Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season eight episode “Sirens.” 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.
The NCISLA team of writers have crafted a very strong season of interesting storylines so far. Each episode builds on previous ones while still maintaining the usual “case of the week” structure. Because almost every episode so far has been really good, I think my reviews will get repetitive if I focus on the same points each week. So this time, I’m going to focus on the use of humor in “Sirens” and how it works alongside the serious moments.
There are different kinds of humor but dialogue is the most common on NCISLA. It would feel like something was missing if the team banter wasn’t included in an episode. Everyone always has something witty and snappy to say. This episode has Sam and Callen teasing each other as always. Sam in particular jokes with Callen about his drifter demeanor, pointing out things like how it’s out-of-character for Callen to keep Joelle’s old furniture. This kind of humor is always fun to watch because it demonstrates the depth of their friendship. It’s also a good way to inject some levity into the more serious situations. When things get tense, laughter is good to disperse that. NCISLA has been doing this banter so long, they’ve got the whole thing down to an art. It’s definitely the best kind of humor in the episode.
Visual and physical humor is something that NCISLA uses less often but still does effectively. A lot of visual jokes stem from Hetty looking harmless to most people even though she’s actually the most dangerous. Her appearances have been notably sparse recently, but she gets in on the action in this episode. And it’s so much fun to see her out in the field, even briefly. Linda Hunt’s small stature is often used as a juxtaposition to everyone else being much bigger, so it’s kind of funny to see Deeks cramped into her small convertible. His complaints about her terrifying driving skills just add to the fun. Once they get inside the house, Hetty again is a source of humor by calmly standing still while the suspect runs right towards her. The punchline of the joke is Sam appearing out of nowhere to knock the suspect out. We would expect Hetty to pull out some last minute trick, so Sam’s unexpected appearance makes it funny. (Just like how Granger unexpectedly smacked someone with a bike tire a few weeks ago.) All of this is good leading up to the more serious shootout just a few minutes later. It’s a break between the action for the audience to breathe.
I like to classify Eric Beale as a humor category all his own because he is a mix of spoken and visual humor, and usually his only purpose is as comic relief. He level of funny really depends on how much you personally enjoy his style of humor. Do you enjoy dumb jokes? Nerdy references? Awkwardness? Then Eric is probably funny to you. If not, then he’s a bit annoying. And sometimes he’s just too over-the-top to be realistic. In this episode, he gets some physical humor when he stands up and moves around to keep his feet from falling asleep. And then later, he has fun singing a song in Ops while he’s working. These are more like pointless filler between more important scenes but are probably entertaining to most viewers anyway. So maybe they aren’t completely pointless.
“Sirens” was a rather lighthearted episode despite the serious return to the mole storyline. But the writers struck up a good balance so that it wasn’t too silly or too serious. This mix makes for an entertaining episode. That’s most important. We want to watch the characters grow and the stories progress, but without humor, those things are not nearly as fun to watch. So far, this season hasn’t disappointed.
Notes from the Boat Shed
*Sometimes there are unintentionally funny moments. This episode’s was Hetty’s way too overdramatic line reading of “the wolves are at the door”
*It was nice that Nell got to do something different this time and we got a chance to compare her interrogation style with Sam’s. But it also made me wonder: wouldn’t it have been easier if Sam had continued interrogating himself?
*I never realized but Callen has a really big house for someone who supposedly doesn’t own a lot of furniture or have a lot of company
*Kensi is recovering really fast, even if she can’t shoot left-handed yet
*Do you think Granger is like Bogart in Casablanca?
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.