Review: NCISLA “New Beginnings” (S14E20)
For long-time fans of NCIS: Los Angeles, its penultimate episode ever, “New Beginnings,” feels much more about endings. We’ve come to the last case, and the last time we’ll see these characters all together. The last moments of bromance and romance, of banter and booms. In a lovely extra touch, revised opening credits drove home exactly how long we’ve watched these characters, and how far they’ve come. All in all, writers Kyle Harimoto and R. Scott Gemmill and director John Peter Kousakis delivered a solid start for this two-part finale, and I’ll keep my hopes high that next week will deliver the emotional pay-out they set up here.
This show has never been the quickest to dive into these characters’ personal lives, but over the past several years, they’ve spent more time doing just that. Literal references to family were sprinkled throughout the episode, in the many terms of endearment shared between characters. I’ll never grow tired of hearing these people, most of whom have led solitary lives, referring to one another as “honey,” “our daughter,” or “Pops.”
Wedding Plans Run Amok (Again)
This episode began with a thorough update from just about every character. The two-part aspect of the finale eps really became evident during this extended series of scenes, as the writers were able to take their time to give (nearly) every character a lovely scene about, well, family.
First Anna and Callen fretted over wedding plans. While certainly familiar territory for this show, the scene did let us know that the wedding is relatively imminent, and painted quite the hilarious picture of Arkady with a boa constrictor at the Playboy Mansion. (We’ll talk more about boa constrictors below.)
Later on Arkady himself made an appearance to provide support (or help Anna break off her engagement, whichever she preferred). This exchange was perfect, and perfectly Russian, for this unconventional father-daughter pair:
Anna: All this wedding planning, it’s worse than a suicide mission.
Arkady: Tell me about it. Sometimes I sink the only purpose of getting married is to prepare you for death.
Now just give me Roberta as one of Arkady’s dates for the wedding.
What remained unaddressed in this episode was Callen’s current thinking about Hetty. Has he decided to forgive her? Is he still wishing she’d pop up for the wedding? We will see soon enough.
Callen did express just a trace of doubt when he asked Sam if he was doing the right thing. Sam’s big brother reassurance was lovely, and this line summed it up: “G Callen. Nomad. The Lone Wolf. The Shadow. About to be a married man.”
The conversation took an even more touching turn when Sam reminisced about marrying Michelle. LL Cool J brought a lovely wistfulness to the scene. It was fitting to include her in some way as the series comes to an end.
The banter also really shone with this dynamic duo. Friendly jibes about tells versus looks and chuckles versus giggles epitomized the fast-paced, witty dialog I’ve always associated with Gemmill. I think it’s the most important element he’s contributed to the show’s DNA.
The banter continued when Sam and “Other Guy” visited delightful cupcake entrepreneur/ex-gun runner Nina Barnes. First, how dare they call her cupcake truck a “roach coach”! Second, why have I never noticed the sexual tension between Nina and Sam? The flirting over red velvet and ladyfingers must have made Callen feel like a third wheel. Could Nina be Sam’s date for the wedding?
Bad Leftovers, Or…
The Densi was strong this episode. Most importantly, Kensi’s been having some stomach troubles, apparently due to old left-overs. First, I don’t think Kensi has ever been one to need strict rules for handling such food items. Second, this has to be what we’re all thinking it is, right? There’s no way the writers would tease us into believing Kensi’s pregnant only to pull it all away in the finale. They’ve guaranteed we’re going to be happy, after all. While I’ve never been highly invested in this outcome for the couple, it was very exciting to read the writing on the wall before these two characters could figure it out for themselves. It’s sure to be the highlight next week. Whether it can live up to a million fan fic versions and all the hopes and dreams of so many fans remains to be seen, but I have confidence that Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah will crush it.
In other Densi news, they’ve been camping with Rosa and are going again, to the apparent happiness of all involved. It goes to show just how much Deeks loves his daughter and wants to make her happy that he’s willing to brave the terrifying woods for her on multiple occasions.
Rosa: You were the one who said it’s not camping without s’mores.
Kensi: And that’s a fact.
Deeks: Yeah but you forgot the marshmallows so s’mores without marshmallows is just… sores.
[Rosa looks dismayed.]
Deeks: What, really? That’s a, that’s a dad joke?
Rosa: You told me to call you out.
Deeks: Yeah, no, that’s what love looks like, touché.
These parents have evolved slightly, now able to let their daughter go out into the world unsupervised, but bolstered with love and encouragement. And they’re both so happy:
Kensi: I’m happy too.
Deeks: Yeah, but happy and fulfilled and grateful, I just wanna remember this moment in time.
Between the joy of becoming parents and the rekindled romance, it’s no wonder Kensi might now be with child. Later on in the episode, Kensi and Deeks provided overwatch in another charming scene:
Kensi: You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?
Deeks: That Thin Mints are the devil’s candy?
Deeks: That we should find a new overwatch position because Newsome’s probably setting us up?… I know what you’re thinking now, too. You’re thinking “gosh, I feel so lucky that he’s not only my partner, but he’s my husband.
Kensi: Yep. Lucky, lucky me.
Deeks: Just hashtag: blessed.
It was an adorable scene reminiscent of so many others in similar settings. In particular, it called to mind the duo considering Rosa’s – and Pilar’s (poor, forgotten Pilar) – adoption in Season 13’s “Work & Family,” and even harkened back to early Densi in Season 2’s “Rocket Man,” when the duo watched a recently frelted Beale talk to a suspect.
Kensi giving Deeks a hard time about the doomsday clock was great, as was hearing Deeks refer to himself as a husband and talk about their daughter. I’m going to chalk the latest version of Deeks’ childhood friend and his misadventure with a snake up to Gemmill just wanting to mess with those of us who care about canon consistency… But I am nonetheless compelled to point out that in Gemmill’s Season 2 “Borderline,” it was Darryl Donkins. By Season 12’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” it became Darryl Dinkins. Worse was the large shift in the dramatic tale, from Deeks being the victim of the snake who was saved by the paramedics using the jaws of life, to Deeks being the hero and saving his buddy with ice packs. At least they were consistent with Roberta keeping newspaper clippings about the ordeal.
I can’t wait to see how everything is revealed next week. It was quite concerning to see a hopefully pregnant Kensi getting hurled through a window in the promo, but at least she looks none the worse for wear getting ready for the wedding.
In other developments, Rountree worried over his sister’s medical school interview, and how she might be affected by movements in his civil case against the LAPD. I was glad to see them return to this story line and I hope we get some positive results for him in the second part.
Sam helped his dad work out, with some cute father-son banter. I loved seeing Sam get his father riled up and Raymond responding with a, “If you lip off to your old pop, he’s gonna bust you.” (Raymond and Deeks certainly do share a certain joy for said riling.) And of course Arkady was being a positive influence, as Sam described: “Cigarettes and a flask aren’t the building blocks of a great workout.” But of course, the morning’s positive father-son interaction was counterbalanced by Dad making his way back to the park later that day, having forgotten their earlier workout. Seeing one’s parent start to lose track of what’s happening around them is heartbreaking, and made for the second time in the episode my heart went out to Sam. I hope he gets the happiest ending he can given his current circumstances.
- The boom in the cold open was fine, but I do hope we get one last impressive explosion in the finale. It would only be fitting. We did get to see the Challenger utterly destroyed. JPK seemed to take quite a lot of glee in demolishing it so thoroughly.
- Other than sporting yet another gorgeous scarf, Fatima didn’t get anything in the way of personal stories. There just may not have been enough time, unless her failure to get a warrant or subpoena to search the SAC’s financial records is going to trigger something in the next ep. Otherwise it would seem an odd detail to include.
- Deeks and Kensi got to use the new descending weapons toy in the boatshed. In retrospect, not the best money the show has spent.
- I like to think Deeks has such a confident familiarity with Malibu Canyon because as a teen, Ray drove him from Reseda down to Malibu to surf every chance they got.
Next week looks to be a fitting conclusion to a show that has always been about the found work family, but that over time extended well beyond the workplace to include children adopted and biological, mothers, fathers, sisters and nephews, girlfriends and fiancées. I have confidence we’ll be celebrating just that.
This will be my last review, and the last thing I write for the site, at least for now. (Diane will take the reins for the finale next week.) I have a fan fic that ran yesterday, and a couple of already-written short posts that will run next weekend, but it hasn’t been until now that I’m actually writing my final words. I am so grateful to Diane, Colleen, Lindy, and everyone else who’s ever worked with us on the site, who’s every supported our charity fundraising efforts, who’s ever commented, or who’s ever read my work. I never would have expected my
obsession fascination with a TV character to lead to so many amazing experiences, and I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who was a part of it.
A/N: Thanks to Lyssa for her usual speedy and helpful fact checking and screen shotting. Any remaining errors are mine alone.
Thank you for another great review Karen. Thank you for all of them. I think I’m going to miss them more than actually watching the show.
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Thanks for all your wonderful comments and support, Patricia!
Great review, but it made me sad again because it is your last one. You have always been so knowledgeable about who said what twelve or thirteen years ago, and your comment about the boa constrictor and Darryl from Borderline proves it. The scene made me smile and I appreciated its inclusion. So many good memories to cherish. How do you wrap up fourteen years of work in one last episode? I don’t envy the writers. I tried to stay focused as I watched, but it was tough. I simply enjoyed my Deeks time. It’s all any of us can do now. It has been such a pleasure to work on this site, to get to know you and Di and Colleen, and to read all the other contributions that poured in every week for all those years. I even enjoyed the arguments in the review comment section. It showed how much everyone cared. A sad farewell to come. Going to be hard to watch.
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Thank Lindy! Lyssa has been a frequent contributor to such trivia- she has an uncanny ability to remember everything or find it immediately. I’m actually glad that Di is doing the final review, so I can try to follow your example and just enjoy watching the finale. I’m sure it will be emotional.
Thank you Karen and all Wikideeks contributors. It was a joy to read and explore this wonderful website and to learn that the object of our affection is just as wonderful.
I am sad that NCIS-LA is at an end, but happy for what special moments the 14 years have given us.
I wanted every moment of this episode to be about Densi, but then questioned why didn’t they give Fatima her moment. So I do like and appreciate all of the another characters, tho my heart belongs to Deeks. . The journey of Densi made the show special.
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Thanks Joleej for all your great comments and support! We really are lucky to have had so much time with our favorite characters.
DENSI PREGNANCY!!!!!!!! FANS WILL BE HAPPY!!!!!!
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It is sad to see this series end. If these characters were private eyes in a large office setting , helping the police solve crimes, and interacted with each other like those on on Grey’s Anatomy, imagine the cost cutting of expenses. Grey’s is basically , for 20 plus years, set in a hospital. They do show the homes of the lead characters but compared to this show their overhead is minimal. Think about the cars demolished – including Sam’s Hellcat last week and Deeks’ pick up in the crossover – not to mention the numerous Audis, Mercedes, etc,etc,etc plus the endless cars in the line of fire,the amount of buildings demolished, explosions, etc and the LA streets closed with police and fire assistance. Their wardrobe has to be the cheapest but their surroundings cost them a fortune. The frivolity of the expenses really did not help nor the fact that the main characters have been a mainstay to the show and deserve the salaries they earned- despite the fact that they all agreed to take 4 weeks off to cut expenses. Maybe we should rally the 4 of them to form a private eye firm and carry on the criminal fighting without so much action packed drama that raises the overhead. It’s just so sad to see these wonderful characters disappearing in time. 😔
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Jane I’m sure you’re right that the show’s budget must have been well above normal, with the location shooting alone, not even counting all the destruction. My fantasy has always been to see Deeks in a spin-off/Rockford Files retread where Deeks goes off to be a PI.
Here’s another idea Karen – Deeks is a family lawyer who also deals with immigration cases and Kensi is a social worker who works to place children and keep immigration families together and works closely with Deeks. The possibilities are endless. They could even keep their names from NCIS La and history – just have Kensi go back to get a degree in social services. It would be a simple office setting – for the most part – as long as the script writing takes precedence. Characters take front stage!
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Another wonderful review, Karen. The final one in a list of excellent reviews you’ve posted on Wikideeks, I’ve also enjoyed all your other contributions to this great site, especially your fan fics. On a personal note, thanks for the helpful tips and answering this newbie’s questions over a year ago, when I wrote my lone NCIS LA fan fiction story.
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Thanks so much Debra for your support!
As always, a great take on this next to the final episode and I have also questioned the whereabouts of “Pilar’s (poor, forgotten Pilar)” on another post but not sure which one that I mentioned it on.
I guess Kessler is in the wind until they make the NCIS Los Angeles Movie?
All the best in everything you do.
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Thanks Sarge for your support, and all the best to you as well!