Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season eight episode “Kulinda.” 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 episode’s title “Kulinda” means “protect” in Swahili. A fitting name for an episode about a security company at the center of the case. But this episode’s theme is less about protection and more about hope. Considering that this is the first episode of 2017, I think it’s a fitting idea to explore.
The cases on NCISLA are not always very good. Most of the time they can easily fade into the background as the character moments take place. This case of the slain security guard isn’t all that different than usual, but the end is particularly striking. There had been build up all episode about how much good the security company does for the community, so it’s scary when Irving, the owner of the company, almost commits a murder publicly. Sam has to talk him down and remind him that he’s an example to the community. A beacon of hope, if you will. It’s a nice speech from Sam, if a bit over the top, and it’s a memorable moment to see how one person’s actions can affect the world around him. I thought it was a good message to convey: that positive actions should be the goal instead of negative ones. By the end of the episode, we see most of the team hanging out to eat dinner in the park of the thriving community. A reminder that things are okay.
The end scene is the most effective because of what we’ve seen in the episode leading up to that last scene. Early on, there’s a scene with Deeks and Sam where Sam gives advice on how to get through the tough situation with Kensi. It’s clear that Deeks doesn’t really want to admit that things aren’t sunshine and roses, but Sam sees through that and gives his little motivational speech. It’s a bit of hope to remind Deeks to be patient, and it seems to be effective.
There’s also a more lighthearted side story of Callen and Anna’s awkwardly blossoming romance. It’s rather cute to see Anna fumble around a bit as she tries to balance being interested while still going “slow.” It doesn’t exactly tie in with the hope theme but it is portrayed as something positive throughout the episode.
Even the short scene where Deeks tells Nell about the Japanese trees in the park puts a positive hopeful spin on a dark part of America’s history. He tells her about how his friend’s grandfather planted trees in the park. It was the only part of the city the Japanese were allowed to live in at the time, but they made the most of it by improving their community. It’s only an offhand mention but it ties in well to the theme of the episode.
Of course, having hope doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Granger is still absent, the team not yet aware of his medical problems, and Kensi is still in recovery. It seems that her body is much better but her mind isn’t quite there yet. She’s still keeping everyone at a distance, but Nate returns to put his therapist skills to work. Perhaps once she finally learns to let her guard down and rely on others, Kensi will finally be able to return to work.
Overall, “Kulinda” was one of the more lighthearted episodes for this season. But that’s not a bad thing since things will probably get darker as we finally resolve the mole storyline soon. This episode was, like Sam’s speeches, a reminder that things will be okay. Eventually.
Notes from the Boat Shed
*Eric was so much better in this episode without his annoying quirks. He didn’t get to do anything, but I’m okay with that now
*I don’t mind the Callen and Anna romance as long as it doesn’t reduce Anna’s character to just a love interest. But every time she pops up, I wonder: is she ever going to start her ATF job?
*It’s nice to see an almost Sam-centric episode, but it still didn’t give him the character development everyone else is getting. Maybe next time.
*Is Legoland any fun, guys?
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.