Author => A Virtual Scrawl

NCIS Los Angeles ‘Cancel Christmas’ Review by A Virtual Scrawl


‘Cancel Christmas’ is another fun-filled forty-three minutes where the case yet again plays second fiddle to the characters, meaning there is a little something for fans and followers of all characters.  There are insights into Callen and his relationship with Joelle, important conversations between Deeks and Kensi, and Sam is once again panicking over Christmas.  Nell and Eric are indulging in their dressing up fantasies, Granger is confirmed as the Grinch, with a twist, and Hetty is – well, just Hetty!  Overall the Christmas spirit and humour was overflowing, and those on the naughty list got their comeuppance.

The episode opens with the characters in their pairs, discussing their plans for Christmas.  A grumpy Granger is firing rounds in the shooting range and disturbed with Nell and Eric practicing a dance for charity in the armoury.  Christmas spirit is also lacking when Sam picks up Callen, berating him for not decorating his house, and prompting Callen to show off his sole Christmas card.  The card is from his nemesis, Marcel Janvier, who sends Callen one every year from his supermax cell.  Callen finds this amusing whereas Sam is alarmed, especially as the card is next to a photo of his family.  Is this some foreshadowing?  Janvier is one villain who may return with a vengeance at some point, and hopefully when everyone least expects it.

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NCIS Los Angeles ‘Internal Affairs’ – Review by A Virtual Scrawl


It’s been a long time since the last Deeks centric episode.  There has been little detail on Deeks’ past, his background or his real character.  This may not have been the eponymous “Deeks, M”, however the knowledge that Deeks had been arrested for murder and the question of how he would be freed, set expectations high and gladly, ‘Internal Affairs’ did not disappoint.  There is drama and intensity, plot twists and subtleties, with a healthy dose of humour and some terrific acting by Eric Christian Olsen.

Plenty of episodes have explored the character flaws and background of Callen, however it’s the turn of ‘Internal Affairs’ to reveal the dark side of Deeks.  Glimpses have been previously revealed – Max Gentry is an undercover alias that Deeks is not proud of, and one that makes him think he is no better than his father – it is this aspect of Deeks that is called in to question.

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NCIS Los Angeles ‘Defectors’ – Review by A Virtual Scrawl


‘Defectors’ is the episode rescheduled from last week due to the ISIS terror attacks in France. The story centres around a note found after a car crash, which has the phonetic spelling of Luqman Badr Al Din, an elusive yet charismatic key ISIS member, who’s responsible for youth recruitment and propaganda. The team discover the man killed in the crash was an Uber taxi driver, and one of his passengers from the previous day was Iraqi Jahmir Yacoob, who was Special Forces during Saddam Hussein’s regime. The team turn tactical to assault his house and arrest him, only to find that his eldest daughter Zahra has been reported missing to LAPD. The parents confirm the note found at the crash is written in Zahra’s hand, and that she had access to her father’s Uber account. A photo on display from a recent model agency shoot suggests ISIS are using the studios to recruit girls, and Kensi goes undercover to obtain evidence of their involvement, whilst the team seek the girl and the terrorist.

The episode could and should have been a lot heavier on the ISIS story as it is very topical. Certainly UK news has stories of teenage girls, with no history of extremist views, upping and flying to Syria to fight with ISIS. Their roles are unclear, however the likelihood is they will become suicide bombers or as this episode suggests, ISIS brides. In the hands of a different writer such as Frank Military, the tone would have been very dark and intense. But here there is more discussion about what ISIS is doing and how, rather than showing, and the seriousness is somewhat eroded by the humorous aspects between characters.

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NCIS Los Angeles ‘The Long Goodbye’ – Review by A Virtual Scrawl

New pairings

The atrocious terror attacks in Paris on Friday meant the scheduled episode of NCISLA (“Defectors” – teenage girls recruited by ISIS), was withheld.  The teasers had shown Deeks being arrested by LAPD, which led into the following episode “Internal Affairs”, and the re-jigging means both episodes have been pushed back by a week.  Instead is “The Long Goodbye”, written by Dave Kalstein and originally scheduled to air after Internal Affairs at the start of December.  The beauty of NCISLA being a procedural is there is a mixture of standalone episodes, two-parters, and those which contribute to an overall season arc.  “The Long Goodbye” can be viewed on its own, but may well contribute to the Sam-centric finale (as teased by Shane Brennan).

This episode is reminiscent of one of Kalstein’s early season one episodes, “Past Lives”.  Both deal with the aftermath of long term undercover operations.  Past Lives dealt with Callen sleeping with (using or falling for?) the sister of one of his marks, to the extent that her four year old child may have been his.  Callen felt guilt and confusion around the web of lies he spun, questioning which truth he should reveal, if any.  This time, Kalstein has revisited Sam and Jada, a character the audience was briefly reminded of earlier in season seven (Driving Miss Diaz).

Four years ago when Sam was undercover in Sudan with war criminal Tahir Khaled, he convinced Tahir’s sister Jada to fall in love with him.  Sam’s cover was blown but he escaped with Jada back to the States, where he destroyed her hopes and dreams;  she would have to testify against her brother and enter witness protection or be sent back to Sudan, where her brother would kill her.  Either way, she would never see Sam again.

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