He’s been with the team right from the start, since „Legend 1 & 2“, the crossover with NCIS, and even though he is not the one who physically chases the bad guys, his skills often make a difference when it comes to finding a lead or solving a case. Therefore we think it’s high time we take a closer look at our favorite geek: Tech Operator Eric Beale.
Eric is not a trained field agent and therefore not the one to take on dangerous situations (well, normally) but his (respectively as off Season 2, his and Nell’s) skills and quick thinking often prove to be as important as the qualities of the other team members. Their means are not always legal, but definitely effective.
With the introduction of Nell in S2 Eric’s role gained another dynamic. Everybody in the team works with a partner, therefore it was only a logical move to team Eric up as well. Their teamwork is impressive – after a slightly „bumpy“ start, Eric and Nell work perfect together, and thus Eric’s significance for the team and his character became more prominent. Working alongside a „similar“ character gave Eric more „room to grow“, on a professional basis as well as a personal one.
Over the five seasons, we learned some private things about Eric, too:
- he is a surfer
- he loves polar bear pajamas
- he helped design and build a wind- and solar-powered clinic in Guatemala during his vacation time
- he collects action figures
- he has an Albert Einstein tattoo on his right upper arm
- he is a member of the Audobon Society
- he has been banned from Las Vegas
- he once went on a date with Abby from NCIS in Washington
– to mention just a few.
The focus, however, is of course laid on the work and the team.
TEAMWORK (MAKES THE DREAM WORK)
Eric (and Nell) are as much a part of the team as the four field agents are. In the course of the seasons they all have grown closer, they spend more quality time together and Eric enjoys being such a vital part of the team. He loves his work and he is proud of what he does.
When Eric talks to Ira in the boathouse in „Zero Days“, S5x18, Ira suggests Eric quit his job with the government and work freelance with him:
Ira: You know we would be a great team.
Eric: Yeah, we would. But I make a big difference here at NCIS.
Eric cares for the team and has a big heart – which is shown when he does stuff for the other team members , sailing close to the wind (and despite being afraid of Hetty!) – such as in „Callen, G“ S1x24 when Callen has been taken off the case and Eric updates him even though he is not supposed to do so. Or in „Higher Power“, S3x11 when he gives Sam his own Parker Pony. He also uses Kaleidoscope to look for Sam’s car, Charlene, in „Sacrifice“, S3x5. He is even willing to risk his job for the team in „Found“, S1x21 when they go to any length to save Dom, and for Hetty in „Fallout“, S5x08 („I hear the Gulag’s are lovely this time of year.“).
And while it may sometimes seem as if the team does not appreciate Eric’s work, such as in „Anonymous“, S2x07:
Sam: Unit number?
Eric: Not yet but – Oh come on! There’s like ten people in the country who could have done this.
Callen: Ten huh?
Sam: Can you get us their names? Maybe one of them could get us the unit number.
Eric: You know, that hurts.
– they make it clear on other occasions that they do acknowledge him and his work, e.g. when Callen encouraged him on his first field trip in „Rocket Man“, S2x21 (not without giving Sam a hard time, of course):
Eric: Yeah. Well, after Callen told me about how he found you puking your guts out in the bathroom before you went on your first undercover assignment, I figured, I could do this, no sweat. [He leaves them]
Sam: [to Callen] I had food poisoning.
Callen: Think of it as truth, re-imagined for the higher good.
Callen (a little reluctant) and Sam also appreciated Eric’s work in „Big Brother“, S5x06:
Cindy: How did you find it?
Callen: Because we’re smarter than you. At least one of us is. Do not tell Eric I said that.
Cindy: Who are you talking to anyway? Who figured it out?
Callen: No one.
Cindy: Oh, is it that guy you said is smarter than you?
Eric: What was that? Could you, could you repeat that last part?
And of course he got the well-deserved praise at the end of „Zero Days“, S5x18:
Hetty: Good work, Mr. Beale.
…plus a „well-done“ slap on the back by Sam.
OUT IN THE FIELD
Though Eric did great on all his field trips so far, he does not leave ops very often, especially not due to going on an undercover assignment.
His first undercover assignment was in „Rocket Man“, S2 x21, when a rocket scientist (or someone pretending to be one) was required at the site.
Eric is the only one of the team who does not carry a gun and who does not want to carry one. This was, in fact, the one thing that worried him most before going operational:
Hetty: A case of nerves is understandable. You’re going into the field for the first time.
Eric: It’s not that, it’s, it’s just…
Hetty: Out with it. What? [She gives him a wallet]
Eric: (sighs) Black Ops… Call of Duty…I’ve wiped out entire platoons in an afternoon. World of Warcraft…God knows how many…
Hetty: Mr. Beale…
Eric: (sighs) I don’t have to bring a gun, do I? I don’t think I could actually really kill someone.
Hetty: Heaven forbid! I have no intention of making you carry a weapon.
Eric: (sighs) [He’s very very relieved. Hetty smiles and claps his hand]
He almost got killed (or „frelted“) during this field trip, nevertheless he stayed to finish the job – which shows his determination and dedication for what he does.
We’ve seen Eric outside of ops a few times since then, for example in
„Honor“, S3x7, as an airport security officer holding up Maeko’s father, Akio Tanaka and his men from boarding the plane – a real classic!
Or in „Out of the Past“, S4x05, where his Spider Man pajama makes an appearance – nice change from the polar bears!
In „Unwritten Rule“, S5x05 we learned that Eric has pretty good agent skills when it comes to using everyday objects:
In „Fallout“, S5x08, Eric could count on a rather „prominent“ (and unexpected) backup in the form of an armed-to-the-teeth Hetty!
Eric’s latest excursion to the field just recently was, once again, a dangerous one – „Zero Days“, S5x18. Not only did it land him in jail (with some interesting company) but he also had to face a life threatening situation by coming under severe fire. Yet he managed to save Los Angeles just in time – due to his outstanding skills.
BREAKING THE INTERNET: SUPERIOR SKILLS
Eric’s exceptional skills saved the team – often last minute – on more than one occasion. One of the most remarkable achievements was Eric breaking the internet (and even Twitter!) in „Empty Quiver“, S2x16:
Hetty: What did you just do?
Eric: I used the VNC controller to piggyback the upload with a trojan and corrupt the streaming data packets by initiating stack overflow.
Hetty: In English, Mr. Beal.
Eric: I broke the Internet.
He managed to retrieve important data from that „drowned“ computer in „Found“, S1x21. He is able to build up very deep and layered cover stories and aliases– quickly and under pressure, if necessary, e.g. for Callen as the Canadian paper company compliance officer Gordon Taymis in „Keepin’ it real“, S1x06 or backstopping for Sam in the bank in „Deliverance“, S2x10.
Sam: Eric, I need backstopping. Now.
Eric: I’m gonna need at least five minutes.
Sam: You got two.
How they managed to extract and use the thumb print in „Zero Days“, S5x18 – that was excellent team work.
However, it was Eric’s idea and his skills that led the team to succeed in the end. In my opinion, „Zero Days“ was Eric’s most outstanding episode as off yet in terms of being centered around his character and his skills. This was his case, his time to shine!
“TO BEALE” – TYPICAL ERIC
A typical trait of Eric’s character is his unparalled ability of putting his foot in his mouth (more often than not at untimely moments) – thus often creating akward situations, a laugh for the audience and a light moment in a tense situation. NCIS LA magazine’s fearless leader sindee refered to this habit quite accurately as “to beale”. And there is more than enough proof that Eric needs his own dedicated word:
„Search and Destroy“, S1x4
Eric: A few months ago he friended her. Now for you older guys that’s the lingo for when someone asks you into their friend list.
Sam: What’s the lingo for when someone smacks you with a flip flop?
Hetty: You put a surveillance camera inside a garden gnome?
Eric: Yeah, we call it the Hetty cam.
Eric: I’m not comfortable with authority figures. That’s why I do what I do. Computers don’t talk back… Well technically, they can. But even then I can manipulate the voice to make it soothing if I want – sexy even.
Callen: Too much information.
„War Cries“, S5x14:
„The Bank Job“, S1x15
Eric: Because banks have unique security protocols for funds frozen by the FBI. You have to have physical access to the actual terminal to move the money.
Callen: But that’s never stopped *you* before.
Eric: Well, most hackers don’t have access to the toys that I do. I could make us all very wealthy in about 2 minutes.
[Sam and G glare at him]
Eric: I mean if you wanted me to… Not that you would want me to. Not that I would want to… I’m just saying, you know.
Sam: What *exactly* are you saying, Eric?
Another typical Eric habit are his various ways of calling the team up to ops.
I, for one, find myself anticipating Eric’s call every episode – it’s a nice regular feature to the show and a fun moment. And if Eric does not call, chances are high that something’s wrong…
However, since we (the magazine team) believe that this topic is worth its own dedicated post, you will read about Eric and his whistling techniques at a later date!
MEMORABLE ERIC MOMENTS
As a conclusion to this post we’ve come up with just a few of the NCIS LA Magazine team’s favorite Eric moments through the years (aside from the already mentioned breaking the internet :). This list is far from being complete and with five seasons to cover, there is of course, much, much more to say about Eric but we had to stop somewhere (for the time being…). So there:
Eric „driving“ the Segway in „Full Throttle“, S1x17
Eric taking a flower from Hetty’s desk to „compete“ with Nell sending herself flowers in „Greed“, S3x08:
Nell: You took a flower from Hetty’s desk?
Eric: She cuts them herself. It’s a big bunch. She’ll never miss it.
Eric: I’m doomed, aren’t I?
Nell: You sacrificed yourself to compete with me.
„Elfie McBeal“ , „Free Ride“, S4x10:
Hetty: Mr. Beal. You have, um, elf head.
[OPS center. Nell puts a gift on the table]
Eric: It’s a little early for Secret Santa, isn’t it?
Nell: Open it.
[Eric’s smile vanishes: he stares at flashing green leggings; Nell sighs, pleased]
[Nell frowns]Eric: No, no. This was not part of our deal. You never said anything about…panty hose.
Nell: Okay, they’re leggings, not panty hose, and it’s part of your costume.
Eric: What it is, is a death sentence if Callen, Sam or Deeks ever saw me wearing them.
Nell: It’s gonna be fun.
Eric: Wha…No. I am all for helping children, but…I’m sorry, I cannot do this. I can’t do it. I’m sorry.
[He starts typing again]
Nell: You wear polar bear and Spiderman pajamas.
Eric: Spiderman is cool, and polar bear… It’s different, okay? I-I wear those in the privacy of my own home. People are going to see me in this. There will be kids and the taking of pictures, and next thing I know it’ll be on Facebook, and then…and then…and then a video on YouTube, then it goes viral, then they start playing it on a loop on the big screen, and, oh, my God, Sam is calling me Elfie McBeal…
Eric trying to behave inconspicious, „Ravens and Swans“, S4x22:
Callen: Can you find me some more information on Grace?
Eric: Sure, yeah. What do you need?
Callen: Everything you can find on her prior to joining NCIS.
Eric: Am I going to get in trouble for this?
Callen: Course not.–Just don’t get caught!
Eric: What? Oh, man. Oh, my God, she’s watching me.
[Hetty is indeed looking at them]
Callen: Just smile.
Eric: But then she’ll know I’m up to something.
Callen: Then don’t smile.
[Eric doesn’t notice that Callen is already walking away]
Eric: Okay, but then she’ll think I’m hiding something. Oh, man, look at her looking at me. Granger was right, she’s got that Gorgon stare. What should I say if s he asks me what I’m doing? Callen? Ca…
[♫ He waves at Hetty, and speaks quietly]
[He runs towards the OPS- She shakes her head…♫ ]
We want to close this retrospective on Eric with one last sentence, a quote from „the man himself“ at the end of „Zero Days“, S5x18:
Yes, you are, Eric!
What are your favorite moments when it comes to „techie“ Eric Beale? Would you like to see him out in the field more? Maybe even undergoing some field training? Do you think he will ever risk it again to place his surfboard near Hetty’s jaguar? Feel free to share your thoughts on Eric with us!
Thanks to Mary, Vicki, Bee, sindee and Richtsje for their support and for sharing their „Eric moments“ with me. Also, thanks to ncislosangelesfan for the screenshots. Gotta love #ncislafamilia!