NCIS Los Angeles Binged Into Season 7
I guess it’s not a binge in the sense that I am not sitting here 24 hours a day ingesting NCIS Los Angeles. However, that said, I am nearing the end of season 7 which will allow me to follow along at the more normal real time once a week, and I figured i would update my views here. Major spoiler alert, I will openly discuss plots and themes, so don’t get pissed off if I spill the beans.
I can tell you without a doubt, as the series goes on, it gets a little harder for me to get into some of the episodes. I am not a “shipper”, aka I am not into the whole romantic relationships of the different cast members. The whole Kenzi / Deeks relationship (aka, Keeks) has been an incredibly complicated and less than satisfying story arc. Honestly, in the real world these two would have been separated within minutes and sent far, far apart with Deeks likely sent back to the LAPD. The whole slow process of revealing their relationship to others long after everyone had already figured it out has been a complete waste of time. It has also lead to the insane arc of Kenzi in Afghanistan with her former fiance, and the whole Deeks reaction deal. Dull, predictable, and so on. It was also written that way in part because Daniella Ruah (who plays Kenzi) got knocked up, and they pre-filmed all of that story without anyone else around, so that principal filming with the other actors could happen while she was away heavily pregnant, keeping the baby bump off the screen. While I am not there yet, I gather season 8 has another similar problem as Ruah has just had kid number 2, so at least half the season was while she was pregnant.
The other part that is wearing is the whole “where is Callen’s father” crap, and all the playing around with his Russian friend and his “daughter” Anna. While it has lead to some clever plot twists, it’s also grinding itself into repetition and shows perhaps a bit of lazy script writing. It’s easier to re-use characters than it is to come up with new ones, I guess. They have been through the same thing with Sam and Jada Khaled, with the same characters coming back over and over for another episode or two. These were not the best episodes to start with in my mind, and repeating and recycling on them isn’t really helping.
The good parts, well, let’s see. Grainger has settled down to being an unfriendly pain in the butt but no longer seems intent on screwing the team over and making them take avoidable risks. If anything, Hetty seems much more into setting people up these days and not exactly telling the truth. Nell and Eric have settled nicely on the edge of a relationship (aka shipping) without ever truly crossing the friends line. It should be noted that Nell has scooted past Beale when it comes to who is leader to the two most of the time, she’s smarter, faster, and more confident – and willing to use her gun to get things done outside of the office as well.
For me, the best episodes are much more like the first few episodes of season 1: A crime, search for clues, turn over rocks, find a trail, follow it, change theories a few times, and finally nail the baddies. When the team comes together to pull of an elaborate ruse to gain access to something or to trick people into showing up at a point then they are entertaining and it works.
The worst episodes are relationship based, family based, and specifically “Callen finds his family” based. Those are often the longest and most annoying to follow along with, requiring a good memory for past details and the patience of Job when it comes to waiting for any sort of a reveal. Arkady (and possibly even Hetty) could have long ago spilled the beans and gotten it over with, instead they both seem content to let Callen stew and chew on the problem in front of him. It comes off more like teasing a starving dog with food just out of reach than anything else. Arkady is understandable, Hetty is not. At best, it reveals a nasty character flaw in Hetty, and at worst it’s an artificial construct to avoid any other true character development in the series.
So out of 5 stars, NCIS Los Angeles is looking more like a 3.5 out of 5. I like the idea, I enjoy many of the shows, but it’s not quite as good as it could be.