Raven and the Swans (4×22) Review by Phillydi


Raven & the Swans

WRITTEN BY: R. Scott Gemmill

DIRECTED BY: Robert Florio

This week it looks like we’re going to find out more about Hetty’s strange compulsion of converting troubled orphan children into future federal agents.  There’s a missing person who actually turns out to be someone from Hetty’s past and Callen is troubled as to Hetty’s motivations that has her deploying the team to locate her.  The super charged trailer had more emotion pulsing through it than we’ve had all season so far.  Veteran writer Gemmill teams up with Robert Florio which is his second go behind the camera after directing Neighborhood Watch last season.

Ah! Mysterious Hetty.   The Ops chief is interested in a strange case of a woman being attacked in a parking garage and already Callen is questioning his boss.  The dead who were left behind in the attack are unidentifiable and there are no clues left behind in the parking garage except a lot of blood.  The team is wondering who the woman is after watching her successfully and professionally defending herself during the shootout.  Hetty isn’t talking and Callen knows she is withholding information until there is a need to know.  When Callen and Sam find Hetty and the mystery woman in the boathouse, we find out she is ‘one of ours’ and a name:  Grace Stevens.

It seems Stevens has been working undercover as an employee and girlfriend for Nolan Vandenberg played by Carsten Norgaard….a rich businessman who claims his manufactured goods were stolen and taken to Iran.  But there is concern he is really providing the equipment to help establish nuclear program in the Middle East.  It’s a complicated dance since the agency doesn’t want to take out Vandenberg for fear it will tip off those he is helping and they in turn will find another supplier.  The team needs to find his supplier first….and Vandenberg before he flees the country.

After questioning Stevens about her NCIS background, Callen finds out that Hetty rescued her off the streets and provided her parental care and guidance.  Sounds awfully familiar to Callen’s backstory, once apon a time.  Callen ask Eric to find out more information on Grace…oh… and not to get caught.  I loved Eric talking to himself on the stairs.  What Hetty does to this poor guy!  In this case, it’s always comical and so amusing to watch Barrett Foa at his best.

Meanwhile, it’s on to the Biltmore Hotel, where Kensi and Deeks get to play husband and wife again.  It’s is fun to watch them so playful together.  I think they are definitely over the awkward stage of the partnership/relationship!  Whatever you want to call it.  Nell is looking more and more confident as well working in the field. Unfortunately, she gets caught trying to disable some bug detection equipment but gets caught and comes face to face with Vandenberg’s right hand man Visser, played by Ronan Vibert.  Luckily, Kensi saves the day and is able to get Nell safely away from Visser.

Down in the hotel lobby Vandenber is holding high level meetings with two country diplomats looking to sell uranium to supplement his business.  Callen puts the team in action to steal the case only to abort the mission at the last minute.  It’s just too dangerous.  The team decides it may be safer just to bring Vandenberg in custody and Deeks actually comes up with an idea that might just work.  Not another pretty rock star, indeed!

Sam can tell Callen is off his game and he suspects it may have to do with Hetty and her collection of orphan children who grow up to become NCIS agents.  I’m not quite too sure why this is affecting Callen as strongly as it is, but he decides to have it out with his mentor to find out why.  Does he feel manipulated or just not special anymore and only one of many orphans in her pen? Too say he doesn’t take it too well is an understatement!

But Grace confronts Callen with maybe the real reason behind his feelings….will they all find themselves alone after all the missions are over and there is no one left to kill?  When do you stop?  When do you get a real life?  All questions that perhaps Callen and the team don’t want to face….or answer.

It was a pretty subdued ending with our bad guys going down without much of a fight. Once again the story line was secondary to finding out more about the team and what motivates them to do what they do so well.  We found out a little more about Hetty and what makes her tick….but does that take away some of her mystique?  Maybe.  Yet it was a touching scene between Callen and Hetty and her explanation seemed to appease Callen.  An urban spy legend or a mother swan protecting her children?  Both make Hetty a unique human being and one of the best written characters on television today.

Show Highlights

*So who of you out there thought we would ever be talking about Harry Potter and Linus van Pelt from Peanuts in an opening segment of NCISLA?…raise your hands!?  The partners had me laughing out loud as they argued through their various trials and tribulations in typical team fashion.  I just can’t see Callen playing a werewolf…even for Sam!

*So we learn that not only does Deeks play the violin but he also played the guitar…unfortunately he can’t sing.  Ouch!

*Don’t you love to see Hetty packing a gun?  We haven’t seen her do that since Endgame!

*I agree Deeks….please make this the last time he goes undercover as the janitor!  Why couldn’t Sam be the janitor this time?

Best Lines From the Show: 



Callen:  If any one’s going to go as a werewolf it should be Deeks, the guys half way there already!


Kensi:  Dance monkey, dance.

Deeks:  Possessed much?


Deeks:  Oh God.  Hi! How are you?  What can I do for you?

Eric: Hetty wants us….

Deeks:  Oh awesome!  I’d love to be a part of it… going to go solve some crimes…

Eric:    …up in Ops.  Wow… that was excitement.

Kensi:  No, Eric.  That was fear.


Hetty:  Oh bugger!

Callen:  (To Sam) I hope she’s talking about you!


Sam:  Sounds like the honeymoon is over.

Callen:  You guys in position?

Deeks:  Huh?  Well, one of us is.

Bromance Moments

Sam:  Come on G! It’s one day. Maybe three hours in the afternoon.  It’s not the whole day.

Callen:  Three hours?

Sam:  You’re her uncle.

Callen:  I’m not really her uncle.

Sam: She calls you Uncle Callen.

Callen:  And I’m not very good with kids either.

Sam:  Now you sound like Kensi, kids love you!

Callen:  You’re kids maybe, other kids not so much.

Sam:  Three weeks ago that kid in the sewer was ready to poison half  the city.  You talked him out of it.

Callen:  That’s true but I was also ready to shoot him.

(Poor Uncle Callen!)


Callen:  I hate when she does this.

Sam:  Sucks doesn’t it?  You two are cut from the same cloth.

Callen: Hardly.  Hetty is hand painted silk…I’m more…

Sam: ….itchy polyester?

Callen:  I was going to say denim.

Sam:  Well-worn denim

Callen:  What the hell is that supposed to mean?

(Great bromance going on here!)

©Eric Christian Olsen

©Eric Christian Olsen

Densi Moments

Deeks:  What are you doing?

Kensi:  Shaving my legs, what does it look like I’m doing?

Deeks:  It looks like you’re cleaning your gun with my t-shirt.

Kensi:  Oh, sorry it was on the bench…thought it was a rag.

Deeks:  No, rags don’t have sleeves.  I mean I’ve had this thing since high school.

Kensi:  Shirt!  I believe it.  Come on….that was funny.  Oh, no comment on me shaving my legs…Can I help you?  Is it from the waist down. Awwha!  Dude…come on…I’ll buy you a new one!

Always love to see Densi go undercover as husband and wife because we get such great banter between the two agents.  No one but Densi can make the simple act of carrying the bride over the threshold a complicated project…..This is not ice dancing…indeed!

This week we had the chance to speak to guest stars, Carsten Norgaard and Ronan Vibert who graciously spent time with NCISLA Magazine to tell us about the  filming  of tonight’s episode.  Both enjoyed their time spent on the Paramount lot and working with the cast and crew.  Make sure you stop by and find out more about Carsten and Ronan!

We’re getting close to the final episode of the season which promises to pull out all the stops according to Shane Brennan. It won’t be long until we find out what he has in store for the fans.  Will this be the most powerful finale that they have ever done, as he promises?  Come back next week to NCISLA Magazine for my review of Parley as forge our way to the final episode!

Follow me on Twitter @phillydi

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6 thoughts on “Raven and the Swans (4×22) Review by Phillydi

  1. Keviana Elliot

    Why was this thing so unsettling to Callen?

    Remember how he bucked under Hunter? Under Granger? Under their manipulative control?

    And how about when he was trying to get out of Keelson’s game? And what about the Chameleon’s game?

    G hates, no, DETESTS, being played or used.

    He was in turmoil over the thought of Hetty playing with his life. Him being a pawn in her chess game.

  2. Beth

    I thought this was an awesome episode, but I was wondering why Deeks had problems singing for Kensi when he was singing pretty well in Vengeance in Season 3 in order to get the car to himself.

  3. Sweet Lu

    The Raven and Swan episode seemed like a mixed bag to me, the case sort of an afterthought. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I liked the actress who played Grace, but I don’t understand why Hetty was so protective of her identity if she was one of theirs and I agree with you in not understanding just why Callen was so unnerved when finding out she was an orphan. Maybe he did think he was one of a kind and somehow special, but that doesn’t seem like the tough Callen we know. Maybe it upset him to think that Hetty might be taking advantage of vulnerable children, himself included. I think they should explore his feelings about Hetty more next season. There was an added a layer of tension between them that was intriguing, rather like the time he discovered she knew his mother. She does like to keep secrets and he doesn’t like it when she keeps them from him. Chris O and Linda Hunt were so good and so intense. I love to see Callen get emotional.

    I totally loved the scenes with Kensi and Deeks. It was fun to watch them have fun with each other. The scene they played for the bellhop was hilarious. They can’t seem to help themselves. The throw-Kensi-on-the-bed scene was just a fun romp, but Callen and Sam acted as if it were a normal routine and weren’t surprised by their actions, just slightly annoyed. The kids were just being kids, and it was nice to have Kensi go with it instead of punching him. I did appreciate that and I did appreciate your great, and as usual, comprehensive review.

  4. justdreaming-83

    This episode was so funny, yet so touching. I laughed out loud at Eric and his fear of getting caught doing “research” for Callen. I also thought the hotel scene between Kensi and Deeks was hilarious, especially since everyone was listening.

    My thoughts on why Callen was so upset when he found out Hetty had been grooming orphans? Once he got old enough to leave the “system,” he never wanted to be manipulated or used, ever again. He had already gone through this once with Hetty, finding out she was a part of his past. Then distrust comes crashing down on him again. Even though he has shown dislike (hate) for others who have played him, he has a unique relationship with Hetty; feeling betrayed by her would hurt so much more.

  5. Domingo

    For me this was one of the best episodes of the season, with some good Callen – Sam moments, both funny and serious,

    I agree the story was secondary to the team this week.

    Callen confronting Hetty was great,some real fireworks there, he hates being used, and even though there are more orphan children in Hetty’s private army of orphan agents he is for her very special.

    Not too surre about Kensie and Deeks fooling around in the bedroom they were on a case, but I do love nell out in the field.

    I thought Callen was a bit slow on the up take when Eric handed him the Key with Grace’s information on it, after all he had asked Eric to look for and not get caught.

    There were more sparks flying between Callen and Grace than there was between Paris and Callen, I much prefer Callen and Grace if there is to be some romance.

    The scean at the gun range was almost the reverse of the one between Hunter and Callen, only then it was Hunter taking out her frustrations with a gun

    Pity about the rateings….Did RED and the rather unfavourable reaction to it somehow put viewers off.

  6. Phillydi

    Thanks all for the great comments. I just rewatched this episode and found new things to love. I agree with SweetLu that I hope the writers decide to explore the Hetty/Callen relationship a bit more. There was a lot going on beneath the surface that I would love to see played out. It seems Hetty ran her own spy school. Wouldn’t that make an interesting show all on it’s own…Also you can see Deeks wearing down Kensi more and more and it was nice to see her playfully rough housing with him instead of fending him off. She’s coming around!

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