NCIS Los Angeles Review: “Crazy Train”

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Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season eight episode “Crazy Train.” 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.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, NCISLA has once again delivered another solid episode. Again, we get strong character storylines amidst a relatively interesting case. And finally we get to see some undercover work again. It all ties together in a way that’s not forced, making “Crazy Train” a pretty good episode.

It was actually sort of weirdly delightful how the episode’s case was so strange. Any case that opens with a dead body in the stomach of a shark is going to be interesting. Right away the audience should be intrigued by the mystery of how he ended up there. As the investigation continues, it provides Callen an opportunity to go undercover at a mental health facility. Callen is given the chance to be someone else for a while, which is always the appeal of watching an undercover storyline. (Although I liked how his undercover persona seems to have as many problems with authority as he does!) I especially appreciated that the patients were portrayed realistically instead of the typical craziness we usually see on TV. In fact, it was funny to see the patient pretend to be more over-the-top crazy as a distraction at one point. That was a nice moment of subverting expectations.

What I thought was the most important thing about the case was that the government workers were the bad guys as well. It seems like corruption in the government has been a recurring theme this season, with past cases also having the perpetrators of the crime be from within our own government. I wonder if this is a deliberate choice by the writers to subtly keep us aware of the ongoing mole investigation even when they don’t mention it. I’m curious to see what future episodes will have to say on this topic or whether it will just be dropped.

The Deeks and Kensi storyline has been excellent all this season, and this episode shows us another rocky spot in their relationship. It’s been fascinating to see all during the recovery arc that Kensi and Deeks both have drastically different ways of thinking. Kensi’s a mix of realism and pessimism, and she thinks of herself as a burden now. Deeks is way more optimistic, even proposing to Kensi for a third time despite the fact that she was clearly upset. Even though they’ve been away from the action, their story is still a source of interesting conflict. I was worried at the beginning of the season that the injury would have Kensi sidelined from a lot and then she’d come back like nothing had happened. But instead, we’re getting a really great recovery story that develops her character more.

As usual, the different elements of the story come together with very good balance. It’s enjoyable to watch from start to finish, even if the end of “Crazy Train” was quite a downer. It just makes me want to watch the next episode to see how things will continue to work towards a resolution of all the ongoing stories.

Notes from the Boat Shed

  • So we found out in this episode that Granger is seriously ill although the doctors don’t know what yet. If we lose his character, that will be devastating to the team and to the audience. But it also makes me worry: is Miguel Ferrer okay? He doesn’t seem as well as usual but maybe that’s just a good job by the makeup department?
  • Finding a dead body in a shark seems like something that would happen on Elementary.
  • I’d love to hear Sam and Callen play a few more rounds of “would you rather?”
  • How many times do you think Deeks has to propose for it to stick?
  • Due to many unfortunate circumstances, I was late putting this review up. Sorry for the delay!

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


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