NCIS Los Angeles Review: “Head of the Snake”

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Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season seven episode “Head of the Snake.” 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.

There haven’t been any really bad episodes of NCISLA this season, and “Head of the Snake” wasn’t a bad episode at all. There was action, there was banter, there was the return of Nate. It was exciting. But somehow, I didn’t really like it and I can’t figure out why. There are a few possible reasons why this episode simply wasn’t engaging to me.

I think first, perhaps, is that I don’t feel very connected to Nate. He’s been gone from the show a long time, and even though he has a shared past with the team, it’s not recent and fresh in the minds of viewers. As such, Nate just falls into the spot of a usual guest star like we see every week. The audience doesn’t tune in for the guest stars though. We watch to see our main characters. There was a lot of focus on Nate, but there was also a bit of a balance by focusing on Callen too while he was the hostage. But the main question was “is Nate in too deep?” which is fine but not nearly as engaging as if the question had been about Callen or Sam or anyone else on the team. At least the episode tried to draw conclusions and speculate about how a team member would be in the same situation. That sort of connection does improve the episode. I don’t dislike Nate, but I just don’t care about him like I care about the main characters.

The other thing is that this episode plot feels like filler. A lot of episodes this season have been connected together by a longer storyline. We had Deeks’ internal affairs investigation, Callen’s quest to rescue Arkady in Russia, the mysterious mole threat (will we ever get back to that?) and so on and so forth. By this point in the season as we’re nearing the end, every new episode can build from previous ones. There are still storylines to resolve and any filler now feels like a distraction that should have occurred earlier in the season. Nate’s deep cover mission gone wrong feels very random, and perhaps, as something that could have been aired much earlier (minus the mention of Callen’s real name). This season has been so strong because of the interconnectivity of the episodes, so “Head of the Snake” feels somewhat out of place.

Lastly, perhaps it was just a mostly unengaging plot. Much of it was predictable. Nate’s going “method,” Callen’s trying to get him to see reason even while hostage. And in the end, Nate does the right thing and helps the team. While it might have been upsetting for viewers, it could have been more interesting if Nate really had completely turned against them. But since Peter Cambor was just appearing for this one episode, the choice the writers made was probably the best one.

But this is all just my opinion. I’m sure there were lots of people who enjoyed the episodes. Long time fans were probably happy to see Nate again. It’s natural to have a few episodes that you don’t enjoy as much as others. That doesn’t make it a bad episode though. This was just my episode.

Notes from the Boat Shed

  • Do you ever dislike something but you can’t figure out why?
  • How did you feel about Nate’s return? (I liked his evil beard :D)
  • I think Hetty is starting to slip in her old age maybe.
  • Can someone refresh my memory on Omni? That literally rang no bells in my head.
  • So Deeks was sleep-eating his own leftovers? …okay

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


2 thoughts on “NCIS Los Angeles Review: “Head of the Snake”

  1. Very intriguing review! The writing had me saying “Huh?” several times, especially when trying to figure out if/when there was a previous “case” with JDX and who the heck was/is Omni. The “Densi” scenes were odd/weird so I just ignored them. Callen knew Nate didn’t have clearance for certain information but didn’t know how he got the information – didn’t make sense (to me) since Callen knew Hetty had sent Nate on a mission so it makes sense that she would have given him the information as well as the name Grisha. At least that’s how I interpreted it all. It was good to see Nate but he really needs to stay in his office (or play another role like he did in Lock Up–LOVED him in that episode)!
    I agree the episode was predictable and a filler. Still give it an 8/10 for the sole reason that Callen was freaking awesome through out it as he went the kidnapping/torture alone AND most importantly didn’t kick Nate’s ass for being an idiot and not apologizing for the torture/kidnapping. Callen was way too nice about the whole thing. Sam didn’t say ONE WORD to him after he jumped from the moving truck and met up with him. I was like WTF?!?!? Not even the cliche “You good?” was spoken.

    Side note, were those bullet holes in the metal part of whatever that big machine thing is called that Callen hid behind during the take down? There were 3 clear holes in it when he stood up after the explosion. The vileness had armor piercing bullets (I’m assuming she took a few from the stash) so why would Callen hide behind it and better yet, why wasn’t he hit, even if it was in his vest. Am I way off here or does this actually make sense?

  2. Thank you for your review. It was very interesting. I liked the episode, but it did feel like a filler. I was very unsure about Nate. I didn’t like this Nate. He was in trouble and in over his head. Hetty was wrong when she said that he was ready for this kind of thing. He did the right thing in the end, but didn’t even apologize to Callen. I definitely preferred the old Nate who was there to help the team when they needed him. Kensi and Deeks were funny, but forgettable. We were all worried about Callen,but he came through admirably. I would also like to know how Nate got the information about Callen. It was also suggested that Nate had really gone bad and was indeed the mole, but that was ruled out. I enjoyed seeing Peter Cambor again, but not like this.

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