NCIS: Los Angeles Review: Rock-Paper-Scissors

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Terrorism comes in many forms, both international and domestic - and America has a long "History" of dealing with both. On this week's NCIS:Los Angeles, the team was tasked with investigating the possible re-emergence of a 1970s radical group responsible for bombings decades ago, including at a Navy base, after one of the group's fugitive members was found stabbed.

The investigation into the former Gun Barrel Party (GBP) took a few surprising turns, including finding a former presumed dead member that became a professor. That position provided him with impressionable students to indoctrinate with radical beliefs.

Kensi's In the Woods

The team investigated the case by following the clues, including a new radical group at the college, Red Tide. One of this group's members provided the professor with dynamite to blow up his office, home, and a local Fortune 500 company. After decades, he was ready to wreak havoc on the country again.

As often is the situation on NCIS: Los Angeles, the investigation wasn't the most interesting part of the episode. On "History," I was intrigued by the sociological questions raised. First, when the Red Tide member was being questioned, Callen threatened him with Gitmo due to the National Defense Authorization Act. Was he serious? Or was it an empty threat? Or, even meant as a joke?

The idea that this student could be held indefinitely without a lawyer because he destroyed a table and bulletin board on campus with a bat is troublesome. Would it be just for him to be held because he was circumstantially tied to the theft of dynamite from his father's company that was used in a bombing at the University? Perhaps. On the show, there is no question to whether that is good or bad, it's the law of the land and used to fight "terrorism." I put that in quotes because there is a big difference between using a bat to destroy property and a bomb.

I'm not sure if we are supposed to question this or not, but the mention of Gitmo seemed a bit extreme, especially since the government is supposed to be shutting the facility down at some point. Callen got his point across though and scared the kid into complying. Compliance and information was the goal and it worked. 

The second question raised was about the professor and "How much damage could he have done?" He influenced those in Red Tide, but how many seeds of radicalism did he plant? His Teaching Assistant didn't seem to be a part of the bombing plans, but when his mentor was arrested, he considered it. The professor was there after the death of the TA's father. 

When Kensi showed up at the TA's door, he closed the bomb making site on his computer and had someone else there to listen to him and give him positive advice. As Hetty said, "A good friend at the right time can make all the difference in the world." That's the true lesson of the philosophical episode.

Besides these questions raised about the American society, the episode had a good balance of fun and humor. Instead of the normal single running joke, there were several discussions in "History." The Rock-Paper-Scissors interactions between Deeks and Sam were hilarious. It was a nice turn for Deeks to outwit Sam in the end. Too often, Deeks is the punching bag of the group since he's not an NCIS agent, has Shaggy's hair, and is an easy target. 

With Sam's mention of his family and dressing up for his daughter's school event, perhaps that means we will get back to Sam's wife and Sidorov story. Nate always seems to appear a few episodes after a mention. When Sam said he had the second coolest costume, I thought he was outdone by a real life astronaut, but the actual answer was even better. Sam was best by a parent dressed up as a Navy SEAL. As disappointing as that probably was initially, it ultimately provided a sense of pride.

By the way, did we ever find out who is Morgan?

Odds and Ends

  • Hetty climbed Everest ... twice? Is there anything that she can't do?
  • President Blye has a nice ring to it.
  • Lando Calrissian mention!
  • Deeks really needs to watch where he walks, especially in the woods. Eww. 
  • If we never hear the word "pickle" again on the show that would be good. Okay, I laughed.
  • Here Comes Honey Boo Boo mention. Maybe the guy had a point? 
Would you vote for a President Blye? What was your favorite joke or exchange of the episode? Do you want to see Sidorov and Sam's wife again?


Editor Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 1.7 / 5.0 (341 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


For those who not aware (which apparently includes this review writer) Sam's wife (and her CIA Persona) is due to reappear in an episode next (or the following) week. IOW: They will be revisiting that plot arc.


My only beef is that any of these shows that has some radical/anarchist always portrays them as some hipster, hippy or other ignorant, paranoid schizo that needs a shave and a bath. The stereotype is kinda old. It's been done numerous times on this show in particular. Did pick up a nice line though, first rule of nature, don't step in number two.


I second the opinion that Deeks is the salvation of this show, in much the same way that Han Solo was the salvation of the original Star Wars series. A real human.


writers have used the gitmo and patirot threat on police preceedurals for a decade now. the characters usually using the threat with glee and the attitude of "we can do anything we want now" i always and still do find it offensive..whetherly's character on NCIS has used it a few times as well...i find it distasteful,even if it is something they do...maybe naive,but i need these likable characters to know better...if it is a situation the warants it somehow,fine,but then we are not talking about those...


Kenzi being president for 2 terms was shocking to deeks but callen and Sam both agreed she would do 2 terms. Sam having the second best costume the first being a navy seal was kinda funny. Hetty climbing Everest and seeing the yeti but not finishing the story was funny. The TA looking how to make a bomb but then closing it when kenzi showed up was nice because like hetty said a good kid who's in a bad place and gets a bad friend can be roped in to something bad or something like that but a good friend at the right time can save them. Good episode can't wait till the next one.


Deeks is my favorite and I remember how unapealing the show was to me in SO1 when he wasn't part of the team. He brings so much to the team and the whole show. I'm just sad we don t have more Deeks centric episodes. The Sam's wife storyline is completly uninteresting to me, can t wait for it to End.

Sue ann

No, I wouldn't vote for a President Blye. But I would vote for a woman for president. In fact, I have. I really liked Deeks winning that second Rock Paper Scissors. I like Deeks and Hetty best on the show. No, not too interested in Sam's wife and Sidorov. But I would love to see his daughter awake and active sometime. She has to be cute, with two such gorgeous parents. And she should be smart and lively, as the apple of their eyes, and the child of two such intelligent parents.

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NCIS: Los Angeles Season 4 Episode 15 Quotes

Never judge a man until you walk a mile in his pumps.


Looks like she tickled your pickle.