Season 8 has been fairly serious. Kensi has fought her way back to full fitness, Deeks has struggled at times to support her, Callen was forced to confront the reality of his father’s abandonment and Granger’s deterioration has been heartbreaking. It was only fitting that after the intensity of the three episode mole arc, that Old Tricks should be heavy with amusement. It’s such a shame that this fails to live up to its potential, a rarity for writer Andrew Bartels who has created gems such as Allegiance (S5), The Grey Man, Humbug (S6), Angels & Daemon (S7) and this season’s Glasnost, which reunited Callen with his newly found father. It has frequently been proven that the case becomes irrelevant when the focus is on character development. But here the case is not particularly interesting, and on the surface at least, is in no way connected to the development of Callen or the exploration of Nell and Eric’s relationship, or even the psychological impact their work. Continue reading
The mole storyline has been ongoing for three seasons now but just as it starts to reach a crescendo, US TV scheduling meant the third and final part of the arc to flesh out the mole did not air – for three weeks. There was also a two week delay between parts one and two which has caused some of the intensity to be lost. There would have been a good argument for NCISLA to have had a mid season break (a la Arrow and Blindspot), which at least would have allowed the momentum to build and viewers to know where they stood each week. Regardless, the disjointed build up was soon forgotten as Payback picked up exactly where Under Siege left off, with Kensi about to lose her leg. Continue reading
‘Glasnost’ is Russian for openness and famously coined by Gorbachev towards the end of the Cold War in the 1980s to promote a desire for increased transparency in Soviet politics. It is an ironic title choice for an episode pivotal to Callen’s life long quest for answers. Openness is the one thing seriously lacking and there are streams of lies and deceit, for good reasons and bad, that are unravelled as the narrative progresses.
Artem Fedor, arrested as a favour to Pavel Volkoff in return for helping Arkady escape a Russian prison (Matryoshka part 2) wants to exchange information on an assassination, for a transfer to a minimum security prison. Fedor was hired to track down Russian Katerina Polumin, who now goes by the name of Mary Reynolds. Katerina was poisoned four days earlier and as Deeks and Eric interrogate Artem in prison, Sam and Callen visit Katerina in hospital, an encounter that later leads to the discovery of Callen’s father Garrison in her room, having killed a would be assailant. Continue reading
The high standard of episodes in season eight continues with Parallel Resistors, where the case of the week concerns the safety of national security, after a graduate student working on a classified navy project is electrocuted. The investigation is dealt with in an intelligent and interesting manner, full of twists, but it is the underlying theme of family and the intriguing child guest character (superbly acted by Shree Crooks) which really lifts this episode. Kensi is finally making progress, demonstrating the well thought out sub plot and the timing of each phase of her recovery, which is so much better than the white ghost story line from season five, which was so far removed from the agents in Los Angeles, there was little investment until the team had to rescue her. Continue reading
NCIS Los Angeles is an office that specialises in undercover work and it’s been a while since any of the team have been on assignment. Recent cases have focused on the investigative side but watching various team members adopt different personas differentiates this show from the mothership. Episode writer Frank Military (Spoils of War, Rage, The Seventh Child, An Unlocked Mind) has set the bar high for dark, character driven episodes and once again, he does not disappoint. NSA Analyst Gary Dill has gone missing whilst investigating an ISIS cell who’s using a Mexican drug cartel to infiltrate the US. Using information from two fellow analysts, the team believe Dill may have been committed to a mental health hospital under the name of Noah Leipzig, and Callen is sent undercover as a fellow patient to make contact. Continue reading
After the excellent three episodes which opened season 8, the fourth episode Black Market was rather disappointing. The case of the week was not particularly memorable and did not really allow for any character development, with the possible exception of Nell who ventured in to the field as Deeks’ partner again. Instead there were questionable moments with various team members that luckily were balanced out with the B plot of Kensi’s coma and the reactions of different characters. Continue reading
The season 8 premiere of NCIS: Los Angeles was a treat, with the first two episodes merged together to create a two hour movie; an epic adventure that ends in tragedy. There may have been no cliff hanger at the end of the previous season but there were plenty of threads to be pulled, the main one being the mole, who has been floating around since season six. That mole may have been captured but there is another at large, one that has infiltrated the Office of Special Projects. And that is where the opening episodes take us, running in parallel with the team’s investigation in to stolen radioactive material which leads them to Syria and a mission to capture a high value target. And incidentally this target was in US Naval Intelligence, a Syrian born American national, who betrayed his adoptive country and defected to Syria. Continue reading
Just a quick thought about recent behind the scenes photos and a new (recurring) guest…too far fetched? I’ll probably be wrong anyway…
To date there have been very few snippets of information as to what will await fans in September, but one thing is certain – I would like to see a continuation of the quality that season seven brought us. The character driven episodes are clear winners as they allow for development and emotional engagement. When the episodes are written well and with a great guest cast, original characters can also be just as rewarding. The references to older episodes and cases, and the continuation of old, previously unfinished storylines are also a pleasure and very much heightened the enjoyment of season seven. The balance between the personal and professional lives is currently at about the right level. Too much of ‘Densi’ at home turns the show into a soap and so far the show has resisted this. Instead of seeing the partners investigate in pairs, team based episodes allow a different level of interactions, as do partner swaps. Changing the dynamics allows the show to remain fresh, maintains audience interest and hopefully allows new viewers to become fans.
Season seven has been a roller coaster of a ride for all the main characters. Each has been allowed the opportunity to develop a little further and to shine in their own right. There has been no focus on one single character. And true to the show, the best episodes of the season have been the character driven ones such as Citadel, Internal Affairs, The Long Goodbye and The Seventh Child.