wikiDeeks News Ticker

Review: NCISLA “Sleeping Dogs” (S14E16)

This episode was “Deeks-less” and “Kensi-less” because they were “visiting Rosa’s aunt.” So this review is a bit shorter than usual and instead of the usual format I decided to just go with a few memorable moments that were significant to me, especially as we are looking ahead to the upcoming end of the series.

Random Memorable Moments

  • SCIF mode in Ops: always a sure clue that something bad is going on. I always like when they go into SCIF mode, a) because it looks cool and, b) it signifies the seriousness of the work they do.
  • Hetty references: I know there are mixed views on Hetty in the NCIS:LA fandom. I’ve had more than a few beefs with her over the years, but am more a fan than not these days. Especially with the series winding down, I would like to see her again or at least have some sense of where she’s at. Seeing the references to her in this episode gives me some hope that we will get that. At the same time, as Callen said, if Hetty wanted to be found, she would have told them where to find her. He and Anna have apparently been waiting for Hetty’s reappearance to set the date for their wedding and may just have to go ahead without her.
  • I got a chuckle out of the “Top secret butt dial” comment about Hetty from Kilbride.
  • Of course, she is sending secret messages from a decommissioned SCIF- why would Hetty do anything the usual way? A functional SCIF? Nah, why do it the easy way?
  • Another Kilbride comment: “Do not attempt to divine Henrietta’s intentions. That way lies madness.” Actual LOL at that. It is true. And while I fall more on the “pro” Hetty side these days, I have definitely taken issue with her intentions in the past and felt they were sheer madness, so I did appreciate the gentle dig. Fist bump to Kilbride for that.
  • Hetty gives them a clue that doesn’t look like much, but ends up being very illuminating and essential to solving the case. That was very cleverly written. Andrew Bartels, who wrote this episode, has written so many of my favorite episodes over the years. I was impressed, but not surprised, at how he constructed the case so that at the beginning the clue didn’t make much sense, but at the end it was totally obvious. I write as part of my work, so I’m always thinking of how to make persuasive arguments with my words, and sometimes that involves creating a story of sorts. But I’m always hanging it on facts and evidence, which gives me a starting point and a loose structure. One of the consistent things I’ve been impressed with, and I’ve said it many times before, is that the writing on NCIS:LA is smart and the stories often have complex layers. Starting from a blank page and coming up with something that is so vague to start with, comes into focus gradually, and then is suddenly so clear once when the pieces fall together, is really impressive. It’s like driving the Icefields Parkway (between Jasper and Banff, Alberta) on a foggy or rainy day, where you know there are mountains, but can only see vague outlines and then suddenly there’s a mountain in front of you and you wonder how this wasn’t obvious a minute ago. (Beautiful drive, highly recommend.) Anyway, I say all that to say, I would love to be a fly on the wall of the writer’s room to watch the creative process and see how they put the script together from idea, to skeleton, to completed episode.
  • Coming full circle: For me, one of the most powerful moments of the episode was when Sam and Callen located Beltran and there was this exchange:

Beltran: Who are you?
Callen: I’m Grisha Callen. I’m subject 17. You’re safe.

That scene was really impactful. I wasn’t able to do a search of all of the moments where Callen has questioned who he is or looked upset when asked his name or who he is, but I thought of the team’s trip to Romania, Callen finding out about his sister, the series of episodes with his father, and finding out his first name, to list a few. He has certainly introduced himself as Grisha before. But the combination of his full name and his subject number, while speaking to a fellow survivor, is a perfect scene as we near the end of the series. I have no doubt the writers could have come up with more answers to other mysteries and questions of his past if there were more seasons, but I am satisfied that they gave us enough answers over the past 14 seasons to the series’ original questions about Callen. Obviously, they couldn’t have known how many seasons this would run, but looking at the series as a whole, the writers have done justice to the questions of Callen’s life and past and more kudos to the writers across all the seasons for not leaving us with an unsatisfying lack of detail.

  • The case: Drona was horrific and Pembrook is a monster. Callen’s ambivalence about letting Beltran go is exactly how one would expect a survivor of such abuse to feel. The range of emotions and responses in the “subjects” provides a gut-wrenching portrayal of the many ways that survivors of abuse and trauma are impacted. It’s tough content and I don’t mean for the inclusion here to imply that the abuse itself is a memorable moment, but just wanted to note that accurate portrayals of the psychological impacts of trauma have been consistently addressed and accurately portrayed across the series, including Deeks’ PTSD after Afghanistan, for which ECO, LL Cool J, and NCIS:LA were nominated for Prism awards in 2014. Another round of applause to the writers for the consistency in doing this well.
  • Sam and Callen: I liked how Sam forced Callen to actually ask him to be his best man. I mean, there has to be some retribution for all the years of “mathlete” jokes, right? Great banter there. I also loved the final scene with them on the deck at the boatshed. Those scenes are always so beautiful too. My favorite place for the end of an episode.

So, in conclusion, I guess this “review” ended up being a farewell love letter to Andrew Bartels for this episode, and all the writers through 14 seasons of NCIS:LA. The incredible writing is one of the things I will really miss about the end of NCIS:LA, as I don’t find this high caliber to be present in a lot of scripted series. Since I do write for work, I will confess that I’m not terribly patient with obvious or annoying plot lines that don’t hang together well. I’m one of those weirdos that sees visuals when I read books and plot structures when I watch TV/movies. And I’m not satisfied with just being entertained, I want to be impressed by a writer’s ability to draw pictures or outlines in my head and this series has consistently done that. APPLAUSE.

I have been watching NCIS: Hawai’i to help ease the transition for next year and I am finding the same excellent writing and storytelling over there (and a couple of Canadians in the cast!). Leaving old friends is hard, especially when they’re super amazing, but I’m happy to have found some new cool kids to hang out with and I’m hoping that some of the old friends from this show might end up writing over there from time to time. I’ll be watching the credits for you.

What did you think of “Sleeping Dogs”? Tell us your thoughts in the Comments below.

Disclaimer: I watched this episode and wrote this review with the tail end of a migraine, so there is a chance this doesn’t hang together logically as well as some of my reviews. Ironic, given the content, I know! Thanks to Karen for checking to make sure I didn’t say anything totally incomprehensible and fixing any typos she found. I decided to go ahead with the review because I figured even if it came out slightly less articulate than usual, I didn’t want to give up a chance to say, “I love your work and I’m going to miss you.”

11 Comments on Review: NCISLA “Sleeping Dogs” (S14E16)

  1. Andrew Bartels // March 28, 2023 at 3:40 PM // Reply

    Brenda, I am a big fan of your writing as well. Thank you for your kind words and your thoughtful review. It completely made my day. I loved your Icefields Parkway metaphor. If only I could write that well when I have a headache!
    Thank you to the WikiDeeks community for being such wonderful, loyal fans of the show and always pushing us to make it better. I hope you continue to enjoy the current and upcoming entries in the NCIS Universe — as well as our last five episodes! Until next time…

    Liked by 4 people

    • Brenda (@BP_NP) // March 28, 2023 at 4:29 PM // Reply

      Oh my. What a lovely message. How kind of you! Thank you so much. I am looking forward to the rest of this series. And I’m so glad for this site having provided a place to discuss, debrief and delight in the show, with the added perk having a connection to people involved in the show. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for where you land next. Your episodes are always among the best so I know whatever you do next will be exceptional as well.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks Andrew for your kind words regarding Brenda review and wikiDeeks. It’s been a great run but we are so sad to see you go. The fans and all the staff here at wikiDeeks want to thank you for all the joy and entertainment you have given us. Good luck in all your future endeavors. We will miss you all! Diane

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Brenda,
    The only “good” thing about Deeks and Kensi missing in this EP is that makes 4 each has missed this season. Deeks – #4, 6, 11 and 16 and Kensi #4,7,8 & 16. You would have thought that “maybe” since it was the last season TBTB would have had the “Fantastic Four” be in as many episodes as possible? Ah, NO!
    Great work and many thanks to everyone @ Wikideeks.


  4. Lovely review, Brenda. Watching these final episodes has been somewhat painful. I want to enjoy them, but they make me melancholy, knowing the end is so near. I guess you’d say I am going through withdrawal. Even without Deeks, I did enjoy this episode though. But not so much the newer cast members. I’m jealous of their screen time, wanting to savor the core group while I can. Your comments about how this series has dealt with psychological trauma is one of the reasons it became my favorite show. The writers over the years have been masterful at digging deep, and Bartels has given us some of the best episodes. Going to miss the show and the people of wikiDeeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brenda (@BP_NP) // March 29, 2023 at 1:39 PM // Reply

      Thanks Lindy! I know, I’m feeling the same on all counts. This feels like it has been almost a “once in a lifetime” experience with the quality and longevity of the show, the masterful writing, the incredible acting, the superb main cast where the core (Callen, Sam, Deeks, Kensi) remained intact throughout the series, and the wonderful community that happened on this site. I can’t imagine replicating this, and I alternate between feeling sad about that and then thinking that if it was easily replicated that would also mean this was more ordinary and less exceptional than it really has been.
      I have really enjoyed NCIS: Hawai’i so far – some really great writing, acting and thoughtful stories over there. Anyone want to try to do a fan site for that??? I’ll do reviews!!


      • Brenda, Your review as well as other site contributions are lovely and much-appreciated. I am very sad that the series is ending and have enjoyed WikiDeeks over the years! (How cool that Mr. Bartels commented on your review!!)

        I also have been watching NCIS: Hawaii. I binge-watched season 1 last summer when it was available on CBS. I enjoy the stories and characters, and the overall performance is getting better and better. I follow many of the actors on instagram, and I see the same family-type atmosphere among the cast as with NCIS: LA. The way they incorporate Hawaiian traditions and values is really neat, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review, Brenda. I appreciate your insights about the way the story unfolded, and how much talent goes into making that happen. I especially appreciated your thoughts about this:
    Beltran: Who are you?
    Callen: I’m Grisha Callen. I’m subject 17. You’re safe.

    Because it made me sit up and take notice too, and I wasn’t exactly sure why.

    I enjoyed this episode much more than I expected to, given it was Deeks-less. It reminded me of how intriguing the whole “who is G Callen” throughline has been, even if it hasn’t received as much attention recently. I’m hopeful now that we’ll have a resolution to it, and to Hetty. I don’t personally wish to burden Linda Hunt with anything more than she feels up to, so even if we don’t get to see our favorite little mastermind, I will look forward to some sort of resolution.


  6. I watched the episode and, although my favorites were not in it, story was great, I know that from here to the end everyone will be present. This whole series was unique in the fact that the cast got along so well. I understand that the entire production team was a close “ family” – so refreshing to know that not everyone was concerned about himself/ herself but on each other. This is off the subject but – what is the significance of the ring ECO wears on his index finger? His wife has one too as well as other actors.


    • I asked about the ring ECO wears a while ago, but nobody could help. I’ve since read it’s thought to be an Ouro Ring. Sort of a fitness thing, it measures the wearers heart rate. Personally I’m not much the wiser, but I hope it helps.


  7. I always read the reviews and the comments. Despite the UK being a few episodes behind, on Sky.
    I agree that once upon a time, the fan reviews comments have been plentiful. However, over the last few episodes, there’s been a trickle posted. Are we resigned to losing our favourite show, becoming too melancholic and apathetic? Just given up?
    Reviewers and posted fan comments are optimistic. That is obvious. I have to join them. We might be counting down, but S14 is improving. This season deserves to go out with a boom! How about Hetty officiating at Callen’s wedding. and a CGI of Owen Granger’s ghost in attendance to remind us of the tough guy with his denied gooey centre for the team? And given their history will Leroy Jethro Gibbs receive an invite from his old friend Callen?
    Come on TPTB this is the perfect opportunity to show the real fans how much we’re appreciated. Now that’s an optimistic comment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: