Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season eight episode “Ghost Gun.” 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.
After a dip in quality with last week’s episode, NCISLA is back in top shape in this week’s “Ghost Gun.” We hit all the important things a good episode should have: an interesting plot, character development, humor, and emotional content. There are three plots running through the episode and all are juggled well. As always, the procedural aspect is still a part of the show, but more focus was given to several long-running storylines which made the episode much more dynamic and interesting for the audience.
Things are different than usual right from the beginning. The typical office banter is just Sam and Callen, and it takes place in the parking lot. Eric doesn’t interrupt to say they have a case like he usually gets to do, instead it’s Nell who does the honors (with a lot less nonsense). And even their case investigation methods are different. With Sam on another mission and Deeks spending his time with Kensi, Callen partners up with Anna (returning to do part-time work) and Nell works with Granger.
It’s nice to see different partners once in a while because it gives the audience a chance to see the characters react in unexpected ways. Callen doesn’t spend his time bantering with Anna like he does Sam, but he does give her advice about where to live. Their shared past makes some of their interactions interestingly awkward, so now I’m curious about what kind of contact they’ve had since the last time we saw Anna. It’s always fun to see Sam and Callen fight like an old married couple, but Anna’s guest appearance shows us more about Callen’s character than usual.
Similarly, it’s nice to see Granger and Nell out of the office together. It’s funny to watch Granger thwart the interview guy’s attempts at flirting with Nell. To me, it almost seems fatherly, which is something to consider after what we learned about his character last season. Nell being partnered with Grainger instead of Deeks is also fascinating to focus on. She seems way more relaxed with Granger than she was the last two episodes where she was trying to prove herself. She’s not in Kensi’s shadow when she’s working with Granger. As Nell gets to do more fieldwork, it will be interesting to see how she reacts in different situations.
The multiple storylines in this episode were balanced quite well. The b-plot finally brought attention back to the mole storyline. It’s great to see someone tackle the problem onscreen. Sam is sent by Hetty to interrogate their other mole from a few seasons ago. This plot is just a series of interrogations, but Sam’s character is so compelling during them. LL Cool J does some fantastic acting in making Sam downright menacing as he questions his traitorous former coworker. It’s not your standard run-of-the-mill boat shed interrogation. It’s personal. After being stuck in this storyline for so long, it’s nice to see it finally move forward a bit. I thought I would be bored with the mole plot, but after watching Sam’s interrogation, I am interesting in seeing more.
The c-plot returns back to Deeks and Kensi, and it provided the episode with the emotional resonance that the standard case investigations always lack. For most of the episode we see Deeks struggling. He’s hoping for the best, but he’s also a realist, as he reminds Hetty before she sends him back to the hospital. Eric Christian Olsen plays Deeks like a man who knows his life has changed dramatically and now he’s just waiting to discover the full extent of the fallout. He’s not making jokes left and right, not even as a way to cope anymore. This whole storyline is heartbreaking, but it’s his best character work since his torture storyline a few seasons back. And after being unconscious for the past couple of episodes, Kensi finally wakes up at the end. The scene is probably Daniela Ruah’s best work and it’s completely wordless. She starts to cry when she can’t move her left hand, and the audience knows her character well enough to understand how devastating this is. Her recovery is going to be slow, but it will be very compelling to watch.
Overall, the episode was very well-crafted to juggle all the plots. Even if the case was not all that interesting, there were plenty of other things to counterbalance that and raise it up. I’m excited to see what will happen to our characters next week.
Notes from the Boat Shed
- I don’t usually comment of camera angles and such, but the camerawork during Sam’s interrogation was excellent. The tight close-ups of Sam’s face made him much more menacing.
- Usually I’d complain about Eric not having anything to do (because he never gets anything to do), but this episode would have been overstuffed with another subplot.
- Deeks’ mom is crazy. Annoyingly crazy. Was she always like this??
- Callen was totally checking out Anna’s butt when she handcuffed that lady. Dude, you’re on the job!
- Once again, Granger was the comic relief for the episode. “Her first name is Special” and clotheslining a guy with a bicycle tire were the episode highlights for me.
- Just like Sam, I don’t like when people park in “my” parking spot. What about you?
So what do you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.