Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season seven episode “Defectors.” 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.
This episode tries its hardest to lull the audience into a false sense of security. It tries not to hint too much at the surprise of Deeks’ arrest at the end. As such, the whole episode seems pretty standard. We have the case, we have the banter, we have the obligatory shootout. Other than a few long shots of Deeks’ face, the arrest at the end is a surprise (unless of course you saw the episode preview). It’s a good shock, especially because there hasn’t been mention of the IA investigation for a while. But it’s a shock that could easily have been the opening of the next episode. While the cliffhanger may be a bit of a cheap ploy to get people to tune in again, “Defectors” is a good culmination of previous topics from this season.
In “Unspoken” earlier this season, there was discussion on the topic of boundaries. This idea is brought up again more literally in this episode’s scene where Callen complains about Kensi’s cluttered desk. She keeps so many things on her desk that it spills over across the line to Callen’s side. Not only is this a good visual example of an aspect of Kensi’s personality, but it could also potentially serve as some foreshadowing. Kensi may want to keep work and personal life separate, but with Deeks’ arrest, will she be able to keep from crossing over the line? I take back what I said about the writers not being able to serialize the storyline. It is frustrating when they stop mentioning ongoing plots like the IA investigation, but they do an excellent job of keeping the characters consistent as they develop naturally. This boundary thing might turn out to be something very interesting as the season continues.
Another thing that popped up again from earlier this season is modeling, strangely enough. This might just be coincidental that there was a model at the center of the story in “Driving Miss Diaz” and also a modeling company playing a part in this episode too. But after watching last week’s “The Long Goodbye,” I wonder if the objectification of women is supposed to be a theme this season. There was also the very uncomfortable attempted assault on Kensi in “An Unlocked Mind.” I’m not entirely sure it’s intentional (although I suspect it is), but these moments have culminated enough to make me thing more about the subject. The portrayal of it here isn’t as potent as it was in “The Long Goodbye” but it was still meaningful. The young girl who ran away from home to join the terrorists was recruited by the modeling agency. There are interesting ways to interpret that and I appreciate the writers giving us, the audience, that opportunity.
At first glance, this feels like a typical NCISLA episode. It feels a bit like the filler episodes from earlier this season, and it sort of feels like Deeks’ arrest was tacked on as an afterthought. But if you look at “Defectors” in the context of the rest of the season, you see that this is a good episode to bring up previous plot points.
Notes from the Boat Shed
- Knowing that the episodes were shown out of order changes the impact of this episode a bit unfortunately. “The Long Goodbye” doesn’t make any mention of the IA investigation or the arrest, so we know that it’ll be resolved by the end of the next episode (which by the way airs in two weeks. There’s no new one next week)
- I’m surprised we got so far into the season before radical Muslims were the terrorists again. I don’t mind them being the villains every now and then, because ISIS is relevant and a terrible threat to explore, but I still wish NCISLA would show more normal Muslims as well. Otherwise it sort of sends the message that all Muslims are crazy terrorists when that isn’t true. The family of the missing girl was at least an attempt at showing a normal family, so there’s that.
- The character work on Callen, Sam, Kensi, and Deeks have been really excellent so far this season, but it comes at the cost of not focusing on Eric, Nell, Granger, or Hetty much at all. Hopefully they have bigger roles in upcoming episodes.
- “They don’t make Italian suits in this man’s size,” Deeks says and gestures to Sam. This was my favorite line. LL Cool J is really a muscle-y guy.
- Is your desk more like Kensi’s or Callen’s? (Mine is like Callen’s I suppose?)
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.