NCIS Los Angeles Review: “Citadel”

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Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season seven episode “Citadel.” 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.

I was not disappointed with the second episode of this season. While “Citadel” could have been improved by continuing the character drama from last week’s “Active Measures,” it was still an interesting hour of television. It had a good balance of action and quiet moments. And focusing on Talia, a familiar semi-recurring character, made the story stronger.

But first, let’s talk about the few things that would have made this episode better. I’m a bit surprised that the character dynamics reverted back usual in this episode when it seems like there should have been some residual effects from the events of the season premiere. Remember that Callen had almost gone rogue and the team had to bring him in? I suppose this could be a test to all of their professionalism, but in their personal interactions, you’d think there would at least be some tension. Shouldn’t Callen be a bit annoyed that they were trying to stop him? Shouldn’t the rest of the team be a little offended that he didn’t turn to them for help? Even the tension between Callen and Hetty had mostly evaporated, such as in that scene when she gives him a razor to cut his hair. It was supposed to be funny (and I’ll admit I laughed) but it sort of ignored the tension from the end of the previous episode. I don’t think this entire episode should have been devoted to the fallout or anything like that, but at least a few mentions would have been good for continuity. I still suspect that the events of “Active Measures” will become important for character development again in future episodes, but I had thought it would be sooner rather than later.

The other thing that bothered me, and this is a tiny one, but the flashdrive hidden in the shoe thing felt a bit forced. That scene began with the three of them talking with the mourning widow. She begins talking by saying something entirely too well-thought out by comparing the pain of her loss with an analogy about her painful shoes. It’s only been a few hours and she’s pretty much writing something on par with poetry in response. To me, the reaction didn’t seem real. It was basically just an excuse for her to mention the pain in her left foot so they could discover the missing flashdrive. This isn’t the kind of lazy writing we should see in season seven of this show.

But despite these things, a lot of moments made this episode work well. It was a good decision to bring Talia back as a major player for this storyline. The previous episode was great because it focused on Callen as the important part of the plot, and since Talia is familiar to the audience, this episode functions just the same. Obviously not every episode can be focused on a familiar face, but when it does, it creates an easier way for the audience to sympathize and empathize than it would for a random new character. Not every episode will be like this, of course, but when they are, it works.

There was a lot of focus on character moments several times throughout the episode. The usual office banter, the conversation between Sam and Kensi about “more being, less doing,” and Deeks and Kensi’s final scene at his place, for example. As I’ve said several times, this show shines when it focuses on the characters instead of just the plot. “Citadel” had just the right amount of balance where it didn’t slow down the plot at all. So far, we’re off to a good start this season.

Notes from the Boat Shed

  • Hi Deeks’ Mom! I hope she’ll appear in more episodes because her appearance was entirely too brief.
  • I was worried when the bad guys tried to off Talia twice that she might have been a mole too, so I’m glad it didn’t turn out that way. It would have been really cliche if she had been. Was I the only one who thought that might happen?
  • I don’t particularly find Eric and Nell all that fascinating but I do wish they’d get to contribute to the plot in other ways than just technobabble. For the actors’ sakes, if nothing else.
  • I wished that Sam had pointed out that Callen’s guess-the-number game wasn’t a test. Can you really call it a test when it doesn’t test anything but pure luck?
  • Why couldn’t Deeks just say “my mom’s in town a few days?” Considering how Kensi reacted in the ending scene, it’s not like she would have insisted that Deeks introduce her.
  • “Anything worth doing is worth doing right” is actually my life motto (although sometimes I tweak it to end with “worth doing well”) That was definitely my favorite line of the episode.
  • Callen briefly tried on a silly-looking hotdog-decorated hat. Are silly hats going to be a running joke this season? Because I’m completely okay with that.
  • “It’s the inventor’s initials: Henry…” “…etta, Henrietta Lange. Nice to meet you.” Honestly you guys, only Linda Hunt could play this role this well. She’s the best.

So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


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