments on the season to date. It is so obvious that the interaction of the fabulous four is missing! No bantering! No bullpen! Yes, maybe leftover from Covid but surely it has affected the series as being disjointed. Kilbride is overdoing it with grumpiness. All of the characters have changed – which should be expected with their development – but I miss Deeks’ softness and insecurity. He is more brazen and so self assured that it takes away from his sweet side. So much has changed and I can readily see them aging – so maybe it is for the best that we end it with the good memories still in tact in our minds. My gut tells me that these actors feel the same way. It time to call it quits!
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‘Shame’ cudda shudda be the title of the last ever episode.
Here in the UK, I’m a few episodes behind in Season Last, but that hasn’t stopped me from reading your reviews, and adding my agreement to some of the fan general comments.
It seems to me, the steady decline of the show has occurred over the past couple of years, or so, possibly since Covid lockdowns. The episodes were slashed. Apparently, so were advertisement spots during episodes and consequently budgets.
The actors have tried their best with generally poorer scripts and not-up-to-snuff directors trying to add excitement to those scripts. Audience numbers haemorrhaged, leaving a hard core of fans. They tried two new agents (Rowntree and Fatima) who were surprise-surprise one dimensional and we lost the Wonder Twins. The irreplaceable Hetty was replaced with Kilbride, who despite of the experience and talent of the role actor, became a one-dimensional grump. Densi’s search for a family became almost as boring as organising their wedding.
TPTB seemed to embezzle the NCISLA budget to fund that car-crash of a spinoff Hawaii, which has wooden performances and not one character to ‘hang one’s hat upon’. After one episode, I’ll never watch it again.
Obviously TPTB are the masterminds behind the cancelling of our show, but the showrunners didn’t help much in keeping NCISLA afloat. Gemmill either lost interest or run out of ideas for story arcs, while Military jumped ship. Even the return of Shane Brennan couldn’t save the ship that was deliberately scuppered by the producers.
I will miss NCISLA. However, thank God for the early seasons of boxsets. When the OSP Magnificent 7 (Hetty, Callen, Sam, Kensi, Deeks, Beale and Nell) were joined by the brilliant and tragic Owen Granger. Remember those days?
NCISLA and Martin Atticus Deeks will be missed. WikiDeeks will undoubtedly follow shortly after. Fanfic authors, we rely on your storytelling genii to keep our show alive.
Grumble. Grumble. Whinge. Whinge. Copy that. Over and out.
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I agree 100% Terrence. We have a bit in common. I’m also a Brit but a whole series behind because I’m too mean to pay for Sky. I didn’t even realise Season 14 was airing here till a couple of weeks ago when a picture of Deeks turned up in my local newspaper. I like to keep up to date with wikiDeeks reviews etc. etc. My only disagreement with your comments Terrence, was that it wasn’t grumbling or whingeing. It was the truth, saying it as it is.
Thanks for the review (just caught up with the episode). The episode was okay, but it’d be great if the writers knew who Callen and Anna were now that the show’s in season 14. These writers obviously didn’t. That wedding planner scene made me cringe not and the wedding planner was way too annoying to be funny. Callen and Anna would never have shown up. They’ve been living together almost 4 seasons and they have, maybe 10 close friends & family members between them. Planning a wedding for so few isn’t going to take a wedding planner. If Anna has questions, the person she should ask is Kensi. Why would she take advice from Fatima, someone she hardly knows? Doesn’t make sense. The writers also should’ve known that the relationship wasn’t a problem because the men were gay. It was a problem because it was a relationship between a superior officer and an enlisted man; being gay might’ve been awkward, but it was the men’s ranks that was the problem, not their sexual orientation. If the Master Chief had been having an affair with an enlisted woman, the relationship would’ve been a problem. And Kilbride is too much of an old grouch for me to care about. His attitude to most of the agents–and toward Deeks in this episode–is awful most of the time. Hetty might’ve lied, but she never treated them like they were beneath her or with the contempt Kilbride does.