Review: NCISLA “The Other Shoe” (S14E15)
This week’s NCIS: Los Angeles episode, “The Other Shoe,” looked to be heavily Sam-focused. What a nice surprise to find out the plot revolved around Deeks’ nemesis, Detective Ellen Whiting, who’d been decidedly unhelpful when Rountree was pepper sprayed during an LAPD stop last season. Writers Lee Carlisle and Justin Kohlas, and director Eric Wilson, delivered an interesting story, good characterization, and callbacks to several past events.
Given my expectations for a Sam-focused story, the “previously on” bits from “Internal Affairs” and “Perception” upped the expectations. It turned out Whiting was being framed for murder by some shady LAPD detectives. Deeks seemed to take her reappearance, and her asking for help, in stride. He no longer finds her popping into his life surprising. That she’d go to him for help just shows exactly how much she trusts him and sees him as a good guy, despite his own questionable past actions. Their relaxed but amusing banter was well played by Eric Christian Olsen and Karina Logue.
Deeks: Is that the sign of the other shoe finally dropping? I mean, I know that you’ve been hanging on to these favors for years, so after this are we finally even?
Whiting: You get me out of this? We’re more than even.
Deeks: And I did want to apologize for the clothing. Kensi’s pantsuit collection’s run a little bit thin. But on the bright side no one’s gonna recognize you without one, right? It’s the perfect disguise.
Whiting: I’m glad to see my near-death experience hasn’t rattled your trademark childish insults.
Deeks: I mean you started it.
Rountree was understandably slower to give Whiting the benefit of the doubt. Was she really being framed in part because she refused to pressure him into dropping his complaint? I was so glad the writers addressed this issue head on. In her appearance in “Perception,” I had found her behavior a bit out of character. She’s supposed to be catching the bad cops, and in that episode she came off as decidedly on their side. I’ve always enjoyed her appearances on the show and her ability to get under Deeks’ skin, and I’m glad this aspect of her character – that she really is on the good guys’ side – was restored.
Although the showrunners likely didn’t know this would be the final season, it is so nice that they’ve closed the loop on the Whiting-Deeks conflict/relationship (or did they? see below). While I’m still curious about the exact circumstances of Boyle’s death, I’m gonna have to live with fan fics, and I guess that means I can choose the version of events I want to believe.
Like Lady and the Tramp
LL Cool J did have a role to play this episode, going undercover and bare knuckle fighting against the man who turned out to be the head of the Fentanyl ring (played by WWE wrestler Seamus). The episode biggest failure, which in the grand scheme of things is not so terrible, was that the writers didn’t work in any callbacks to Deeks’ first episode, the great “Hand-to-Hand,” where Deeks took Sam on in an MMA fight. It was a lost opportunity to bring the two men full circle back to Deeks’ very rocky introduction to the team, and particularly to Sam. It would have been a perfect way to highlight the wonderful rapport the two characters showed in this episode. Seeing them so relaxed, with Sam chuckling at Deeks’ jokes rather than growing exasperated, always brings me joy exactly because of how long it took to get there and how hard Deeks had to work – and sacrifice – to make that relationship so strong.
In My Day
The character of Kilbride has shown a wide range of grumpiness, from charmingly curmudgeonly to downright hostile, depending on the week’s writers. This week’s Kilbride was one I could like, if only he would stick around for awhile. He refrained from fury until Rountree and Fatima gave him a good reason to express his dismay. He called back to a previous failed excuse Fatima gave for an absence. He gave Sam a pre-op pep talk to make sure he had the right perspective on his role. (No hero crap. You’ve got nothing to prove in there.)
Kilbride’s past as a fighter in the military provided what felt like an unnecessary tie in to the episode’s plot, and the retelling of his failure to spend enough time with his family really feels repetitive at this point, as did Sam’s encouragement to him about having the hard conversation. However, I did appreciate the tie-in of the case’s drug abuse element to his son.
Get the Hell Off My Porch
Whiting’s bold appearance at the Blye-Deeks-Reyes household really threw a monkey wrench into their plans. First there was Rosa going on a non-date date. Yes please to it being with Whiting’s son Steven. Why not bring Whiting into the extended family that includes Roberta and Arkady? Deeks was the one freaking out about it, while Kensi remained surprisingly calm. I think it was because she knew Rosa was carrying the knife she’d given her.
Just when I was beginning to wonder why Kensi had felt the need to stay home with Rosa, we got that incredibly tense scene with the LAPD detective appearing at her door while Rosa hid in her bedroom. He was super creepy and Kensi couldn’t have handled the situation better. The only surprising thing was how calm Deeks appeared to be about the whole thing.
- I must admit to being a little disappointed to hear Rosa call Deeks by his last name. I realize Kensi does, but I had hoped Rosa might use Marty instead.
- As a die hard, season ticket holding LAFC fan, Fatima and Rountree’s very lengthy soccer discussion blew my mind. I can’t imagine it meant anything to the majority of viewers who don’t follow Major League Soccer, but I agree with Rountree that you can’t beat the atmosphere at the Banc. It’s amazing. “Flavor of the month?” I heartily disagree. Galaxy may be the OG L.A. football club, but who won the most recent MLS Cup?
- Deeks (and ECO) can definitely rock a pink sweatshirt.
- Was it just me, or did ECO sound like he had a cold?
- Deeks quoting Roberta’s throuple in Barstow story offered yet another nice callback.
- Bare knuckle fighting in a sweatshirt was a, um, interesting wardrobe choice.
- We got an “OK boomer” from Rosa, a Gen X explanation from Deeks, and an “In my day…” from Kilbride, adding to the number of episodes where characters feel the need to point out what generation they come from.
That’s it from me for now. Come back later this week for new editions of Deeks’ Surf Log, Kensi’s Journal, the Drabble of the Week and a preview of next Sunday’s episode, “Sleeping Dogs.” In the meantime, what did you think of “The Other Shoe”? Tell us your thoughts in the Comments below.
I was looking forward to seeing this episode after seeing the sneak peek trailers on YouTube, and discovering that it looked like Whiting was going to be back to her pre-“Perception” form. Like you mentioned Karen, I thought she was a bit out of character in that episode. Like Sabatino, I like her when she gets snarky. Probably she won’t appear again on the show, so it’s great there’s some resolution to this storyline. Loved that Whiting and Deeks traded barbs like old times. Oh, what fun it would be if Rosa’s Steven is actually Whiting’s son. With only a few episodes, I doubt we’ll ever find out, but I hope the fan fiction writers out there will run with it.
What really worried me was that opening scene when Whiting shows up at their residence out of the blue. One of the first things I’d wish Deeks asked her when they were at the boatshed was “how did you find where Kensi and I lived?” Both she and that corrupt LA detective knew where to find them, so has their house been compromised, like Callen’s in season 8″s “Sirens”? If so, it would be another worry in keeping Rosa safe. When buying the house in season 12, Kensi mentions that they are buying the house under alias, and since Nell was still around then I’m sure the backstopping was top notch. Still a few episodes left so other things could happen, but I wonder if this is one factor that will get the ball rolling on what Densi and Rosa will be doing at the show’s ending.
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We learned about the end of this series in late January so it is very likely that the cast knew long before that things were coming to an end especially since they all agreed to forego 4 weeks of their salaries to cut down on expenses. That being said, it seems only right to tie up lose ends with Whiting,Kessler, etc. It also could show us how vulnerable Kensi and Deeks have become and how concerned they are over Rosa’s safety – perhaps it will prepare us for their decision to continue or not continue as agents in the field. I think a lot of clues will be dropped in the coming episodes to draw us to the finale. On another note – I have often wondered what their budget was for this series as they have destroyed way too many beautiful cars, ( including Deeks red pick up in the crossover event) and buildings, etc. Of all the NCIS programs this had to be the most expensive with the filming in LA,, police and fire assistance, road closings, etc. If they would have focused more on the characters and less on the expensive bombings, shootings, etc then maybe they would have bought a couple more years. However, I still strongly believe that the characters themselves were perhaps ready to move on and with Covid and some of the inept scripts they were given, it just seems like the right time to bow out! I am really going to miss them! This show had the best acting of any series I have ever seen and the actors were just outstanding in their roles. 😞
I agree with Christine 100%. You might notice too that this comment page has become scarce the last couple of seasons. Has the interest faded from otherwise loyal fans? This current season’s episodes started poorly and have actually gotten better, but I see a change in the lead characters as their interactions with each other as the fabulous four are gone. They are making the most of what scripts are given to them but the spark that made them so famous and likable is just not there anymore. Still it was a wonderful 14 years for all of us. It must have been difficult to say goodbye when this “ family” spent so much time together. They are all such great actors with loving supportive families.Best wishes and blessings to all!