“Mountebank” was a pretty typical but enjoyable NCISLA episode. It had all the things we love like the usual fun banter, some undercover scenes, and a few bits and pieces relating to ongoing storylines and character development.
Oh, and it also had Arkady.
Because I feel talking about the episode like I usually do would end up being repetitive, instead I’m going to focus on Arkady and the importance of a good recurring character. The shady Russian, played by Vyto Ruginis, with “questionable ties” to Callen is the show’s longest-running recurring character, having popped up various times since season one.
Firstly, Arkady is a fun character. He’s a scoundrel, but never makes any apology for his actions. Ruginis plays him with a neverending supply of confidence that makes him entertaining whenever on screen. In “Mountebank,” he doesn’t think twice about making Deeks and Kensi wait while he “does his best thinking in the shower” and he has no qualms about walking around with only a towel wrapped around his waist. There’s no doubt that he’s a well-developed and well-defined character by now.
Any good recurring character will be someone who helps drive the plot forward, and can also serve as an interesting comparison to the main characters. In this week’s episode, as usual, he helps the team with information. This is generally what he always does. Some might argue that this sole purpose of providing exposition is a bit cliché, but that’s generally what Eric and Nell do most of the time too. Giving Arkady the chance to provide info is at least a fresh perspective than the usual update from Ops.
Arkady also serves as an excellent comparison to the team, who are (99% of the time) always portrayed as heroes doing the right thing. Arkady, in contrast, is shady. He “knows a lot of bad guys” as described in this episode. Whose methods of getting work done is better? Is it worth using him to get information? These are questions to think about while watching any episode where he appears. Good recurring characters will get the audience thinking about things like these.
Over the years, Arkady has even had the opportunity for character development just like any major character in the series. The introduction of his estanged daughter Anna a few seasons ago provided a new depth to his character, and now going forward, it’s something to keep in mind in subsequent appearances. While we didn’t see anything new about his character in “Mountebank” we have seasons of past appearances to help us understand his actions. Though he’s not on the show often, he’s a very clearly defined character who adds excitement and entertainment whenever he appears.
“Mountebank” had all the makings of a fun NCISLA episode, but the addition of an excellent recurring character like Arkady really elevated it to a higher level.
Notes from the Boat Shed
- If Mosley’s goal is to split the team up, I wonder why she hasn’t gone ahead and done it yet. Other than sending Deeks back to LAPD in the first episode, she really hasn’t done much against them yet. I do, however, enjoy the subtle cold war struggle for power between her and Callen. We got a snippet of it in this episode.
- I feel like Eric had a joke set up to go with the random oboe he had during the “we’ve got a case” scene, but the Dexter alias talk derailed him. WHY DID YOU HAVE AN OBOE ERIC? I WANT TO KNOW
- The visual gag of Deeks wearing all that jewelry he won in the poker game was great. Especially after he’d joked about it earlier. (Side note: I’d watch a whole episode devoted to Deeks, Kensi, and Arkady playing illegal poker)
- Nell clotheslining the runaway teen with a pool stick reminded me of my favorite scene last season when Granger smacked someone with a tire. She learned from the best.
- I did not care for the sappy storyline with the teen played by Uriah Shelton. But that’s mostly because I don’t like Uriah Shelton.
- Anytime Sam gets to use his mathlete skills is great!
- How does Hidoko get all the best jackets? I like her better than Mosley purely based on style so far 😛
- Fave recurring character of the series? Outside of Arkady, I’d probably pick Talia.
So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.