NCIS: Los Angeles S12E07 Review


This week the team investigate the murder of a reservist with a gambling debt who was selling classified military information to the Chinese.  This included data on high ranking officers and results in the kidnapping of a doctor whose cutting edge neurotechnology could be developed into advanced weaponry, if it fell into the wrong hands. Also Deeks and his colleagues are interviewed for his entrance into FLETC, and Callen attempts to collar Arkady to ask him an important question. Oh, and Eric returns!

Overdue is a curious episode which almost seems as though it has been written by two different people (it was not).  The case of the week is nothing new or revolutionary and is of a much lower standard than the character moments and developments, which really do lift this episode. The worst example of the writing is where numerous characters in consecutive scenes repeat the possibility of the murdered man selling the list of classified names found on his phone. When CCTV footage reveals the man passing off an envelope, it takes them too long to consider that it may contain the said list of names.  When Sam finds hidden print outs, Rountree asks what they are. Instead he could have asked, ‘are they the classified names?’.  Unless a character is having an off day (which would usually be explored or called out), there is no excuse for this. 

Then there is the return of Eric. He was starting to lose him marbles before he became a billionaire, however now...eccentric and sporting a 1970s porn star moustache - he practically defies description.  That being said, Eric does now exude confidence and certainly his rambling stories when being interviewed is very much in line with the Eric of old.  There is no doubt that actor Barratt Foa is having a whale of a time playing Eric, however his purpose in the show is unknown. At one point,  when he’s assisting her with the case in Ops, Fatima even asks him if he works there anymore.

The case did provide opportunities for team bonding, with Fatima and Rountree again demonstrating the generation gap (Rountree not knowing about floppy discs). Later he and Sam bond over with Sam’s story about family holidays in an RV and watching the film TAPS each night. This did feel like a missed opportunity for Rountree to share a story about his youth; instead this became a running joke with all the team finding out and teasing Sam on comms both before and after they breach.  As with previous weeks, it’s a great way of involving the team without them occupying the same physical space.  There were other noticeable moments for example Callen and Kensi share a scene together for the first time this season. And when Rountree and Sam chase a suspect, the former vaults one gate whilst Sam barges through the other. The apprehension of the suspect cleverly avoids a physical tackle and instead Rountree takes him out by throwing a pot plant.

The real saving grace for this episode is the writing of the character moments, with Deeks in particular. The main subplot running through most of season 12 is the question of Deeks’ position at NCIS. Last episode, Hetty finally managed to pull some strings to allow him to attend FLETC, despite him exceeding their age limit. The next stage of the process plays throughout Overdue, where he and the team are interviewed about Deeks’ suitability as a federal agent. As expected, he’s nervous and Kensi initially seeks to reassure him, lightening the mood by referring to Deeks’ teenage band and his mother sourcing a sample for Kensi.  Outside of his usual scenes with Kensi, Deeks has fantastic interactions with Sam and his interviewing officer.

There is a refreshing honesty with Sam’s interview and his subsequent conversation with Deeks. He recounts the first time they met, how much he despised him and repeatedly punched him. It may have been during an undercover mission (S1E19 Hand to Hand) but it took until season 5 before Sam began to respect Deeks and they finally bonded. Deeks’ attempts to spy on Sam’s interview prompted Deeks to be honest and Sam to impart words of wisdom, reminiscent of their scenes from season 10’s wedding episode. In situations like these, he no longer hides behind the use of humour and deliberately silly comments and his inner, serious and insecure self is revealed. It also allows him to use his intelligence without being a smart-ass during his own interview. Questions are asked of his career choices which have either never been asked or he has not answered seriously.  Some of this was touched on in S07E10 Internal Affairs, which was of course referenced. Thankfully the issue of his being cleared for the killing of his former partner was not up for debate, instead the focus was on his reasons why his LAPD colleagues did not like him or see him as a team player. His strong desire for justice is his motivator, although his desire for justice and his need to save/protect women and loved ones, has of course seen him step outside the law. Humorous Deeks does make a breakthrough when his interviewer talks of his mother and her YouTube channel! Deeks wears his emotions on his sleeve whereas the rest of the field agents are pretty squared away. It is implied he has passed the interview stage and will attend FLETC, however his attitude (always joking and playing the class clown) may be more of a challenge. 

The other storyline which has been ongoing for a few episodes is Callen’s relationship with Anna Kolcheck.  He has finally realised how much Anna means to him and after recently reconnecting with a former foster brother, he’s realised he wants to make a formal commitment to Anna with a marriage proposal. He spends most the episode persuading Arkady to meet him to ask him a question. It is unclear if this is to state his intentions, to ask Arkady’s permission or to put out feelers as to whether Anna would accept his proposal (possibly the middle one?).

Arkady is a character that lightens up an episode but sometimes the fact he was a KGB officer is conveniently overlooked. How did he miss the subtleties of Callen's conversation?  It seems unlikely this was deliberate, but maybe he has a blind spot where Anna is concerned? He could also be coloured by his own opinion on marriage and his knowledge of Callen over the years, as someone who has never been the marrying kind.  Callen finally attempts to have the conversation at the end of the episode, having failed to meet Arkady at earlier, pre-arranged times. He still cannot say to Arkady that he’s in love with Anna, just that he misses her and how much she means to him. By extension he hasn’t told Anna his feelings either. It is quite telling that his apartment is shown as dark and drab. There is little colour or light - even in his opening scene when he’s at home and chasing down Arkday at the start of the day.  Callen clearly still cannot admit his feelings which are mired in the barbed wire of his mind, twisted by his upbringing and most likely past experience in love.  It was hard to hear Arkady say neither Callen or Anna were the marrying kind, and Callen then turning his back on Arkady (and the camera)  and leaning over his kitchen top was a heartbreaking moment.

Season 12 has so far proven to be a little frustrating with some of the writing, which is only partially connected to how the show is managing COVID-19 restrictions. There has been much more continuity with character stories from one episode to the next, providing a serialised feel. Sam’s daughter Kam make another appearance early in the episode and she’s been accepted to the military academy at Annapolis. Then of course is the continuing saga of Deeks’ position at NCIS and LAPD and Callen’s personal struggles and forwarding his relationship with Anna.  Thankfully the development of these this week, override a rather poor and dull case.

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