NCIS: Los Angeles S11E03 'Hail Mary' Review

A Hail Mary is either a traditional Catholic Prayer or, if the word 'pass' is added, it's a very long forward pass in American football, typically made in desperation, with only a small chance of success (thanks Wikipedia).  There isn't too much in the way of religion in NCIS Los Angeles, unless it is associated with Muslims so a reference to Catholicism seems unlikely. And knowing what many of the team's operations are like, this Hail Mary relates to a long shot, which may even be a metaphor for this episode itself.

On the face of it, there is a lot going for this episode. It's light, humorous and most importantly the team (sans Hetty) are all together in the same city and working the same case.  That in itself is a novelty after the last four episodes.  There is also the return of Admiral Kilbride, who lit up the screen early last season with his rather sardonic wit and attitude.  Unfortunately this also works against the episode to a certain degree. There is nothing wrong at all with injecting a healthy dose of humour in to NCIS Los Angeles, in fact it is the banter between characters, the ability to find the wry laugh amongst the tension and drama which makes the show endearing.  In Hail Mary, this goes just a tad too far.

The episode is written by showrunner Scott Gemmill and master of darkness Frank Military.  Both are capable of writing extremely dark and dramatic episodes and both have written their share of humour, notably Gemmill who penned the crossover featuring very special agent Anthony DiNozzo (which was ridiculous but with scenes that left you crying with laughter).  He was also responsible for the cringe-worthy humour in Choke Point (S10). Frank Military wrote Black Budget which capitalised on Chris O'Donnell's comedy skills, but counter-balanced that with the over-the-top cringy-humour in SEAL Hunter (back to back season 6 episodes). This one is clearly played for laughs and generally falls shy of the mark.

Somewhere between the earlier seasons and now, Eric Beale has turned in to a blabbering idiot.  He used to be a cool, geeky tech nerd and the introduction of Nell seems to have been his downfall. By the closing scene of this episode he is embarrassingly babbling in front of the Admiral, a man who repeatedly shot him down last season. In fact the very presence of Eric in this episode is surprising (if you didn't know this was actually filmed at the end of last season).  Last week, Eric was absent and Nell was complaining about their lack of contact as he was consulting part time in San Francisco. Although Nell did say he was expected back next week, there was no reference at all to explain his full and engaged presence back in LA.  In contrast, Hetty was announced as AWOL having assigned the team the case via Eric.

The case itself saw Admiral Kilbride order Sam and Callen as his bodyguards whilst Kensi and Deeks babysat a bound and gagged man - in his undies - in the adjoining hotel room. No explanations were given which seems ludicrous, and not in the funny way.  All Kilbride did was repeatedly complain about the younger generation and say he had no time to explain. For an old guy who (in Hail Mary) just loved to boast about how great things were in the good old days, he certainly had no respect for anyone else. He simply came across as a cantankerous old man. Sure it was amusing at first but as this continued throughout, it became quite wearing. Similar was Deeks. In much the same way he didn't stop talking in the premiere, he continued to pull out one liners, and getting in the last lines. Some were amusing, some were not. In fact the biggest smile possibly came from Kilbride's rather astute question to the team:

Kilbride: Conklin is an arms broker. He puts people and weapons together, and he was rumored to have access to a Tsirkon.
Deeks: Zircon? The evil master of the universe, Zircon?
Kilbride: What is wrong with him?

The look Callen gives pretty much sums up the episode!

The plot itself doesn't really fare much better, particularly with the Weekend At Bernies play. If not before, at this point it is just stupid that NCIS would take a dead body to a golf course, pretending he is alive so his father will exchange a kidnapped intelligence officer for his son.

Despite all of this, the episode was actually sort of enjoyable. Comedy is a difficult thing to get right, to please the majority. There were moments of fun, such as Deeks saying Callen was a great cowboy name, with which Callen agreed. The jump off the balcony in to the pool by Kensi and Deeks was a fun action scene and it was great to see Sam and Callen's banter in the firing range at the start. Likewise the gun fight in the warehouse was actually funny when a bullet went through the wall and narrowly missed Callen, who was sitting on a chair, and took out the bad guy standing in front of him - although was that supposed to be funny? The return of Deeks' homeless man to aid their escape and Callen casually taking a golf club and wrapping it around a bad guy's legs were more great moments.

This won't go down in the history of NCIS Los Angeles as one of their best, although it not quite the worst they've done. It is a shame though, as by toning down the absurdity a notch in terms of plot, Eric and to a certain extent Deeks and Kilbride, the episode would have been much better. At least next week's looks like a return to the intensity, as the team tackle a possible Ebola outbreak, which probably won't see any belly-laughs... 

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »