NCIS Los Angeles review: “Old Tricks”

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

I suppose anything after the last three action packed episodes was going to be a bit of a letdown. There needs to be some quiet after the adrenaline-fueled storyline the characters just went through. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for a very compelling story. “Old Tricks” plays more like filler, letting our characters go back to normal with barely any consequences.

I know status quo is important for procedural shows like this, but it still would have been nice to see the team affected a bit more by the fallout of what they just went through. But Kensi passes her psych evaluation with Nate just fine and Callen seems to bounce back from Joelle’s betrayal without incident. Even Hetty breezes through how she managed to get her job back. The only character affected by this is Eric, but he doesn’t even get to deal with it onscreen, save one conversation with Nell at the end of the episode. It’s disappointing that there has been so much focus on character this season, only to have it be ignored in this episode. Perhaps the rest of the season will give us a more subtle look at how everyone is dealing with the aftermath.

On the bright side, the episode was at least mildly entertaining with a more lighthearted case. Having no dead bodies to investigate was a plus, proving once again that crime procedurals can be interesting without murder. (Please take note, every other show on CBS) There were some fun quirky moments such as seeing Callen hotwire an ambulance, and watching the old couple (played by Debra Jo Rupp and Martin Mull) argue about the “cloud,” among other things.

As a side story, we make a bit of progress with Callen and his father, something that’s long been overdue, as they finally go talk to Callen’s newfound half-sister. This is a story that has potential, especially because it’s the only thing that shows how raw Callen’s emotions still are. There’s so much to explore as they slowly reconnect. This would be a good recurring story for the rest of the season.

Lastly, we finally get the only sendoff we’ll get for the late Miguel Ferrer and his character Owen Granger. I had expected there to be a sad scene in which the team gets the news that he’s passed on and perhaps they all reminisce about how much they loved him. But I’m glad they chose a different way to pay tribute to him. It’s more fitting for his character to sneak out of the hospital and take care of personal business with the little time he has left. Considering the circumstances, there was not much else the writers could have done. The final scene with Hetty had a wonderful cover of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” playing, which according to the internet was recorded by Ferrer himself. His character will be greatly missed and never replaceable.

All in all, except for the last scene about Granger, “Old Tricks” was an episode without a lot substance. An entertaining episode with a few good laughs but not anything of vital importance to ongoing character development.

Notes from the Boat Shed
*I wish Sam could have an interesting storyline this season. He’s the only one lacking in character development so far. At least he’s still getting to blow things up during the shootout scenes!

*Does Hetty solve ALL her problems with a good bottle of scotch? Be honest

*The undercover parts for Deeks and Kensi were disappointingly weak. Was Deeks even really undercover at all?

*Best line: “don’t let a temporary solution become a permanent mistake”

*Nice to see Nate back again. I had totally forgotten he was working for the CIA? I can’t keep up anymore. EDIT: Nate hasn’t been working for the CIA. Kensi seemed to just be joking. I just got confused. Oops!

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

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8 thoughts on “NCIS Los Angeles review: “Old Tricks”

  1. Wonderful review! You barely mentioned the “undercover work” which makes sense because it wasn’t really undercover work, lol.
    I wasn’t sure if Kensi was joking with Nate about working for CIA – I assumed he was only working with NCIS. Did we miss something mentioned before about Nate working for CIA and NCIS?

    • Thank you! Yeah there really wasn’t much to say about the undercover work although it had its amusing moments.

      Apparently Kensi was joking! I just assumed I had forgotten something like Hetty had loaned him out to them maybe (because I’m bad with details) but he wasn’t working for the CIA. Whoops ^_^;

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Nate working for the CIA? We always knew that he was working for Hetty (Ncis) Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t think no one ever told the he was working for CIA

    • I got confused! Kensi was apparently joking with that line. I just thought I’d forgotten something since Nate doesn’t pop up all the time. Sorry for the confusion! But thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  3. I thought Kensi was playing Nate by accusing him of being CIA like the moles (similar to how Callen has played Nate in the past).
    And yes, I do honestly believe that Hetty does solve all her problems with a bottle of scotch.
    And definitely yes, Sam has not had a lot to do this season really although some of his interrogations have been interesting (Carl Brown).
    I loved seeing Callen hot wire the ambulance (hey, I just like the criminal side of Callen…)
    Great review as always! Thank you.

    • Thanks for the clarification because I was confused! I have so much trouble keeping up with side characters. I thought maybe Hetty had loaned Nate out to the CIA or something like that lol. It was a weird moment though.

      What will happen when Hetty runs out of scotch??

      I enjoyed Sam’s interrogation scenes because he is so good at them. I just wish we’d get something on par with last season for him

      Callen hotwiring the ambulance might have been my favorite part 😀 of COURSE he would know how to do that

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Thanks for your review. You had some interesting points there. I liked the episode very much. We needed a break from all the drama of the mole story. I don’t believe that is finished either. There was team work and action and it was a lot of fun. Kensi was playing Nate as if he was a part of the mole investigation. She was joking with him and I am glad she is back. For me the best scenes were the last two. Callen and his dad visiting Alexa and telling her the truth. Callen has been waiting so long for a real family and of course the tribute to Miguel Ferrer. It was perfect in my opinion and brought on many tears. All in all a nice episode!

    • Thanks for reading! (And sorry for the late reply) I’m glad you enjoyed the episode. It did have a lot of fun parts, especially at the retirement home 😀
      It’s great to have Kensi back on the team. And I agree with you about the last two scenes. They were excellent!

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