NCIS: Los Angeles S10E16 Review

Lee Carlisle has co-written several episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, and Into The Breach is the first he has penned solo.  The result is an episode which is comfortable and familiar. There is the expected level of friendly banter that exists in the team and between partners, a reasonably straight forward case and well fleshed out guest characters.

A journalist dies after her vehicle veers off the road and overturns and the team investigate her connection with retired Marine Sergeant Odell Ikande.  The journalist was writing an expose on a classified military operation in Afghanistan which Ikande was injured and led to him leaving the military.  The mission involved Ikande’s team positively identifying a high value target but before they could, an emergency call was received from nearby civilian contractors under attack.  The team successfully rescued the contractors but Ikande lost four men in the process. 

There are already several episodes within previous seasons which deal with journalists, writers and military missions and on the surface, appears to be something which has been done before.  However due to the possible variants, methods of storytelling and the seamless mixture of subplots,  Into The Breach still feels fresh. There is a subtle use of false trails which serve to buck expectations of stereotypes. The two men with binoculars at the start are not scoping out a target prior to a shooting (which is the viewpoint initially presented), they are scoping out a location where a bird has been sighted.  Likewise, the team chase down Ikande, thinking he had wanted the journalist dead to stop her writing about the operation. The same with the contractor (Beckett), portrayed as an innocent victim who’s attackers were actually part of an Opium war. The Mexican gang members of Imperio Aztec, taken out by the team on the streets of LA were a facade, created by Beckett to hide the origin of the drugs. The minor twists were offset with the expected. Ikande’s roommate Ruya Ghanem is a survivor of the Afghan attack and ends up kidnapped by Beckett, held to draw out Ikande. And then there is the usual with fights, shootouts and of course the team rescuing Ruya, and Ikande doing the right thing in not shooting Beckett dead.

Supporting the main cast this week are two recurring guest characters. Firstly and surprisingly is Special Prosecutor Rogers. The team are no longer being investigated so his attitude has changed, however there is no explanation as to why he is present in LA.  Ochoa told Callen he was acting supervisor and yet that seems to be the role Rogers has assumed. He does use his position to further the case, praising the team in his acerbic manner.  Also returning and not so surprising is NCIS Special Agent Nicole DeChamps whose presence of course signifies the absence of a field agent, in this case Deeks.  The two women team up which should have been great - except they lacked chemistry. In addition, there was nothing to make viewers empathise with DeChamps’ plight and reason for being in LA.  Several times she talks about her court case following her last protection detail for the Secret Service.  This is not a case in which NCIS was involved and the team has never been seen testifying in court following one of their missions.  This makes DeChamps’ words merely that - words and a passing scenario that is not brought to life as viewers have nothing with which to compare.  DeChamps also comes across as very controlled, contrasting with the easy relationships the field agents have. She does hold her own in fights though.

Her return is the main cause of banter throughout the episode between Callen and Sam, the former keen to understand if their drinks the previous evening constituted a date.  This week Sam has the best and funniest line:

Callen:    Well, you know, sometimes good friendships can evolve into more. 
Sam:       That's right. You and I-- we're just gonna stay friends.

There is also a return to the long-running wind-up between the partners with the Junior Math Olympian versus Mathelete, very much welcomed as it will never grow old!

Deeks’ absence from the team was due to a appointment with the health inspector (and to accommodate the limited availability of Eric Christian Olsen during the filming of this episode).  He retained screen time, initially with Kensi, discussing their wedding, and then with his mother Roberta.  The differing reactions in the run up to the wedding is fascinating, with Kensi remaining calm and Deeks panicking, much like his mother.  The similarities of their characters and their chemistry is a joy to behold - casting genius!  They seamless feed off each other’s lines and energy and the final scene where they practice the mother/son wedding dance was a tender moment, broken - in true Deeks’ style - with humour. 

Overall, Into The Breach was a thoroughly enjoyable mid-season episode.  Odell Ikande was a well drawn character, genuine and with a degree of morality that demands respect.  Rogers was an unexplained presence, not necessary to the plot whilst DeChamps did serve a purpose.  This week there was no character development but rather moments between characters such as the banter.  Not every episode can move a character’s story forward and sometimes it is reassuring to just witness the fun of their interactions, whether it be the deliberate wind-ups between Callen and Sam or the relationship between Deeks and his mother.

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