Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season seven episode “The Seventh Child.” 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.
Intense. That’s the best word to describe this episode. The subject matter—young children brainwashed into being suicide bombers—was enough to make anyone’s stomach turn, parents or not. It’s reprehensible and vile but it made for a captivating hour of television. “The Seventh Child” worked as a great episode because of its high stakes but emotional core.
The opening of the episode is almost difficult to watch, but it immediately sets the tone for what is to come. There’s no question about what is happening and jumping right into the action gives the episode a frenzied feel that continues until the end. Things are tense the whole time (even if you can guess that no one on the team is going to blow up) and the audience is left hanging on the edge of their seats. What really makes this whole thing work though is that it’s slowly intense. There’s only one house raid/shootout in the episode. The rest is just talk. But the ticking bombs add to that intense feeling, making it feel like a lot of action is happening even when it isn’t.
But what truly resonates in this episode is simply the bond between Callen and the child, Nadir. It is fascinating to watch Callen, who arguably has the worst people skills, try to connect with the boy and talk him down. He tries all sorts of tactics. At first he tries to explain his past so that they can relate, but Nadir doesn’t want to listen. Later, he tries to explain the surrogate situation, but he stumbles in putting it to terms Nadir can understand. But finally once Nadir realizes that there are people who care about him (his family and Callen), he begins to trust Callen. The character work here is subtle and unhurried, but in the end it pays off. By the time the bomb is removed, Nadir hugs Callen, and when he says goodbye at the end of the episode, he tells Callen he feels safe and will call Callen by his first name: Grisha. It’s a sweet, poignant moment made better because of everything that happened before it. The writing and acting made this new bond believable in such a short amount of time.
The b-story of this episode centered on Kensi and Deeks discussing babies. It’s probably the weakest aspect of the episode because it feels shoehorned in just to connect with the children part of the a-story. The future possibility of children seems like a discussion that could, of course, happen onscreen, but probably would not happen during work, especially during something that needed so much focus. But on the flip side, it’s nice to see how much the couple’s communication skills have improved while they’ve been dating. And also despite feeling forced earlier in the episode, the proposal scene seemed like a nice payoff (and nice misdirect) after what they’d just experienced and witnessed.
Like I said, this episode was intense. By the time Sam discovers the other kids, the audience should feel as devastated as he does. The emotional moments and the great performances as well as the pacing of the episode make it one of the best this season.
Notes from the Boat Shed
- I’d just like to point out that Callen thought he’d be the better choice to talk to Nadir. But it took Callen half the episode to talk him down. It took Sam a total of about five minutes to do the same thing with more kids. Just saying 😛
- Most of the time I’ll deny I’m a “Densi” shipper. I don’t like too much focus on the romance during the episodes (that’s what fanfic is for) but I can’t deny the proposal scene gave me butterflies. And I don’t even like romance stuff.
- For once I will not complain about lack of screentime for other characters. It would have detracted from the best moments.
- I’m glad we got a Sam diffusing bombs episode but also I regret asking for one 😮
- Identical triplets are extremely rare. Most triplets are fraternal. Just saying.
- “No sex talk at work?” You guys forget about the unnecessary role-playing discussion from last week?
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.