Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season six episode “Rage.” 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.
“Rage” was definitely an improvement over the last couple of episodes. While the past few have seemed a bit rushed and hastily put together, this one had a solid story along with also incorporating some great character moments. There was a lot that could resonate with the audience on an emotional level and that’s what made the whole episode work.
I appreciate when any one of the team does deep undercover work. We don’t often get to see them carry out these longer missions, so that’s a nice change. And what’s even better about this is that Callen’s mission was set up earlier this season when he and Sam were pulled from it, so it’s not just something straight out of nowhere. NCISLA would probably benefit from using this tactic more often because it creates a better sense of universe for the series. Having ongoing missions outside of episodes makes everything seem more real. The characters’ lives exist outside of the 45 minutes we see every week. Any show that can pull that off is a good one.
Another great thing was that the case and premise this week was interesting. It’s not the usual murder investigation. Instead we get Callen infiltrating a White Supremacy gang (the Aryan Brotherhood), breaking out of prison, and robbing a bank: things we don’t usually get to see from the “good” guy’s perspective. We still have the usual elements like interrogating the accomplice and having a dramatic shootout at the end, but the context is different. The audience should feel more invested in the story because Callen is so deeply involved.
Choosing to focus on Callen’s character is a good decision. He’s the main focus in the episode instead of a dead body we barely know. This gives the writers opportunity to develop his character. Chris O’Donnell did some excellent acting in the scene in the prison yard where the young guy Charlie talks about not being raised by his moms. Callen doesn’t say anything about family until later in the episode but the reaction on his face says enough without him actually having to say anything. As the episode progresses, it’s easy to see that Callen wants to save Charlie from this sort of life because he can see his younger self in Charlie (you know, minus the racist stuff.)
Setting up the episode with a flashback at the beginning and end also works very well. The first one shows angry Callen and how he wasn’t in a good situation. With this brief glimpse of his past at the beginning, we have that scene in our minds as we watch the present scenes unfold. We see where Callen could easily have ended up. That’s why the scene where Charlie gets shot is emotionally resonate. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking when Callen quietly walks away after Charlie bleeds out. The ending flashback neatly fills in the rest of the story and lucky he was that Hetty stepped into his life. “The Hand of God,” he calls her. We all know Callen and Hetty have a strong bond, but this flashback shows just how important it really is.
Along with all this, another good point of this episode was not including Muslim terrorists again. I know in the last episode they fell flat trying something different, but this week worked better. With current racial tensions all over the news, the Aryan Brotherhood is relevant and a good way to continue discussion on this topic. It was certainly more interesting than random Indonesian terrorists from “Blaze of Glory” who only appeared for like five seconds at the end. White Surpremacy groups are something that doesn’t receive a lot of attention on TV, so I thought it was good to show how terrible they can be too. Wasn’t it horrible to hear the things they had to say to Sam? It serves as a depressing reminder that there are actually people in the world who think things like that.
“Rage” just had so many parts that worked well: Kensi telling the poor girlfriend Ginny to value herself instead of staying stuck with the man who mistreats her, Deeks’ look of genuine concern for Kensi’s safety as she leaves to go undercover, and Sam just being Sam. It was excellent how he defended himself against the racial remarks without having to resort to the same thing and sink to their level. I like when NCISLA does fun and lighthearted episodes, but I also enjoy when they tackle heavy topics like this head-on. I think this might be one of the best episodes this season.
Notes from the Boat Shed
- The only thing that ruined this episode for me was the terrible young!Hetty makeup on Linda Hunt. I mean it was seriously awful. Y’all, Linda Hunt has won an Oscar for portraying a man. Not a transgendered person. Not a woman pretending to be a man. An actual man. You would think someone could have done her makeup here a little better. Anyway, I thought it was hilariously creepy.
- Were Eric and Nell in this episode?
- The escape tunnel in the bank made me laugh. It was just the right amount of ridiculous to break the seriousness of this episode. A tunnel to escape the bank robbery is such an NCISLA thing to do.
- Hey, remember when Deeks was being investigated by the LAPD and that was kind of important? Yeah, when will we see that plot point again?
- Granger, as always, gets some of the best lines of the episode with his “you gotta flaunt his legs” line. I laughed hysterically. My ideal NCISLA spinoff would just be Hetty and Granger sitting together drinking tea for an hour and discussing life.
- Arkady is back next week!! But he looks to be in danger! OH NO! (I really like Arkady) We’ll see what the writers have in store for him.
- I’m slightly disappointed that the flashback to Callen’s past did not include his brief stint as a superhero sidekick. 😉
So what did you think? Did you like it? Or did this episode fill you up with “Rage?” As always, feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments.