NCIS: Los Angeles Review: Betrayal with Torturous Consequences

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Two of the most terrible people in the world, Isaak Sidorov and Marcel Janvier, both returned to wreak havoc in the NCIS: Los Angeles season finale. When criminal masterminds like those two are involved, it's dangerous to let your guard down even for a second. 

In "Descent," that's exactly what happened... with tragic results. 

No Longer Partners

Before I get into the core of the NCIS plan and where it all went wrong, I have to complain and complain LOUDLY to the writers and producers of NCIS: LA. I don't mind cliffhangers throughout a season and I don't even mind them in finales. Television is a serial storytelling format, so it's understandable for there to be unresolved questions. If done well, cliffhangers create an emotional connection for viewers with the characters and with the show.

That is not how NCIS:LA season 4 ended though. Instead, the finale was the first half of a story. It was part 1 of a two-parter. You don't close out a season with part 1 and then make fans wait months for part 2. That's just cruel. It was bad enough when the stolen nuke story was first introduced in "Out of the Past, Part 1," that the conclusion didn't air for two weeks. It's going to be a long summer waiting to see the conclusion to the story.

Despite the horribly unfair ending, the episode itself was intense and one of the best of the season. In the season 4 premiere, Callen pretended to go rogue after it was presumed that he killed Janvier back in the season 3 finale. His return was a nice way to bookend the season. When they saved Janvier and got him to agree to help them facilitate the purchase of the nuclear weapons from Sidorov, no one at NCIS seemed concerned with his loyalty.

Why? He killed Lauren Hunter and had no reason to help them. Janvier even said he wanted to die, so why wouldn't he want to get revenge on Callen and the NCIS for what they did to him? When he ultimately betrayed them by tipping off Sidorov, it shouldn't have been a surprise. Janvier was the Chameleon and talented at manipulated people and moving pieces into place. And, while he may still be in US custody, he's won. Unlike fake shooting last year, will Callen take him out this time for real?

Meanwhile, Sam and Deeks are being tortured for information about Quinn. Sidorov really loves her. Though, he seemed determined to find out that she had betrayed him. After all the torture Sam withstood, it still wasn't enough for Sidorov to believe Quinn was clean. Instead, he moved on to Deeks to torture him and in an even more horrific manner than Sam. The damage to Deeks will be permanent, if he even survives.

One complaint I had about Deeks' answers is why didn't he say, "Quinn who?" By saying that she wasn't an agent, wasn't he acknowledging that he knew her? Maybe I misread that scene, but that threw flags up for me. At least he had a good explanation about why he showed up to save Sam. As a LAPD officer, he had to respond to prevent a murder of someone regardless of whether they are an agent or even a criminal, right?

Meanwhile, Michelle's life literally hangs in the balance. Will the plastic sheeting hold her long enough for Kensi to get to her and pull her up? I can't imagine that she will die, at least not that way. It would be doubly tragic if she died and the guys withstood the torture to protect her. It definitely would be a shocking conclusion.

Odds and Ends

  • The nuclear explosion just to prove it would work was quite a dramatic display. 
  • The aftermath of Deeks' undercover relationship and his inability to discuss his relationship with Kensi didn't go away. If anything, Kensi was more frustrated with him than before. His answer: a Kiss! No words needed. With one simple move, he expressed his love for her. She didn't expect that from the look on her face, but she also didn't push him away. If Deeks survives Sidorov, they need to have a real, honest heart-to-heart. If he dies, it will make her pain even greater.
  • Sam's disrespect of Deeks was more front and center than ever before. Sam's mean comment after Hetty made the assignment and then cruelty towards Deeks while playing or not playing chess was over the top. I'm not sure it was all necessary to get the point across. Despite Sam's issues with Deeks, the LAPD officer risked his own life to save Sam and now is being tortured for information that would threaten Sam's wife. Deeks must hold strong. I want Sam to beg for forgiveness for his unfounded mistrust and maliciousness towards Deeks.
  • Does Janvier really have a daughter? Or, was that just a ploy that he used to get NCIS to lower their guard towards him?
Were you frustrated by the way the episode ended? Do you think Deeks will hold strong? Will they all survive? If not, who will die? The kiss: Did it make you happy? 


Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (859 Votes)

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


Just because I don't want to see torture on t.v. doesn't mean that I am trying to hide from the fact that there is torture. There is a limit to how much you can and should show on t.v. Not wanting to see those kind of scenes on t.v. doesn't mean that you are trying to hide from it.


@Rachelh. Well, I mean, Callen is the main character so we would obviously know quite a bit about his history. The show is likely going to be on the air for a couple more seasons (probably not as long as NCIS), so maybe they're saving the "G" for later. I expect the writers to devote plenty more new backstory to Callen. What surprised me though, was how little we know about Deeks. They've spent a lot of time on Callen, Sam, Hetty and Kensi. Aside from his past as a lawyer and that he shot his father as a kid, there's not much else we know. Which is why I'm glad they're planning to add more depth to that character. If there is one good thing from the last scenes, I think, from this episode is that it does show the kind of guy Deeks is. Sure, he's been playfully picked on by his co-workers but a lot of times it feels like he's looked down upon--even from Kensi--because he's "just a cop" when in fact he's good at his job. Hope the writers do something about that.


@Rachel - I never said it was necessary to show torture, just that there was a reason for it and that it was important to the story and to the relationships between the characters going forward. Unfortunately, torture exists all over the world. It happens every day; it is happening as you read this to someone, somewhere. If you want to hide from that fact you can, but it doesn't change the fact that it is happening right now. Maybe instead of being disgusted over fictionalized torture (and, in your opinion, the “desensitized� people who enjoyed the show in spite of it or even because of it), you should consider getting involved with a group that seeks to end real life torture.


@Devon, one thing I'm surprised about is that they didn't delve any further into Callen's history. Maybe that's because they've already dealt with his story quite a bit in the first 3 seasons. However, end of season 4 and he still doesn't know what the G stands for and neither does the audience.


@Rachelh. Yeah, I didn't mind it when they decided to kill off Dom. The show was still new so it didn't really matter. With Deeks, he's a favorite so it's unsettling that he would be the one in trouble. Although I think because next season is supposed to dive into the story of Deeks, maybe that's why the writers decided to leave him as the last thing we heard. And like you, I'm totally ready for Season 5. Four long months. I hope they add more depth to the characters and stories next season.


Dom's death was different because he wasn't on the show that long and he isn't as big of a character as Deeks is. I'm not saying that it wasn't sad, but it wouldn't be as sad as Deeks being killed. Furthermore, they didn't really show Dom being tortured. I still totally disagree with the torture scenes and with the people saying that it is necessary. Total non sense.


Well, sorry to break this illusion that you have, but anyone who can sit through any kind of torture scene without it having an affect on them is desensitized to a certain extent. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out. Living in the age we are living in, a lot of people are desensitized to it because writers of certain shows are very subtle about it. It may not be obvious, but it's there.


O.k. ready for season 5 already just because I'm ready for something new. It does get a little old watching the same episodes over and over. I still have Season 4 coming in August. Yeah, I guess that's how long it takes for Amazon to be ready to send it to people.


Actually, I want to rephrase. It's the reactions of the characters/actors that made the scene disturbing. The whole approach of that, editing, lighting, sound, acting, etc. made my jaw drop. And watching the episode again, it truly was an amazing cliffhanger that sets up beautifully for season 5. It changes the game for these characters and I am in firm belief that these actors and writers will bring it come September.


I agree. The torture here compared to 24 shouldn't be compared at all. 24 was notorious for it's torture scenes..over 60 in the first five seasons. It was by far the worst offender and most graphic. The PTC talked about it. So did the media and bloggers. The New York Times wrote an article trying to normalize it. Stephen King talked about 24's torture scenes. The FBI and military met with 24 producers to criticize the depiction of torture and their effectiveness. NCIS:LA isn't in the same ballpark as 24. It's just the reactions of the characters/actors that made the scene disgusting. It does make a difference watching it again without sound. And I'd like to bring up the Alias reference too. The very first scenes in the pilot was Sydney having her teeth pulled out and screaming. A few seasons later, Bradley Cooper's character underwent the same. Agents were strapped and injected. I think the real problem, maybe, is how common these scenes are in crime shows.

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