NCIS Los Angeles Review: “Blame it on Rio”

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Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season seven episode “Blame it on Rio.” 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.

It’s still early in the season so a lot of these episodes are going to be filler. That’s understandable for a show that’s always been more procedural than serialized. And as far as filler goes, this wasn’t bad. Again, we don’t have a murder to investigate and the story is much improved by it. There were a lot of things I disliked about “Blame it on Rio” but those are all personal preferences of mine. This certainly isn’t a terrible episode of NCISLA. It’s just filler.

So let’s talk about the big guest star of the episode: Michael Weatherly, better known as NCIS’s Special Agent DiNozzo. Personally, I don’t really care about Tony DiNozzo, nor did I really care about him when I actually watched NCIS. But personal feelings aside, Weatherly gives a great performance here as Tony. The character always seems able to get comfortable wherever he is, even if that’s on the other side of the country tracking down an escaped criminal. But like I said, this is filler. So we get no sort of character development or purpose to appear other than maybe Weatherly had some free time to film an episode this season. I feel like a big guest star like this should have a purpose for their appearance. If you take DiNozzo out of this episode, nothing changes.

What I thought was well-done about this episode was that the b-plot shared a theme with the a-plot. The topic of costumes/disguises was woven together very well between what the escaped criminal was doing and what the team was talking about/doing. Not only were they chasing a criminal who changed through identities like a pair of underwear, but the team also wore a lot of different costumes and discussed that aspect a lot. Deeks put on his Bruce Lee tracksuit (hilariously mistaken as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill in the process), Nell wore a Renaissance outfit briefly, and she and Eric discussed dressing up in animal costumes. Oh and Eric wore some padded thing while Kensi kicked him, so I think that counts too. Most of the time, the team’s side-stories don’t have anything in common with the case and that occasionally makes the fun witty banter we love feel sort of extraneous. But because it matches up with the criminal (who even goes so far as to schedule plastic surgery to look like Knight Rider), it doesn’t feel out of place in this episode.

But speaking of the criminal, the eponymous Rio, I thought he was a bit too ridiculous. Just like last week’s villain was a bit over-the-top, Rio also felt like a caricature of a criminal. The actor, Bobby Lee, was known for his comedic acting skills on MADtv so it makes sense for him to play this role. But it just didn’t feel right for NCISLA. Sure, we’ve had lots of ridiculous things happen in the past but it usually works better when it’s the main characters being silly instead of random guest stars.

All in all, this was a fun episode but it lacked the substance from better episodes. No progression of any of the characters’ story arcs. No tie-ins to any ongoing plots (Deeks IA investigation, Callen’s search for his father, the mysterious mole, etc). It was just filler.

Notes from the Boat Shed

  • I’m assuming that Tony’s appearance didn’t tie in with any ongoing story on NCIS. I haven’t watched the show in maybe three seasons or so. On a side note, I thought it was weird for Hetty to bring up the death of Jenny Shepard. It really had nothing to do with this story at all and it seemed shoehorned in just to add tension to a rather light-hearted storyline.
  • “So these are the West Coast Avengers.” That was my favorite line from Tony. Very appropriate and funny.
  • “Does everyone in America own a gun?” A surprisingly political comment that took me by surprise.
  • I’m gonna be completely honest: I am not a fan of furries and felt very uncomfortable with Eric and Nell’s conversation. I seriously wish they were able to contribute to the plot in other ways.
  • I appreciated Hetty passing on Gibbs’ message. Tony just can’t appear without getting his head slapped.
  • The next episode airs in two weeks and it looks like it’s going to be a good Sam-centric one. I’m looking forward to it.

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


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