Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season seven episode “Command & Control.” 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.
The writers took a few tentative steps out of the box this week, which was great, but then they also ended up going back to the usual routine. But I still really enjoyed how different this episode was from usual, even if it still ended with a shootout like always. This episode was exciting, and I enjoyed if, but it still lacked a small bit of something that would have made it one of most interesting episodes.
I really enjoyed the first half of this episode. For a change of pace, the episode’s opening scene was the team as they wrapped up a case. The audience doesn’t know anything about that case, and they don’t need to know. The decision to drop the audience right at the end of a story is a good tactic to make it seem as though things happen outside of the episode we see each week. It makes it seem more realistic, like we’re just glimpsing pieces of their lives each week instead of watching a performance put together for our entertainment. It was nice to see NCISLA use this tactic.
So instead of the usual office banter leading to Eric saying “hey, we’ve got a case,” we get to see the team spend a little bit of their time off. Our three main pairs (Sam and Callen, Deeks and Kensi, Nell and Eric) go make plans, do things, and interact in ways we don’t usually get to see, especially not in the context of work. In addition, the moments leading up to the bus-stop bombing were exciting. Sam and Callen had to think fast to figure out the situation. It was a high-tension scene because we didn’t know anything about the phone call guy or whether he was bluffing or not.
Of course, once things get crazy like this, everyone jumps into action and the episode begins to resemble more of a routine case. They investigate, they search, they use the wonders of facial recognition technology. It leaves me wondering whether the episode could have been more interesting if it had been more Sam and Callen-centric with the two of them investigating on their own, trying to figure out the criminal. I think that would have given us more time to focus on character development and probably more important discussion between them. We still would have had the inevitable end-of-episode shootout, but perhaps it would have been more effective if Sam and Callen had reached the point themselves.
My other criticism is simply that parts of the episode border of ridiculous. But not in a fun sort of way. It’s more like cartoon villainy, which ruins the nice realistic vibe from the beginning of the episode. The confrontation at the playground seemed particularly egregious. You would think five grown men, all of which looked rather angry, standing in the middle of a full playground would draw some attention. It just seemed like something that would not happen in real life without some concerned parent calling the police. Along with that, the actor’s performance felt a bit too over-the-top, particularly in the early phone conversations where he sounded more like a psychopath than a guy out for revenge. But maybe that’s just my interpretation.
These things are really just minor complaints though because this was a very enjoyable, action-packed episode. It may have lacked the last bit of oomph (or whatever you’d like to call it) to elevate this story, but it was definitely a step in the right direction. We’re only four episodes into the season and things are looking good.
Notes from the Boat Shed
- An interesting thought occurred to me as I watched this episode, but I really should have realized it sooner. Granger and Hetty are sort of redundant characters. They both call the shots and exist as a sort of mentor for the team. (Like Nell always wants their approval like they’re her parents, which is also… odd) They’re different characters but they serve the same function basically. I hope they develop it to be more separate eventually.
- I enjoyed getting to watch Eric crawl around on the floor in that one scene. Somebody give Eric an undercover role where he gets to do weird things. 😀
- I thought there was sort of a missed opportunity with Sam in the episode. There could have been a good moment to delve into his character more since he was the one who actually shot the guy’s brother. There hasn’t been a lot of Sam-centered storylines yet this season, but maybe we’ll get some soon.
- So they added another storyline to be carried throughout the season: there’s a traitor amongst them. How long will it be before we pick up that plot thread again? I’m still waiting for the IA investigation on Deeks to play out.
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Also, if you’re interesting in reading more reviews on NCISLA, check out my friend’s blog, A Virtual Scrawl. She’s just started writing reviews for the series but she always gives great insight and perspective on the episodes!