Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season six episode “Blaze of Glory.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.
Everyone knows the phrase “be careful what you wish for,” right? Well I wished for an NCISLA episode that wasn’t about Middle Eastern Islamic terrorists. And I got it but, wow, it was a hot mess of an episode. The writers tried, they really did, to make an interesting case to solve. But there’s a difference between a fascinating mystery and a convoluted mess, and we crossed that line somewhere here with puppet strings. “Blaze of Glory” lacked a central character focus making it yet another episode in a string of weak ones unfortunately. Let’s take a moment to discuss the importance of having a focus within an episode.
The episode starts out like any other: we see the crime occur and then we cut to the team in the office going through their usual routine until they get a case. Usually this office scene is fun because the banter is entertaining, but more importantly, because it generally sets up some sort of character storyline for the episode. Sometimes it’s Deeks and Kensi and their relationship, other times it’s Sam and his family, and then it could be Callen and… whatever he does. But really, in this episode, we just got some discussion of St. Patrick’s day sales and horror movies. But other than creepy puppets popping up later in the episode, none of this carries over to anything else that happens.
Just like my review for “Savoir Faire” this one felt disjointed too. The only thing resembling a character story this week is Eric and Nell and Nell’s jealousy over Blaze the college student hacker intern person. But this plot isn’t introduced until later in the episode so it’s never fully developed. It never moves beyond Eric acting like an infatuated teen and Nell silently disapproving.
It’s a shame since we finally got some focus on their characters but it doesn’t amount to much substance. Nell’s reaction to Blaze’s introduction was very interesting. Renee Felice Smith did some great silent acting when Hetty mentioned that Blaze had higher security clearance than Nell. She clearly felt threatened by Blaze and also a bit jealous, which is interesting considering how talented Nell is. You could almost guess that Nell doesn’t like Blaze because they are so similar. But these plot points never get to be developed since all the screentime gets devoted to the ridiculous case. It’s a wasted opportunity. If we’d started the episode with this it probably would have worked better. That last scene with Eric and Nell didn’t feel earned. There were apologies but who actually did anything wrong? Playing with the drone was cute, but how did that fit with the rest of the story? If we’d had more time with their characters, the ending wouldn’t have felt so tacked on.
The reason why we couldn’t spend more time with Nell and Eric is because most of the episode was focused on unraveling the really ridiculous case. I applaud their effort in trying to make a more interesting case instead of the normal dead body, but in terms of execution, it falls flat. For goodness sakes, this one wasn’t believable at all. So we’ve got a hacked Navy missile blowing up a boat. A college kid was living on the boat and he suspects his roommate, Josh, a crazy hacker. Because that’s obviously what people do when they’re angry with each other: they hack government weapons as vengeance. But it turns out that our boat-dwelling friend Wyatt was actually trying to set up and frame his ex-roomie because of a dispute concerning his girlfriend Malee. Oh, and Malee turns out to be a terrorist from Indonesia, just trying to steal some of the Navy-hacking software. What? This is nonsense. Even if we accept the fact that two hackers angry at each other would think it’s a good idea to use hacking as revenge, would they really be dumb enough to do something like this?! I certainly hope not. I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of things, but this one was a bit too much.
This is just another example of too many ideas taking over and too many moments meant to shock the audience instead of making sense. This just seemed like the leftovers the writers had lying around, so they threw them all together into a casserole and hoped it turned out well. NCISLA has proven in the past that they can be a gourmet dish with the right time and effort. I guess we just have to wait a little longer for it to brew like green St. Patrick’s day beer.
Notes from the Boat Shed
- I first misread the title of the episode as Blades of Glory and let me tell you how disappointed I was that this wasn’t an episode about figure skating.
- Other things that hurt this episode: a lack of Hetty and Granger, casting actors who weren’t very good, and really bad dialogue. The dialogue was so bad in places, I don’t even want to talk about it. Pretty weird for NCISLA.
- The best exchange of the whole episode was “I minored in botany” and “You majored in bother-me.” Just another great example of how well Deeks and Kensi work together.
- Speaking of Deeks, how long do you think it’ll be before we get back to the mysterious LAPD investigation?
- To be honest, I really disliked everything about Blaze. She screamed Mary Sue to the very core. If anyone disagrees with that assessment, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to discuss.
- I’ve always thought puppets were creepy. I’m sorry but that puppet show at the end of the episode was trauma-inducing. That’s just how I feel.
- /still laughing hysterically at the bit about Hetty being playmates with Liza Minnelli/
- The next episode is airing in two weeks, so I’ll be back with a review then. The preview looks like it’ll be pretty focused on Callen and maybe his past so I have high hopes! It’s looks good.
So what did you think of “Blaze of Glory?” As always, feel free to leave a comment if you want to discuss the episode. See you next review~!