NCIS Los Angeles Review: “Glasnost”

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

Some of the best episodes of the season are ones that have a personal connection to one or more of the main cast. We have seen that often with several previous episodes, all of which help to enrich the characters’ backstories along with their characters. “Glasnost” is the first episode this season that really makes the case personal by bringing back Callen’s father. As usual, it turns out to be a pretty good episode.

For Callen, his defining characteristic has always been the mystery surrounding his family, or rather, lack thereof. As the series has progressed, we’ve uncovered more and more about him. So now that his father has finally made an appearance, we are getting some of the answers that Callen has been wondering. It’s a good decision to have his father come to LA instead of sending Callen to Russia again. In this episode, he’s in familiar territory even as he’s dealing with all this stuff. I think that puts him on more even playing ground, especially because this is so important to him. That gives the episode more time for scenes like the ones in the boatshed, or if the funeral scene at the end. All good opportunities to reveal more information about their past, and also to take the time to process it all. Callen’s strongest moment of the episode is probably when he honestly says he doesn’t forgive his father, but he understands. And he immediately knows he should tell the truth to his newly discovered half-sister.

But the really nice thing about this episode is that, even though it’s an important one for Callen, the rest of the plot doesn’t neglect the other characters. We still see Kensi’s recovery storyline progressing as she continues to develop her antagonistic relationship with Sullivan. Deeks continues rotating through everyone as partners by teaming up with Eric this time. Although it was a rocky start (don’t bring a grenade to interrogation!) Eric ended up being rather helpful out in the field. As I say for all the characters, it’s good to see them in different locations and situations occasionally. Eric is long overdue for a field trip out of the office. Sam doesn’t get his own specific storyline but he plays the role of support for Callen which is just as important. The writers could have easily written a script focusing solely on Callen and his father, but instead they made sure it was an episode that still worked as a team effort.

The weak part of this episode is that the case seemed kind of contrived. In the end, it seems like Katerina’s reason for being poisoned was very petty. It was just to draw Garrison out. Her death shouldn’t have happened. To me, that feels like last season’s episode when Jack returned. He was only there to further Kensi’s story, just like this episode happened only to further Callen’s story. It was a good episode but it did feel a bit unnatural in this regard.

The streak of excellent episodes continues. The whole team is getting important and interesting storylines that progress with each new episode. Now if only we could wrap up the mole storyline too!

Notes from the Boat Shed

Here’s another episode title that teaches us some Russian. Glasnost was Gorbachev’s policy in the late 80’s before the Soviet Union fell

I’m still concerned about Miguel Ferrer. And, of course, Granger too. But mostly Ferrer 😦

It really was nice to see Callen and Sam visit Kensi, even for a brief scene

My favorite moment of the episode was Sam making a dramatic entrance  through a window. Classic!

This episode could have been terrible but I would loved it just for Arkady.

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

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