NCIS Los Angeles Review: “From Havana With Love”

ncis la from havana with love

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Here’s my review of NCIS Los Angeles season eight episode “From Havana With Love.” 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.

While watching “From Havana With Love,” I thought it seemed like the episode wanted to examine themes about how men and women are treated differently. An interesting topic for sure. But while that may have been the intention (I think), the episode itself falls short of making any grand conclusion on the subject by the time the end credits roll.

The case itself was a convoluted mess, although it was a bit more lighthearted than most, so that’s forgivable. The more interesting part was seeing the different ways men and women act and are treated throughout the episode.

We begin with the first topic: do women talk more than men? It’s a horribly sexist question posed by Deeks in the office. Thankfully, instead of agreeing with Deeks’ bad stereotypes, the rest of the group points out that it really depends on the person themselves. Deeks, of course, is the kind of person who talks almost nonstop. I’m curious why this was even a subject of competition for Deeks and Kensi but the episode never really explains it. The important thing here is that talking too much is seen as a bad thing, and it’s the trait supposedly attributed more to women.

With this in mind, the episode provides us with another couple to contrast against Densi. The estranged pair: a poor bartender and his government-secrets-selling wife. (Yet another corrupt government worker to tie into this season’s theme) The role reversal is a nice breath of fresh air considering that we usually expect to see the husband doing the government betrayal and the wife suffering for it. Another way to sort of dispel a gender stereotype.

But then, the bartender also mentions several times that his estranged wife left him because of money issues. Specifically, he didn’t have enough for her. This is a pretty typical TV trope to see a woman act romantically based on monetary gain. I can’t think of many examples of where a man leaves a relationship to climb up the financial ladder with another woman.

By the end of the episode, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about these topics. Have gender stereotypes been reinforced or broken down? I couldn’t come to a conclusion there.

The last point about gender the episode makes is showing how Kensi is treated by the club owner/dance partner. Near the end of the episode, he corners her in the dressing room, expecting something a bit more intimate before the dance and doesn’t expect Kensi to refuse. A lot of women in that situation probably feel like they can’t refuse. Not everyone has the skills or confidence of Kensi. It is satisfying in the end, to see Kensi easily fight off the man (with just a knife and a scarf, no less) before Deeks needs to step in to save the day.

Once the case wraps, they settle the wordcount question, by revealing that Deeks talks A LOT. (No surprise to anyone) And also, that he tampered with Kensi’s counter just so he could ask her to dance. That’s cute but I’m also confused by the turn of events. I suppose Deeks decided in the end that the competition was stupid (it was), but I’m just guessing since he didn’t explain.

There were lots of great ideas presented in this episode, but no real coherent conclusion to them except for, perhaps, the fact that stereotypes are stupid. I say all this not to complain about the episode. In fact, I spent more time thinking about this episode afterwards than usual. I just hope next time they stick the landing better.

Notes from the Boat Shed

  • Am I the only one who felt bad for the random tourist guy who got killed at the beginning of the episode? Everyone forgot about him quick
  • Sam’s random animal trivia was cool. I would appreciate more random facts from Sam anytime
  • How ridiculous was that whole “bird drawing is a submarine” thing??
  • Biggest laugh of the episode for me was Eric saying “don’t read it unless you want to cry” That was some A+ line reading from Barrett Foa
  • Kensi looked amazing in her dress. Absolutely stunning.

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


4 thoughts on “NCIS Los Angeles Review: “From Havana With Love”

  1. “The case itself was a convoluted mess”–> Excellent description of the case! Agree with everything you wrote. It was an OK episode, nothing really extraordinary happened. Expect for Kensi outshining EVERYONE in that dress, with her dancing & kicking that guys ass at the end. 🙂

  2. Excellent review and analysis. Gender stereotypes were confusing during this episode and you have addressed this and not come to a conclusion as they remained confusing!

  3. Thanks for the great review. Have to say that I enjoyed the episode even though it was pretty generic. The humour was there between Callen and Sam and I am glad to see that they brought back the tootsie pop and origami. You are right! Deeks does talk a lot and many times I wish that he would just shut up. The whole who talks more thing was silly at best. The best part of Densi was Kensi in her red dress. She was stunning and very very talented at dancing and fighting. If it was intended as a debate about gender inequality, it went over my head. It came out as funny or silly. I think that it was intended as a lighter episode considering what is to come for the rest of the season.

  4. I wasn’t surprised by the sexist remark from Deeks; he’s made so many sexist remarks during the run of the show I’ve lost count. It was par for the course. But you knew, of course, that he would lose, so the game itself was humorous. The case was interesting–loved the throwback to the “old days” (preparing us for Hetty’s friends?)–and that there weren’t a lot of explosions and gunfire. Personally, I found the bird drawings a nice touch and loved that Sam and Callen kind of figured it out. Victor was an empathetic, if pathetic, character, and I don’t know many women who wouldn’t look for a partner who could bring home more “bacon” and STILL lovs dogs and know how to dance (being a bartender in LA doesn’t provide much financial security). Couldn’t understand why Deeks couldn’t shoot Perez (on a stage in a spotlight with only Kensi near) when he’s a crack shot, but Kensi’s take down was good. Always love Sam’s origami, but the remark from Callen was the most humorous of the entire show–the recluse asking the family man if he’s familiar with the phrase “Get a life.” The ending was fun–Charley horse! lol

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