Tuesday, 29 March 2011

NCIS: LA 2.17 'Personal'


“I like to let my Jell-O breathe” - Deeks

Procedurals are quite hard to delve too deeply into and look for philosophical and social commentary because, by their nature, they are entertainment not meant to be analysed to the nth degree.

The inexplicable popularity of the original NCIS signifies to me that this franchise is no ordinary procedural though and when I joined the LA spin-off for the start of season 2, I quickly learned that although the majority of the episodes are standalones like your run of the mill procedural, the thing that makes NCIS: LA so different are the brilliant characters and the fantastic chemistry of a stellar cast.

The reason I was so late to the NCIS: LA party is that I never really had any intention of watching at all, it wasn’t until I discovered that one of my favourite actors Eric Christian Olsen had been added to the main cast for season 2 that my interest was sparked.

I tuned in to see whether Olsen alone could sustain my interest and found that the show, while light on mythology and wide-reaching arcs, is one hell of an entertaining ride.

With ‘Personal’ being an Eric Christian Olsen’s Deeks-centric episode it only felt right that I cover it here.

Rumour had it this episode had been written to temporarily write Deeks off so Olsen could go off and film re-shoots for the upcoming The Thing remake he has a role in, but if anything he was as prominent as a normal episode here, if not more.

It was never that in doubt that Deeks would die, although I know that one of the cast was killed off during season 1, so it wouldn’t have been unprecedented. Aside from a little twitter hysteria though, some stoked up by Olsen himself, there wasn’t much hype about this being the kind of game-changing episode that the death of a main character would usually warrant so that suspense was lacking somewhat in the episode.

We began pre-credits with a normal Deeks day, flirting and wisecracking his way through his morning ritual before being shot in what appeared to be a convenience store robbery.

The team instantly sprang into action upon the news that one of their own had been shot and whilst Sam and Callen went off to hunt the bad guys, Kensi practically demanded she be allowed to be there when Deeks woke up. This appeared to be a nice hark back to the events of season 1, but having not seen it I can’t draw too many comparables I’m afraid.

Watching the initial shooting I could tell, as anyone who’s seen a TV show before probably could, that they didn’t want Deeks dead as the shooter had him at point blank range and managed to keep him alive.

We all knew this reveal was coming eventually but part of the fun was figuring out why they shot Deeks to wound rather than kill and to see how Sam & Callen would get to the right conclusion.

As the episode progressed it seemed like the NCIS team were closing in on the suspect only to get sent to a bogus meet, Kensi and Deeks were on the verge of figuring it out when Kensi jumped to the wrong conclusion that the whole team had been the target and Deeks’ shooting was their way of drawing out them out as they are all normally so secretive.

Deeks suddenly realised it was Kensi rather than the team that was being targeted as did Sam and Callen just as Kensi was assaulted in the hospital car park by three men.

Deeks managed to take out the leader, who in a nice call back to earlier in the season not often seen in procedurals, was the wife and son Kensi relocated earlier in the season’s husband coming for revenge, just before he could get a shot off and all was well again in Los Angeles.

I was a little disappointed in the lack of development in the Deeks-Kensi relationship in this episode as I thought him almost dying may be enough to finally bring them together, because let’s be honest that’s what we all want isn’t it!?

But we did get a bit of an exploration of Deeks’s past, the next of kin/good question running gag was not only good for a laugh but also planted the seeds for who Deeks actually has in his life.

Kensi seemed sad when she realised she didn’t know who Deeks’ next of kin was but we soon discovered why he had kept it so quiet. Hettie’s sidebar of looking into a John Gordon Brandell was a puzzle at first but as soon as Deeks mentioned him as the guy he shot as an eleven year old I knew it was going to be his Father – I think I watch too much television!

It wasn’t much of an insight but it was a rare nugget that I’ll certainly take for the best character on the show; and that final moment where Hettie offered herself as Deeks’s next of kin seemed to signify he was now officially a fully initiated member of the NCIS family.

A Hail of Bullets:

- Sam’s ambition to visit every single Bond location was a surprise but a nice one that again humanised a character who is too often the most serious member of the team. LL Cool J is such a charismatic man, it does sometimes feel like his natural aura is wasted playing a character who is all business, so anything that gives him the opportunity to be a bit of a character is more than okay with me.

- In addition to the next of kin running gag that had quite an emotive pay-off there was also the humble brag running gag which had a couple of nice moments. One thing NCIS: LA does very well is to insert genuinely funny humour into a show that is at its core a drama.

- Sam’s anger at Deeks’s unprofessionalism in not switching up his routine and inadvertently making himself an easy target seemed to originate from Sam’s ultra-professional persona but I choose to see it more as him not wanting to lose Deeks, not that he would ever admit that!

NCIS: LA continues Sunday @ 10pm on Sky1


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